The Executive Branch Power Grab

June 7, 2006 at 12:45 pm (Uncategorized)

As we all know, The Bush administration has declared itself the sole arbitor of what powers are and aren't available to it. It looks as though some people with clout in the matter are finally responding. The following are some comments from David Hume's blog. Gives one reason for hope…

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A couple of quick points

By Hume's Ghost

1) In addition to what Glenn said below about the growing pushback against the Executive's grab at expanded powers, there are a couple of other stories in the news that are fairly significant in this regard.

First, the Senate Judiciary Committee has hinted that it will defend journalists from prosecution for violation of espionage laws. The AP reports that

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave the Bush administration a new lashing Tuesday over its use of executive power, citing the FBI's posthumous probe of columnist Jack Anderson and questioning the notion that espionage laws might allow the prosecution of journalists who publish classified information."It's highly doubtful in my mind that that was ever the intent of Congress," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said.

The World War I-era espionage laws, countered Justice Department criminal division chief Matthew Friedrich, "do not exempt any class of professionals, including reporters, from their reach."

"I believe that's an invitation to Congress to legislate on the subject," replied Specter, R-Pa. "Clearly, the ball is in our court."

Secondly, the board of governors for the American Bar Association, which in Febuary had denounced the NSA surveillance as illegal, voted unanimously earlier this week to form an "all-star legal panel with a number of members from both political parties" in order to "to evaluate Bush's assertions that he has the power to ignore laws that conflict with his interpretation of the Constitution. " The ABA's decision was motivated by The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage, who first covered the President's extensive use of signing statements.

2) There's an interesting discussion going on over at Michael Berube's blog regarding How Would A Patriot Act?, which echoes some of the debate that has occurred here in regards whether or not "patriotism" is a virtue. Drawing a distinction between civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism, Berube writes

What Greenwald offers here is a mode of nationalism—of patriotism—that consists of principled opposition to the unlimited expansion of executive power by the Bush/Cheney regime. It’s a mode of nationalism that might, and that should, be more popular than it is.

And then in this follow-up post Berube responds to some critical comments.

3) I've heard a few people comment that they would like to learn more about the ideas of the Founders, but find their work, such as The Federalist, a bit inaccessible. If you count yourself among this crowd, then you might enjoy reading Pulitzer Prize winning historian Gary Wills' Explaining America: The Federalist. I just picked up a copy of this, myself, yesterday and have been reading through it. Wills offers a compact and concise study of the essays in prose that is easy to understand, providing context along the way as to what exactly informed the thoughts of Madison and Hamilton (and Jay to a lesser extent.) Of course, I'm partial to the book since Wills frames each chapter with a quote from the political philosophy of David Hume.

posted by Hume's Ghost

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