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08.18 Kuwait's inferno: how will the world's hottest city survive climate change?

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08.17 New Research Suggests Memory Loss in Alzheimer’s Patients May be Reversible

08.17 We Just Figured out How to Activate Stem Cells to Treat Baldness

08.17 1 in 9 Deaths are from Air Pollution & Trump is making it Worse

08.16 Ignoring Threat of Rising Seas, Trump Eliminates Flood Risk Standards

08.16 In Egypt, A Rising Sea — And Growing Worries About Climate Change's Effects

08.16 Australian coal-power pollution would be illegal in US, Europe and China – report

08.15 Tagus river at risk of drying up completely

08.15 Pesticides could wipe out bumblebee populations, study shows

08.15 Sierra Leone's deadly mudslide: thousands missing as search continues

08.15 Monsanto sold banned chemicals for years despite known health risks, archives reveal [immoral capitalism]

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08.18 Climate change will likely wreck their livelihoods – but they still don't buy the science [a willfully ignorant people? or a public conned by oil-industry subsidized news media distortions?]

08.15 Dems Demand Answers About FCC's Apparent Favoritism Toward Sinclair

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08.18 GOP Senator Drowned Out By Cheers for 'Single Payer' at Town Hall [might our 'representatives' understand better if we took their free healthcare away?]

08.18 If a top Trump aide leaves, it could 'start a run on the bank'

08.18 The United States was never immune to fascism. Not then, not now [2:54 video; “Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

08.18 Trump's evangelical panel remains intact as others disband. Who are his religious cheerleaders? [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

08.18 To understand the US's complex history with slavery, look to Thomas Jefferson

08.17 Cuckoo D'État: The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum

08.17 Stranding CEOs Too Slow To Quit, Trump Disbands His Own Business Councils [could a wider boycott accomplish resignations or positive change?]

08.16 Mark Ruffalo, Michael Moore Lead NYC Protest Against 'Absolutely Racist' Trump [short video]

08.16 Companies Linked To Mike Pence Seek An Upper Hand In Infrastructure Policy [our Public Infrastructure is at risk of being transformed into Private Infrastructure with tolls ad infinitum]

08.16 Surviving America’s Political Meltdown

08.16 Burying the Lie of the “Alt-Left”

08.16 The Guardian view on Donald Trump and racism: a moral failure that shames America

08.16 Republicans denounce bigotry after Trump's latest Charlottesville remarks

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08.16 Indiana prosecutors want to incarcerate the opioid crisis away [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

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08.18 Buses in Seoul install 'comfort women' statues to honour former sex slaves [immoral crimes are hard to forget]

08.14 Americans once carpet-bombed North Korea. It's time to remember that past

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08.15 Why Are Drug Prices So High? These Politicians Might Have The Answer [especially since the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, BIG money corrupts & controls U.S. government to the public’s detriment]

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08.18 Spain attacks: Suspects shot dead in Cambrils after van-ramming

08.17 Tesla Just Made A Futuristic Tiny House

08.17 Investment Bank Report Predicts the Cost of Electric Vehicles Will Match Regular Cars by 2018 [pressure is building for electric utilities to become 100% renewable or we'll die]

08.17 German Politicians think Trump is dangerously close to Neo-Nazis, and they Should know

08.15 As Yemen Cholera Cases Reach 500,000, US and UK Condemned for Complicity

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  Bush's Bogus Theory of Absolute Power

COMMENTARY:

Bush's Bogus Theory of Absolute Power

by James Bovard
The fact that the administration is getting away with this charade symbolizes how docile much of the American media and political opposition have become.
The Bush administration has a theory to explain why the Founding Fathers secretly intended for the president to have boundless power. Even though the new "unitary executive theory" is nowhere in the Constitution, White House officials continually invoke it to justify scorning federal law. The fact that the administration is getting away with this charade symbolizes how docile much of the American media and political opposition have become.

Earlier this year, members of Congress anguished publicly over how many of the original USA PATRIOT Act surveillance powers should be renewed. A bipartisan agreement was finally reached, giving the White House almost everything it wanted. As part of the deal to renew the Patriot Act, Bush administration officials agreed to provide Congress more details on how the new powers were being used.

However, Bush reneged in a "signing statement" quietly released after a heavily hyped White House signing ceremony on March 9. He decreed that he was entitled to withhold any information that would "impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties." He announced that he would interpret any provision in the law obliging notifying Congress "in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information."

The crux of the "unitary executive" is that all power rests in the president, and that "checks and balances" are an archaic relic.

In other words, any provision of the law that requires disclosure is presumptively null and void. The crux of the "unitary executive" is that all power rests in the president, and that "checks and balances" are an archaic relic. This is the same "principle" the Bush administration invoked to deny Congress everything from Iraqi war plans to the records of the Cheney Energy Task Force. Bush has invoked the "unitary executive" doctrine almost a hundred times since taking office, according to a study by Miami University professor Christopher Kelley.

Even though the new "unitary executive theory" is nowhere in the Constitution, White House officials continually invoke it to justify scorning federal law.

One of the starkest statements of this theory came in the confidential August 2002 Justice Department/White House memo justifying torture. That memo revealed, "In light of the president's complete authority over the conduct of war, without a clear statement otherwise, criminal statutes are not read as infringing on the president's ultimate authority in these areas." And even if Congress did try to explicitly restrain executive power, any such law would be unconstitutional because of the inherent power vested in the presidency, according to the memo. When he was White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales spoke of a "commander-in-chief override" to justify scorning the Anti-Torture Act.

The Bush administration's sense of entitlement is obvious from the ongoing controversy over warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps of Americans. Such wiretaps are clearly prohibited by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Yet Bush declared that he is entitled to order such wiretaps because of the inherent authority of the presidency.

When asked, "What is the limiting principle of the president's claimed inherent authority as commander in chief?," the administration replied, "In light of the strictly limited nature of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, we do not think it a useful or a practical exercise to engage in speculation about the limits of the president's authority as commander in chief."

The administration's attitude toward both the law and Congress was stark in the responses recently delivered to congressional questions on the scope and nature of the NSA warrantless wiretap program.

The basic answer to almost all the questions was, "None of your business." Again and again, the White House declared that "decisions about what communications to intercept are made by professional intelligence officers." Apparently, the job titles of the NSA officials automatically negate the Fourth Amendment's requirement for a warrant before the feds can intrude.

The Bush administration has claimed that the wiretaps are "legal" because of the president's duty to protect America. Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee asked, "What is the limiting principle of the president's claimed inherent authority as commander in chief?"

The administration replied, "In light of the strictly limited nature of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, we do not think it a useful or a practical exercise to engage in speculation about the limits of the president's authority as commander in chief."

At this point, Americans can only guess which laws Bush feels obliged to obey.

At this point, Americans can only guess which laws Bush feels obliged to obey. According to Newsweek, Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, recently informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that Bush could order killings of suspected terrorists within the United States.

The "unitary executive" theory is simply another in a long series of intellectual cons crafted to trample freedom.

Americans cannot expect to have good presidents if presidents are permitted to make themselves czars. The "unitary executive" theory is simply another in a long series of intellectual cons crafted to trample freedom. The sooner that it is tarred and feathered and ridden out of Washington on a rail, the safer Americans' remaining rights will be.


James Bovard is the author of the recently published Attention Deficit Democracy and eight other books and serves as policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation (fff.org).


Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on April 7, 2006.

 

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