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January 15, 2007

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Erasmussimo

The double-posting is only mine. My Internet connection is a little shaky and sometimes it blurps and leaves me hanging, in which case the only resort is to try to repeat the past action. If the initial posting actually got through (but didn't tell me), the result is a double-post. Sorry sorry about about that that.

Frederick Hamilton

Eras,
The ghost appeasers would be those that don't want aggressive intelligence like intercepting international calls from terrorists, those that want to gut the Patriot Act in the name of civil liberties, those that don't want to legally mine financial data that would lead to those supporting al Qaeda, folks like that come to mind.

Most of those ghost appeasers would reside on the liberal left. Sort of like Pulitzer Prize winning NYT Walter Duranty and many liberals who never met a communist they didn't like. Folks like that.

Basically the folks who want to wish the problem with al Qaeda to go away. The Neville Chamberlains of the 21st century. Those ghost appeasers.

But to bring it closer to home Eras, how do you propose we deal with al Qaeda and the Muslim terrorist jihadists? You know my position. I would fight them at every turn and do whatever it takes to find them, destroy them, keep them behind bars for centuries, neutralize them and keep their nefarious plans non-functional. What would Eras do?

Erasmussimo

I'm perfectly happy going after terrorists. And I'm sure that you are perfectly happy with respecting the rights of innocent people. So now the only problem remaining is, how do we determine who's a terrorist and who's innocent? My attitude is, if we don't know, we have to tread very carefully, taking steps that are only as big as our certainty that the individual in question really is a terrorist. Your attitude seems to be that, if there's a whiff of evidence, no matter how insignificant, then let's throw 'em in jail and torture 'em until they confess. Since you are certain to protest that this is not your attitude, perhaps you would specify those protections you would want in place to insure that innocent people don't get into trouble.

Phil

Erasmussino & LAK: My apologies. I was confused (not likely for the first time) by the light dotted line that separates the "posted by" from the post itself rather than the post below.

Erasmussimo

BTW, Mr. Hamilton, you have asserted that "not wanting aggressive intelligence like intercepting international phone calls from terrorists" is logically equivalent to "not minding a few thousand innocent American deaths at the hands of the jihadists." I believe your assertion is patently false.

Garth

Frederick,

What is the difference between an appeaser and an individual committed to the liberties our founding fathers, with good reason, enshrined in the consitution.

Freedom from government spying. Habeus Corpus, checks and balances, prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment. A democratic institution of governance, not a police state.

Al Queda is a threat to us, yes, but it is not a threat we are dealing with in Iraq. I believe Al Queda should be dealt with, but I believe we have existing instutions capable of meeting the threat in the CIA and the FBI. Other countries have proven, that law enforcement activities can be effective.

I would adopt the recommendations of the 9/11 committee, something Bush has refused to do based on cost!

You obviously don't believe that by sacrificing these "liberties" we are losing part of what makes America special. How great a victory have we handed Osama if he truly hates us for our liberties? The president is now taking them away.

The liberties enshrined in the Constitution as well as the careful scheme of checks and balances are being over run in the name of National Security.

I feel you are too scared of Al Queda and too little concerned with what is happening to our country.

Frederick Hamilton

Garth,
I am not scared of al Qaeda personally. I am totally convinced al Qaeda has grand plans for the U.S. and we better do all we can to thwart those. So if there are those who don't fear al Qaeda's plans, they are stupid. Those are the ghost appeasers. The head in the sand folks.

al Qaeda is not Iraq. al Qaeda is in Iraq. Should Iraq descend into chaos, al Qaeda will be there in spades to continue there campaign of death and destruction against the west.

I don't want to sacrifice an iota of my liberties as an American. To date I have not. Neither have you. If it gets to the point of losing my freedom and liberty versus destroying al Qaeda, I'll opt to keep the freedom and liberty. We aren't even close. That is a nice liberal shiboleth. Makes for wonderful grandstanding. As far as I am concerned, al Qaeda operaatives planning death and destruction visited on the U.S. enjoy no constitutional safegaurds. If our government wanted to summarily execute those found planning or in the process of attacks, fine. Any U.S. citizen found doing the same I favor giving him his Constitutional rights, then proving the crime against him/her, then executing them.

