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04.29 The American people – not Big Oil – must decide our climate future

04.28 1.2 million children in the US have lead poisoning. We’re only treating half of them. [willfully ignoring children's health so the rich can get tax breaks—to be even richer—is immoral and costs much more long-term]

04.28 East coast readies for fresh climate fight as Trump eyes more offshore drilling [the Idiocracy is growing]

04.28 Air pollution plan cannot be delayed, high court tells government

04.27 Trump’s hollow promise on the opioid epidemic: GOP health plan would slash Medicaid funding for drug treatment

04.27 The Last time there was this much CO2 in the air, Florida was under Water [Trump will sell his properties before admitting to a problem]

04.26 Discovery of plastic-eating worms offers chance to finally get rid of world's growing piles of litter

04.26 People whose 'brain age' is older than their real age more likely to die early

04.25 Pollution From Canada’s Oil Sands May Be Underreported

04.25 High court orders UK government to explain clean air plan delay

04.25 Matt Damon: ‘Children are drinking water so dirty it looks like chocolate milk’

04.24 Disney, the Gap and Pepsi urged to quit US Chamber of Commerce ["Its a small world after all..." – Disney]

04.24 Why we joined the March for Science

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04.29 Why Are House Dems Treating 2016 Campaign Autopsy Like a Classified Document? [obsessive money focus requires compromises that kill best and most-efficient public programs and policy—and that makes the public very very angry]

04.29 Trickle Down Devastation: A Single Mom Responds to Trump’s Tax Plan

04.29 With Support Surging, Progressives Push Pelosi on Single-Payer

04.29 Watchdogs: Trump's Disastrous 100 Days Fueling "Golden Era of Activism"

04.28 'We Reject Politics of Fear': Groups Urge Congress to Build Schools, Not Wall

04.28 Red Flags as Trump Team Dodges on Tax Plan's Impact on Middle Class

04.28 For First Time Ever, Majority of House Dems Support 'Medicare-for-All' Bill

04.28 Bernie Sanders takes aim at Trump on climate ahead of march in DC

04.28 Failing the ‘Mnuchin Test’

04.28 America, From Exceptionalism to Nihilism

04.27 4 Ways Trump's Tax Plan Will Make the Trumps Even Richer

04.27 The Trump family’s massive grift: Who cares about policy? As a business and branding venture, this presidency is going swell

04.27 Can Progressives Mobilize to Save the Middle Class?

04.27 A Comprehensive Guide to Donald Trump’s Tax Proposal

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04.26 'Truly Dumb': Why $2.4 Trillion Corporate Tax Cut Will Not Magically Pay for Itself

04.26 Why Is Congress In Such A Rush To Strip The Library Of Congress Of Oversight Powers On The Copyright Office?

04.25 The Right’s Green Awakening

04.25 Trump's Corporate Takeover Detailed 100 Days into 'For-Profit Presidency'

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04.29 'Europe's dirty secret': officials on Chios scramble to cope with rising tensions

04.29 Brazilians sick of corrupt politicians hit the streets to protest austerity measures

04.28 40 years later, the mothers of Argentina’s 'disappeared' refuse to be silent

04.28 Europe could allow a united Ireland to join EU after Brexit

04.28 Le Pen's replacement steps down after allegedly casting doubt on Nazi gas chambers

04.27 UK should axe state pension for rich people, says OECD [the moral choice for all nations]

04.26 ‘We’re eating the Mercedes’

04.26 Turkish Airstrikes On Kurds Complicate U.S. Operations In Iraq And Syria

04.26 Ivanka Trump met with jeers in Berlin as she calls father 'champion of families'

04.26 Assad forces carried out sarin attack, say French intelligence [evidence proves Syria made the weapon, but not who used it]

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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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