The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Friday, January 06, 2006

That Commander in Chief Excuse

The U.S. Constitution Online - "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."

Bush's (and associated sycophants like Berkeley law professor John Woo (and Samuel Scalito?)) excuse for his warrantless wiretapping is that Congress gave him the authority to do so when it authorized him to defend the "homeland" (da, uber alles) under his Constitutional perogratives as Commander in Chief. Well, has anybody bothered to look at the relevant Constitutional language? Cause there's not a whole lot there that says that a Commander in Chief in his duties in war time is above any law passed by Congress (and signed of course by yours truly the President).

The relevant paragraph is above and it sure is thin on justifications. I don't see how you parse an argument that the President as Commander in Chief of the army cannot have his prerogatives abbreviated or abrogated by Congress. Well it's no stretch to see that a Congress, without taking upon itself any Commander in Chief duties such as setting strategy or telling Generals what to do, has every right to pass laws that limit the amount of money flowing to the armed forces and to pass any number of laws that dictate how soldiers are to conduct themselves in times of war and peace. Do we honestly think that all such rules are the sole reserve of the generals and President and that they dictate all these parameters of behavior? If so, then I guess we live in a much less democratic country then we are all led to believe. The notion that a President can eavesdrop as he wishes in the name of National Security, can emprison indefinitely without charges or trial any one including a citizen of the US, just on his say so that the person is a threat to security, can authorize torture in the name of national security, even when he himself has signed legislation banning the practice is altogether ludicrous. The President is not above the laws of the land. We are supposed to be a nation of laws. I like to think that we are a nation governed by people and that is what makes us great, but the conservatives like to repeat their mantra that what makes us great is that we are a nation of laws. So how about it? Are we or are we not? And don't those laws apply to the elected and appointed officials of our government no matter the circumstance. This argument seems to me as plain as the nose on my face so I just don't get how the MSM can get away trumpeting the argument that this is an esoteric argument between civil libertarians and legal experts and those concerned about our "security." No, it's a clear case of someone putting himself above the law and saying "I don't need no stinking warrants. F- U and the justices you rode in on."
The issue is not invasions of American's privacy. It's simply why did this President not feel that he was subject to US law and submit his supposed security concerns to the court set up to monitor the balance of security and liberty?


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