Remember my war cry: DANNY PEARL. What U.S. Constitutional rights were afforded Danny?

Those liberties enshrined in the Constitution are for Americans, not Muslim terrorist jihadists. As Judge Posner reiterates; not a suicide pact. Same with the Geneva Convention. Put on a uniform, your protected. Slink around like a snake (spy) and you'll get the spy (snake) treatment. Summary execution.

I don't see anything bad happening to our country with American's liberties. I see a lot of bad for our country discussed by al Qaeda leadership and I believe their pronouncements to be indicative of what they plan for us. That is bad.

Joan A. Conway

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, the Sun will come up Tomorrow!

LAK

Frederick,

you say "The ghost appeasers would be those that don't want aggressive intelligence like intercepting international calls from terrorists, those that want to gut the Patriot Act in the name of civil liberties, those that don't want to legally mine financial data that would lead to those supporting al Qaeda, folks like that come to mind."

This is false. we all want intellience, just not practices that violate the constitution. FISA is very permissive and allows for ex post warrants for God's sake. All we want is to know the execyutive branch isn't spying on citizens without any court or constitutional oversight. Congress passed FISA to be as permissive as legally possible given the 4th Amendment. It should scare you more than terrorists when the executive branch starts a BS war and then ignores Acts of Congress and long held constitutiona principles.

So let's stop with the "they don't want surveillance or intelligence against terrorists"

We do. Just the legal constitutional kind.

John

Frederick,
You write:

"If our government wanted to summarily execute those found planning or in the process of attacks, fine. Any U.S. citizen found doing the same I favor giving him his Constitutional rights, then proving the crime against him/her, then executing them."

Who are these Muslim terrorist jihadists, as you call them? How do you identify them? How do you know the person you are summarily executing is a Muslim terrorist jihadist? At least Roach takes the more honest position that if a goat farmer is caught up in the round up of them brown skinned folks with them funny names and summarily executed, so be it. That's war. Fine. If some funny named people in this country have their civil rights violated, so be it. That's war. At least he's honest. Your comments are just slogans, no substance at all.

Cynic

"Remember my war cry: DANNY PEARL. What U.S. Constitutional rights were afforded Danny?"

Frederick, I'm having trouble understanding your point. Surely you don't mean that if members of Al Qaeda are monsters, we should be monsters too? One of the things that traditionally made the United States a "good guy" who wins wars, rather than a bad guy who's simply more powerful than everyone else, is our refusal to stoop to enemy tactics. We don't shoot children and civilians just because the enemy does. We don't torture enemy combatants just because the enemy does... or at least, we didn't used to.

How does it hurt Al Qaeda if we inflict injury on our OWN citizens? THIS to me is the suicide pact. "We'll beat them or die trying." If we give up the things that make America America, what exactly have we won? What kind of hollow victory is that? We beat Al Qaeda by destroying the very civil rights that protected us from BECOMING Al Qaeda.

That is not the kind of "victory" I want.

Roach

Did America cease to be America because we afforded harsh treatment to the Plains Indians and the Seminoles, or because we hanged some German saboteurs before a military commission in WWII? Hardly.

This idea that our essence is defined by something as contingent and variable as our treatment of unlawful combatants in wartime or our ever-changing balance of civil liberties and the rights of the police and the military is frankly ridiculous. So long as the restrictions are based on helping a coherent community, the American people and are aimed at preserving as much as possible our traditional way of life, then such costs will be reasonable, or at least rational.

It's a war. We have one set of rules inside the gate and another without. If we lose, we'll be forever in decline and subject to the tyranny of our dangerous mixed-up multicultural society, where we must restrict our individual and collective behavior because of the danger of terrorism and the increasingly hard-to-balance notions of "the good" from all these hyphenated Americans. If we do this, and also change our public expressions, art, music, and way of life out of fear of offending the prickly sensitivities of Muslims, then we will have had the kind of "peace" that I would not want, if I may echo the construction of Cynic above.

Cynic

Roach, I'm not only talking about different standards within and without -- I'm talking about subjecting the American people to infringements on their liberties in the name of "security," whatever that means anymore (I for one do not feel secure living under a government that at any moment might for any reason decide I constitute a "threat" and thereby strip me of my basic civil rights. What if I represent someone accused of terrorist sympathies? It's not such a far leap for my power-hungry government to decide I'm too "dangerous" to be allowed to talk to my family, etc.).

