Written by Chris Floyd
Friday, 20 July 2007
Just in case you haven’t noticed before, the United States of America has become a presidential tyranny. We’ve been clanging this bell here (and elsewhere) since late September 2001, and have seen it confirmed over and over through the years — with torture edicts, domestic spying, rendition, secret prisons, indefinite detention of uncharged, untried captives, etc. — and most recently and most baldly with the “Military Commissions Act,” which enshrined the principle of arbitrary presidential power in law and gutted the ancient privilege of habeas corpus. This was rubberstamped by the Republican-led Congress last year — and is still standing strong under the Democratic-led Congress.
But now the Bush Regime has taken an even more brazen step into the light with its frankly fascist doctrine of the “Unitary Executive.” As the Washington Post reports, the Administration’s legal perverts are getting ready to claim — openly, officially — that the president’s arbitrary will transcends every law in the land, every section of the Constitution. All he need do is arbitrarily assert “executive privilege” over any operation of government whatsoever to remove it beyond the reach of any legal action, Congressional inquiry — or criminal investigation. As Atrios notes, Bush has already arrogated to himself the “right” to interpret the law, through the “signing statements” he attaches to the bills he signs, declaring that he will obey only those strictures of the law that he sees fit. Now, the Administration is declaring that Bush need not be bound even by those laws he does deign to acknowledge. As the Post reports:
Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege…
Under federal law, a statutory contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, “whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.” But administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege…
Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration’s stance “astonishing.”
“That’s a breathtakingly broad view of the president’s role in this system of separation of powers,” Rozell said. “What this statement is saying is the president’s claim of executive privilege trumps all.”
Bringing It All Back Home: New Bush Order Could Criminalize Dissent
Written by Chris Floyd
Friday, 20 July 2007
Here’s a quick follow-up to the previous post: The Legal Pervert’s Parade: Executive Privilege Über Alles.
Sara Robinson at Orcinus gives us a glimpse of what could be coming as the unrestrained executive tyranny rolls on in Are We There Yet? She examines the new Executive Order quietly signed by Bush this week, in which he bestows upon himself — and designated minions — the arbitrary power to seize the assets of anyone whom he decides “poses a significant risk” of commiting violence aimed at “undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.” As Robinson notes:
“Undermining the efforts” is a term that can be defined very, very broadly. And since those of us opposing this war have been told repeatedly, from the beginning, that our efforts to change our fellow citizens’ minds were in fact treasonous acts that undermined the war effort, emboldened America’s enemies, and harmed our troops, it’s not unreasonable to believe that those warnings are now being backed up by official action. “At risk of committing significant acts of violence” is more overbroad weasel-speak: How many of us have said things that could be construed (at least by the certifiable paranoids in the White House) as a threat of violence against the Bush Administration?
Message to the Congress of the US Regarding International Emergency Economic Powers Act + Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq by George Bush