ACLU: If you liked the Bush/Cheney Unitary Executive, you’ll love the Obama Unitary Executive.

By mw | Related entries in Civil Liberties, Constitution, Democrats, Obama

This week the ACLU released a disturbing report documenting the permanent enshrinement of the Bush/Cheney definition of the Unitary Executive by the Obama administration. With the tacit acceptance of the Democratic Congress, the balance of power continues to shift heavily to the executive branch. While distressing, the report is unsurprising as it became clear in the first few weeks of the new administration that Obama’s campaign rhetoric of rolling back the Bush/Cheney power grab was just that – empty campaign rhetoric.

The ACLU report “Establishing a New Normal” is summarized here, and the full report linked here [PDF]. The report assesses the record of the first 18 months of the Obama administration across several civil rights categories and is well worth the read.

Excerpted here – a few ACLU report highlights lowlights:

TRANSPARENCY
“…the administration has fought to keep secret hundreds of records relating to the Bush administration’s rendition, detention, and interrogation policies. To take just a few of many possible examples, it has fought to keep secret a directive in which President Bush authorized the CIA to establish secret prisons overseas; the Combatant Status Review Transcripts in which former CIA prisoners describe the abuse they suffered in the CIA’s secret prisons… the administration has also fought to withhold information about prisoners held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Indeed, the Obama administration has released less information about prisoners held at Bagram Air Base than the Bush administration released about prisoners held at Guantánamo.

TORTURE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
The truth is that the Obama administration has gradually become an obstacle to accountability for torture. It is not simply that, as discussed above, the administration has fought to keep secret some of the documents that would allow the public to better understand how the torture program was conceived, developed, and implemented. It has also sought to extinguish lawsuits brought by torture survivors—denying them recognition as victims, compensation for their injuries, and even the opportunity to present their cases.”

DETENTION
“Of far greater significance than the administration’s failure to meet its own one-year deadline is its embrace of the theory underlying the Guantánamo detention regime: that the Executive Branch can detain militarily—without charge or trial—terrorism suspects captured far from a conventional battlefield… we fear that if a precedent is established that terrorism suspects can be held without trial within the United States, this administration and future administrations will be tempted to bypass routinely the constitutional restraints of the criminal justice system in favor of indefinite military detention. This is a danger that far exceeds the disappointment of seeing the Guantánamo prison stay open past the one-year deadline. To be sure, Guantánamo should be closed, but not at the cost of enshrining the principle of indefinite detention in a global war without end.

TARGETED KILLING
President Obama has authorized a program that contemplates the killing of suspected terrorists—including U.S. citizens —located far away from zones of actual armed conflict. If accurately described, this program violates international law and, at least insofar as it affects U.S. citizens, it is also unconstitutional… the government has failed to prove the lawfulness of imprisoning individual Guantánamo detainees in some three quarters of the cases cases that have been reviewed by the federal courts thus far, even though the government had years to gather and analyze evidence for those cases and had itself determined that those prisoners were detainable. This experience should lead the administration—and all Americans—to reject out of hand a program that would invest the CIA or the U.S. military with the unchecked authority to impose an extrajudicial death sentence on U.S. citizens and others found far from any actual battlefield.”

MILITARY COMMISSIONS
“The administration’s embrace of military commission trials at Guantánamo, albeit with procedural improvements, has been a major disappointment. Instead of calling a permanent halt to the failed effort to create an entirely new court system for Guantánamo detainees, President Obama encouraged an effort to redraft the legislation creating the commissions and signed that bill into law… the existence of a second-class system of justice with a poor track record and no international legitimacy undermines the entire enterprise of prosecuting terrorism suspects. So long as the federal government can choose between two systems of justice, one of which (the federal criminal courts) is fair and legitimate, while the other (the military commissions) tips the scales in favor of the prosecution, both systems will be tainted…”

SPEECH AND SURVEILLANCE
“…over the last eighteen months, President Obama’s administration has defended the FISA Amendments Act in the same way that the last administration did so: by insisting that the statute is effectively immune from judicial review. Individuals can challenge the statute’s statute’s constitutionality, the administration has proposed, only if they can prove that their own communications were monitored under the statute; since the administration refuses to disclose whose communications have been monitored, the statute cannot be challenged at all. In some ways, the administration’s defense of the statute is as troubling as the statute itself. The Obama administration has been reluctant to yield any of the expansive surveillance powers claimed by the last administration. It has pushed for the reauthorization of some of the Patriot Act’s most problematic surveillance provisions.”

