Eugene Robinson is an op-ed columnist for the
Washington Post. I have always liked reading his articles. He seems to take
a rational approach to the problems facing this country, and today’s article is
Since the holiday season is a time of generosity and goodwill toward all
— even those who torture the Constitution and hoodwink the nation into
ill-advised wars — let’s do a little thought experiment.
Let’s assume that George W. Bush’s claim of virtually unfettered
presidential power is not just an exercise in reclaiming executive perks
that Dick Cheney believes were wrongly surrendered after Watergate. Let’s
assume that Bush genuinely believes he needs the right to blanket the nation
with electronic surveillance, detain indefinitely anyone he considers a
terrorist suspect, make those detainees disappear into secret, CIA-run
prisons, and subject them to “waterboarding” and other degradations. Let’s
assume for the moment that the president’s only desperate motivation is to
prevent another day like Sept. 11, 2001.
Boosting Democracy, Inadvertently Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â» Jim Hoagland | Except for Iraq’s
elections and its constitutional referendum, this has been a lost year for
Bush. The president flailed, stumbled or simply disappeared when the going
got tough at home. Editorial: Iraq’s Election Result Mitchell: A Flat-Out
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Let’s go even further and assume he decided to invade Iraq for the same
reason. Even in a thought experiment, we can’t forgive the way he snowed the
country into believing there was some connection between Iraq and the Sept.
11 attacks; nor can we forget the way he hyped the flawed intelligence about
weapons of mass destruction — we’re being generous here, not stupid. But
let’s assume that however calculated and cynical the machinations, and
however wrongheaded the decision to go to war, the underlying motive was
purely to avoid another catastrophic terrorist attack.
All right: Given these overly kind assumptions, can this administration’s
usurpation of power somehow be justified?
Every time I work it through, the answer I come up with is no. The
president has no right to ignore the rule of law as if it were a mere
The problem is that if the president really were determined to do
anything it takes to prevent another terrorist strike, why not suspend
habeas corpus, as Lincoln did during the Civil War? That way you could
arrest everyone who could possibly be a terrorist, or who once lived next
door to a suspected terrorist’s uncle, and you could hold those people as
long as you wanted. Why stop at surveillance of international telephone
calls and e-mails? Why not listen in on, say, all interstate calls as well?
Or just go for it and scarf up all the domestic communications the National
Security Agency’s copious computers can hold?
If the President felt he needed these extraordinary powers then why didn’t he
take the issue up with Congress and tell the American people he needed them? He
had a window of opportunity to do this. That window was right after September
11th. We have already heard that the President wanted extra powers immediately
following the attacks on 9/11, but the Democratic controlled Senate wouldn’t
give him the powers to go above the law. So why not declare marshal law and tell
the American people he needed these powers to keep us safe while making the
Democrats look like they were leaving us open for more attacks? The reason is
simple. Because the Democrats know what this country stands for and the last
thing the people would do is accept it being destroyed by a President running
After we were attacked at Perl Harbor, Roosevelt did not need to ignore the
law in order to strike back and finally win the war and defeat those who
attacked us. Our current law gives the President all the tools he needs to wage
a successful battle. Now we are at a point in history where our leaders have
even paid less attention to those who did attack us.
The problem is no President is above the law. We were reminded of that with
Bill Clinton. If Bush were the one to receive the favors from Monica and it were
found it, then he would of declared Monica a terrorist and said it was some form
of torture. Of course it could be considered torture at that point. It all boils
down to Clinton broke the law. Not with a blow job, but with lying to Congress.
That is something Bush has done time and time again and it has even lead us to
war. Now Bush continues to lie and ignore the law figuring he is above it.
Here is another interesting point. We can not sit here and try to decide what
the Constitution says about a President who breaks the law. It is clearly
written out in article 2, section 4:
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United
States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of,
Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Now why would our founders even put such a clause in the Constitution if the
President was expected to be above the law? Because the President IS NOT ABOVE
THE LAW. He is a leader elected by the people for the people and when he takes
that oath of office he is to become a shining example of the law and our way of
life. We find proof of that in article 2, section 1 of the Constitution:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office
of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability,
preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The Oath of Office. That little line the President reads while holding one
hand up and one on the bible. Bush has ignored the Constitution and considered
it a hindrance. Even worse, someone as religious as him has done so while
swearing on the Bible. I bet God is a little pissed about that.
We are facing a New Year, a time for hope, a time for change. The hope I have
for this New Year is for change. A change in how the Congress of this nation
upholds its constitutional duty of oversight. I hope that Congress summons
George Bush to Capital Hill to testify about his criminal actions and if they
convict him, he is immediately removed from office and moved into prison. We can
not allow him to continue to try and steal this nation from us.