And Stealth Immunity For Bushman.
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
As written of here in advance, on October 14th and 15th a conference on ever-increasing presidential powers was held at the Massachusetts School of Law, in Andover (MSL), where this writer is Dean. The conference was even better than had been hoped. Many leading scholars in the field delivered speeches or remarks that ranged from the historically analytical to the spellbinding. At the end, this writer was supposed to deliver a summary of what was said, a summary of themes and future paths. But it could not be done. There was simply too much that had been said, too many ideas, both historical and future oriented, that had been discussed or floated.
The framers intended Congress, not the President, to be the powerful political branch. They greatly feared a powerful Executive. But the founders' intent is at the opposite pole from what now exists.
Congress, contrary to what the founders believed would occur, does not protect its institutional prerogatives against Executive encroachments.
The existence of a large standing army has been a major contributor -- possibly the major contributor -- to the growth of presidential power since 1950.
Executive secrecy has contributed to the President's overwhelming power. Many of the reservations claimed in Bushman signing statements are designed to foster Executive secrecy.
The number of oversight hearings held by Congress has declined. This too contributes to increasing presidential power.
The Executive has been engaged in manifold abuses of power.
It is crucial to find some ways to put more power into the hands of the minority in Congress. Perhaps there should be some American equivalent of the Prime Minister's question time in the British Parliament. Or (better yet, I think) perhaps the minority in Congress should have subpoena power.
The Executive, and George Bush in particular, were hell-bent on using the recent act relating to habeas corpus and military tribunals as a vehicle for gaining immunity for the illegal torture that they had long authorized and perpetrated. It was generally felt that the clauses of the act providing such immunity were a serious blot on America.
One must listen to the Nixon tapes to really grasp how rotten a human being he was. (Speaking personally, one wonders how many decades it will take for America to wake up to the same realization about the second Bush).
The question of increasing Executive power is thought by some to be the most fraught and important issue facing the country. This is a point with which I agree, for reasons that will become clear below.
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