WATCH LISTS
“…rather than reform the watch lists the Obama administration has expanded their use and resisted the introduction of minimal due process safeguards to prevent abuse and protect civil liberties. The Obama administration has added thousands of names to the No Fly List, sweeping up many innocent individuals. As a result, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents have been stranded abroad, unable to return to the United States. Others are unable to visit family on the opposite end of the country or abroad. Individuals on the list are not told why they are on the list and thus have no meaningful opportunity to object or to rebut the government’s allegations. The result is an unconstitutional scheme under which an individual’s right to travel and, in some cases, a citizen’s ability to return to the United States, is under the complete control of entirely unaccountable bureaucrats relying on secret evidence and using secret standards.

CONCLUSION
“…if the Obama administration does not effect a fundamental break with the Bush administration’s policies on detention, accountability, and other issues, but instead creates a lasting legal architecture in support of those policies, then it will have ratified, rather than rejected, the dangerous notion that America is in a permanent state of emergency and that core liberties must be surrendered forever.”

It is easy to point to the hypocrisy of liberals and Democrats who railed with righteous indignation about the Bush/Cheney expansion of executive power, only to be complicit in the continuing erosion of our liberty now. Their deafening silence, kid-glove criticism, and/or rationalizations of the Obama administration’s continued expansion of executive power and consequent institutionalization of the Bush/Cheney Unitary Executive speaks volumes about their prioritizing partisanship over principles.

To be sure – there are principled voices on the left who have consistently and clearly pointed to this administration failure – notably Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher among others:


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These voices are too few. The first two years of the Obama administration represent a badly squandered opportunity to undo the damage done by the previous administration.

Worse than the routine partisan hypocrisy by administration apologists, is the complete abrogation of constitutional checks, balances, and executive oversight responsibilities by our Senators and Representatives in Congress.

Fro example, what happened to the soaring rhetoric of Senator Patrick Leahy – who campaigned passionately and relentlessly for the restoration of constitutional Habeas Corpus protections in 2006?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: “It grieves me to think that three decades in this body that I stand here in the Senate, knowing that we’re thinking of doing this. It is so wrong. It is unconstitutional. It is un-American. It is designed to ensure the Bush-Cheney administration will never again be embarrassed by a United States Supreme Court decision reviewing its unlawful abuses of power. The Supreme Court said, ‘You abused your power.’ He said, ‘Ha, we’ll fix that. We have a rubber stamp, a rubber stamp, Congress, that will just set that aside and give us power that nobody, no king or anybody else set foot in this land, ever thought of having.” – Senator Patrick Leahy

In 2007 I again supported the Leahy follow-on effort to restore Habeas Corpus:

The gutting of the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus is the most notable outstanding assault on civil liberties. Senators Leahy and Spector have just introduced legislation to restore the right without ambiguity and DWSUWF recommends signing the petition to support their efforts.

If you click on the petition linked in this quote you’ll note the referenced campaign on the Leahy website no longer exits, replaced with a milquetoast request to send a letter to your senator requesting support. I guess it is just not as high a priority for Leahy if a Democrat has “power that nobody, no king or anybody else set foot in this land, ever thought of having.” I expect Democrats will not be as sanguine about the expanded and institutionalized power of the Obama Unitary Executive when and if a Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin steps behind the wheel of this supercharged presidential machine.

