The president is responsible for the actions of the entire Executive Branch of our Government, including the Military, and his main obligation under the Constitution is to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." (Constitution, Article II, Section 3) This means all of the laws, not just the ones he chooses to obey.
Some people may think that a member of the Armed Services is required to do whatever comes down through the Chain of Command from the President, whether it is legal or not; but this is not true. If the order is illegal, the soldier must not follow it. And if he does follow an illegal order, and commits an illegal act because of it (like torture), he can later be punished for doing so.
This fact is well established in Law and has never been superceded by anything. The Supreme Court case which first established this fact is LITTLE v. BARREME, and you can read all about it here, at http://www.loveallpeople.org/littlevbarreme.html.
In this case, Congress had passed a law instructing the President to seize certain ships going to France, during a time of undeclared war with France. President Adams changed that to include certain ships that were either going to or coming from France. A ship was seized coming from France. So the seizure followed the Presidential instructions, but violated the Law passed by Congress, which only involved ships going to France. On appeal, the case came before the Supreme Court, which ruled that the Presidential orders were illegal because they contradicted a Law enacted by Congress, and that the Captain of the Navy ship was in violation of the Law because he had followed an illegal order. And the Captain of the Navy ship had to pay $8504 in damages to the owner of the seized ship, plus court costs.
Usually in the past, it has been fair to assume that the President would not give illegal orders; but in the case of President Bush, as with President Nixon, this is not necessarily true. In particular we know that President Bush has authorized illegal torture of prisoners, in violation of existing Federal laws on torture, and illegal surveillance of American citizens, in violation of existing Federal laws on electronic surveillance. And we can only imagine what other laws he is now breaking which have not yet been revealed. The newest Federal law which Bush and his accomplices are surely violating at this very moment, without apology or explanation, is the "Detainee Treatment Act of 2005," which Bush signed into law on December 30, while announcing in his "signing statement" that he would follow it only if he felt like doing so. Because, you know, we have been attacked, etc. and the Commander In Chief has all these mythical powers, etc. and everybody else should just sit down and shut up and stop getting in his Royal Imperial way, particularly Congress, which always tries to meddle in important Presidential matters . . .
Whenever President Bush starts talking about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and how they "changed everything" and made him King, we should perhaps remind him that it was his own negligence which allowed these attacks to occur. He had been clearly warned by the outgoing Clinton administration about the dangers of Al Quaeda and their intent to attack us here at home. But the Bush Administration chose to ignore these warnings, and the attacks occurred, as predicted. Many people believe they would never have occurred under Clinton, just as the Katrina disaster would never have occurred under Clinton. Clinton was an excellent President, paying close attention to the needs of all the People. Bush was an amateur, merely playing around, pretending to be President while messing up everything important he touched. Incompetent, uncaring management in all areas has been a trademark of the Bush Administration. For details please see http://www.executiveincompetence.com
In order to cover up and justify his illegal orders, President Bush has tried to create a legal smokescreen, by falsely claiming that he has some "inherent powers" as "Commander in Chief" in "time of war" to break the laws because any laws which interfere with what he wants to do must therefore be unconstitutional! Truly amazing! And truly false. And truly delusional.
For more about "delusional," please see "The Delusional Fiction Continues," at http://www.loveallpeople.org/bushspeech113005.html
The bottom line on "inherent powers" is this: In the absence of a Congressional limitation, the Executive may exercise reasonable use of his Inherent Powers as head of the Executive Branch and Commander in Chief of the Military. But Congress may impose upon the President whatever limitations it may choose, under its Inherent Powers to enact all Federal laws.
For more about this, please see our page at http://www.loveallpeople.org/inherentpowers.html
Blessings to you. May God help us all. And may God bless America!
Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director - LoveAllPeople.org
HTML version of this document is located at http://www.loveallpeople.org/anypersonwhoviolates.html