The Law of the President
December 8, 2007 Leave a comment
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a member
of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, delivered the following
remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate today: 12-07-07
Full Speech here: http://whitehouse.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=288537&
The following is a short excerpt from this speech.
“The next time you are in Washington, D.C., take a taxi some evening to
the Department of Justice. Stand outside, and look up at that
building shining against the starry night. Look at the sign outside
– “The United States Department of Justice.” Think of the heroes who
have served there, and the battles fought. Think of the late nights,
the brave decisions, the hard work of advancing and protecting our
democracy that has been done in those halls. Think about how that
all makes you feel.
Then think about this statement:
The Department of Justice is now bound by the President’s legal
If you don’t feel a difference from what you were feeling a moment ago,
well, congratulations – there is probably a job for you in the Bush
administration. Consider the sad irony that this theory was crafted
in that very building, by the George W. Bush Office of Legal Counsel.
In a nutshell, these three Bush administration legal propositions boil
down to this:
1. “I don’t have to follow my own rules, and I don’t have to tell you
when I’m breaking them.”
2. “I get to determine what my own powers are.”
3. “The Department of Justice doesn’t tell me what the law is, I tell
the Department of Justice what the law is.”
When the Congress of the United States is willing to roll over for an
unprincipled President, this is where you end up. We should not even
be having this discussion. But here we are. I implore my colleagues: reject
these feverish legal theories. I understand political loyalty, trust me, I do.
But let us also be loyal to this great institution we serve in the legislative
branch of our government. Let us also be loyal to the Constitution we took
an oath to defend, from enemies foreign and domestic. And let us be loyal
to the American people who live each day under our Constitution’s
principles and protections.
We simply cannot put the authority to wiretap Americans, whenever they
step outside America’s boundaries, under the exclusive control and
supervision of the executive branch. We do not allow it when Americans
are here at home; we should not allow it when they travel abroad.
The principles of congressional legislation and oversight, and of
judicial approval and review, are simple and longstanding. Americans
deserve this protection wherever on God’s green earth they may travel.”
I got the same cold ripple up and down my spine when I read this as when I read the
“Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007”.
These two bits of information brought together and combined with other legal maneuvering
that is going on with the Bush administration, tells a vivid tale of what would, at one time, be considered “unconstitutional use of power”.
Seems to me that Bush has assumed the same powers as his buddy Mushariff, in Pakistan.
I think I’m going to go rewatch “V for Vendetta”.