The Rogue President

Maybe this explains why the Democrats didn’t get into a protracted political battle with the President over wiretapping- it doesn’t matter anyway:

At the meeting, Bruce Fein, a Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan administration, along with other critics of the legislation, pressed Justice Department officials repeatedly for an assurance that the administration considered itself bound by the restrictions imposed by Congress. The Justice Department, led by Ken Wainstein, the assistant attorney general for national security, refused to do so, according to three participants in the meeting. That stance angered Mr. Fein and others. It sent the message, Mr. Fein said in an interview, that the new legislation, though it is already broadly worded, “is just advisory. The president can still do whatever he wants to do. They have not changed their position that the president’s Article II powers trump any ability by Congress to regulate the collection of foreign intelligence.”

Talking Points notes: “That’s the important thing to remember: the White House considers the legislation “just advisory,” so it doesn’t much matter whether or not lawmakers gave up too much authority to the president. He’s going to do what he wants to do.”

I think a better way of stating it was put in the comments here the other day:

As I’ve said elsewhere, alas, I don’t you understand the highly legitimate nature of what Bush is doing here.

He’s operating on The Theory Of We Get To Do Whatever The Fuck We Want, and so he’s doing whatever the fuck he wants.

Laws are for little people. And the Clenis.

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30 replies
  1. 1
    Cletus McWingnut says:

    Uh… OIL-FOR-FOOD!

  2. 2
    Slide says:

    Hillary is going to love all the precedents set by Bush.

  3. 3
    Rome Again says:

    Bush has been in office for over six and half years, and has consistently thumbed his nose at any form of accountability, so why are you just acknowledging this now?

  4. 4
    Jinchi says:

    I’d say the president considers all legislation “just advisory”. Why would anyone think this is different.

    He’ll only change his tune if he’s made accountable for trampling on the rule of law.

  5. 5
    Rob says:

    Yeah, but everything changed after September 11th.

  6. 6
    Ron says:

    Aw, Rome, lighten up. John’s noticed it several times. I’d say he’s already passed from the shock stage and is on his way to being as bitter as anyone else.

  7. 7
    craigie says:

    How is this an excuse for rolling over for the White House? If this is what you really think is going on, then you make as big a stink as possible.

    My team is still spineless, and I am still afraid for the future.

  8. 8
    rawshark says:

    The presidency can do anything it wants. We have people in this country who actually believe that. They only mention it when the president has an R next to his name though.

  9. 9
    grumpy realist says:

    As said, the supposed opposition party is making jellyfish look like titanium.

    Maybe we should just call them the Jello Party and be done with it.

  10. 10
    rachel says:

    ó_ò

    Once again, the dirty hippie crowd was right. Perhaps when Hillary is president, I’ll get some satisfaction out of the way Rush Limbaugh et al.’s heads explode when she gets to use the powers Bush will have given her. It’s a poor exchange for a republic, but it’ll have to do.

  11. 11

    Hillary is going to love all the precedents set by Bush.

    No matter how many times I say this to wingnuts, they never seem to get it. Don’t ever cede power that you wouldn’t trust in the hands of your worst nightmare.

  12. 12
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Don’t ever cede power that you wouldn’t trust in the hands of your worst nightmare.

    Why is it illogical to suspect that if a party makes profound changes in the organic law of a country that would inevitably redound to its disadvantage when next it returns to opposition that that party simply doesn’t intend to ever return to opposition again?

  13. 13
    Mark says:

    Team Bush is so used to violating the Constitution that it no longer matters and they are free to play rope-a-dope with the Dems: any opposition is political ammunition if something bad happens, and it will not stop Bush in any case. I can understand the temptation to just keep handing him the rope he wants. Unfortunately, it’s killing the troops and our freedoms.

  14. 14
    Tsulagi says:

    Talking Points notes: “That’s the important thing to remember: the White House considers the legislation “just advisory,”

    Yep. It’s pretty much a given that any legislation passed that Bush is told he doesn’t entirely like, Gonzales will write a finding. That’s why Abu Gonzo isn’t going anywhere.

    Even if the skies and seas parted delivering veto proof majorities for legislation calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq, Gonzo would be waiting with another of those democracy enhancing executive findings. The wartime president is The Decider here on earth.

    It’s also kind of funny that anyone, right or left, attaches any real importance to the Iraqi parliament passing benchmark legislation to deal with oil revenue sharing, the problems of de-Baathification, etc. From the “democracy” created in the Party of Bush image.

    You think that if Maliki, or just about anyone else with a sizable militia, didn’t like the law they wouldn’t find a Mohammed Gonzales to write a helpful finding/fatwa? Cheney must be a proud daddy.

  15. 15
    Tony J says:

    It’s the same old revisionist song, played over and over again whenever the concept of Constitutional ‘Checks and Balances’ conflicts with this regimes’ mania for unrestricted Deciderating.

    As far as they’re concerned, Congress’s job is to solely to provide the Cheques, pre-signed and blank, while the Corporate Media provides the illusion of Balance by pretending that the only sensible choices are between capitulation and surrender.

    And the clusterfuck of clusterfucks just keeps on rolling along.

  16. 16
    myiq2xu says:

    Hillary is going to love all the precedents set by Bush.

    No matter how many times I say this to wingnuts, they never seem to get it. Don’t ever cede power that you wouldn’t trust in the hands of your worst nightmare.

    The residents of Wingnuttia think that they are really the majority of the people. This is because they only hang out with each other and only watch Faux News.

    It’s kinda like an alcoholic who says “Everybody I know drinks.” That might be true, if the only people you know are the ones who hang out at the bar.

    Wingnuts also think that the media is controlled by liberals, and that’s why Bushit is unpopular.

