Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cheney's view on the Presidency: Defends "monarchical notions of prerogative"

The quote above is from the minority report of the Iran-Contra Committee. The minority was headed by then Rep. Dick Cheney.

Among the report's signers was then-Rep. Dick Cheney, who led the group. They rejected the idea that separation of powers would "preclude the exercise of arbitrary power" and argued that the president needed to act expeditiously and secretly to achieve American aims in a dangerous world. Their solution to executive abuse was to water down congressional and judicial oversight. The minority report referred approvingly to "monarchical notions of prerogative that will permit [presidents] to exceed the law" if Congress tried to exercise oversight on national security matters. Cheney later insisted in an interview that "you have to preserve the prerogative of the president in extraordinary circumstances," by not notifying Congress of intelligence operations.

Cheney's views have not shifted since then. In December 2005, he referred reporters to the minority report for his view of "the president's prerogatives." And for the first time in U.S. history, executive branch lawyers have argued that the president has power to "suspend" laws permanently in the name of national security. In signing statements for new laws, President Bush has repeatedly asserted this broad power. In internal legal opinions on torture, Justice Department lawyers have proposed that the president can set aside laws that conflict with his ideas of national security. Under this logic, laws against torture, warrantless surveillance and transfers of detainees to governments that torture all buckle.


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