Saturday, June 07, 2014

GOP skepticism of Obama’s executive power is all too convenient

By Adam Serwer,
Updated 06/06/14 06:21 PM

Republicans have settled on an important limiting principle for preventing presidential power grabs: If Obama does it, it’s probably illegal.

Having initially trashed President Barack Obama for not doing everything possible to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been in the custody of the Taliban until late last week, Republicans quickly transitioned to condemning him for taking action last week. Some objected to the trade of five former Taliban in exchange for Bergdahl, while others objected to the administration’s failure to notify Congress within 30 days of the transfer as required by a law (designed to make it more difficult to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay). Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., even raised the possibility of impeachment if Obama did so again.

Some of the objections to the president disregarding the law’s requirement come from surprising places. Former Vice President Dick Cheney seemed to agree with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that the White House was “flouting settled American law.”

“The latest one of course is this debate over whether he should have notified the Congress. The statute was pretty clear,” Cheney said in an exchange posted by former Bush administration attorney Jack Goldsmith. “What we’ve always done is say that we think it is unconstitutional but at the same time work with the Congress to avoid a major confrontation over it and still go ahead and do what we needed to do[.]” Similarly, Bush-era justice department official John Yoo, who once suggested that it could be legal for the president to order a child’s testicles crushed, wondered whether the transfer was legal.

(More here.)


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