For John, BLUF: Mr Trump is the focus of all our hopes, or, on the other side, all our fears. Nothing to see here; just move along.
The Atlantic Monthly has a strange article earlier this month, written by Mr Conor Friedersdorf. The headline was "Tyrant-Proof the White House—Before It's Too Late".
The subheadline was:
Bush and Obama ran roughshod over Madisonian checks and balances, but there's still time to restore them.Here is the lede plus two:
An op-ed in Tuesday’s New York Times points out that, thanks to precedents set by President Obama, “whoever prevails in November will inherit a sweeping power to use lethal force against suspected terrorists and militants, including Americans.”My initial instinct is to scoff, but Mr Friedersdorf recognizes that President Obama (and before him, President George W Bush) has too much power and his instinct is to use this transition in January 2017 to rein it in. After talking about the ACLU's wish to rein in drone attacks,♠ or more specifically Presidential authorization of targeting killings, the author appeals to my sense by saying "Congress should reassert itself…".
Let me put things more starkly: Under current precedent, the commander in chief can give a secret order to kill an American citizen with a drone strike without charges or trial.
Should Donald Trump have that power?
Reforms of that sort would do more to limit abuses under the next president than the status quo. But as I’m sure the ACLU co-authors would agree, even more steps are necessary, and Congress should reassert itself and fulfill its role as a coequal branch.♥While framed as protecting us from a President Trump, the same philosophy should apply to a President Cruz or a President Clinton or even a President Sanders.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.
Regards — Cliff
♠ But it isn't "drones" that are the issue but the tools available to the President to execute individuals without trial. Convenience should not be the issue, or expediency, but justice and retaining our sense of right and wrong.
♥ And while we are at it we should change the name of the GAO back to the General Accounting Office. Congress is the Government Accountability Office.