A Governing Philosophy Rebuffed
For five years, President Bush waged war as he saw fit. If intelligence officers needed to eavesdrop on overseas telephone calls without warrants, he authorized it. If the military wanted to hold terrorism suspects without trial, he let it.So Jefferson won this round but it was close, 5-3 and it would have been 5-4 if Roberts had not sat this one out.
Now the Supreme Court has struck at the core of his presidency and dismissed the notion that the president alone can determine how to defend the country. In rejecting Bush's military tribunals for terrorism suspects, the high court ruled that even a wartime commander in chief must govern within constitutional confines significantly tighter than this president has believed appropriate.
For many in Washington, the decision echoed not simply as a matter of law but as a rebuke of a governing philosophy of a leader who at repeated turns has operated on the principle that it is better to act than to ask permission. This ethos is why many supporters find Bush an inspiring leader, and why many critics in this country and abroad react so viscerally against him.
What Alexander Hamilton and the federalist had in mind for the United States was a "unitary executive", an elected tyrant. Thomas Jefferson opposed this and eventually his idea of a "Republican" government won out. Today Chris Floyd explains how the ghost of Alexander Hamilton is once again haunting the United States.
Power, Paranoia and Presidential Tyranny
That the United States, once touted as the "world's greatest democracy," is now ruled by a presidential dictatorship is a fact beyond any serious dispute. Indeed, the nation's political establishment seems to have accepted this revolutionary system with remarkable docility, even as its lineaments are further exposed week by week. The Bush Administration no longer bothers to hide the novel theory of government upon which its rule is based, but declares it openly, in court, in Congress, everywhere.And of course Mr Floyd points out that the source is not George W. Bush but as we have seen before
The theory holds that the president has the arbitrary right to ignore any law that he feels is an unconstitutional infringement of his power – and a law is automatically unconstitutional if the president feels it infringes on his power. This neatly-squared circle makes Congress irrelevant and removes the judiciary from the loop altogether. Thus the only effective power left in the land is the "unitary executive" – the fancy modern name that the legal minions of President George W. Bush have given to the ancient concept of "tyranny."
The true nature of this presidential dictatorship has been laid bare in a harrowing new book from reporter Ron Suskind: The One-Percent Doctrine. Suskind, who had earlier coaxed the Regime's defining ethos from an arrogant Bushist – "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality" – has painted the portrait of an administration drunk on lawless power, a junta operated from the shadows by the grim and literally heart-dead husk called Dick Cheney and his longtime companion in skullduggery, Don Rumsfeld.
As Suskind notes, it was Cheney who enunciated the certifiably paranoid principle that governs the regime's behavior: If there is even a one-percent chance that some state or group might do serious harm to the United States, then America must respond as if that threat were a certainty – with full force, pre-emptively, disregarding any law or institution that might hinder what Bush likes to call the "path of action." Facts and truth are unimportant; the only thing that matters is the projection of unchallengeable power: "It's not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence," said Cheney. "It's about our response."