Note to People Meeting with the Candidates. . .

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All around the country, there are people meeting with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain in cafes, meeting halls, churches, community colleges, and private homes. Occasionally, the media really press them to answer hard questions — and other times not.
But some of you can ask them questions and report back to bloggers or other writers ‘exactly’ what the response was. Some of you can catch these exchanges with a flip video recorder and send the files our way.
Now and again, I’m going to post some questions that TWN readers would love to hear the candidates respond to. If these questions match your own, give it a go — and ask Hillary, Barack, or John McCain the question and get back to us.

Question One: Specifically, which powers of the Presidency that the Bush administration has acquired for itself would you roll back and give up?

We really want to know. . .from all three.
Good luck.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

21 comments on “Note to People Meeting with the Candidates. . .

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  4. komik videolar says:

    I’d go back to War Powers Act of 1973 that has not really worked as it only requires that President “consult” with Congress before committing troops abroad. Is it really constitutionally necessary at all? Did it prevent many uses of our military abroad? Does it really serve any purpose? Shouldn’t Congress have to vote to support every such action as commander-in-chief? As commander-in-chief, President has ability to act immediately under the Constitution if we are attacked–as do troops on the ground. Even at Pearl Harbor, our military didn’t need to consult anybody to man what posts/resources we had left and defend themselves. And Congress could declare war a day or two later.

    Reply

  5. söve says:

    This wasn’t a söve stunt to gain attention on his part, but I believe he thought War Powers Act of 1973 (passed to avoid another söve Vietnam–obviously didn’t work for that!!) is unconstitutional. I’m not a söve lawyer or Constitutional lawyer, but the decision was pretty söve straightforward. Congress doesn’t need to appeal to courts for a söve fix as it passed War Powers Act söve and can amend it, repeal it, söve write a better law. After Vietnam and Iraq where Congress did authorize söve President to take military action, I’d like to see McCain, Clinton, söve and Obama all call for repeal of War söve Powers Act–and if none of them do (And I think at least söve Obama would do that), Congress could söve still repeal it on their own.

    Reply

  6. Kathleen says:

    Linda.. the Prez has the authority to use force without prior approval from Congress, only in a clear and present danger…ie imminent attack. This does not include using force against a country who is not poised to attack us, but someday, in the distant future may have to the capacity to strike us.
    Congress has been remiss in the execution of their duties by not hoilding the administration accountable for overstepping his powers. The preservation of the co-equality of thge three branches of gov’t and seperation of powers is a fundamental principle that ne3eds to be strictly observed.
    I found the article, Enemies Foreign, Enemies Domestic, by retired U.S. Navy Commander, Jeff Huber, at Pen and Sword, to be a very cogent discussion of oaths of office an oaths of service.

    Reply

  7. Linda says:

    Don,
    I am not sure if this link will work http://www.lawofwar.org/Campbell_v_Clinton.htm If it doesn’t, then Google Campbell v. Clinton, as it’s easy to find to read the DC Court of Appeals opinion in rejecting the case when Campbell appealed as U.S. District Court in DC dismissed it ruling for Clinton. It’s a very interesting case because Tom Campbell, then one of my favorite moderate Republican Congressmen (don’t have very many and a lot fewer of them nine years later) sued Clinton as violating the War Powers Act when US went into Kosovo in 1999. The case was thrown out and upheld on appeal because courts ruled that a Congressman did not have standing to sue.
    Campbell continued to teach a least one seminar at Stanford Law School all the time he was in the House. He had been on Harvard Law Review and clerked in one of the U.S. District Court of Appeals and then for Whizzer White. He lost when he ran against Diane Feinstein for Senate in 2002, returned to teaching at Stanford Law School, and since he also has a Ph.D. summa cum laude in econ from U of Chicago after Enron was hired as Dean of Haas Business School at Berkeley after Enron—to ensure that more ethics was taught in business school. So among members of Congress, he probably has been one of the most knowledgable about Constitutional law. I have no idea why he didn’t appeal to SCOTUS, probably figured he’d lose there too.
    This wasn’t a stunt to gain attention on his part, but I believe he thought War Powers Act of 1973 (passed to avoid another Vietnam–obviously didn’t work for that!!) is unconstitutional. I’m not a lawyer or Constitutional lawyer, but the decision was pretty straightforward. Congress doesn’t need to appeal to courts for a fix as it passed War Powers Act and can amend it, repeal it, write a better law. After Vietnam and Iraq where Congress did authorize President to take military action, I’d like to see McCain, Clinton, and Obama all call for repeal of War Powers Act–and if none of them do (And I think at least Obama would do that), Congress could still repeal it on their own.

