Unlimited Government


Here we see Dick Cheney and someone we have to assume is David Addington arguing explicitly that the president is above the law:

Two questions remain, officials said. One involves techniques to be authorized now. The other is whether any technique should be explicitly forbidden. According to participants in the debate, the vice president stands by the view that Bush need not honor any of the new judicial and legislative restrictions. His lawyer, they said, has recently restated Cheney's argument that when courts and Congress "purport to" limit the commander in chief's warmaking authority, he has the constitutional prerogative to disregard them.

One could imagine the view that the president has a constitutional obligation to veto any congressional efforts to limit his warmaking authority (by, e.g., prohibiting torture, which is what's at issue here). One could imagine a stronger view that the courts have a constitutional obligation to defer to the executive branch in the case of a legal controversy over congressional efforts to prevent the executive branch from torturing people. Cheney, here, is standing on the strongest view imaginable -- that the executive branch can sign laws banning torture, then keep torturing people, then lose a lawsuit over it, and then just keep on torturing people because, hey, he's the president.

Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist, CFR fellow, former White House speech writer, and nominal Christian musters the view that the vice president's strong stand in favor of illegally torturing people is "principled" which is, I guess, good for him.