The ACLU report focuses on civil liberties, but the accelerating accretion of executive power over our economic liberties has been equally egregious. I won’t belabor the point in this post, but will simply point out the obvious. Regardless of what one thinks of the merits or politics of the legislation, it is beyond argument that Obamacare and Financial Regulation as passed, dramatically increase the power held by the executive branch. With these laws, Congress granted vast power to faceless bureaucrats in the executive branch with unfettered latitude to set industrial policy, create and enforce broad new regulations over the healthcare and financial industries.

Even beyond these laws, even when operating without a firm legal foundation, this administration has repeatedly demonstrated an eager willingness to push the the boundaries of presidential power.

You’d think, even allowing for partisanship, there would be enough institutional loyalty among our legislators to try to maintain some semblance of balance between the supposedly co-equal legislative and executive branches of government. It is simply not happening. In times of Single Party Rule (as we’ve had for eight of the last ten years) it is Party Über Alles, and the constitutional checks and balances envisioned by the founders between the executive and legislative branch just fade away. This was true with Republicans in 2000-2006, and it is true with Democrats now.

At the rate that the Senate and House have ceded power to the executive branch over the last decade, combined with the lap dog deference most legislators offer to an executive of the same party, the legislature might as well vote itself out of existence. Perhaps they could be functionally replaced by a Legolist e-mail listserv.

The only remaining restraint on executive power today is the judiciary. This is why I have supported and will continue to support Obama nominations to the Supreme Court. My fervent hope is that the new justices will help form a SCOTUS majority that will pull hard on the reigns of the executive branch, declare many of the Bush/Obama administration actions (civil and economic) unconstitutional, and restore some semblance of the rule of law.

Regardless of what you may think of the political leanings of ACLU, they are fighting the good fight for our constitutional protections in the courts and they are doing it regardless of the party in power. They deserve our support. Beyond the courts, the only other way to restrain the extraordinary economic overreach and fiscal irresponsibility of this executive branch is to vote Republican in 2010 and divide this government. Congress only seems to remember their executive oversight responsibilities when the president is not of the same party as the majority in Congress.

Cross posted from “Divided We Stand United We Fall


This entry was posted on Saturday, July 31st, 2010 and is filed under Civil Liberties, Constitution, Democrats, Obama. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

26 Responses to “ACLU: If you liked the Bush/Cheney Unitary Executive, you’ll love the Obama Unitary Executive.”

  1. Simon Says:

    This is a welcome result, and one which I predicted back in 2007 (mutatis mutandis, at any rate: we all assumed Hillary would be the Democratic nominee back then). Much of what the ACLU is complaining about is not actually the unitary executive (i.e. the intrabranch authority of the President vis-à-vis his subordinates), but rather the power of the executive branch and the chief executive vis-à-vis the other branches of government, a distinct concept that I’ve dubbed the “robust executive” theory. Usually, when people complain about the unitary executive doctrine, their beef is really with the robust executive theory.

    I am far less enthusiastic for the robust executive than I am for the unitary executive, but to the extent they go hand in and in public discourse (even if not in theory), it is more important to me that the unitary executive doctrine is kept healthy and effective, a fortiori since the other branches have ample power to push back any time they like. We should never again have a situation where the President can say “that’s the Attorney General’s call, not mine”—absurd!

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  3. mw Says:

    @Simon
    Ok. I’ll cop to an imprecise use of the term “Unitary Executive” in this post and agree that I’ve conflated the inter- and intra- branch questions within my use of this term. For anyone interested in the correct historical meaning of the term – this University of Chicago Law School post is helpful. However as you further point out – these questions generally go hand-in-hand in public discourse under that umbrella, so I am not going to modify the post or title.

    That said, if I were to make a change, I would not use your preferred term “robust executive” as I find it a bit too innocuous sounding – even connoting something positive. I think I’d go with “Imperial Presidency” instead. So for anyone offended by my sloppy use of terminology in this post, please feel free to mentally substitute this title: “ACLU: If you liked the Bush/Cheney Imperial Presidency, you’ll love the Obama Imperial Presidency.”

