Unitary Executive Theory

From SourceWatch
Revision as of 11:35, 1 April 2008 by CMD bot (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ←Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision→ (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
  • "when it was revealed in 2005 that the Bush administration had been illegally spying on Americans, [Vice President Dick] Cheney responded: 'If you want to understand why this program is legal…go back and read my Iran-Contra report.' In that report — authored in 1987 — Cheney and aide David Addington defended President Reagan by claiming it was 'unconstitutional for Congress to pass laws intruding' on the 'commander in chief'."—Charlie Savage, October 2007.[1]
  • "It's not too far from King of Everything, really."—Jan Frel, AlterNet, October 28, 2005.[3]

The unitary executive theory "asserts that all executive authority must be in the President’s hands, without exception."[4]

President George W. Bush "has been asserting from the outset of his presidency" that presidential power "must be unilateral, and unchecked."[5]

"But the most recent and blatant presidential intrusions on the law and Constitution supply the verse to that refrain. They not only claim unilateral executive power, but also supply the train of the President's thinking, the texture of his motivations, and the root of his intentions.

"They make clear, for instance, that the phrase 'unitary executive' is a code word for a doctrine that favors nearly unlimited executive power. Bush has used the doctrine in his signing statements to quietly expand presidential authority."[6]

According to "Dr. Christopher Kelley, a professor in the Department of Political Sciences at Miami University, as of April 2005, President Bush had used the doctrine 95 times when signing legislation into law, issuing an executive order, or responding to a congressional resolution."[7]

"The President announced in these signings that he would construe provisions in a manner consistent with his 'constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch.' While the President clearly has the authority to supervise the executive branch, it is unclear how far he might construe this authority under the unitary executive theory."[8]


Bush administration "Fourth Branch" of government?

In June 2007, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed that he is neither a member of the executive branch of the U.S. government[9], nor required to comply with executive orders issued by President George W. Bush. In turn, President Bush—consistent with his claim that presidential power "must be unilateral, and unchecked"[10]—also claims that he is not required to comply, as neither the president nor the vice president are "agencies" of the executive branch.[11]

Since 2004, Cheney's office has refused to "allow" the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), "a department within the National Archives, to conduct an on-site inspection of how classified material is handled there, as it is authorized to do under an executive order issued by President Bush." Additionally, Cheney "prevented his office records from going to the National Archives, as required by federal law, according to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)", who is "now challenging the legality and rationale behind Cheney's decision in a letter[12] sent to the vice president" on June 21, 2007. Waxman also said that Cheney's office "stopped supplying data to the Information Security Oversight Office on its classification and declassification procedures in 2003."[13][14]

Following a threat by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) to defund[15] "$4.8 million in executive-branch funding", "senior administration officials" told The Politico Cheney's office "will not pursue the argument that it is separate from the executive branch ... Two senior Republican officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the rationale had been the view of the vice president’s lawyers, not Cheney himself."[16]

Emanuel said the defunding "vote is still planned, and said the new position means the vice president needs to comply with National Archives requirements."[17]

Cheney & Addington

Jan Frel wrote in the October 28, 2005, AlterNet Blog[18] that Bush had, however, used this "unitary logic, including [in] many of his ill-fated choices relating to torture and the Geneva Conventions."

"And who was the author of the infamous 'torture memo?'," Frel asked? It was David S. Addington, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney since October 2005 and Cheney's counsel since 2001, who "believes in the Unitary Executive theory.[19] If you guessed that this meant the power of one CEO who decides liberty and justice for all, you wouldn't be far off," Frel wrote.

Addington was the "vice president's point man," Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank wrote October 11, 2004.[20]

"Cheney has 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 have rejected them as overreaching," Milbank wrote.

Bush Documents

  • News Release: "President Signs Justice Approps Authorization Act," Statement by the President, November 4, 2002: "The executive branch shall construe section 530D of title 28, and related provisions in section 202 of the Act, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authorities of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, the national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties."
  • News Release: "President's Statement on H.R. 199, the 'USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005'," March 9, 2006: "The executive branch shall construe the provisions of H.R. 3199 that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch, such as sections 106A and 119, in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties."