    Reply

  8. Don Bacon says:

    Linda,
    The War Powers Act, which is clearly unconstitutional, requires the President to consult with the Congress “if possible”. The Founding Fathers intended a clear separation between the powers of the Congress declaring a war and the Executive prosecuting a war, which of course is not being followed.
    So a question to candidates would be: “Do you recognized the clear constitutional requirement for the Congress to declare war?”

    Reply

  9. Don Bacon says:

    Linda,
    The War Powers Act is of course unconstitutional because it allows the President to introduce the military into hostilities without a congressional mandate, as required by the Constitution. The President is only required to consult “in every possible instance” with Congress before acting and then is required to report to the Congress not less than every six months.
    James Madison said: Those who are to conduct a war cannot in the nature of things, be proper or safe judges, whether a war ought to be commenced, continued, or concluded. They are barred from the latter functions by a great principle in free government, analogous to that which separates the sword from the purse, or the power of executing from the power of enacting laws.
    http://www.oxfordreference.com/pages/samplep03.html
    George Washington said: The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods45.html
    Library of Congress scholar Louis Fisher wrote: “The president’s authority was carefully constrained. The power to repel sudden attacks represented an emergency measure that allowed the president, when Congress was not in session, to take actions necessary to repel sudden attacks either against the mainland of the United States or against American troops abroad. It did not authorize the president to take the country into full-scale war or mount an offensive attack against another nation.”
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul355.html
    This goes to a larger problem, that there is a feeling in the land that the President, not the Congress, is responsible for foreign policy. This also is not constitutional.
    So: Another question for the candidates. “Will you follow the Constitution regarding Congress’s power to declare war?”
    And: “Do you recognize Congress’s power to formulate US foreign relations?”

    Reply

  10. Mr.Murder says:

    As for Posse Comitatus, it would appear that its offical use would have to match a precedent of an official war declaration by another country and attack by said country’s armed forces.
    That would include an attack upon on allied nation(in the first case, Texas) or upon an America territory(Hawaii).
    Then persons unfairly jailed because of ethnic ancestry from said lands still would have grounds for lawsuit.
    America will soon pay reparations to those it has tortured, and already has in several instances.
    There should be a penalty torture tariff placed upon contractors and third parties involved. Take back the money Blackwater, etc. bilked our budget of. That is the way to pay for reparations.

    Reply

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  12. Linda says:

    I’d go back to War Powers Act of 1973 that has not really worked as it only requires that President “consult” with Congress before committing troops abroad. Is it really constitutionally necessary at all? Did it prevent many uses of our military abroad? Does it really serve any purpose? Shouldn’t Congress have to vote to support every such action as commander-in-chief? As commander-in-chief, President has ability to act immediately under the Constitution if we are attacked–as do troops on the ground. Even at Pearl Harbor, our military didn’t need to consult anybody to man what posts/resources we had left and defend themselves. And Congress could declare war a day or two later.

    Reply

  13. LInda says:

    I’d go back to War Powers Act of 1973 that has not really worked as it only requires that President “consult” with Congress before committing troops abroad. Is it really constitutionally necessary at all? Did it prevent many uses of our military abroad? Does it really serve any purpose? Shouldn’t Congress have to vote to support every such action as commander-in-chief? As commander-in-chief, President has ability to act immediately under the Constitution if we are attacked–as do troops on the ground. Even at Pearl Harbor, our military didn’t need to consult anybody to man what posts/resources we had left and defend themselves. And Congress could declare war a day or two later.

