Tuesday, February 19, 2008


First we had President Bush's "signing statements," which the president claims allows him to ignore the will of Congress.

Next, we got the administration claiming unitary executive powers (from John Yoo’s famous 2001 memo), which says the president has the authority to do what he wants in a time of war.

Then we get the administration’s insistence that they can claim “state secrets” for virtually everything under the sun, which enables the administration to withhold certain information.

Upping the ante, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' office declared the president has the authority to unilaterally declare anyone "enemy combatants,” and then hold them indefinitely.

Now, we’re treated to this.

The U.S. Supreme Court is says if you claim you were the target of the president’s spying program – which the telecom industry participated in, and the president now wants retroactive immunity for – you need to provide proof you were spied on. Without it you can’t sue the government for violating your constitutional rights. There’s just one catch. The federal government doesn’t have to release certain information, especially if it falls under the “state’s secrets” privilege of the president, which the president can claim with his executive authority. Nice.

For those of you keeping score at home this is what we have: The president (1) can ignore Congress, (2) has the authority to do what he wants, (3) can label his activities as state secrets, (4) can declare and hold “enemy combatants” unilaterally, and (5) can keep potential evidence (of wrongdoing) from the public indefinitely.

All that’s left is for President Bush to develop is a Praetorian Guard.
- Mark

P.S. Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post on what the Supreme Court's decision means. It's not pretty. Here's a snippet ...

We do not know which Americans were spied upon without warrants, how they were chosen for surveillance, whether they had any connection to terrorists, and/or what was done with the information obtained. Despite the fact that we enacted laws 30 years ago making warrantless spying a felony, we have no idea what was done with the warrantless spying powers the President arrogated unto himself and then used for years

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