And the notion that how we treat others makes no difference is absurd. If our country can be a cruel despot to the rest of the world, what stops it from being a cruel despot to us? You've made it clear that you think the guiding principle here is "helping a coherent community" -- rather than, oh, say, the Constitution.

Indeed, how is your "coherent community" ideal any less frightening than your overblown hyper-sensitive multicultural society? Frankly, Roach, I don't want to live in a society that is deemed "coherent" by people on your side of the fence -- I like having the option not to have to get married to make a livable wage, to be thought of as more than a baby incubator, to have access to responsible birth control, to be allowed to have a spirituality that isn't dogmatically enforced, to get to watch "smut" on the television when I feel like it, etc. I don't think a "multicultural society" is one that doesn't allow anyone to offend anyone else (indeed, this would make it an ACULTURAL society) -- but even taking your Orwellian view of free speech and diversity (God, is that phrase an oxymoron), I'd rather live in a world where we're all required to respect each other, than in one where only rich, white, Christian, heterosexual men are respected. Give me Brave New World over The Handmaid's Tale, any day.

LAK

That's part of the point Roach, this ain't "war" like WWII was. this is a manufatured fear campaign where we are agressors in countries that had nothing to do with terrorism. This is the President deciding we are going to "war" based on lies and a madison aveneue fear campaign complete with mushroom cloud references. No decalrations of war. No real enemy combtatnts. That's what makes it even worse. That the president can create pretext for war and then use that pretext as reason to violate the constitution should disturb even a young fascist like yourself.

The issue isn't what we did to the Seminoles, the issue is what would be the reaction if we did to Seminoles now what we did back then.

Time to get your head out of the past and wake up buddy. Welcome to the 21st century. I know it scares you, I know you're freightened, but you'll be ok.

Frederick Hamilton

Why would you give up the things that make America America? Since when is listening in on the enemy during a time of war unAmerican?

My point is that all of you are wrong about our loss of rights and liberties. Goodness, the 6th Circuit told the Bush Administration to keep on intercepting the international calls of suspected terrorists. This is a loss of rights. Whose?

OK, please tell me who has lost rights with the NSA intercepts? Whatever the 6th Circuit rules, it will go to the Supremes. If they rule it illegal or unconstitutional so be it. I'll agree that the NSA program was wrong. Right now I think the executive will prevail and it will be OK to listen in on the enemy in a time of war.

Can any of you tell me what Constitutional rights Muslim terrorist jihadists who are non-citizens have?

Sorry, to me the argument is surreal. We'll give our enemy protection from search because to do otherwise would not be American.

I want to give terrorists the same rights we gave German spies caught entering our country in WWII. A military tribunal and if guilty, a firing squad.

Back to my point. What Constitutinal rights have been taken away from any of you? Those intercepts are perpetrated on international calls of suspected terrorists, are any of you one of them. You probably won't say so on the internet.

The inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Have any of you lost those? Are you on the verge of losing them?

This post is about the Democrats and the War on Terror. Well, we'll have to wait and see what the Democrats do with the War on Terror won't we? Any changes other than implementing the 9/11 report don't seem to be in the 100 hours.

I haven't seen legislation introduced in Congress to strip NSA of the power to listen in on the enemy. If anything the FISA act will be amended to allow for what NSA is doing. What do you think about that?

Regarding what to do about the War on Terror as authorized by AUMF statute, the Democrats can only exercise authority they Constitutionally have. I would refer you to today's WashPo op-ed piece by Rivkin and Casey.

I support the approach of the president with regard to the terrorists. Military Tribunals (legal per Supremes and recent enabling legislation requested of Congress by the Supremes), NSA intercepts, detaining of terrorists till hell freezes over or we win the war on terror, whichever comes first, et al.

