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Health Care & Environment
03.17 China's 'war against pollution' shows promising results, study finds [U.S. doesn't care]
03.17 In Latest 'Alarming' Attack on Science, Pruitt Reportedly Moving to Restrict Use of Research in EPA Policy [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
03.17 Global energy giants forced to adapt to rise of renewables [the Middle-East's wars may be stupid given looming drop in oil and gas prices]
03.15 WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water [health risks are being assessed]
03.14 Sky-high prices of everything make US healthcare the world's most expensive [legal corruption of government Makes America Less Great Again, and more of a mafia-state]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
03.18 Mueller Wants Trump’s Business Records. What’s the Russia Connection? [real estate deals with money laundering for higher profits...]
03.18 Paul Ryan sold shares on same day as private briefing of banking crisis [offense in 2008 became a story in 2012, which now in 2018 is hot news...]
03.16 Cash in: the rich guys in Trump's cabinet who can't resist public money [morals and rules for behavior are for little people]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
03.17 The Radical Reformist
International & Futurism
03.17 Turkey claims to have encircled Afrin, besieging up to 200,000 [Kurds are the new Armenians. Is ethnic purity—that DNA testing cannot discern—so important that Turkey and Syria must kill minority ethnic populations?]
03.16 The long read: Vladimir Putin’s politics of eternity
03.15 Busting the Myth of ‘Welfare Makes People Lazy’ [Are all conservative economic theories based on anecdotal gossip of ill-informed, often-biased people? There does seem to be a pattern...]
03.15 Donald Trump admits making up 'facts' in trade meeting with Justin Trudeau [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
Bush's Bogus Theory of Absolute Power
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).
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This story was published on April 7, 2006.