From Glenn Greenwald on Jeffrey Toobin's lastest article:
In an excellent new New Yorker article, Jeffrey Toobin documents how Arlen Specter lambasted the Military Commissions Act as a tyrannical, unconstitutional, profoundly unjust atrocity, only to then, like the good boy that he is, cast his vote in favor of it. After his habeas corpus amendment failed, "Specter, visibly angry, left the Senate chamber. He told reporters that he thought the habeas ban was 'patently unconstitutional' and vowed to vote against the detainee bill." The next day -- the next day -- he voted in favor of it. That's just sad.But one of the most glorious results of the midterm elections is that it has relegated former-Chairman Specter (such a nice-sounding phrase) to an inconsequential afterthought. The more important aspect of Toobin's article is that it provides an important and potent reminder that while it is nice that Democrats, rather than Bush-loyal Republicans, now control Congress, the people who occupy the White House don't think that matters because they believe -- literally -- that Congress has no power to restrain what they do.
One episode which Toobin recounts is that Lindsey Graham travelled with Dick Cheney's counsel, John-Yoo-copycat David Addington, to Guantanamo in 2002, and on the way back, Graham tried to convince Addington to "allow" Congress to enact legislation legalizing the administration's detention and interrogation practices (which, as of that time, had no legal authorization whatsoever). In other words, just like they wanted to do with the President's illegal warrantless eavesdropping program, Congress pleaded with the Bush administration after the fact to be permitted to pass legislation approving of what the President had ordered.
But the administration refused to allow Congress to authorize what they were doing because the administration wanted it to be as clear as could be that they could do whatever they wanted in the national security area (defined as broadly as possible) and that Congress had no role whatsoever to play -- even to rubber-stamp the Leader's Will...
...On Sunday, the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage -- one of the country's few real "journalists" in the meaningful sense of that term -- documented Dick Cheney's decades-long obsession with vesting all power in a single authoritarian leader and rendering Congress almost completely impotent, nothing more than a symbolic body. One of the incidents which Savage described, one of which I was not previously aware, is that Cheney actually urged the first President Bush not to seek Congressional approval for the Persian Gulf War, arguing that the President had the power to start whatever wars he wanted regardless of whether Congress approved or not:
"I was not enthusiastic about going to Congress for an additional grant of authority," Cheney recalled in a 1996 PBS "Frontline" documentary. "I was concerned that they might well vote 'no' and that would make life more difficult for us."