If the Democrats want they can defund all the above activities but they can't tell the president how to prosecute the war. So Democrats, if you wish, grow a set of cajones and stop funding the Iraq War or the War on Terror. Constitutionally simple. Or as Rivkin and Casey say "The precise line between congressional and presidential authority is sometimes unclear, and no court has jurisdiction to rule on the issue." And "Just as the president cannot raise his own funds (by obtaining loans unauthorized by Congress, for example), the legislature cannot attach conditions to federal spending that would destroy the president's authority to direct the military's tactical and strategic operations." And finally "If Congress believes the war is lost, or not worth winning, it must take responsibility for the consequences of forcing a U.S. withdrawal. Otherwise, it must leave the president to direct the war and to bear responsibility for the decisions he has made and will make."

So ergo. Democrats can carp and whine. They can stop the funding. But they don't get to manage the Iraq War or the War on Terror. Until Jan 09. Two years from now. Then Hillary or Barak will get the privelege and Constitutinal authority. Pst. We'll still have the NSA/CIA up the arse of al Qaeda with either of them.

Phil

Roach-

Can you really mean that past atrocities make present or prospective abuses okay? Your point, such as it is, about the Seminole and plains indians seems to come to just that. Creepy.

From there you descend into rhetoric that is just a hair shy of proclaiming that "freedom is not truly lost if it is sacrificed for the health of the fatherland", to wit: "So long as the restrictions are based on helping a coherent community, the American people and are aimed at preserving as much as possible our traditional way of life, then such costs will be reasonable, or at least rational."

Your (uspecified) definition of "coherent community" to one side, and your strained leap toward the safe harbor reason and rationality to the other, the meaty center of your remark sounds to me like near-hysterical crypto-fascist nonsense.

The fact that you feel "dangerously mixed up" (paraphrasing) in a "multi-cultural society", only deepens my suspicion. You seem eager to conflate the "War On Terror" with a war against Islam or "hypenated americans", extreme positions that even the hardest of the hard-line in the current administration would not take publicly.

In short, I don't think the calculus you're suggesting for evaluation the recent curtailments of civil rights is appropriate. Quite the contrary: it's perfectly shocking.

PT

Erasmussimo

Mr. Hamilton, since you decline to respond to my arguments, I assume that you have no plausible arguments with which to respond.

Moving along, I will note that you take the view that only US citizens enjoy Constitutional protections. This is incorrect. If you read the Constitution, you will note that at NO point does it suggest that the protections provided are restricted to US citizens. Indeed, in the Fourth Amendment, it flatly states that "NO PERSON shall be deprived etc, etc" "Person" applies to any human being, not just US citizens. On this point the Constitution is clear. In two centuries of jurisprudence, the courts have made a few exceptions, almost all of them related to warmaking, but in general they have upheld the principle that Constitutional protections apply to everybody. So be careful with those sweeping statements about Constitutional protections -- the way you word them, they're wrong.

You reference Rivkin and Casey as authorities, which they are, but they are by no means the final authorities. Indeed, their claims strike me as an extension of the Unitary Executive theory, which is pretty radical in its assignment of near-dictatorial powers to the Presidency.

They suggest that Congress cannot intrude into the functioning of the Executive, but in fact Congress can make whatever specifications it desires about the execution of policy. Remember, the President doesn't make policy, he executes it. Congress makes the law, not the President.

You smugly claim that "If anything the FISA act will be amended to allow for what NSA is doing." You should read the papers. There are several Congressional investigations in preparation that will closely examine the Administration's actions in violation of FISA; this could become the basis for an impeachment of Mr. Bush, should he refuse to cooperate with the investigation, or refuse to obey Congressional instructions to remain within the confines of FISA. (There are actually a number of fronts on which Mr. Bush is heading towards a confrontation with Congress that could result in his impeachment and conviction.)

Frederick Hamilton

Eras,

Geez, I thought I responded to your arguments. What argument did I ignore?

You are wrong on what Congress can do with regard to presidential authority. They can use the power of the purse to achieve certain legislative aims, but only by controlling the money and where and how the money is spent. Executing the law and how that is done is up to the president.

Bush's impeachment and conviction is a pipe dream of fringe thinkers. I am suprised you would be a part of that fringe. Even Pelosi acknowledges that there is no place for impeachment in this Congress. Barbara Streisand, Warren Beatty, Michael Moore and Eras. Impeachment? Pick your wager. I'll give you 10 to 1 in any denomination you want.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Hamilton, the arguments you have declined to respond to are:

"So now the only problem remaining is, how do we determine who's a terrorist and who's innocent?"