    Enjoyed reading your linked 2007 post. In July of that year I also was also anticipating a Clinton presidency and hand-wringing about the potential for the new Democratic Congress to go too far in weakening the executive branch – “The pussification of the presidency.” In retrospect, I now find those concerns laughable.

  4. Chris Says:

    A neocon of a different color.

  5. kranky kritter Says:

    This one is WAY down on my list of things I might decide to worry about.

    But I do have an editorial tip. If you do care about it and thus want others to, you should probably come up with a compelling specific “fer instance” that helps to demonstrate why this trend is troublesome. Without it, your traction is pert near zero.

  6. mw Says:

    @Kranky

    I write about what I care about.

    I don’t care that you don’t care.

  7. kranky kritter Says:

    That’s fine with me, mw. You’ve got no particular reason to be troubled that I don’t care.

    But I’d be confused if your own caring about this issue didn’t extend to some desire to make other folks besides myself care. Isn’t that sort of a big raison d’etre for blogging.

    The suggestion I make in the 2nd graf of my previous post is an important editorial point about audience. Now perhaps you’re happy to confine the transmission of your thoughts on this issue to the comparatively small audience of folks who are already familiar with it and think it’s important to do something about it.

    But if that’s not the case, then you’d be well served to provide a “why this matters” explanation that includes a few concrete examples for unfamiliar folks to hang their hats on.

  8. mw Says:

    For anyone who needs an explanation why it matters that the President of the United States can unilaterally…

    * Detain people indefinitely without recourse to a court or opportunity to prove innocence

    * Monitor American citizen’s communications without a warrant and with no judicial recourse

    * Order the assassination of suspected enemies of the state (including American citizens)

    … I suggest you read the linked ACLU report in full, or the linked Glenn Greenwald columns on the topic, both of which explain this better than me.

    But only read it if you care about these things.

  9. kranky kritter Says:

    The President doesn’t have authority to detain “people” indefinitely without recourse. Only enemy combatants.

    The only communications that can be monitored without warrant or recourse are international communications.

    If you have any examples of any state enemies that Obama has ordered murdered, by all means let’s review those cases, because that sounds pretty awful.

  10. Chris Says:

    KK, what is the requirements to be declared an enemy combatant? And I think that the one american cleric dude has been ordered to be killed, I don’t remember his name.

  11. JimS Says:

    True, Chris. He has, however, explicitly assumed an active role in an organization that has “declared war” on the United States. That earns him the enemy combatant label and I have to lean towards thinking he deserves it. In fact, he pretty much stood up and begged for it.

  12. Chris Says:

    Anwar al-Awlaki is his name. So KK, there is your example. I’m not arguing one way or the other, I just wonder what it takes to be labeled an enemy combatant?

  13. JimS Says:

    He really, really wants to be an enemy combatant.

  14. Chris Says:

    Ok, that’s fine Jim. But what is the criteria for being an enemy combatant? Or is it top secret, like the no fly list, and the reason why someone is on the no fly list.

  15. mw Says:

    The President can unilaterally decide which people are enemy combatants. The President can detain enemy combatants indefinitely without recourse. Enemy combatants are people. Therefore the President can detain people indefinitely without recourse. QED

    The massive increase in surveillance without warrants since GWB/Cheney is well documented on the ACLU site and elsewhere. Moreover it is increasing under the Obama administration.

    This is not about whether Anwar al-Awlaki deserves killing. He does. As did Timothy McVeigh, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and all murderers who were convicted in a court of law and executed as opposed to being ordered killed by executive fiat.

    Indefinite detention without trial, surveillance without warrants, executive ordered executions – None of these powers were invested in the POTUS ten years ago. All are claimed to be in the President’s purview at the President’s discretion today.

    There is a difference between rule of law and rule by executive fiat. We’ve crossed the line. This is not about Bush or Obama or Republicans or Democrats. It is about what kind of country we are becoming. My only hope is that the Supreme Court will eventually push the executive branch back over that line, since our bend over Congress won’t do it.

