Jacob Hornberger’s Commentary Thursday, September 21, 2006
Amidst all the brouhaha in the UN regarding President Bush and Iran President Almadinejad, Americans should keep in mind a very important point: We now live in a country in which one person — the president — decides whether the United States will go to war against another nation.
When it comes to attacking another country and killing tens of thousands of foreigners in the process, no one can deny that President Bush — and he alone — is the decider. He — and he alone — has the power to make that determination, even though the Constitution requires him to secure a congressional declaration of war as a prerequisite.
Keep in mind also that the president, through the use of “signing statements,” also now wields the power to ignore laws enacted by Congress that purport to limit his powers as a military commander in chief.
Question 1: If the president has the power to flagrantly ignore one provision of the Constitution — and an extremely important one at that — why shouldn’t he feel that he has the power to ignore other restraints on power in the Constitution, such as those that require due process of law, right to counsel, the prohibition against unreasonable searches, bars against cruel and unusual punishments, and the right to keep and bear arms, especially if the American people don’t care?
Question 2: When the power to ignore constitutional restraints is combined with the power to ignore congressional restraints with “signing statements,” how exactly is the power that President Bush is now wielding different in principle from the type of dictatorial rule that characterizes the very countries that President Bush wants to “liberate” from dictatorial rule?