Another correspondent asked this question also; since you decline to respond, I take it that you agree that only those who have been proven to be terrorists in a court of law should be subjected to the aggressive behaviors you recommend.

A second point you have not responded to is:

"BTW, Mr. Hamilton, you have asserted that "not wanting aggressive intelligence like intercepting international phone calls from terrorists" is logically equivalent to "not minding a few thousand innocent American deaths at the hands of the jihadists." I believe your assertion is patently false."

I take it that you now agree that your characterization of 'appeasers' was hyperbolic.

Your comments about Congress' powers are self-contradictory. On the one hand, you agree that Congress can control how the money is spent. On the other hand, you say that the President controls how "that is done". OK, so if Congress is controlling how the money is spent and the President is controlling how that is done, who really controls it?

You slander me as a 'fringe thinker' but you offer no arguments to counter my reasoning. My thoughts here are not pipe dreams, they are reasoned calculations. If Mr. Bush treats this Congress in the same dismissive manner with which he treated the previous Congress, he could well find himself impeached and convicted. His flat refusal to obey the laws passed by Congress (as expressed in his signing statements) will not intimidate this Congress. They will force the issue, and if he refuses to obey the law -- well, that pretty well constitutes 'high crimes and misdemeanors', doesn't it?

Frederick Hamilton

Eras,
The terrorists are determined by all the usual methods. On the battlefield in Aghanistan and Iraq they are identified as combatants and possibly killed or captured. If captured, then interrogated.

Throughout the world many are identified I would think with intelligence. When positively confirmed to the intelligence communities satisfaction then decisions of killing or capturing are made. I would refer you to the Special Forces recently killing terrorists in Sudan and Special Forces killing Zarqawi in Iraq a few months ago.

If captured by either military or intelligence operatives the terrorists might end up in Gitmo for instance and then might end up in front of an authorized military tribunal and tried.

There are a myriad of ways to identify the terrorists. Hopefully they will work. Sadly we weren't onto our game very well prior to 9/11 and we didn't identify Atta and his cronies until after the fact. That was determined to be bad by the American public and the 9/11 Commission and our government is working their tail off to keep us on top of terrorist activity.

You imply that terrorists deserve a day in a court of law. That puts you on the fringe. Most Americans believe terrorists don't deserve a nanosecond in an American courtroom with the rules of evidence to be used for U.S. citizens etc to be applied. Lawyers, motions, absolute proof to a judge or jury. That is unworkable, and insane. That is my answer to your argument as to how terrorists are indentified. In Sudan, intelligence told U.S. forces where the man was who masterminded the African embassy bombings was. You want him or the accusations to be brought to a court of law. Not going to happen. Shouldn't happen. We simply found him and tried to kill him. Do you disagree with that?

If we could find either bin Laden or his top aide, Zawahiri then your argument says give them their day in court. I disagree. If we can locate them, send in the Special Forces and see what it looks like at the end of the battle. Unless bin Laden or Zawahiri walk out with their hands in the air, they die. Who gets to identify them. The executive branch. The president and whoever he decides to give the executive war power to. General Petraeus in the Middle East I would suspect has the executive authority to have anyone killed he thinks is a threat. He isn't a judge. He probably doesn't know his way around an American courtroom. It is war. The AUMF.

Your question, "who really controlls it". You said you read Rivkin and Casey in yesterdays WashPo op-ed. I thought they explained it pretty well. To reiterate. If any action requires federal money to accomplish it, the Congress has control of money issues. With the vote of the Congress (assuming it survives a veto) they can stop funding anything they want. Medicare. Medicaid. Social Security. Farm Subsidies. Alternative fuel research monies. The Iraq War. The War on Terror. The president has no power to raise funds of any kind. Well Reagan did raise private money to fund the Nicaraguan freedom fighters in the 80's but that a horse of another color. Private donations were actually OK. It was the diversion of funds during Iran/Contra that pissed of the Congress. But I digress. So my good friend Congress has a heck of a lot of power. They cut off the funds for the Vietnam War. Will they do the same for the Iraq War? The War on Terror?

Congress has no power to tell the President how to conduct the Iraq War or the War on Terror other than defunding it. No tactical decision making. No lists of what he can or can't do.