    It never occurs to them that they could lose the next election, because God and Diebold Premier Election Systems are on their side.

  17. 17
    KC says:

    I just got into a conversation with a friend the other day about impeachment–I was against it. There are just not enough non-police state Republicans in Congress who would have the decency to hold the President, Vice President, or Attorney General accountable. It would be a waste of time. That said, when I read things like this, I can’t help but to think that the case against anyone of the aforementioned would be pretty strong.

  18. 18
    A.L. says:

    John,

    While I generally agree with your sentiment, I think focusing on Bush’s general disdain for the law actually obscures the importance of this new FISA bill. Before the passage of this statute, Bush did not have a colorable legal argument for just doing whatever he wanted. To the extent he was operating outside of FISA, he was violating the law, and someday there would have been a legal reckoning for that. Indeed, the potential liability the telecoms faced for cooperating with Bush’s programs eventually led them to pressure him to take everything to the FISA court (which ruled them illegal and prompted this push for legislation).

    Thanks to the new bill, though, Bush can do pretty much whatever he wants and he now has a good faith legal argument for doing so. That’s a big deal.

  19. 19
    rawshark says:

    An executive declaring he has unchecked powers is a betrayal of this countries founding principles and is an act of treason.

  20. 20
    mrmobi says:

    Maybe this explains why the Democrats didn’t get into a protracted political battle with the President over wiretapping- it doesn’t matter anyway:

    I feel your pain, John. But you know too well that it does matter that the executive declares itself above the laws of the land.

    Though I’d like to think the Dems just didn’t want to lose on this issue right now, I remain disappointed in the level of push back from the Democratic Congress.

    The tactic of putting off confrontation to avoid losing any more power clearly is not working. Better to strongly challenge the President and lose, thereby making it clear to the nation what a draconian administration this is, than to try to play to tie and appear (or be) ineffectual.

    We will be lucky indeed to survive this administration with any reasonable form of democracy left. The only real question now is, will they feel they can start a war with Iran, use nukes, etc., and not see massive demonstrations/riots resulting in martial law and a suspension of the coming election. This used to sound implausible to me, just a few short years ago. Now, not so much.

  21. 21
    sab says:

    Passing legislation to disable the FISA law isn’t going to make us safer, because the bush administration is going to do whatever it wants, regardless of whatever laws are in place.

    Hopefully at least some members of the bush adminstration are actually trying to keep us safer, with or without keeping within the bounds of the law, since the law is now just advisory. Probably more than a few of them are just trying to cash in in the short term, and some are undoubtedly hoping that if they don’t keep us safer, they can use the resulting fear to stay around longer.

    The real point of dismantling the FISA law is to muddy the waters so that when the bush administration folks are challenged for acting “unconstitutionally” we will no longer be able to challenge them for violatiing the statutory law, since that has been retroactively changed to make them arguably in compliance.

    Since five of the nine Supreme Court Justices now believe that the only valid part of the Bill of Rights is the second amendment, and that the first, third through tenth, and fourteenth are quaint or merely advisory, then the bushies are legally home free no matter what they do.

    Thank you, Blue Dogs. Arf! arf! arf! Thank you DLC. Whenever my kids study triangles in high school trigonometry, I will think of those razor sharp political minds in the DLC triangulating away our rights and freedom. Then I will remind my kids that the earth is actually flat, and that triangles only work on the editorial page. In the real world it’s more useful to learn physics.

  22. 22
    TenguPhule says:

    At this point in time in a sane world where laws matter Bush and Rove and Cheney and Ashcroft and Rumfield and Rice and Gonzo would be rotting in their graves after their fair trials and executions for treason and gods only know how many violations of international and domestic laws.

    But we live in Crazy World, where truth is the first victim and incompetence is the surest sign for promotion.

  23. 23
    Lupin says:

    If we merely applied the Nuremberg precedents, Washington would be fairly decimated.

  24. 24
    grumpy realist says:

    *Ahem*….as said before, please don’t toss around the term “treason”. It has a very specific meaning and there is a reason why it is defined in the Constitution.

    Our Founding Fathers were smart cookies. Look at what happened in Europe, where “treason” came to mean “anything the ruling party doesn’t like.” It was to avoid this that we had it very specifically defined.

  25. 25

    What kind of hard drive does that NSA computer have? And will they use their power for good? I mean, if they track down that website that put that virus on my computer will they go after them?

  26. 26
    jenniebee says:

    Why does everybody think that Hillary is a totalitarian kind of gal? I never got that impression about her. To me, she’s always seemed more or less like Bill. Less gladhanding and people skills, but the same brains, the same principles. She has a strong interest in children and education policy… I have to admit that I’m disappointed in her retreat from her original stance on Universal Health Care, but the idea of her as some kind of tyrant… I just don’t get how that is anything but pure wingnut invention.

  27. 27
    Evinfuilt says:

    If Hillary gets in office with these “powers” the Republicans will start impeachment proceedings ASAP. Of course they won’t actually overturn the powers, its just to prevent a Democrat from having them.

  28. 28
    TenguPhule says:

    If Hillary gets in office with these “powers” the Republicans will start impeachment proceedings ASAP.

    And we can all look forward to the Stormtrooper firing squads for those Republicans from the Empress.

  29. 29
    Zifnab says:

    And we can all look forward to the Stormtrooper firing squads for those Republicans from the Empress.

    At this point, I almost wouldn’t mind. We can have the anti-Hillary Revolution right after we have the anti-Republican Cockwipe mass-lynching.

  30. 30
    TenguPhule says:

    We can have the anti-Hillary Revolution right after we have the anti-Republican Cockwipe mass-lynching.

    Amen. Praise Darwin and Pass the Ammunition.

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