Lest we forget

I think we may regret this, Barry

I think we may regret this, Barry

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” Barack Obama as told to The Boston Globe,  December 20, 2007. “The president can only act unilaterally in ‘instances of self-defense’ “.

Joe Biden was on the same page back then. Of course, that was when George Bush held office.

Here’s Joe, one of the men who would be King:

“The president has no constitutional authority to take this country to war… unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked,” Biden said in 2007. Biden, then a Democratic senator from Delaware, suggested presidential war-making was an impeachable offense.

There’s some great stuff in that Boston Globe interview. Check it out, and see whether there’s anything Obama said he wouldn’t do that he actually hasn’t done. Well, that bit about not detaining US citizens abroad was accurate: he just drones’em, instead.

1. Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?

The Supreme Court has never held that the president has such powers. As president, I will follow existing law, and when it comes to U.S. citizens and residents, I will only authorize surveillance for national security purposes consistent with FISA and other federal statutes.

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.” The recent NIE tells us that Iran in 2003 halted its effort to design a nuclear weapon. While this does not mean that Iran is no longer a threat to the United States or its allies, it does give us time to conduct aggressive and principled personal diplomacy aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

3. Does the Constitution empower the president to disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops — either by capping the number of troops that may be deployed to a particular country or by setting minimum home-stays between deployments? In other words, is that level of deployment management beyond the constitutional power of Congress to regulate?

No, the President does not have that power. To date, several Congresses have imposed limitations on the number of US troops deployed in a given situation. As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.

4. Under what circumstances, if any, would you sign a bill into law but also issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass the law?

Signing statements have been used by presidents of both parties, dating back to Andrew Jackson. While it is legitimate for a president to issue a signing statement to clarify his understanding of ambiguous provisions of statutes and to explain his view of how he intends to faithfully execute the law, it is a clear abuse of power to use such statements as a license to evade laws that the president does not like or as an end-run around provisions designed to foster accountability.

I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law. The problem with this administration is that it has attached signing statements to legislation in an effort to change the meaning of the legislation, to avoid enforcing certain provisions of the legislation that the President does not like, and to raise implausible or dubious constitutional objections to the legislation. The fact that President Bush has issued signing statements to challenge over 1100 laws – more than any president in history – is a clear abuse of this prerogative. No one doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president’s constitutional prerogatives; unfortunately, the Bush Administration has gone much further than that.

5. Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?

No. I reject the Bush Administration’s claim that the President has plenary authority under the Constitution to detain U.S. citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.

6. Does executive privilege cover testimony or documents about decision-making within the executive branch not involving confidential advice communicated to the president himself?

With respect to the “core” of executive privilege, the Supreme Court has not resolved this question, and reasonable people have debated it. My view is that executive privilege generally depends on the involvement of the President and the White House.

7. If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president’s authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?

No. The President is not above the law, and the Commander-in-Chief power does not entitle him to use techniques that Congress has specifically banned as torture. We must send a message to the world that America is a nation of laws, and a nation that stands against torture. As President I will abide by statutory prohibitions, and have the Army Field Manual govern interrogation techniques for all United States Government personnel and contractors.

8. Under what circumstances, if any, is the president, when operating overseas as commander-in-chief, free to disregard international human rights treaties that the US Senate has ratified?

It is illegal and unwise for the President to disregard international human rights treaties that have been ratified by the United States Senate, including and especially the Geneva Conventions. The Commander-in-Chief power does not allow the President to defy those treaties.

9. Do you agree or disagree with the statement made by former Attorney General Gonzales in January 2007 that nothing in the Constitution confers an affirmative right to habeas corpus, separate from any statutory habeas rights Congress might grant or take away?

Disagree strongly.

10. Is there any executive power the Bush administration has claimed or exercised that you think is unconstitutional? Anything you think is simply a bad idea?

First and foremost, I agree with the Supreme Court’s several decisions rejecting the extreme arguments of the Bush Administration, most importantly in the Hamdi and Hamdan cases. I also reject the view, suggested in memoranda by the Department of Justice, that the President may do whatever he deems necessary to protect national security, and that he may torture people in defiance of congressional enactments. In my view, torture is unconstitutional, and certain enhanced interrogation techniques like “waterboarding” clearly constitute torture. And as noted, I reject the use of signing statements to make extreme and implausible claims of presidential authority.

Some further points:

The detention of American citizens, without access to counsel, fair procedure, or pursuant to judicial authorization, as enemy combatants is unconstitutional.

Warrantless surveillance of American citizens, in defiance of FISA, is unlawful and unconstitutional.

