Tag Archives: presidential powers

America, Meet Your New Dictator-in-Chief: The President’s Secret, Unchecked Powers, by John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead

With current emergency powers, there is absolutely nothing the president cannot do. From John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have given way to permanent crisis management: to policing the planet and fighting preventative wars of ideological containment, usually on terrain chosen by, and favorable to, our enemies. Limited government and constitutional accountability have been shouldered aside by the kind of imperial presidency our constitutional system was explicitly designed to prevent.”— David C. Unger, The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs

America, meet your new dictator-in-chief.

As the New York Times reports, “Newly disclosed documents have shed a crack of light on secret executive branch plans for apocalyptic scenarios—like the aftermath of a nuclear attack—when the president may activate wartime powers for national security emergencies.”

The problem, of course, is that we have become a nation in a permanent state of emergency.

Power-hungry and lawless, the government has weaponized one national crisis after another in order to expand its powers and justify all manner of government tyranny in the so-called name of national security.

The seeds of this present madness were sown almost two decades ago when George W. Bush stealthily issued two presidential directives that granted the president the power to unilaterally declare a national emergency, which is loosely defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.

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America the Repugnant. Assassinating Foreign Leaders Is an Act of War, by Philip Giraldi

Three successive US presidents have erected, through the force of precedent, an incontestable power to kill whomever the president pleases, and a power to wage war wherever the president chooses. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

Once upon a time there was a Constitution of the United States. In Article II, Section 2 it stipulated that only the U.S. Congress has the power to declare war, which means the American president has to go to the legislative body and make a case for going to war against an enemy or enemies. If there is a vote in favor of war, the president is empowered as commander-in-chief to direct the available resources against the enemy.

There is also something called international law. Under international law there are situations in which a head of state or head of government can use military force defensively or even preemptively if there is a substantial threat that is imminent. But normally, a country has to go through a procedure similar to that in the U.S. Constitution, which means making a case that the war is justified before declaring war. The Nuremberg Tribunals ruled that starting a war of aggression is the ultimate crime.

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The Imperial President’s Toolbox of Terror: A Dictatorship Waiting to Happen, by John W. Whitehead

The president’s powers and ability to ignore the Constitution are breathtaking. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

Presidents don’t give up power.

Executive orders don’t expire at the end of each presidential term.

And every successive occupant of the Oval Office since George Washington, who issued the first executive order, has expanded the reach and power of the presidency.

The Constitution invests the President with very specific, limited powers. In recent years, however, American presidents have anointed themselves with the power to wage war, unilaterally kill Americans, torture prisoners, strip citizens of their rights, arrest and detain citizens indefinitely, carry out warrantless spying on Americans, and erect their own secretive, shadow government.

These are the powers that will be inherited by the next heir to the throne, and it won’t make a difference whether it’s a President Trump or a President Clinton occupying the Oval Office.

The powers amassed by each successive president through the negligence of Congress and the courts—powers which add up to a toolbox of terror for an imperial ruler—empower whomever occupies the Oval Office to act as a dictator, above the law and beyond any real accountability.

Consider some of the presidential powers—which have been acquired through the use of executive orders, decrees, memorandums, proclamations, national security directives and legislative signing statements and can be activated by any sitting president—that have allowed past presidents to operate above the law and beyond the reach of the Constitution.

The power to kill. President Obama has become the “first president to claim the legal authority to order an American citizen killed without judicial involvement, real oversight or public accountability.”

The power to wage war. Ever since 9/11, the United States has been in a state of endless war without Congress ever having declared one. Having pledged to end Bush’s wars, Barack Obama has instead extended them.

The power to torture. The authorization of torture tactics such as waterboarding remain part of the president’s domain should he or she ever choose to revive it.

The power to spy on American citizens. Directed by the President, the National Security Agency has carried out warrantless surveillance on Americans’ phone calls and emails since 9/11.

The power to indefinitely detain American citizens. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order requiring that all Japanese-Americans be held in internment camps. Such blatantly illegal detentions could happen again. In fact, each National Defense Authorization Act since 2012 has included a provision that permits the military to detain individuals—including Americans citizens—indefinitely without trial.

The power to strip American citizens of their constitutional rights. The Bush Administration claimed it could strip American citizens of their constitutional rights, imprison them indefinitely, and deny them legal representation simply by labeling them as enemy combatants. The Obama Administration has persisted in defending the president’s unilateral and global right to detain anyone suspected of supporting terrorist activities.

The power to secretly rewrite or sidestep the laws of the country. Secret courts, secret orders, and secret budgets have become standard operating procedure for presidential administrations in recent years. A good case in point is Presidential Policy Directive 20, a secret order signed by President Obama that essentially gives the military the ability to shut off communications with the outside world if necessary.

To continue reading: The Imperial President’s Toolbox of Terror: A Dictatorship Waiting to Happen