  16. Chris Says:

    I doubt the current SC will do anything like that anytime soon.

  17. kranky kritter Says:

    The President can unilaterally decide which people are enemy combatants. The President can detain enemy combatants indefinitely without recourse. Enemy combatants are people. Therefore the President can detain people indefinitely without recourse.

    That still makes it a matter of trust, and of reasonable sense. In theory, one can obviously presume bad faith on the part of the President…meaning that the President can detain someone as an enemy combatant even if they don’t deserve it in any meaningful sense.

    So you are technically correct, if one presumes bad faith. Or wring one’s hands over the potential for future abuse.

    I don’t presume bad faith. In extreme circumstances, I am reluctantly willing to allow the President to exercise discretion. If I were the President, and the safety of the nation were at stake, I would want to be able to exercise discretion as a tool. The best way for a President to lose this tool would be to abuse this discretion. I feel confident that if abuses of this discretionary power are brought to light, that this power will be lost. Perhaps not how it plays in a summer movie thriller… .

    Of course, when I speak of abuse, I mean behavior and choices that appear to be abuse in the eyes of the majority of the general public. Regular folks’ opinions on the matter, in other words. That’s somewhat different than what a civil libertarian believes to be abusive.

    And most regular folks are familiar with that gap on a variety of issues regarding civil liberty as measured against public safety. Regular folks are substantially less likely to be troubled by a variety of public safety policies than any number of civil libertarians who might HOWL about those policies. Probably a “boy who cried wolf” lesson in there somewhere, I imagine.

    Fair disclosure. I lean towards being a civil libertarian myself. I could do with a little less safety and invasiveness and a little more freedom and privacy. At the same time, when I had occasion as a younger man to look into joining the ACLU, I was immediately turned off by the inflexible nature of its approach to advocacy. Perhaps that’s the way modern politics must work, that some organizations feel that they can only be effective advocates by being pure ideologues. Personally, I can’t stand that approach. It’s leaves far too little room for reasonable dialogue and careful critical thinking. That’s only my $.02.

    So as that account suggests, it’s not exactly that I don’t care. I do care. But I’ve looked at the landscape and prioritized things based on my sense of how urgent given issues are. I’m not urgently concerned that America is on the cusp of becoming a police state. On a criterion-referenced scale, we’ve probably slid a bit, largely in response to 9/11 and technological advances. But on a normative scale, we’re at or near the top.

  18. WHQ Says:

    I don’t presume bad faith. In extreme circumstances, I am reluctantly willing to allow the President to exercise discretion. If I were the President, and the safety of the nation were at stake, I would want to be able to exercise discretion as a tool. The best way for a President to lose this tool would be to abuse this discretion. I feel confident that if abuses of this discretionary power are brought to light, that this power will be lost. Perhaps not how it plays in a summer movie thriller… .

    I’d prefer that the president ask forgiveness (for breaking the law) than be given prior approval (having the law behind him). That system allows for action in extreme cases without the same abuse potential. There have already been enough abuses of the law AFAIAC. The president and the executive branch need to be reigned in, if anything, IMO. Abuses of discretionary powers have come to light, and the post is demonstrating the the abused powers do not appear to be subject to being lost any time soon, rather they appear, if anything, to be expanding.

  19. the Word Says:

    @Kranky

    Strangely, :-) I find myself disagreeing. My reasoning– a DA in my county tried for a decade to execute three innocent people and to keep evidence that would cast doubt on their prosecution from the light of day. There was almost no blowback from it, he just ran for Governor again this past year. Bush/Cheney attacked the Constitution and instituted torture in the name of defending the people. It is easy to go over the edge and manipulate people into going along with anything and then say that anyone asking for restraint hates the country or is coddling criminals. It was played like a fiddle after 911. The issue isn’t that sometimes you have to color outside the lines, the issue is that the lines are being erased and being made in the eyes of the beholder. I can think of people like Cheney for instance whose judgment I would never trust and therefore I’d be against the change even for people I do trust. I think it’s the way the Founders saw things to. They distrusted concentrated power.

