President Bush Not Violating Constitution
- 30 April 2006 by Author 0 Comments
President Bush Not Violating Constitution
By Richard Larsen
Published Idaho State Journal, April 30, 2006
The cacophony of anti-Bush maledictions spewed from the left this past week was nearly sufficient to deafen logic itself. To those who subscribe solely to the heavily filtered drive-by media version of the news, jump aboard. The ride is easy but fallacious.
I am no apologist for the President, but facts beg examination if one is to wade logically through the litany of accusations against the President.
Mr. Adler (ISJ 4/23/06) asserts that the President has “advanced sweeping assertions of authority as Commander in Chief that have launched presidential power on a trajectory toward the realm of illimitable and unaccountable executive power.” A diatribe on the powers of the Commander in Chief is then presented in the context of the intent of the Founding Fathers.
It’s comforting to see constitutional intent of the Founders referenced from the left. If that becomes more universally applied, all the attacks upon religion in the name of “separation of church and state” are nullified. The Founders intent behind the establishment and free exercise clauses in the First Amendment was to prohibit government interference in religion, not to keep religious influence out of government.
Writings of the Founders are replete with references to deity and the importance of religious influence on the affairs of government. Their intent was clear: freedom of religion, not freedom from religious influence. Like it or not, we are a Judeo-Christian society, which is at the heart of our legal system. We can’t be prejudicial and selective in application of Founders’ intent and maintain any semblance of equitable treatment of constitutional principles.
Articles I and III have not been abolished. These are the articles of the constitution that provide the checks on the executive branch from the legislative and judicial branches. They articulate in broad terms the powers of those two branches of government over the executive branch. As long as these Articles are in the constitution, there can be no “illimitable and unaccountable executive power.”
Legislative statute and judicial precedent over the past two centuries have served to clarify the powers of the executive branch beyond what is articulated in the constitution. It is through this contextual perspective that executive powers under the Bush administration must be viewed.
The administration has statute on its side for the NSA international wiretap program. JR114, passed 10/16/02, states that the president has the authority to “take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States.” That’s more than Clinton had when he used the same program.
There is a judicial ruling on seizing and detaining an American citizen as an “enemy combatant.” The Supreme Court ruled accordingly in the Yaser Hamdi case. He was an American citizen, born in Saudi Arabia, and captured in Afghanistan fighting against our troops for the Taliban. Sounds to me like he was an enemy combatant!
The President has not suspended the Geneva Convention in the war on terror. The Third Geneva Convention as modified in 1949 clearly defines combatants as “regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government.” Even if we accept turbans and robes as uniforms, a logical person cannot possibly extrapolate that they represent a government. Thus, the Geneva Convention doesn’t even apply to terrorists.
The President has not superceded federal laws that prohibit torture. A Yemeni prisoner at Guantanamo claims he was tortured because he was fed through a tube while engaged in a hunger strike. That can hardly be called violation of John McCain’s Detainee Treatment Act.
Military tribunals must be terrible, especially since they were used by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and FDR. They are used now as they are intended: to try members of enemy forces during wartime, operating outside of the scope of conventional criminal and civil courts.
Adler also contends that the president has terminated treaties. Frankly, Article II of the Constitution gives the President the power to establish treaties, so I guess he has the power to terminate them as well. If the Senate had a problem with President Bush withdrawing from the ABM Treaty in 2001 they could have over ridden his action according to Article I of the Constitution.
If you want a historical perspective on wartime expansion of executive powers, look at what FDR did during WWII. Now that’s alarming!
In short, Adler’s assertions are about as accurate as John Dean’s book. Give us facts, not just verbal regurgitation of the mainstream media. If I had written such unfounded tripe in college, my outstanding political science professors Butch Hjelm and Rick Foster would have flunked me!
Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.