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The Boston Globe sent a questionnaire out to (nearly) all of the Presidential candidates in the Democratic and Republican parties, asking them their views on the power of the Presidency.  Without specifically using the phrase "unitary executive", the 12 questions were nevertheless clearly designed to test each candidate's willingness to roll back Presidential powers accumulated under George W. Bush.

A December 22 article on the results can be found here, along with a menu for viewing the questionnaire itself and the full responses, sorted by candidate or question number.  

This is among the most important issues, if not the most important issue, in the current election cycle.  The candidates' responses to this questionnaire deserve scrutiny.

None of the front-runners are 100% reassuring.  

In the accompanying article, Charlie Savage quotes Peter Shane, "an Ohio State University law professor who studies executive power":

"It's fair to say that the Democrats, Senator McCain, and Representative Paul are united in supporting a reinvigoration of checks and balances and the reassertion of a meaningful congressional role in national security affairs," said Shane.

That, of course, leaves some room for differences between the candidates.  A candidate can be in favor of more check on the executive branch than is George W. Bush and still not be in favor of very much.

When it comes to the Democrats, whether a reader finds Clinton's, Obama's, or Edward's responses most reassuring, is partly a matter of interpretation . . . perhaps a matter of how charitably one is willing to read.  But there are some distinctions here that are hard to avoid.

As for the Republicans . . .

Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and Fred Thompson refused to fill out the questionnaire.  (On the Democratic side, Dennis Kucinich appears not to have been asked.)  This can only be read as meaning that they did not think the average voter would like their responses . . . that these Republican candidates would rather keep their opinions on the unitary executive between themselves and their primary voters.

Mitt Romney

The most frightening set of responses from any candidate who actually provided any, came from Mitt Romney.  Almost without exception, his answers paint a portrait of a Romney presidency indistinguishable from a dictatorship.  At best, it appears that Romney would merely continue the Bush unitary executive, which is totally unnacceptable.  At worst, Romney would throw to the wind even the last vestiges of pretense under the Bush regime that the executive branch is answerable to anyone or anything.

Consider Romney's answer to question 2:

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

A President must always act in the best interests of the United States to protect us against a potential threat, including a nuclear Iran. Naturally, it is always preferable to seek agreement of all – leadership of our government as well as our friends around the world – where those circumstances are available.

Romney here explicitly equates the opinion of the United States Congress with the opinion of foreign governments.  When "circumstances are available" it would be nice to get agreement about military action from France and, say, the US Congress, but certainly neither is critical.

Asked about warrantless wiretapping and civil liberties, Romney asserts that "Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive".  

Asked about whether Congress has the authority to limit torture, Romney provides this simply amazing response:

7. If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president's authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?

A President should decline to reveal the method and duration of interrogation techniques to be used against high value terrorists who are likely to have counter-interrogation training. This discretion should extend to declining to provide an opinion as to whether Congress may validly limit his power as to the use of a particular technique, especially given Congress’s current plans to try to do exactly that.

As a matter of national security, then, Romney will not say whether the President is above the law.  

So, that's Romney.  We have to assume that Thompson's, Giuliani's, and Huckabee's answers would have been as bad or worse.

John Edwards

But now, have a good look at John Edwards's response to question 2.

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

As I've said many times, we do not need a march to war with Iran. I strongly oppose George Bush's doctrine of "preventive war" and believe that force always should be an option of last resort. I opposed the recent Kyl-Lieberman bill declaring Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, which I believed was the first step on the administration attacking Iran. I believe that the 2002 bill authorizing force in Iraq does not in any way authorize the use of force in Iran.

This is a total evasion of the question being asked.  It must be interpreted as meaning that Edwards would rather not say whether he, as President, would feel constrained to seek congressional approval before engaging in preventative military action against other countries.

In terms of substance, it's the same answer as Romney's.

________________

Update 12/26/07 12:12 AM by LithiumCola in the thread there are arguments that I am misreading Edwards and/or the question and/or being too hard on him, and it seems to me the arguments have merit.  See bruh1's comment here for example.

________________

On torture:

7. If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president's authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?

It is hard to believe that the president and his supporters are engaged in a debate about how much torture we should have. The United States should never torture, for several reasons: because it is not the American way, because it undermines our moral authority in the world, because it places our troops at risk, and because it does not work. I strongly oppose George Bush's possible veto of the Congressional bill prohibiting torture.

But of course Bush doesn't think we're in a debate about torture.  His administration says we don't torture.  Charitably, we can differentiate Edwards's response here from Romney and Bush by taking Edwards's last sentence to mean that the Congressional bill prohibiting torture, if made law, would be binding upon the President.  But Edwards doesn't say that.  He doesn't say anything in direct answer to the question being asked, at all.  Why do we have to parse a Democratic candidate's answer on this one?

Barack Obama

Obama's answers to (2) and (7) are much more encouraging.

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

-- snip --

There.  Was that so freaking hard to say?  Continuing, what Obama seems to be doing is situating his view of Presidential authority in war-making back in the Clinton-and-before era.  That is, still bad, but not nearly as bad:

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that "any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress." The recent NIE tells us that Iran in 2003 halted its effort to design a nuclear weapon. While this does not mean that Iran is no longer a threat to the United States or its allies, it does give us time to conduct aggressive and principled personal diplomacy aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

All in all, hard to complain about.

Obama's answer to (7) is similarly encouraging.

7. If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president's authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?