    Reply

  14. Kathleen says:

    Don Bacon.. exactly why this has been my pet worry since 9/11. When you’re a “War President”, you can do anything, according to the Unitary Executive Theory.
    I think it’s time for Congress to apply Cheney’s One Percent Doctrine to Bush and crew and relieve them of their command.

    Reply

  15. Don Bacon says:

    Kathleen,
    There’s nothing to stop a president from issuing an executive order. Nullification would require congressional action. This could (and should) happen, but I don’t believe that Congress has never challenged an Executive Order.
    The Pentagon has a new domestic combatant command, NORTHCOM, which will shortly be able to send troops anywhere in the country. Also, posse comitatus is essentially a dead duck, according to Homeland Security.
    The Myth of Posse Comitatus:
    The Posse Comitatus Act has traditionally been viewed as a major barrier to the use of U.S. military forces in planning for homeland defense. In fact, many in uniform believe that the act precludes the use of U.S. military assets in domestic security operations in any but the most extraordinary situations. As is often the case, reality bears little resemblance to the myth for homeland defense planners. Through a gradual erosion of the act’s prohibitions over the past 20 years, posse comitatus today is more of a procedural formality than an actual impediment to the use of U.S. military forces in homeland defense.
    http://www.homelandsecurity.org/journal/articles/Trebilcock.htm

    Reply

  16. leo says:

    That’s a very good question Steve, one that I’ve wanted to hear all the candidates address since the beginning of both the Democratic and Republican debates.

    Reply

  17. Kathleen says:

    Speaking of national emergencies having been declared and various Executive Orders having been issued, is it such a leap of faith to think that martial law could be declared and elections postponed for the duration of the emergency? AfterDowningStreet last week reported that practice runs of martial law were executed in three states. I’ll look for the link.. just got my computer back from repairs
    Meanwhile, back in the Beltway, Sen Bingman just endorsed Obama.
    http://thepage.time.com/2008/04/28/sen-bingaman-to-endorse-Obama/

    Reply

  18. Don Bacon says:

    Question One is excellent. I would add as a follow-up:
    “The United States is now under three continuing national emergencies declared by Presidential executive order, for Iran, WMD and terrorism. Three national emergencies! There is another executive order which says that the property of persons who threaten stabilization efforts in Iraq may be confiscated. Executive orders are the tools of autocracy and dictatorship. If elected, would you continue this practice?”
    And: “Presidential signing statements didn’t originate with the current president, but he has taken them to new depths, essentially saying that he won’t obey the law that he just signed. Would you continue this practice or change it?”

    Reply

  19. Steve Clemons says:

    Don Bacon — Thanks for asking about the Japan piece. I posted
    what I thought was Mindy Kotler’s guest piece, but was later
    contacted by her and told that I posted the wrong draft. I only had
    the one I posted — so instead of debating about it on a Sunday, I
    removed it pending receiving what she said was the correct draft.
    If she sends in again, I’ll repost. best, steve

    Reply

  20. JohnH says:

    Q1)If you were President in 1999, would you have signed the Financial Services Modernization Act (Gramm -Leach-Bliley), which allowed banks to merge with investment houses? Gramm-Leach-Bliley rolled back Depression era protections and set the stage for the sub-prime mortgage mess and to what many call the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
    Q2) If you were President in 2000, would you have signed the Commodities Futures Trading Act, which contained the “Enron loophole?” It exempted energy commodities trading from the kinds of government regulations that apply to financial and securities trading and even to other commodities trading. That law is widely credited with allowing Enron to game the California electricity markets in 2001, creating artificial supply shortages, frequent rolling blackouts, and enormous profits for Enron. Many experts believe that the “Enron loophole” is now being used by energy traders to manipulate the price of oil, bidding up prices 20-30% and making huge profits for themselves.

    Reply

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