Dictatorial power

Bruce Schnier has written a really good essay on Bush’s flagrant disregard for the law and the constitution that he has sworn to uphold.

The Security Threat of Unchecked Presidential Power

In defending this secret spying on Americans, Bush said that he relied on his constitutional powers (Article 2) and the joint resolution passed by Congress after 9/11 that led to the war in Iraq. This rationale was spelled out in a memo written by John Yoo, a White House attorney, less than two weeks after the attacks of 9/11. It’s a dense read and a terrifying piece of legal contortionism, but it basically says that the president has unlimited powers to fight terrorism. He can spy on anyone, arrest anyone, and kidnap anyone and ship him to another country … merely on the suspicion that he might be a terrorist. And according to the memo, this power lasts until there is no more terrorism in the world. … according to the Yoo memo, the president can define war however he chooses, and remain “at war” for as long as he chooses.

Remember, we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

This is indefinite dictatorial power. And I don’t use that term lightly; the very definition of a dictatorship is a system that puts a ruler above the law. In the weeks after 9/11, while America and the world were grieving, Bush built a legal rationale for a dictatorship. Then he immediately started using it to avoid the law.

This is not a partisan issue between Democrats and Republicans; it’s a president unilaterally overriding the Fourth Amendment, Congress and the Supreme Court. Unchecked presidential power has nothing to do with how much you either love or hate George W. Bush. You have to imagine this power in the hands of the person you most don’t want to see as president, whether it be Dick Cheney or Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michael Moore or Ann Coulter.

It’s so frustrating that the abuses of power are getting worse and worse, and yet I still don’t see any indication that anything will be done about it. I suspect that like all the other offenses — the disregard for international law and the Geneva Convention, the keeping of US citizens imprisoned without due process, the Rove treason — this will have everyone outraged for a few weeks (everyone except the neo-conservatives and their attack dogs, that is) and then it will just kind of go away, brushed aside by the next smokescreen the administration cooks up.