Wednesday, December 21, 2005


"The Constitution is not a suicide pact."

There is a reason the U.S. president is the single most powerful executive of any democratic government. The combination of his foreign relations powers, his commander-in-chief powers, his emergency powers and his executive order authority makes him ideally suited to effectuate America’s national security interests. And war-making is the quintessential executive responsibility.

By its nature and design the executive power is more agile and responsive. By its nature and design the legislature is deliberative and rigid.

Both logic and history dictate that the executive’s primacy in national security matters be recognized. Is it any wonder that Congress has only used its formal war-making power five times, yet U.S. presidents have ordered military forces into combat zones more than 100 times? And in the latter part of the 20th century, presidents have significantly expanded this behavior. For two reasons: our ability to recognize national security threats is greater now, as are the actual threats. To argue in the face of this reality that the response to this challenge must be handled primarily by the legislature or even the judiciary is to unilaterally disarm against a clear and gathering threat.

Even the Supreme Court recognizes that it isn’t capable of taking the lead on national security matters. Twice the Supreme Court was given an opportunity to place limits on the president’s national security authority to engage in electronic surveillance and twice the Court has declined to do so. In each instance the Court explicitly stated that their rulings on the 4th amendment did not apply to cases involving national security.

No, Congress by its design and make up is ill suited for taking the lead role in this task. And to leave this authority in the hands of the courts would be the quintessential example of a “constitutional suicide pact.”

Ironically, many historians credit the phrase “The Constitution is not a suicide pact” to the Supreme Court. The author of this phrase is none other than that uber-executive Abraham Lincoln. Historian James G. Randall acknowledges that “No president has carried the power of presidential edict and executive order (independently of Congress) so far as [Lincoln] did.”

Read the entire article. I wait with bated breath for the congressional hearings on the limits of executive power. As the article above notes, the supreme court has already weighed in on this issue.

I think Scott Ott has captured the flavor of the revelations related to this so-called "scandal". This is getting to be completely ridiculous and political ;not to mention suicidally destructive behavior in a time of war.

What a field day Al Qaeda must be having. They don't need to recruit suicide bombers for the US -- they already have most of the the Democrats!

UPDATE: SC&A ponders limitless hypocrisy.

UPDATE II: Andy McCarthy wonders if we've gone insane. My response: some of our number certainly have.

UPDATE III: From John Schmidt, who served as Associate Attorney General in the Clinton Justice Department, "President Had Legal Authority to OK Taps" (hat tip:LLB)

UPDATE IV: Note: Comments on this thread have been closed.