So as to "who really controls it?" That is the beauty of the Constitution. Three branches. Each with powers. Each with powers that can't be given to any other branch. So in the end. Voila, in their own ways, they both have control. If someone had absolute control we would be living in a monarchy or dictatorship. We don't.

Eras, if I slandered you by saying that talk of impeachment is fringe thinking, I am sorry. But, if you indeed think Bush's actions reach the level of impeachable, I think that is indeed fringe thinking. Once again my wager stands.

So, I think I answered you argument. The president and his subordinates determine who the terrorists in the world are in the war. Once determined, they may kill them (Sudan, Zarqawi, et al), capture them determine with an approved (by Congress) that indeed they are terrorists and keep them in jail until the war ends or possibly a military tribunal and then if innocent then release or if guilty kill them or keep them in prison forever if they want. Your argument that an American criminal court should be the arbiter of who terrorists are doesn't pass Constitutional war powers muster. Plus the public would be real pissed off.

As to the last part of your post about signing statements. All presidents have used signing statements to get the executives thoughts about the legislation on the table. If the executive branch doesn't follow the law, then Congress will petition the courts to decide. That is what is happening now with the EPA (read executive) at the Supreme Court arguing their interpretation of the Clean Air Act and carbon dioxide emission regulations or lack thereof. Your statement of "flat refusal" to "obey laws passed by Congress" is hyperbole. The president took an oath to uphold the laws of this nation. He has some solid legal thinking in the Justice Dept and all the other federal departments. He is not running around disobeying laws passed by Congress. To help me with this, please site a law he is disobeying. And please don't site FISA. He is pursuing a course as a matter of war powers (yeah I know you don't believe we are in a legal war, but let's stay away from that canard) with advice from his attorney, the AG, the attorneys at NSA and that issue is in the 6th Circuit as we speak and the 6th Circuit took the unusual step to stay the Judge Taylor decision and to keep on with the NSA intercepts. So what other law than FISA is the president disobeying?

LAK

frederick, one last time-

i want intelligence, I want our government listening in on terrorists. However, if a suspected terrorist is talking witha U.S. citizen in the U.S., I simply want FISA and the constitution followed and a warrant obtained, even after the fact. It is not much to ask for. So stop with the Dems don't want the government to investigate terrorism arguments. they are disingenuous, and you are a lot better than that.

LAK

THE 4TH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION. (and FISA which was drafted to be as permissive as the 4th amendment allows)


Has anyone noticed how this whole copout war powers nonsese is really at teh heart of all this? The High Court should look at those Viet nam era decisions and require actual declarations before Bush and Co. can start claiming emergency war powers. Especially seeing how they have been successful at manufacturing a war in Iraq out of nothing.

LAK

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department, easing a Bush administration policy, said Wednesday it has decided to give an independent body authority to monitor the government's controversial domestic spying program.

In a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said this authority has been given to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and that it already has approved one request for monitoring the communications of a person believed to be linked to al-Qaida or an associated terror group.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Hamilton, thanks for responding to my comments. Unfortunately, your response is all over the map. You offer one definition of a terrorist as somebody captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq. But there are no battlefields in Afghanistan or Iraq -- this is 4G warfare, and there are no clearly marked battlefields. Combat is taking place in neighborhoods, near schools, outside of police stations and shops. Does that mean that neighborhoods, schools, police stations, and shops are "the battlefield"? If American troops catch somebody hanging around a school, does that make him a terrorist? What if he's a teacher? What if he's neither? Both? You don't have any answers for this problem, do you?

You offer another means of making the determination: "When positively confirmed to the intelligence communities satisfaction then decisions of killing or capturing are made." What exactly constitutes "the intelligence community"? One field agent? The field agent's supervisor? CIA officials? NSA officials? What happens if somebody fabricates information implicating you as a terrorist, and one night they gun you down -- do you shrug your shoulders and say, "Oh well, at least some unnamed, unaccountable person was satisfied that I'm a terrorist." Is this any way to run a country?

