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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

It's just like we all thought: Cheney really is president of the US.

VP Dick Cheney is even more of the power behind Dubya's throne than many had thought. According to former administration officials, Cheney's office routinely reviews congressional legislation before they get to Dubya, looking for provisions 'that Cheney believes would infringe on presidential power.'

Cheney gets ready to take another bite out of the ConstitutionThis information comes from a new story by the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage, who earlier broke the news about Dubya's use of more than 750 signing statements — more than all previous presidents combined — to get around laws that he doesn't feel like following. Former officials in the Justice Department and White House told Savage that Cheney's chief of staff David Addington is the main person responsible for all those signing statements. You might remember Addington as the author of the 2002 Justice Department memo that told Dubya that he could authorize interrogators to use torture on 'enemy combatants.'

Addington has used his vetting of congressional legislation to flag provisions that conflict with VP Cheney's expansive theory of presidential power, under which the Congress has little authority to limit the actions of the president. According to Savage's sources, Addington's power of review has led to what amounts to prior censorship by the authors of legislation: Very little that conflicts with Cheney's views on presidential power now makes it into proposed laws in the first place.

Mainstream legal scholars across the political spectrum reject Cheney's expansive view of presidential authority, saying the Constitution gives Congress the power to make all rules and regulations for the military and the executive branch and the Supreme Court has consistently upheld laws giving bureaucrats and certain prosecutors the power to act independently of the president.

One prominent conservative, Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School, said it is "scandalous" for the administration to argue that the commander in chief can bypass statutes in national security matters.

"It's just wrong," Epstein said. "It is just crazy as a matter of constitutional interpretation. There are some pretty clear issues, and this is one of them."

Laurence Tribe , a prominent liberal at Harvard Law School, said: "Nothing in the text and structure of the Constitution, or Supreme Court precedents, supports the Bush-Cheney assertion that Congress cannot limit or direct what government officials may or must do."

Nonetheless, Bush has demonstrated that he is willing to put his legal team's claims about his authority into action. Shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush authorized the military to eavesdrop on Americans' international phone calls without a warrant, bypassing a surveillance law that requires warrants.

Savage's article contains much more information on Cheney's theories on presidential power, on his earlier attempts to put those theories into operation, and how Cheney's office has instigated Dubya's use of signing statements. You can read the full story here.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:22 PM | Get permalink




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