Sunday, March 26, 2006

I Love a Good Federalist 47 Reference

Glenn reports on yet more evidence of the Unbounded Executive.

Have we already reached the point with outrage fatigue where this isn't considered a pretty big deal?:
Question number (5) from the Committee Republicans asked "whether President Carter's signature on FISA in 1978, together with his signing statement," meant that the Executive had agreed to be bound by the restrictions placed by FISA on the President's powers to eavesdrop on Americans. This is how the DoJ responded, in relevant part:

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any statutes inconsistent with the Constitution must yield. The basic principle of our system of government means that no President, merely by assenting to a piece of legislation, can diminish the scope of the President's constitutional power. . . .

Just as one President may not, through signing legislation, eliminate the Executive Branch's inherent constitutional powers, Congress may not renounce inherent presidential authority. The Constitution grants the President the inherent power to protect the nation from foreign attack, and Congress may not impede the President's ability to perform his constitutional duty.“ (citations omitted).

Can that be any clearer for you - Congressmen, Senators, journalists? The President is bestowed by the Constitution with the unlimited and un-limitable power to do anything that he believes is necessary to "protect the nation." Thus, even if Congress passes laws which seek to limit that power in any way, and even if the President agrees to those restrictions and signs that bill into law, he still retains the power to violate it whenever he wants.

Thus, Sen. DeWine can pass his cute little bill purporting to require oversight, or Sen. Specter can pass his, or they can do nothing and leave FISA in place. None of that matters, because no matter what Congress or even the President do with regard to the law, the law does not restrict what the President can do in any way. They are telling the Congress to its face that all of the grand debates it is having and the negotiations it is conducting are all irrelevant farces, because no matter what happens, the President retains unlimited power and nothing that Congress does can affect that power in any way.

has more, plus the 47 ref. Digby is on it too, with a reference to 51, my favorite.

I do not believe Glenn is engaging in overstatement here. Our President does not believe that he is bound by law. But he broke the law when he did the thing FISA says he can't do. He has proclaimed his intent to continue doing so. He is adding signing statements to bill after bill as he signs them, professing his "understandings" that they do not apply to him.

And the key questions to Congress remain apt: how does it "correct the problem" to pass a law saying that the specific NSA program that has been revealed is now legal, and how can anybody believe that new torture and interrogation laws will be considered anything other than advisory? The Consitution provides Congress with a very short menu of means to rein in the Executive in these situations (hint: although it may be a good idea and good way for Congress to begin to reassert itself, censure is not to be found on that list).

(by the way, if you missed Meet the Press this morning, you didn't see Secretary Rice refuse to rule out launching an attack on Iran without Congressional approval, though she did make the descriptive statement that the President had sought such approval before the Iraq War)


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