Monday, April 30, 2007

On Presidential Power

Updated below

I didn’t watch any of Ms. Rice’s appearances yesterday, but the transcripts and clips that I have seen online suggest that the defense being raised to Tenet’s book by the current administration run pretty much along the “Fredo defense” line of poor memory and/or sheer incompetence.

For example, in response to the question about the “sixteen words” on the SOTU about uranium from Niger, Condi admitted that the reference had been removed from a speech in September but that “you can’t expect us to remember that three and a half months later” when preparing the SOTU. Actually, yes I would expect you to remember something that significant for three and a half months. Further, before making a speech to the nation and a joint session of Congress, I would expect you to fact-check the speech.

Something else she said, though, perhaps a Freudian slip, really struck me. In response to a question about there not being any serious discussion about the invasion of Iraq she responded,

“The president started a discussion practically on the day that he took power…”

Stephanopoulos let that go by without commenting on it, but I wanted to jump through the monitor and ask her what she meant by the phrase “…the day that he took power…”

A dictator “takes power,” not the President of the United States.

That phrase sums up the attitude of the Bush Administration. They are “in power.” On January 20, 2001 they began the process of taking control of the government of this country and they believe that they still have control of it as, in fact, they do so long as Congress tiptoes around with half measures.

We have investigation after investigation, but to what purpose? A great deal of corruption and misuse of power has been uncovered, but what has actually changed? Who will be held to account? The current administration is merely getting away with its corruption publicly instead of in secret. Those currently in office will finish their terms of office and retire to their mansions and live out the rest of their lives in luxury.

Congress rejects a Bush appointee, he puts his choice in place by means of a recess appointment, and it ends with Bush once again successfully thumbing his nose at constitutional balance of power.

Democrats running for office in 2006 claimed that they would change the course of the war in Iraq, but it has changed only for the worse. Whether we should withdraw or not, Bush is totally in control of that issue. Congress has no more power than a field mouse.

America did not know it was electing a king in 2004, but Condi gave the game away with a slip of the tongue.

George Bush will be “in power” for 21 more months. Live with it.

Update, May 2

To illustrate how little Bush thinks things have changed, see the bill he has submitted to Congress regarding FISA, seeking enhancements to his powers to spy on Americans without the inconvience of having to obtain warrants. Business as usual. According to the administration, the bill contains “long overdue” modifications to account for changes in technology.

The director of national intelligence, Michael McConnell, said yesterday that the nature of the changes needed in FISA was too secret to share with all Americans. We've heard that before, haven't we? The measure would not update FISA; it would gut it. It would allow the government to collect vast amounts of data at will from American citizens’ e-mail and phone calls.

This is a typically dishonest Bush Administration measure, and what disturbs me is that Congress has not already rejected it out of hand.

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