14 January 2006

Dale McFeatters: Bush's misuse of presidential power

More fun with presidential tyranny, from Capitol Hill Blue:
Over White House objections and by convincing, veto-proof margins, Congress voted late last year to ban the torture of anyone in U.S. government custody.

When President Bush signed that ban last month, he added a disclaimer, saying that nothing in the ban affected his prerogatives in a time of national emergency to fight the war on terrorism how he chose. In other words, he reserved the right to torture even though Congress explicitly outlawed it.

And he used the same justification for bypassing the courts and ordering the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens.

Bush also invoked this same authority to assert that he could hold U.S. citizens indefinitely, without trial or counsel, simply on his say-so.

Taking an expansionist view of a new law on the treatment of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainees, the administration insists that it bars federal courts from any jurisdiction over the detainees, "including application for writs of habeas corpus." The right to be brought before a judge is fundamental to civil liberties, but the administration has decided it can selectively suspend that right. It has asked the federal courts to dismiss all detainee lawsuits, effectively leaving the detainees' fate in the hands of a legal process effectively controlled by the president.

The assertion of these powers has its roots in the War Powers Act of 1973, a controversial law, parts of which are widely believed to be unconstitutional, and resolutions on the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq that Congress passed post-9/11.
[Read more.]

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