The violation of international treaties that have been ratified by the Senate, specifically the Geneva Conventions, was illegal (as the Supreme Court held) and a bad idea.

The creation of military commissions, without congressional authorization, was unlawful (as the Supreme Court held) and a bad idea.

I believe the Administration’s use of executive authority to over-classify information is a bad idea. We need to restore the balance between the necessarily secret and the necessity of openness in our democracy – which is why I have called for a National Declassification Center.

33 Comments

Filed under Right wing nut rantings

33 responses to “Lest we forget

  1. TheWizard

    It won’t occur to the White House press corps to jack his ass up over these discrepancies yet they consider themselves the true journalists whereas bloggers are not worthy. More proof of everything being backwards.

  2. I think Michelle would tell you: “Barak is just trying to do what’s best for the country, so shut your unappreciative white mouth up. Oops, gotta catch a plane back to the Vineyard, or is it Spain?”

  3. Anonymous

    It is a shame you can’t have two blogs, one for the Greenwich Real Estate and local news (Ramadamadingdong, Zoning, GAR/FAR fights, you name it) and one for your humorously labelled “Right wing nut rantings”. It seems you have an enthusiastic audience for both, but they are not entirely overlapping. I really enjoy your writing and insights on local issues, I wish I had some of your talent. The Obama stuff seems to appeal to a different group than your current and potential real estate clients.

    • At the suggestion of another reader, I’ve recently added a real estate category; not quite sure how it works, but the intention is that you can then sort and seek out the real estate wheat from the ranting chaff. When I have the time, I’ll make the former easier to find.
      (The Greenwich MLS closed early for the holiday weekend, so real estate news will be particularly thin for the next few days – come back Tuesday – please!)

      • Cobra

        I’ll bet a large portion of FWIW readers enjoy the content mix just the way it is. As they say in Hollyweird, “Don’t ever change.”

      • Libertarian Advocate

        Seen from another perspective: Separating ranting wheat from R.E. chaff.

  4. Anonymous Citizenette

    It doesn’t matter what o’bumma and friends say or do…..they are never wrong. Lie, re-write history, none of it matters. All that matters to many is where’s my next check? It’s upsetting to know that seniors, a crucial conservative leaning voting population, is increasingly voting demmie because their time on earth is limited and like so many others, they too want every damn cent they’re entitled to before it all blows up.

  5. Property Rights were the basis for founding this country.
    Chris’s amazing ability to connect the policy based country we live in now with THE founding principal severe erosion that is mucking our lives needs to stay connected.

  6. if nobody cares, being King is meaningless

  7. EOSredux

    This is what real patriots are doing today. Bush 43 devotes himself tirelessly to the Wounded Warriors, Mercy Ships, and this organization, my personal favorite. Folds of Honor. Fox’s Brian Kilmeade was with W 43 today. Just look….
    @kilmeade: Such a great day W 43
    For troops help http://t.co/r6LVFhJ2xc http://t.co/Zj37pzL5y7

    I can’t imagine Obama giving back this way. Ever.

      • EOSredux

        Dear Christopher O*. Fountain,

        In case you are wondering, ’twas I in the blue Audi with the NY plates who cut you off on Long Ridge Road after the Merritt, and ’twas I who waved to you from my sunroof as you turned onto OldLRR. My guess is you neither noticed I cut you off, nor saw my hearty wave. Hence…..[*Oblivious]

        • I wasn’t oblivious to the car, I just saw the NY plates and figured, “typical”, and let it go. : )

        • EOSredux

          Ironically, after I cut you off and was speedily on my way, some CT old timer with a handicapped sticker in the window and an Obama sticker on his fender (=doubly handicapped I guess), pulled out in front of me, going slower than you were. I think I saw a turtle pass you too. 🙂

          • If – if you’re wondering, the lane you were in is designated for a right hand turn. Proper (non-New Yorker) driving procedure is to stay in the designated lane and pass on the left, not dash along on the right, swerve in front of the car proceeding safely in front of you, and bash in the bumper of an old cripple, Obama sticker on that bumper or not.
            But none of that applies to Bedford drivers, who we know could be in any lane, at any time, pulling the most astonishing feats of motorized daring. You go right on doing what you’re doing, Dear – we understand.

        • EOSredux

          NOT that I need to justify my excellent driving, but that teeny stretch right there at the light with DD on the right and Lakeside Diner on the left, once you go through the light, there is no specified right turn only lane. It’s dog eat dog, it’s whose car can go faster to get ahead of any old fogies in the area. If you don’t make a move there, it’s a very long drive back to Bedford, with no legal passing opportunities. BTW, does your truck go over 30 miles per hour or that’s just how you have the governor set?

