Two former "torture" lawyers to George W. Bush agree that POTUS is mad with power.
President Barack Obama has finally done something that makes even the Bush administration attorneys who helped craft the legal rationales for torture, warrantless wiretapping, and indefinite detention tremble with fear: Last week, he made recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Quotes below sourced by "motherjones".
"David Addington, the former legal counsel to then-Vice President Dick Cheney who helped construct the legal justifications for Bush-era torture policies, argued the president had the "inherent" authority to ignore federal law when spying on American citizens, and put forth the novel view that the vice president's office is not a part of the executive branch and therefore not subject to congressional oversight, told the New York Times that Obama's recess appointments were "flabbergasting and, to be honest, a little chilling."
"John Yoo, the former attorney with the Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel who suggested the president could order a child's testicles crushed, massacre a village of civilians or unilaterally suspend free speech in the event of a terrorist attack, also fears for the future of the republic if the president is able to bypass Senate procedural gimmicks meant to block recess appointments. At National Review, Yoo attacks Obama for his "abuse" of executive power in appointing Richard Cordray to head the CFPB."
As counsel to the Vice President, Addington's duties involved protecting the purported legal interests of the Office of the Vice President, despite the only duties actually given the U.S. Vice President under the United States Constitution are to be first in line to succeed the President in the event of his or her death, or a statutorily-defined inability to effectively discharge the powers of the office, and to be the presiding officer of the United States Senate, with the duty to cast a deciding vote in that body in the event of any tie votes among the members of the Senate itself.
Addington, known as the The "invisible hand" served as the ramrod driving the Bush administration's most secretive and controversial counterterrorism measures through the bureaucracy. David Addington was a key advocate of the Brown v. Board and more than 750 other signing statements the administration has issued since taking office--a record that far outstrips that of any other president.
Quoting NFTOS Edito-In-Chief Roger West:
"Name one significant action taken by the Bush White House after 9/11, and chances are better than ever that Addington had a role in it. In national security circles, Addington was viewed as such a force of nature that one former government lawyer nicknamed him "Keyser Soze," after the ruthless crime boss in the thriller The Usual Suspects. "
Perhaps David Addington’s greatest objective throughout his service with the U.S. government has been the vast expansion of executive power that has enabled the governmental infraction of human rights. With a 20 year career history in national security, Addington has helped profile the Bush administration’s strategy in the war on terror including a narrow interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and a stalwart belief that the powers of the presidency are the only solution to national security-the administration’s default excuse for the use of persecution and other war crimes. This has entailed a very broad interpretation of U.S. law prohibiting torture, allowing the president to override or ignore laws put in place to criminalize the act. This became especially germane following the 9/11 attacks, evidenced by an Office of Legal Council opinion disallowing Congress to place any limits upon the president’s response to terrorist threats, essentially handing the president unlimited powers.
NFTOS Editor-In-Chief West goes on to say:
"Addington was the "vice president's point man". Cheney tried to increase executive power with a series of bold actions -- some so audacious that even conservatives on the Supreme Court sympathetic to Cheney's view had rejected them as overreaching."
International War Crimes: In March 2009 Baltasar Garzón, a Spanish judge who has considered international war crimes charges against other high-profile figures, considered whether to allow charges made by Gonzalo Boye, a lawyer who once defended MIR and ETA, to be laid against Addington and five other former officials of the George W. Bush Presidency. Judge Garzon did not dismiss the complaint, but instead ordered the complaint assigned by lottery to another judge, who will then decide whether to pursue the complaint or not. Spanish Attorney General Candido Conde-Pumpido "strongly criticized" the proceedings, labeling them a legal "artifice." Pumpido recommended against prosecution due to lack of material responsibility on the part of the American officials.
John Yoo is an American attorney, law professor, and author. As a former official in the United States Department of Justice during the George W. Bush administration, he became known as the author of the Torture Memos on the use of what the CIA called enhanced interrogation techniques.
Regarding torture of detainees and children of detainees: After he left the Department of Justice, it was revealed that Yoo had authored memos, including co-authoring the Torture Memo of August 1, 2002, defining torture and American habeas corpus obligations narrowly. In addition, a new definition of torture was issued. Most actions that fall under the international definition do not fall within this new definition advocated by the U.S. Several top military lawyers, including Alberto J. Mora, reported that policies allowing methods equivalent to torture were officially handed down from the highest levels of the administration, and led an effort within the Department of Defense to put a stop to those policies and instead mandate non-coercive interrogation standards.
Regarding the Fourth amendment: Yes teapublicans there are more than two amendments.Yoo also authored the October 23, 2001 memo asserting that the President had sufficient power to allow the NSA to monitor the communications of US citizens on US soil without a warrant because the fourth amendment does not apply. Or, as another memo says in one of its footnotes, "Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations." That interpretation is used to assert that the normal mandatory requirement of a warrant, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, could be ignored.
Unitary executive theory: Yoo suggested that since the primary task of the President during a time of war is protecting US citizens, the President has inherent authority to subordinate independent government agencies, and plenary power to use force abroad. Yoo contends that the Congressional check on Presidential war making power comes from its power of the purse, and that the President, and not the Congress or courts, has sole authority to interpret international treaties such as the Geneva Conventions "because treaty interpretation is a key feature of the conduct of foreign affairs". His positions on executive power are controversial because the theory can be interpreted as holding that the President's war powers place him above any law.
But the sad thing is, John Yoo and David Addington are not good people to make these arguments. Watching two men who argued for years that the president could pick and choose which laws to follow and then have them complaining over Obama's recess appointments as an abuse of power is so absurd that one practically has to reach far into fiction land to find parallel analogies. If we could only get Lex Luthor's feelings on financial regulation or Emperor Palpatine's thoughts on the importance of checks and balances.
"Do as I say not as I do" comes to mind, "pot and kettle" also enters the grey matter as well, but overwhelmingly, hypocrites seems to be the best fit here!