Bush, Obama, and Presidential War Powers

1 Apr

Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com wrote an excellent article about the expanding war powers of the President. I highly recommend this piece to anyone that is interested in the interplay of federalism, the national executive, and the political process. For my Tea Party compatriots that have a tendency to see Constitutional issues in black and white, I think this will give you a better idea of how complicated things really are.  

Just a quick summation of points:

  • Greenwald begins by discussing President W. Bush’s disregard for FISA (Nixon-inspired federal law that makes certain kinds of domestic eavesdropping a felony). In essence, the Bush’s DOJ team made the argument that Article II’s necessary and proper clause allows the President to ignore Congressional power at his discretion i.e. Statutes apply unless the President, upon his unchecked discretion, deems that it doesn’t
  • In wake of US military action in Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated the same message to the House of Representatives
  • Greenwald discusses a 1987 report by then Congressman Cheney’s justifying President Reagan’s involvement in Iran Contra. In particular, he gives us an excerpt of the report… “it was unconstitutional for Congress to pass laws intruding” on the “commander in chief”… Needless to say, Cheney does a good job an exception job of making people dislike him with everything he does
  • How Senator Obama and Senator Clinton were adamantly opposed to President Bush’s exercise of power
  • The unlikely pairing of Justice Scalia and Justice Stevens in the dissent of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld
  • How President Obama is doing what all Presidents before him have done: preserve and expand the power of the President
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