Signing Statements

"Presidential signing statements: Similar to the line-item veto is the presidential signing statement, in which the President signs a bill but also specifies which parts of a bill he or she actually intends to enforce.[21]

  • "Until the Reagan administration, only 75 signing statements had ever been issued."
  • Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton "issued a total of 247 signing statements."
  • "President George W. Bush alone has issued 130 signing statements, which tend to be more sweeping in scope than those of his predecessors."

In July 2006, Sen. Arlen Specter filed legislation that would allow a chamber of Congress to file a lawsuit to determine the constitutionality of presidential signing statements.[22]

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Satyam Khanna, "Charlie Savage: Cheney Plotted Bush’s Imperial Presidency ‘Thirty Years Ago’," Think Progress, October 9, 2007.
  2. Dana Milbank, "It's Bush's Way or the Highway on Guantanamo Bay," Washington Post, July 12, 2006.
  3. Jan Frel, "Unitary Executive Theory," AlterNet Blogs, October 28, 2005.
  4. Robert Parry, "The End of 'Unalienable Rights'," consortiumnews.com, January 24, 2006.
  5. Jennifer Van Bergen, "The Unitary Executive: Is The Doctrine Behind the Bush Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State?" FindLaw's Writ, January 9, 2006.
  6. Jennifer Van Bergen, "The Unitary Executive: Is The Doctrine Behind the Bush Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State?" FindLaw's Writ, January 9, 2006.
  7. Jennifer Van Bergen, "Scholar says Bush has used obscure doctrine to extend power 95 times," The Raw Story, September 23, 2005.
  8. Jennifer Van Bergen, "Scholar says Bush has used obscure doctrine to extend power 95 times," The Raw Story, September 23, 2005.
  9. Julia Malone, "Cheney asserts he's part of the legislative branch. Will not follow executive order," Cox Newspapers (Boston Globe), June 21, 2007.
  10. Jennifer Van Bergen, "Scholar says Bush has used obscure doctrine to extend power 95 times," The Raw Story, September 23, 2005.
  11. Josh Meyer, "Bush claims oversight exemption too. The White House says the president's own order on classified data does not apply to his office or the vice president's," Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2007.
  12. "Vice President Exempts His Office from the Requirements for Protecting Classified Information," Chairman Henry A. Waxman, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, June 21, 2007.
  13. John Bresnahan, "Waxman challenges Cheney on whether VP has to turn over documents to National Archive," The Politico, June 21, 2007.
  14. "Waxman vs. Cheney," The Gate/National Journal, June 22, 2007.
  15. Patrick O'Connor, "Emanuel Bill Would Defund Cheney," The Crypt's Blog/The Politico, June 24, 2007.
  16. Mike Allen, "Cheney part of executive branch again," The Politico, June 27, 2007.
  17. Mike Allen, "Cheney part of executive branch again," The Politico, June 27, 2007.
  18. Jan Frel, "Unitary Executive Theory," AlterNet Blogs, October 28, 2005.
  19. Alexander Hamilton, "The Federalist Papers : No. 70. The Executive Department Further Considered. From the New York Packet. Tuesday, March 18, 1788, The Avalon Project, Yale University.
  20. Dana Milbank, "In Cheney's Shadow, Counsel Pushes the Conservative Cause," Washington Post, October 11, 2004.
  21. Tom Head, "Imperial Presidency 101 - Unitary Executive Theory and the Imperial Presidency," Civil Liberty at About.com.
  22. S.3731. A bill to regulate the judicial use of presidential signing statements in the interpretation of Acts of Congress introduced July 26, 2006, by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.).

Publications

Arthur M. Schlesinger, "The Imperial Presidency," Houghton Mifflin, 1973 ISBN 0395177138. [1]

Profiles & Reports

External articles