  20. kranky kritter Says:

    Well word, you might be right. Let me stress that I am not saying there is no basis for concern. I found aspects of the Patriot act troubling for example, but haven’t seen any of the troubling “what ifs” that I imagined come to fruition.

    Unfortunately, the only real viable alternative to granting careful discretion for people like the President and other folks in positions requiring time sensitive critical judgement is to force them to always go through a review process. Anyone sane knows that creative folks who bear malice towards America can hide in a sea of that stuff.

    Without being familiar with the DA you mention, I can say that folks like him prove that people granted public trust will sometimes betray it. It’s a given that humans can be corrupt and greedy and selfishly overambitious and unscrupulous. But we probably can’t have a system that gets anything done if our only concern is to prevent all such occurrences of human failing. It’s a question of tolerance in the proper mechanical sense of not too tight and not too loose.

    And we’ll each score on that particular judgement differently. My position is not that there is no reason for concern. I’m concerned, but I don’t feel the need to panic or even to take urgent corrective action. I think we’re doing as good as can be expected on the particular count of Presidential power. If there were an issue of civil liberty that I’d want people to panic on, it would probably be privacy in the face of modern technology and data collection and processing. And on that count I think civil libertarians have already lost. It’s over.

    BTW, my wife and I enjoyed Songcatcher quite a bit. Thanks so much for the recommendation. That’s a good example of how participating in open threads can build a sense of community and good faith.

  21. kranky kritter Says:

    @whq

    …and you call yourself a metalhead? :-)

  22. the Word Says:

    @kk
    Glad you liked the movie. I enjoyed it. Here’s info on the case http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2005/11/backgrounder_th.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanine_Nicarico_murder_case#Prosecution_of_Cruz.2C_Hernandez.2C_and_Buckley

    I’m one who thinks if Reagan and Bush had been impeached Bush Cheney would likely have been more restrained, it’s what concerns me about “trusting” someone. The ones who shouldn’t be trusted take you places they shouldn’t have had the chance to. See Goldman, Enron, BP, Health Insurance Companies, Coal Mines and on and on. They see “use your best judgment” as a green light to every whim. Three people would have been dead here if the “law and order” crowd had their way, Of course your mileage may vary.

  23. kranky kritter Says:

    What an interesting and indeed epic story. Reminds me of The Wire. As troublesome as it is, in the context of this discussion, we have to ask ourselves what regulations could have changed what happened. After all, it starts with the defendants “Cruz and Hernandez had been telling demonstrably false tales about the murder for various reasons”, which was no one else’s fault, and which was likely what muddied the waters so badly. Then you have a conviction by peers. Up until Dugan was arrested and made his admissions, there doesn’t seem to be much misconduct beyond trying a thin case and winning. The case was weak, but it doesn’t seem that the state ignored exculpatory evidence, at least not based on the account you showed me. After that, there was something that I always call “an @ss covering festival.” Those are always ugly, because the truth and getting it right and making things better always takes a back seat to each individual participant’s desire to look good. Or not look bad.

    In the case of Reagan and Bush, the impeachment mechanism existed. So it’s not a failure of available mechanisms and regulations to curb over-reach by the unitary executive. Congress opted not to take that route. Impeachment did not occur because of choices by people.

    The ones who shouldn’t be trusted take you places they shouldn’t have had the chance to. See Goldman, Enron, BP, Health Insurance Companies, Coal Mines and on and on. They see “use your best judgment” as a green light to every whim.

