The hallmark of the Dick Cheney administration is its illegitimacy. Its essential method is bypassing established lines of authority; its goal is the concentration of unaccountable presidential power. When it matters, the regular operations of the CIA, Defense Department and State Department have been sidelined.With the disclosure that Bush had authorized the NSA to spy on American citizens Digby points out that the administration has taken the Richard Nixon defense.
"when the President does it, that means it's not illegal."Digby explians:
This was not some off the cuff statement. It was based upon a serious constitutional theory --- that the congress or the judiciary (and by inference the laws they promulgate and interpret) have no authority over an equal branch of government. The president, in the pursuit of his duties as president, is not subject to the laws. Citizens can offer their judgment of his performance every four years at the ballot box.Now I'm not a constitutional lawyer but I do remember how the authors of the constitution included checks and balances so that a president would not become "Imperial".
After the election, George W. Bush said this:The Post: ...Why hasn't anyone been held accountable, either through firings or demotions, for what some people see as mistakes or misjudgments?He, like Nixon, believes that the president has only one "accountability moment" while he is president. His re-election. Beyond that, he has been given a blank check. And that includes breaking the law since if the president does it, it's not illegal, the president being the executive branch which is not subject to any other branch of govenrment.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 election.
Scott Shane of the New York Times also addresses this in Behind Power, One Principle as Bush Pushes Prerogatives.
With the strong support of Vice President Dick Cheney, legal theorists in the White House and Justice Department have argued that previous presidents unjustifiably gave up some of the legitimate power of their office. The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, made it especially critical that the full power of the executive be restored and exercised, they said.As we can see the Bush administration with Cheney as the driving force had an
The administration's legal experts, including David S. Addington, the vice president's former counsel and now his chief of staff, and John C. Yoo, deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel of the Justice Department from 2001 to 2003, have pointed to several sources of presidential authority.
The bedrock source is Article 2 of the Constitution, which describes the "executive power" of the president, including his authority as commander in chief of the armed forces. Several landmark court decisions have elaborated the extent of the powers.
Another key recent document cited by the administration is the joint resolution passed by Congress on Sept. 14, 2001, authorizing the president to "use all necessary and appropriate force" against those responsible for Sept. 11 in order to prevent further attacks.
Breaking the law in the name of the war on terror