Dear President Obama: “By What Authority?” by Bruce Fein and Ralph Nader + Barack Obama’s Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Yemen

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
The Nader Page
May 13, 2013

Dear Mr. President:

As a former lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, you know that the federal government, including the Office of the President, does not enjoy limitless powers.  As President, your powers are limited to those conferred either by the Constitution or federal statutes.  Supreme Court Associate Justice Hugo Black elaborated in Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957):

“The United States is entirely a creature of the Constitution.  Its power and authority have no other source. It can only act in accordance with all the limitations imposed by the Constitution.”

One of your illustrious predecessors, Thomas Jefferson, instructed in the Kentucky Resolution of 1798:  “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”  As regards the Alien Act’s empowering the President to deport any alien he unilaterally decreed was “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States,” Mr. Jefferson maintained

“that transferring the power of judging any person, who is under the protection of the laws from the courts, to the President of the United States, as is undertaken by the same act concerning aliens, is against the article of the Constitution which provides that ‘the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in courts, the judges of which shall hold their offices during good behavior.’”

With regard to your actions—especially those taken in the name of national security–you are obliged by your constitutional oath to explain by what authority you are acting, and to answer serious criticism of your legal theories.  Among other issues, you are obliged to elaborate by what authority you are empowered to commence war without congressional authorization or appropriations; to initiate war without the justification of self-defense, which is contrary to the Nuremberg precedents condemning crimes against peace; to play prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner to kill American citizens and non-citizens based on your secret assertion that the targets posed a danger—however remote and conjectural–to national security interests; to imprison persons indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay without accusation or trial; to intercept the emails and phone conversations of millions of American citizens without a judicial warrant; to invoke a state secrets privilege to block judicial redress for torture or extra-judicial killings; to resort to executive agreements, in lieu of treaties or federal statutes, to justify deploying the United States armed forces abroad; and, to engage in extraordinary rendition.

In light of your obligation to explain “by what authority,” we were dismayed that you refused to send a witness to testify on April 23, 2013, regarding the legality of your predator drone targeted and signature killing programs before Senator Richard Durbin’s Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.  That disdain for the rule of law and congressional oversight contrasts unfavorably with President Gerald Ford’s willingness to testify personally before a House Judiciary Subcommittee on his pardon of former President Richard Nixon.

Most significant constitutional questions concerning national security escape judicial review because of technical barriers such as standing, ripeness, political question, or state secrets.  That means they are decided in the court of public opinion, which must be educated about the matters by you and members of the media if the Constitution is to be adhered to and not vandalized.  Public opinion repudiated the so-called “rationale” for torture concocted by the administration of President George W. Bush after you exposed the relevant legal memoranda to public scrutiny.

We urge you to explain to reporters and the American people “by what authority” you or your administration is acting regarding the aforementioned matters or comparable major actions so as to restore the rule of law as the crown jewel of the Constitution.  We urge you to consider the timeless wisdom of the United States Supreme Court in Ex parte Milligan (1866):

“The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances. No doctrine involving more pernicious consequences was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false, for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it which are necessary to preserve its existence, as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority.”

Sincerely, Bruce Fein and Ralph Nader


Propaganda Alert!

Barack Obama’s Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Yemen

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 13, 2013


– – – – – – –


On May 16, 2012, by Executive Order 13611, I declared a national emergency pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Yemen and others that threatened Yemen’s peace, security, and stability, including by obstructing the implementation of the agreement of November 23, 2011, between the Government of Yemen and those in opposition to it, which provided for a peaceful transition of power that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people for change, and by obstructing the political process in Yemen.

The actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Yemen and others in threatening Yemen’s peace, security, and stability continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared on May 16, 2012, to deal with that threat must continue in effect beyond May 16, 2013. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13611.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.



Noam Chomsky: Drones Come Home To Roost + Jeremy Scahill: Dirty Wars

Chris Hedges: What Is The Most Effective Way To Mobilize Against These Entities? I’m For Anything That Fucks The System Up!

A Warning from Guantánamo – Four Prisoners Are Close to Death, and the Authorities Don’t Care by Andy Worthington

Barack Obama Is Comfortable with Bush’s Inferno by Ralph Nader + ABA White Papers

Barack Obama’s Executive Order — Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity + Cyber Dragnet? Obama’s Internet security order to enable monitoring of civilians

Executive Order-Blocking Property of Persons Threatening the Peace, Security, or Stability of Yemen by Barack Obama

Executive Privilege

15 thoughts on “Dear President Obama: “By What Authority?” by Bruce Fein and Ralph Nader + Barack Obama’s Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Yemen

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    • That’s a good question Rock On. Not sure what the right answer is, I based my observation on what I had learned from Vandana Shiva (I believe) & Lester Brown’s Earth Policy Institute Plan B that refers to the exhaustion of fossil aquifers and the impending water crises.

      Maybe these big US operations tank it in, or are simply draining the native aquifers quicker than would otherwise be the case. Whatever the precise logistics, it all adds up to a massive mismanagement of resources and a criminal imposition on an already seriously degraded environment.

      The only solution for these desertified areas is permaculture greening techniques, that restore life to barren areas, as has been demonstrated in Jordan and elsewhere like Sudan and Ethiopia if I’m not mistaken. Google John D Liu and Geoff Lawton for the videos, they provide a lot of information about these techniques, Lo has posted some of this already.

      One important Ethiopian green oasis project was initiated by an unsung hero whom Elisabet Sahtouris has talked about a great deal; only his work was later sabotaged somehow by over-development if I recall correctly. I’ll see if I can find that story as it is inspiring.

      • I believe this must be John McMillin, who is something of a living legend. Not sure about my recollection of a reactionary response to his work however, as he has evidently organised countless successful projects all over the world.

  11. Yemenis don’t even have sufficient ground water, let alone time on their hands to concoct “unusual & extraordinary” threats!

    Bravo to Ralph Nader and Bruce Fein.

    The preposterous hubris of this “US government” is beyond belief. Talk about crap political theatre hammed out by a bunch of lousy thespians!

  12. Unfortunately, once GW Bush was allowed the power to act like world ruler, any president there after would do the same and more, as I suspect we will be seeing the next president follow the lead of those presidents prior to their reign.

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