      • Libertarian Advocate

        So, what’s this about? Aren’t you ‘sposed to be in Rhode Island for this very last weekend of unofficial summer. We’d know all this if you were still blogging [not that I can really talk about THAT].

        • EOSredux

          Aaaah, Mr. EOS comes from the “It’ll be Done when its Done” school of construction so our new little RI love nest has no roof and I’m kinda funny that way – I like a roof over my head. Also, It’s good for our marriage when I’m not there constantly saying “what did you do today” or “is that all you did today?” Hence, I am in NY overseeing projects here.

          Yes, RIP EOSRedux, the Blog. I hung up my hat in July, unable to find one more bloody thing to write about. I hit the proverbial brick wall.

          • “I hung up my hat in July, unable to find one more bloody thing to write about. I hit the proverbial brick wall.”
            That hasn’t stopped me in eight years; surely you’re made of sterner stuff!

        • EOSredux

          Blogging was great, no doubt about it, I had fun but as I told LibAd, I’m having more fun being a serial homeowner/renovator, being a doting grammie, and doing some serious traveling. Plus, if I were busy blogging, how could I torture slowpoke Connecticut drivers on Long Ridge Road?!

          Since you live almost at the Bedford border, one day drive up (or is it down?) Long Ridge to Miller’s Mill road. Hang a sharp louie onto Miller’s Mill, go down the hill with the gorgeous Mill House and waterfall on your right, then take a quick left onto Mianus River Road. One of the many dirt roads that we Bedfordites cherish. Mosey up to The Mianus River Gorge, bring your hiking boots and stroll through this grand stretch of nature that is my back yard. You won’t be disappointed. When you leave the Gorge, turn left and drive along Mianus River Road (gorgeous) til you come to a T. Turn left there and you’ll be on east Middle Patent which comes out onto Taconic at Lionshare Farm. A fun day adventure.

        • EOSredux

          One last sightseeing tip: when you leave the gorge by turning left, take your first right onto St. Mary’s Church Road. Classically Bedford narrow and winding but perfect for a conservative driver like yourself. At the end of that road, look straight up. St. Mary’s chapel is snack dab in front of you. Historically gorgeous and non-denominational (although owned and operated by my Episcopal church in Bedford), it has services just a few times a year. It’s a classic neighborhood church, very low key, very simple. No heat in the building. Thanksgiving and before Christmas services are especially nice. There’s a service September 8 if you want to see what its all about.

          Click to access St_Marys_Newsletter_2013.pdf

        • Martha

          Eos, thanks for that gorge tip, ill definitely taking the boys up there soon! I, too, miss your blog!

          And, I’m also a conservative driver-the other day I ambled down north street and then down (not mason, the one before whole foods) and the crazy botoxed binnie in a range rover nearly had an aneurism honking at me!

  8. AJ

    ‘America Totally Discredited — Paul Craig Roberts’

    “A foolish President Obama and moronic Secretary of State Kerry have handed the United States government its worst diplomatic defeat in history and destroyed the credibility of the Office of the President, the Department of State, and the entire executive branch. All are exposed as a collection of third-rate liars.

    Intoxicated with hubris from past successful lies and deceptions used to destroy Iraq and Libya, Obama thought the US “superpower,” the “exceptional” and “indispensable” country, could pull it off again, this time in Syria.

    But the rest of the world has learned to avoid Washington’s rush to war when there is no evidence. A foolish Obama was pushed far out on the limb by an incompetent and untrustworthy National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, and the pack of neoconservatives that support her, and the British Parliament cut the limb off.

    What kind of fool would put himself in that vulnerable position?

    Now Obama stands alone, isolated, trying to back away from his threat to attack without authorization from anyone–not from the UN, not from NATO, not from Congress who he ignored–a sovereign country. Under the Nuremberg Standard military aggression is a war crime. Washington has until now got away with its war crimes by cloaking them in UN or NATO approval. Despite these “approvals,” they remain war crimes.

    But his National Security Advisor and the neocon warmongers are telling him that he must prove that he is a Real Man who can stand alone and commit war crimes all by himself without orchestrated cover from the UN or NATO or a cowardly US Congress. It is up to Obama, they insist, to establish for all time that the President of the United States is above all law. ….”

    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/08/30/america-totally-discredited-paul-craig-roberts/

  9. Anonymous

    It’s now 1:27 and Obama has yet to speak. I assume he couldn’t find a quarter to flip to help him decide to fight or not.