Don't We Have a Constitution, Not a King? By Marjorie Cohn,
AlterNet Bush has issued a
directive that would place all governmental powers
in his hands in the case of a catastrophic
emergency. If a terrorist attack happens before the
2008 election, could Bush and Cheney use this to
avoid relinquishing power to a successor
Read more »
"GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew
the more onerous provisions" of the Patriot Act
"could further alienate
conservatives still mad at the President from his
botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel
Miers to the Supreme
"'I don’t give a goddamn,' Bush retorted. 'I’m the
President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.'
"'Mr. President,' one aide in the meeting said.
'There is a valid case that the provisions in this law
undermine the Constitution.'
"'Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,'
Bush screamed back. 'It’s just a goddamned piece of
paper!'" --Reported in Capitol Hill Blue, December 9, 2005.
September 8, 2006 EDITORIAL
The agenda: Bush admits to secret prisons, seeks more power
Days away from the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, the president
made a stunning admission. Yes, the CIA does have secret prisons overseas.
Yes, rough interrogation methods have been used.
...He's also calling on Congress to rubber-stamp legislation granting him
the "power to detain, interrogate and try suspects his way," as a New York
Times report noted.
...We all saw how Abu Ghraib was used effectively by our enemies as negative
PR toward the American military. This sullying of our reputation makes a
impression on those too young to remember the U.S. military's image as a
against atrocities in World War II. Years of humanitarian efforts around the
globe were wiped out in the minds of some who saw the naked, hooded bodies
prison. Our Pledge of Allegiance says "justice for all." Do we truly believe
should extend beyond our borders or not? One of the things voters must
upon before the elections is this: Has the world been made safer by U.S.
on terrorism since Sept. 11?
Another is: If a president views the Constitution as an impediment, which do
The constitution, not a temporary president, remains the
supreme authority: the law of the land.
Update: Judge's ruling bars warrantless wiretaps
The administration has acknowledged that the program violates a 1978 law
that requires the government to obtain warrants to wiretap Americans, but
has argued that the president has the wartime authority to override the law.
In a 43-page opinion, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the Eastern District of
Michigan rejected that argument. She said Bush violated federal statutes and
constitutional protections for privacy and free speech when he authorized
the military to wiretap Americans' international calls and e-mails without
court oversight, overstepping the limits of his executive power.
``It was never the intent of the Framers to give the president such
unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the
parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights," Taylor wrote, later
adding, ``There are no hereditary kings in America."
Justice John Paul Stevens cited a quotation
from James Madison: ``The accumulation of all powers, legislative,
executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or
many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be
pronounced the very definition of tyranny." A president who will not let
his own Justice Department's ethics office examine the process by which
the administration approved the circumvention of a law is doing his best
to unmoor the government from the checks and balances so valued by Madison
and the other Founding Fathers." GLOBE EDITORIAL:
Bush pulls plug on probe
GOP, courts had enough?Robert Kuttner | July 15, 2006 PRESIDENT BUSH'S effort to claim extra-constitutional powers as a
wartime commander-in-chief finally being reined in by congressional
Republicans and courts? Or will the Republican Congress and increasingly
docile judges figure out ways to legalize Bush's extralegal incursions after
No Blank Check for Bush,
Time and again, the Bush administration has tried to use its war against
terrorism to justify actions that stretch or violate US and international
law. Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a stinging ``no" to one of these
practices, trying Guantanamo prisoners in military commissions that lack
even the basics of due process.
No blank check for bush
Update: The court said the commission Bush established
to try prisoners on terrorism charges does not meet the standards of
fairness required by the military code of justice and the Geneva Conventions
and is thus illegal.
``In undertaking to try Hamdan and subject him to criminal
punishment, the executive is bound to
comply with the rule of law," Justice John
Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.
Bush had sought to limit the rights given to the detainees,
saying that as president in a time of war he could handle such cases as he
saw fit. He established the commissions by executive order in November 2001
without consulting Congress.
Legal specialists said the impact of the ruling could go far
beyond the fate of Hamdan and nine other Guantanamo detainees who were
facing charges before the military commission, under which prosecutors could
use secret evidence against defendants and exclude them from attending parts
of their own trials. The commission had yet to render a verdict in any case.
In ruling that Bush exceeded his authority when he bypassed
the military code of justice to set up the commission, the court repudiated
assertions by Bush's legal team that, as commander in chief, the president
is not bound to obey laws and treaties that restrict his ability to fight
``Today's opinion is a stunning rebuke to the
extreme theory of executive power that has been put forward for the last
five years," said Harold Koh , dean of Yale Law School. ``It is a reminder
that checks and balances continue to be a necessary and vibrant principle,
even in the war on terror."
The ruling means that if Bush wants to try Guantanamo
prisoners, he has to give them ordinary courts-martial and the rights
available to defendants under military law -- allowing them to see the
evidence against them, challenge evidence, and appeal any conviction to a
While the Supreme Court said Bush could not, on his own
authority, set up an alternative justice system, it said he could ask
Congress to pass a law establishing military commissions. The new
commissions, however, would have to give defendants enough due process
rights to meet the requirements of American law.
By Nat Parry June 2,
2006: Despite new disclosures about government
spying on Americans and a flurry of interest in the erosion of U.S.
constitutional rights, the near-term outlook appears to be for a
consolidation of George W. Bush’s boundless vision of his own authority
Bar group will review Bush's legal challenges WASHINGTON
The board of governors of the American Bar Association voted unanimously
yesterday to investigate whether President Bush has exceeded his
constitutional authority in reserving the right to ignore more than 750 laws
that the war in Iraq has established that US ground forces cannot easily
prevail against insurgency, the Bush
administration is bringing new military threats to the fore. The neocon
orchestrated "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" abandons the
established doctrine that nuclear weapons are last-resort options. The Bush
administration is so enamored of coercion that it is birthing the doctrine
of preemptive nuclear attack. US war doctrine is being altered to eliminate
the need for a large invasion force and to use "preventive nuclear strikes"
in its place.
Is this the face that the American people
want to present to the world? It is hard to imagine a greater risk to
America than to put the entire world on notice that every country risks
being nuked based on mere suspicion. By making nuclear war permissible, the
Bush administration is crossing the line that divides civilized
people from barbarians.
As Professor Claes Ryn made clear in his
America the Virtuous, the neoconservatives are
neo-Jacobins. There is nothing conservative about them. They are committed
to the use of coercion to impose their agenda. Their attitude is merciless
toward anyone in their way, whether fellow citizen or foreigner. "You are
with us or against us."
The Bush administration has abandoned American principles.
"When a long train of
abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a
design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism, it is their right,
it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards
for their future security."
--Thomas Jefferson: Declaration of Independence
This president seems determined not to play by any
rules other than the ones of his own making.
And that includes both the Constitution and decisions of the Supreme Court.
He is out of control.
The Bill of Rights was created to protect:
FREEDOM OF RELIGION
The right to exercise one's own religion, or no religion, free from any
government influence or compulsion
FREEDOM OF SPEECH, PRESS, PETITION &
Even unpopular expression is protected from government suppression or
The right to be free of unwarranted and unwanted government intrusion into
one's personal and private affairs, papers, and possessions.
DUE PROCESS OF LAW
The right to be treated fairly by the government whenever the loss of
liberty or property is at stake.
EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW The right to be treated equally before the law, regardless of social
Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will
pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then
corruption, its necessary consequence.
I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied
corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by
strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
"If there is one principle
more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have
nothing to do with conquest. "
The Bush administration has pushed hard for limitless
powers to spy on, imprison and torture American citizens in the name of
'security.' Is this really what America stands for?