Sunday, January 08, 2006

King George

One of my new faves, Glenn Greenwald, links to an extremely revealing article by conservative legal theorist - oh, the hell with it, on the basis of this evidence, let's just call him Bushevik apologist Harvey Mansfield, professor of government at Harvard. In his essay in the Weekly Standard, Mansfield defends the Bush Administration's extra-legal activities thusly:
Enemies, however, not merely violate but oppose the law. They oppose our law and want to replace it with theirs. To counter enemies, a republic must have and use force adequate to a greater threat than comes from criminals, who may be quite patriotic if not public-spirited, and have nothing against the law when applied to others besides themselves. But enemies, being extra-legal, need to be faced with extra-legal force...
Mansfield goes on to state that "the rule of law is not enough to run a government," that today's civil libertarians frequently "forget to consider emergencies when liberties are dangerous and law does not apply," and in rejecting monarchy, the republican framers of the Constitution "had forgotten" that though monarchy might be unsafe, it could also be effective.

In other words, at times one-man rule is the only way to go.

We've had numerous examples of the Bush Adminstration's lawlessness (Greenwald refers to the Administration's "ideology of lawlessness," and I think that's right on) - my current favorite being Bush's "signing statement" with regards to the defense appropriations bill that included McCain's anti-torture ammendment. If you missed this little nugget, here's an excerpt from the Boston Globe:
When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief.

After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a ''signing statement" -- an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law -- declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.

''The executive branch shall construe [the law] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President . . . as Commander in Chief," Bush wrote, adding that this approach ''will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President . . . of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."

Some legal specialists said yesterday that the president's signing statement, which was posted on the White House website but had gone unnoticed over the New Year's weekend, raises serious questions about whether he intends to follow the law.

A senior administration official, who spoke to a Globe reporter about the statement on condition of anonymity because he is not an official spokesman, said the president intended to reserve the right to use harsher methods in special situations involving national security...

''We are not going to ignore this law," the official said, noting that Bush, when signing laws, routinely issues signing statements saying he will construe them consistent with his own constitutional authority. ''We consider it a valid statute. We consider ourselves bound by the prohibition on cruel, unusual, and degrading treatment."

But, the official said, a situation could arise in which Bush may have to waive the law's restrictions to carry out his responsibilities to protect national security. He cited as an example a ''ticking time bomb" scenario, in which a detainee is believed to have information that could prevent a planned terrorist attack...

...David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues, said that the signing statement means that Bush believes he can still authorize harsh interrogation tactics when he sees fit.

''The signing statement is saying 'I will only comply with this law when I want to, and if something arises in the war on terrorism where I think it's important to torture or engage in cruel, inhuman, and degrading conduct, I have the authority to do so and nothing in this law is going to stop me,' " he said. ''They don't want to come out and say it directly because it doesn't sound very nice, but it's unmistakable to anyone who has been following what's going on."

Golove and other legal specialists compared the signing statement to Bush's decision, revealed last month, to bypass a 1978 law forbidding domestic wiretapping without a warrant. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans' international phone calls and e-mails without a court order starting after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The president and his aides argued that the Constitution gives the commander in chief the authority to bypass the 1978 law when necessary to protect national security. They also argued that Congress implicitly endorsed that power when it authorized the use of force against the perpetrators of the attacks.

Legal academics and human rights organizations said Bush's signing statement and his stance on the wiretapping law are part of a larger agenda that claims exclusive control of war-related matters for the executive branch and holds that any involvement by Congress or the courts should be minimal.
Oh, god, NOT the "ticking time bomb" scenario. All I can say is, we must have already had a ton of those, given this Administration's obsession with having the power to torture whomever they want to whenever they'd like.

That, by the way, was snark. I don't believe for a moment that Bush, Cheney and their cronies have diffused, 24-like, a string of explosive devices with their timers showing 1 second left till Doomsday. Far easier to believe (because there's actually evidence for this stuff, as opposed to wing-nut fantasies) is that innocent people have been caught up in the Administration's "Terror Crusade," that they've been rendered to regimes where torture is commonplace, imprisoned without evidence or charges in our own American gulag (though here, at least, is evidence that the Bush Administration has some small budget-consciousness, seeing as how they're using recycled Soviet prisons).

The nice thing about assuming the mantle of "War President" in a "War on Terror" is that the war never ends. As some wag put it, you can't declare war on a noun - or at least, you can't win one. There will always be terror of some form or another. The Bush Administration even revamped their own acronym at one point, downgrading "GWOT" - the "Global War on Terror" - to "GSAVE" - the "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism". Seeing as how we are now officially engaged in a "struggle" as opposed to a "war" - isn't it time to reject the Bush Regime's Imperial assumptions?

Not that our current little King George shows any signs of doing so.

I'm thinking it's about time for another Tea Party...

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