A number of important articles have been written since the secret legal memos from the Bush Administration were recently released. We have been told there are more memos soon to released that may prove even more disturbing that these, but for now, here are three articles that came out today that need to be read and discussed.
Second, from Naomi Wolf (Common Dreams): Yoo and The Subversion of Liberty Narrowly Averted
If you haven’t read Naomi Wolf’s book “The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot“, then go out and find yourself a copy. It is a warning for all our citizens—a clarion call. EVERY American should read it and know what to watch for in order to preserve what we as a nation throughout history have fought and died for. She actually created a film based on her book here.
How close did we come to losing our country as we know it? Are we still in danger from what was changed with the knowledge or consent of “We The People”? What is being done now to prevent this from happening again? Will President Obama take the steps necessary to give back the powers grabbed by President Bush and restore this enormous breach of public trust and loss of rights and freedoms under our Constitution?
John Nichols and Bruce Fein once discussed this very predicament on Bill Moyers Journal back on on July 13, 2007. They described the danger for future presidencies if Bush and Cheney were not held accountable by impeachment before leaving office. Nichols described the “box” that held presidential powers:
BILL MOYERS: That struck me about your writings and your book. You say your great– your great fear is that Bush and Cheney will hand off to their successors a toolbox that they will not avoid using.
JOHN NICHOLS: Well, let’s try a metaphor. Let’s say that– when George Washington chopped down the cherry tree, he used the wood to make a little box. And in that box the president puts his powers. We’ve taken things out. We’ve put things in over the years.
On January 20th, 2009, if George Bush and Dick Cheney are not appropriately held to account this administration will hand off a toolbox with more powers than any president has ever had, more powers than the founders could have imagined. And that box may be handed to Hillary Clinton or it may be handed to Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or someone else. But whoever gets it, one of the things we know about power is that people don’t give away the tools. They don’t give them up. The only way we take tools out of that box is if we sanction George Bush and Dick Cheney now and say the next president cannot govern as these men have.
BRUCE FEIN: Well, that’s accurate but also we do find this peculiarity that Congress is giving up powers voluntarily. because there’s nothing right now, Bill, that would prevent Congress from the immediate shutting down all of George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s illegal programs. Simply saying there’s no money to collect foreign intelligence-
BILL MOYERS: The power of the purse-
BRUCE FEIN: –the power of the purse. That is an absolute power. And yet Congress shies from it. It was utilized during the Vietnam War, you may recall, in 1973. Congress said there’s no money to go and extend the war into Laos and Cambodia. And even President Nixon said okay. This was a president who at one time said, “If I do it, it’s legal.” So that it we do find Congress yielding the power to the executive branch. It’s the very puzzle that the founding fathers would have been stunned at. They worried most over the legislative branch in, you know, usurping powers of the other branches. And–
BILL MOYERS: Well, what you just said indicts the Congress more than you’re indicting George Bush and Dick Cheney.
BRUCE FEIN: In some sense, yes, because the founding fathers expected an executive to try to overreach and expected the executive would be hampered and curtailed by the legislative branch. And you’re right. They have basically renounced– walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check. It’s not an option. It’s an obligation when they take that oath to faithfully uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. And I think the reason why this is. They do not have convictions about the importance of the Constitution. It’s what in politics you would call the scientific method of discovering political truths and of preventing excesses because you require through the processes of review and vetting one individual’s perception to be checked and– counterbalanced by another’s. And when you abandon that process, you abandon the ship of state basically and it’s going to capsize.
President Obama has been handed this box. The question now is – will he be handing back these excessive and over-reching powers that Bush and Cheney grabbed that threaten our freedoms and way of life in this country? Will he open the door to bringing accountability and restoring the rule of law in this country (restoring credibility and balance of power), or will he fight to keep what was handed to him..?