You suggest that "If captured by either military or intelligence operatives, the terrorists might end up in Gitmo for instance and then might end up in front of an authorized military tribunal and tried." So you're saying that, so long as it is military people or intelligence operatives who do the capturing, it's just fine to throw them into Guantanamo and deny them any Constitutional rights. Again, what if it's YOU that's at the receiving end of this treatment? What if they detain you at the airport (after all, they had records of an "F. Hamilton" who donated some money to a charity that gave money to another group that is suspected of supporting terrorists) and ship you to Guantanamo? Now you can't offer any defense, can't have a lawyer, can't protest that you're the wrong F. Hamilton. You're stuck. Is that what you want?

In regard to other means of identifying terrorists, you write, "Hopefully they will work." How sweet. You are hopeful that an unaccountable, secret process will be fair and even-handed. I too am hopeful, but history shatters such hopes. When people aren't accountable, they don't do things by the book. They do whatever they damn well please.

You would deny Mr. bin Laden his day in court. Why not? What are you afraid of? Do you think that this man would not be found guilty of his crimes? Do you believe that, if presented with the evidence, a jury would not find him guilty? You seem to think that a trial is a benefit given to the accused. If so, you do not understand the most basic concepts of law. The whole idea of a trial is to determine the truth in a way that everybody agrees is fair and aboveboard. Are you opposed to determining the truth?

Your notion of how Congress controls the purse strings is contradictory. On the one hand, you say that Congress can refuse to fund anything it wants, but on the other hand you say that Congress cannot tell the President how to run the war in Iraq. OK, so can Congress refuse to fund a particular weapon system? Can they refuse to fund the use of a weapon system in a particular location? Can they refuse to fund fuel for a particular military unit? You agree that Congress can control how the money is spent, but you simultaneously claim that the President can spend the money in any way he sees fit. Which is it?

You argue that it is fringe thinking to suggest that the President is impeachable. If that suggestion really is so far out in left field, why have so many Democratic leaders taken it seriously enough to declare that impeachment is off the table?

Your statement that "The president and his subordinates determine who the terrorists in the world are in the war" is a flat denial of our Constitution. It is a denial of the rule of law. If you were to carefully define and limit your terms to a narrow context, you might have a viable proposition. But granting the President of the United States broad powers to execute or incarcerate any person on the planet for any reason he sees fit -- well, THAT'S fringe thinking!

You write, "If the executive branch doesn't follow the law, then Congress will petition the courts to decide." No, that's not how the Constitution works. Any party with standing can bring suit before the court with jurisdiction, including Congress, it's true. But the primary form of relief for Congress when the President breaks the law is to impeach and convict the President.

You want to know what law the President is breaking. Where to start? How about with the most recent one, in which he declared himself free to open private mail in open defiance of the law?

Frederick Hamilton

LAK,
Whatever is worked out with the president, FISA court and Congress is fine with me. Although, I am intrigued by the Judge Taylor decision, 6th Circuit and the Supremes looking at it. Nice to have a definitive answer on what the commander in chief can or cannot do.

As to war, Congress did act. Many now wish they had not. The war is legal. I hope you are not trying to argue the president is engaged in an illegal war. You would then be with Eras on the fringe of a losing position. The votes for war times two were real. The War Powers Act is real. The wars involve real U.S. soldiers shooting and killing an enemy and getting killed themselves. If we are at war and we are, the president enjoys war powers as commander in chief. There is nothing emergency about his war powers. The votes by Congress and the law signed by the president were done with deliberation. He didn't counterattack on an emergency basis and then ask for authority. He obtained authority for the wars as required by the War Powers Act.

And Eras, if somebody fabricates me to be a terrorist, I think I'll be able to prove to a court (I am a U.S. citizen) that I am not a terrorist. Sorry but whether you like it or not, executive branch authorities are determining who and who are not terrorists every day without review by any court. They not only make that determination in these wars, they carry out their implication. i.e. Sudan and Zarqari. If that displeases you so be it. No U.S. laws are broken and no U.S. commander is going to jail for a crime. All we end up with are dead or captured terrorists. As hard as you try, you won't win the day on who gets to decide who the enemy is during a war.

And yes, Congress has the power to refuse to fund or defund a weapons system. They have done it. Refuse to fund a weapons system for a particular location, probably. Try to force the president not to use weapons already funded and available as the commander in chief to use in combat. Doubt they would have the authority or power to tell the commander in chief that as per the Rivkin Casey analysis.

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