Mudcat Café message #1864245 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #91711   Message #1864245
Posted By: Amos
20-Oct-06 - 10:31 AM
Thread Name: BS: Spying, Secrecy, and Presidential Power
Subject: RE: BS: Spying, Secrecy, and Presidential Power
From the Times: (NY)

October 18, 2006, 10:58 am
Tuned Out of the Torture Debate
Tags: National Security, torture

President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act on Tuesday. Yale law professor Jack Balkin elaborates on what that means: "The bottom line is simple: The MCA preserves rights against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, but it severs these rights from any practical remedy," he writes at the group legal blog Balkinization. Balkin calls the bill "the very essence of tyranny" because it represents "the accumulation of executive, judicial, and legislative powers in a single branch and under a single individual." He explains:
The President decides whether he thinks people in the Executive branch are violating the law, and even if he believes they are violating the law, the President also decides whether he will order them to stop. By now we know the answer to this question. He will not order them to stop. Quite the contrary: the President has made clear in his repeated endorsement of these "alternative" techniques (techniques that he will not name in public) that he will push CIA officials to break the law. Because the Executive branch holds all enforcement powers within itself, the only thing that prevents cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment is the conscience of CIA personnel and executive branch lawyers.
And we know from the fiasco over the torture memo that the conscience of executive branch lawyers has not always been sufficient.
There are many things that are deeply distressing about the Military Commissions Act of 2006. One of the most distressing is its deeply cynical attitude about law. The President has created a new regime in which he is a law unto himself on issues of prisoner interrogations. He decides whether he has violated the laws, and he decides whether to prosecute the people he in turn urges to break the law. And all the while he insists that everything he does is perfectly legal, because, the way the law is designed, there is no one with authority to disagree.
Crooks and Liars quotes George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show "Countdown" last night: "The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to 'Dancing With the Stars.' "