Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obama is an inexperienced amateur

I had a friend of mine dig something up for me yesterday and send it to me. He had heard about it yesterday on one of the talk radios shows we don't listen to, but he thought I might be interested. In an e-mail entitled "Obama knows jack" he sent along this link to a Boston Globe piece. In it, the Globe is giving him a series of questions to answer, and it's quite telling that he knows little of the constitutional powers of the government:

1. Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?

The Supreme Court has never held that the president has such powers. As president, I will follow existing law, and when it comes to U.S. citizens and residents, I will only authorize surveillance for national security purposes consistent with FISA and other federal statutes.

Survey says? BZZZZT. Wrong, Senator Obama. Indeed the court has weighed in on this decision, several times as John Hinderacker outlined here in a lengthy post regarding the legality of the NSA program, and all the high court cases concerning the issue. The high court rightly concluded that it did fall under the president's purview to utilize such resources in the interest of national security.

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

OK, this guy DID go to law school, right? And he seriously answered this question the way he did, right? I'm sorry, but he's wrong again. I suggest he research a little, especially with regard to the War Powers Resolution. The law, passed in 1973, limits the troops and the time the president may engage in hostilities with other nations without the approval of Congress. Sixty days, and no longer unless he submits a request to Congress, which grants him a thirty day extension.

3. Does the Constitution empower the president to disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops -- either by capping the number of troops that may be deployed to a particular country or by setting minimum home-stays between deployments? In other words, is that level of deployment management beyond the constitutional power of Congress to regulate?

No, the President does not have that power. To date, several Congresses have imposed limitations on the number of US troops deployed in a given situation. As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.

Um, Congress has two jobs in war. to declare and fund the mission, and to defund the mission. That's it. That's the scope of their powers. Article II, Section 2 reads as follows:

The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States

He calls the shots in a war, not Congress. He, along with the Department of Defense and the Pentagon decide on deployment times, and length of time, not Congress.

4. Under what circumstances, if any, would you sign a bill into law but also issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass the law?

Signing statements have been used by presidents of both parties, dating back to Andrew Jackson. While it is legitimate for a president to issue a signing statement to clarify his understanding of ambiguous provisions of statutes and to explain his view of how he intends to faithfully execute the law, it is a clear abuse of power to use such statements as a license to evade laws that the president does not like or as an end-run around provisions designed to foster accountability.

The most "infamous" signing statement that got everyone riled up in a tizzy was the one issued by President Bush after John McCain pushed through his torture amendment. In it, he reminds those in Congress that he'll abide by the law, but in the end the buck stops with him in such situations. In other words, during wartime, there's precious little the president can't do. Signing statements are to clear up ambiguity, and the president has done so repeatedly. He's not bypassing the laws. He's clarifying the bill as he reads it.

5. Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?

No. I reject the Bush Administration's claim that the President has plenary authority under the Constitution to detain U.S. citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.

In June of 2004, a case was decided before the Supreme Court called Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. In that case, the high court ruled that anyone among the detainees captured in this war that were labled "unlawful enemy combatants" that were US citizens were to be given their proper habeas corpus rights, including representation by a lawyer. I reject Senator Obama's claim that this practice is still ongoing.

The rest of the questions revolve around opinions, rather than fact-based ones like those above. But it is clear to us that this man, who graduated from law school, has no clue what he's talking about when it comes to the Constitution, and the powers granted to Congress or the president. (I've never spent a day in law school, but I know the Constitution and its jurisprudence fairly well; obviously moreso than Senator Obama does. Furthermore, Marcie is in law school, and when she read his answers, she just shook her head, said "dunce" and walked away.)

This man is running for the presidency of the United States, and he doesn't even have the most basic understanding of Constitutional Law. He thinks that Congress may limit the president's powers (they can't), and he thinks the president has to be subordinate to Congress (he doesn't.) When the Founding Fathers determined that the Articles of Confederation had to be amended, fifty-five men gathered in Philadelphia, and hammered out the United States Constitution. Outlined and enumerated int hat document were the powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Those powers can't be changed, save the procedure of amending the Constitution. Congress may not change the Constitution with a bill, nor can the president.

The way Senator Obama sounds with these answers, he clearly doesn't understand the basics of what the government can and can't do. He either has forgotten his law studies, or never bothered to pay attention to them in the first place.

Publius II


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