    That’s always going to be the way in large organizations, and with humans. I look at these as failures of human nature. Many of the wrongs done by such folks are amply covered by rules, regulations, laws, and ethical standards. I’m never against trying to craft better ones, but not at all convinced humans can make their rules good enough to protect us from such human moral failings. Some people will continue to do whatever they can get away with. Quite quickly, we run into a dynamic like ” we can build a plane such that all passengers would survive a crash, but it would cost 20,000 for a ticket to Cleveland,”

    That’s why a real world understanding of tolerance as “not too tight, not too loose” is so very important. Our systems of law, politics, business, and so on have to set their tolerances so that performance is optima; and that’s not the same as perfect. An optimally-running oil furnace burns at like 80%ish efficiency. Improvement in one area (like efficiency or safety) inevitably bring trade-offs in other areas (like cost and reliability).

    Three people would have been dead here if the “law and order” crowd had their way, Of course your mileage may vary.

    I’m of course glad that 3 folks who weren’t guilty did not get executed. But I think careerism and @ss-covering had as much to do with it as any “law and order” crowd. Your condemnation strikes me as too easy and overarching. I mean, folks generally do like to have law and order. It’s only once some folks start to one up each other that we run into problems. That a phenomenon I despise, when two candidates argue about which one is more strongly in favor of something that no one is actually against. No one is pro-crime or anti-education or anti-environment or anti-jobs, for example.

    As to the specific case you brought up, I would like to call attention one more time to “Cruz and Hernandez had been telling demonstrably false tales about the murder for various reasons.” This obviously does not mean that either deserved to be convicted.

    But it is worth noting that many cases of wrongful convictions begin with defendants lying. I am not by any means forgiving or excusing the actions of anyone else by noting this. I’m just noting it. This is so familiar a beginning of the story by now that its a stock-in-trade cliche of fiction writers. There’s a high-profile murder, the cops on the street are pressured to find someone who is “good for it,” some moron brags about his involvement or gets caught lying, and once the meat grinder gets turned on, it’s hard to stop.

  24. the Word Says:

    Actually there was a lot left out (depending on what you read) I knew one of the attorneys who had additional info. One of the defendants (admittedly stupid) was actually also of below average intelligence. Oh and I worked with a woman who turned in Dugan’s car at the time (she delivered papers and knew the neighborhood) and they didn’t even call her back. Couple that with a cop and a DA who resigned over the case (Have you ever felt so strongly about a miscarriage you quit your career?) and it would lead someone interested in justice to look deeper. What I meant by Law and Order is that there is a constituency who will demagogue any attempt to clean up any law enforcement activities. (It’s why I believe we can’t talk rationally about the abject failure that is the war on drugs) I’d think we are all for law and order, I’d like to think we are also all about justice and results but there are states who don’t even test DNA knowing it could clear people.

    The issue I have is that you seem willing to take off the brakes on a system you seem to say that… once it’s heading down the path “it’s hard to stop”. Knowing that I’d prefer we don’t let them head there without due diligence.

    We all would like to have good laws and regulations. I see that one group is generally against any and all regulation and I see that we have had problems because of it. Perhaps the laws would have been overreaching and should have been adjusted but when the only change accepted is nothing. Things don’t move very far.

    On your plane scenario, I think we all realize that there will be tradeoffs no matter what we are talking about but imagining an attempt to make them safer, I can hear “the Democrats want to create death planes or have a socialist takeover” no matter what they would try to introduce. That is what I meant with Law and Order – The whatever they’re for I’m against it mentality.

  25. Donklephant » Blog Archive » Democrats maneuver into position for 2010 midterm battle… Says:

    […] Well Matt – I’m doing my part. […]

  26. Donklephant » Blog Archive » George Will: Unfortunate SOTU metaphors and the “unfettered executive” Says:

    […] Will’s column is not without false notes.  He implies by omission that the desire for an unfettered executive branch is unique to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.  Not so. The executive privilege, unitary executive definition and war power assertions of the Bush/Cheney Presidency is still fresh in my mind, even if forgotten or minimized by Mr. Will. The single greatest disappointment of the Obama Presidency has been his willingness to use the Bush/Cheney Unitary Executive definition as a jumping off point to further expand the power of the presidency. […]

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