The Silent Coup
How a nation ruled by law, becomes a nation ruled by man
“We are living in an era of extraordinary expansion of executive authority….”
United States Senator (Republican Pennsylvania)
“[the Adminstration] asserted a broad doctrine of presidential “inherent authority” to ignore the laws passed by Congress when prosecuting the war on terror. In other words, the rule of law is suspended, and the President is above the law, for the uncertain and no doubt lengthy duration of the undefined war on terror”
United States Senator (Democrat Vermont)
“If Congress doesn’t have the power to define the contours of the President’s Article II powers through legislation…//…If the President’s legal theory, which is shared by some of our witnesses today, is correct…//…Under this theory, we no longer have a constitutional system consisting of three co-equal branches of government, we have a monarchy”
United States Senator (Democrat Wisconsin)
“It is our duty as loyal Americans to shut up once the fighting begins. Once the war against Saddam begins,we expect every American to support our military, and if they can’t do that is to shut up”
There is a battle far from getting the attention it deserves considering the stakes – the rule and governing of the USA.
You would only notice with great difficulty and after spending a lot of time viewing hearing in various congressional committees, picking up a piece here and another there, and painstakingly putting them into a historical context in a far from obvious manner.
At the center is the question of presidential power vis-à-vis the congress, a group of embittered individuals set on making right what they consider a violation of the constitution. .
When many Americans saw a restoration of balance of power when Congress went after and eventually reined in the Executive Branch in the Iran-Contra Affair, others saw an unconstitutional and deeply offensive act of neutering. The same people saw the same unconstitutional usurpation of executive powers when, following the Vietnam War, laws were passed and investigations were launched attempting to explore and rein in what was seen as abuses of the executive branch’s wartime powers (e.g Church Committee, Pike Committee, War Powers Act ).
Such an interpretations of congressional actions during this period, has been voiced by Robert F Turner - co-founder of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia School of Law who served as counsel to the President's Intelligence Oversight Board, 1982-84.“My conclusion is the President has broken no constitutional law, but Congress in the wake of Vietnam broke many, with terrible consequences. I strongly recommend that the Committee rewrite the resolution to censure the post-Vietnam Congress which violated its oath of office of its members, undermined our security and contributed directly to the consignment to communist tyranny in Indochina of tens of millions of people we had promised to defend and to the slaughter of millions of others” One of them was Dick Cheney and the man who would become his legal advisor, David Addington.
Throughout his history in politics, Dick Cheney had been and open advocate of what is known as “Unitary Executive” and the particular interpretation of the US Constitution - specifically Article II - that it is pinned on.
During the Iran-contra hearings, Addington was heavily involved in arguing that Congress was improperly tying the hands of the president by preventing him from helping Nicaragua's contras.