No. The President is not above the law, and the Commander-in-Chief power does not entitle him to use techniques that Congress has specifically banned as torture. We must send a message to the world that America is a nation of laws, and a nation that stands against torture. As President I will abide by statutory prohibitions, and have the Army Field Manual govern interrogation techniques for all United States Government personnel and contractors.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton's answer to (2) I would put, in terms of reassuringness, in between Edwards's and Obama's.  It's okay but not great.

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

The President has the solemn duty to defend our Nation. If the country is under truly imminent threat of attack, of course the President must take appropriate action to defend us. At the same time, the Constitution requires Congress to authorize war. I do not believe that the President can take military action – including any kind of strategic bombing – against Iran without congressional authorization. That is why I have supported legislation to bar President Bush from doing so and that is also why I think it is irresponsible to suggest, as some have recently, that anything Congress already has enacted provides that authority.

Senator Clinton, the answer is "none".  I would really like to just be seeing "none" from more of you people.  For the record, the only person to say "none" was Ron Paul.

On the other hand, in response to question (7), Clinton gave the right answer.

7. If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president's authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?

No.

Full stop.  (Note Obama also said "No." and his elaboration did not qualify it, so their answers are equivalent.)

I've only given a bit of the quetionnaire here.  It would be good to discuss this thing exhaustively, it seems to me.

Originally posted to LithiumCola on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 07:46 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Facts again... who cares? Think with your gut! (9+ / 0-)

    It's sad... I used to think it's just Republicans, but it's not. People don't care about facts. I don't know how every Kossack decided who to support, but I know most did so long ago, and don't care about the facts anymore. If you have reasonable arguments that make a certain candidate look good, his or her supporters will cheer you and emphasize how important that issue is to them. If it makes their candidate look bad, they will jump on you and either deny it, or call the issue completely irrelevant or the analysis flawed. We all already know what we believe, we're just here looking for proof now.

  •  All goes to a show ... (30+ / 0-)

    ... having a former constitutional law professor as POTUS may have its advantages.  His answers were clear, and were tied to the questions asked, not talking points.

    •  I agree. (12+ / 0-)

      His answers were encouraging.

      I don't have a favorite candidate -- but it's clear that Obama does well here.

      •  Here's another. (22+ / 0-)

        Question 3
        Does the Constitution empower the president to disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops -- either by capping the number of troops that may be deployed to a particular country or by setting minimum home-stays between deployments? In other words, is that level of deployment management beyond the constitutional power of Congress to regulate?

        Barack Obama
        No, the President does not have that power.
        To date, several Congresses have imposed limitations on the number of US troops deployed in a given situation. As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.

        Hillary Clinton
        No.
        Although Congress cannot change the President’s role as the Nation's Commander in Chief, the Constitution expressly gives Congress war powers, including the power to raise and support armies and to establish rules and regulations to govern them. These powers, among others, give Congress the authority to cap the number of troops deployed as well as set minimum home-stays. Similar limitations have been passed throughout our country's history and Presidents have adhered to them.

        John Edwards
        I do not envision this scenario arising when I am president.
        As president, I will use my authority to begin redeploying our troops out of Iraq as quickly as possible. I will immediately withdraw 40-50,000 troops, launch a diplomatic surge to bring all local, national, and regional parties into the political solution that will ultimately end the violence in Iraq, and completely withdraw all combat troops within 9-10 months.

        "I do not envision"?  Come on.

      •  Was Edwards paying attention? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Luam, caseynm

        I get the feeling that Mr. Edwards just rattled off the first thing that came into his mind and didn't go back to revise any answers after finishing the whole questionaire.  It is kind of like a little test my 4th grade teacher gave my class on following instructions.  Instruction No. 1 was "Read all the instructions on this paper before begining."  Then there were 15 or 20 instructions, many of which were complicated.  The last instruction was, "Do not follow any of the instructions after Instruction No. 1."  I think there was only one kid in the class that read the whole thing and quietly put his pencil down.  And no, it wasn't me.

        While I do not find Mr. Edwards's answers "troubling," he certainly gave equivocal responses.

        •  Was that fourth grade? (0+ / 0-)

          I thought it was Sister Mary Elephant who gave us that in 5th grade....  

          Actually, I tell my students that story about my experience with that exact test and they look at me like I'm nuts and OF COURSE they wouldn't get to the end before discovering they weren't supposed to do any of it....

          My memory is that the test had something like 28 problems with the instruction being to read all of the questions before proceeding with the test, and, of course, the last "question" said "do not answer any of the previous questions."   Only Marilyn De La C***** didn't screw it up....

          -7.88, -6.72. "Wherever law ends, tyranny begins."--John Locke IMPEACH THE BASTARDS!!!

          by caseynm on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 07:57:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. (17+ / 0-)

      I have not chosen a candidate to support yet ... I hesitate between JRE and BO. This questionnaire made me swing more toward Obama ...

      Seul l'incrédule a droit au miracle. - Elias Canetti Road2DC

      by srkp23 on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 08:14:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Again- do you understand the nature of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chaoslillith

        power being discussed? How is what JRE says a departure from the basic understanding or the limits of the executive power. PLease explain.

        •  We don't know. (7+ / 0-)

          He's saying "Well, I don't think I would do [x]," without answering whether he believes he could.

          •  So people are basically (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cdreid, NearlyNormal, pioneer111

            not questioning his position, but that the didn't word it as they would want him to word it?  I guess I dont understand.

            •  It was non-responsive (9+ / 0-)

              He was answering questions about whether the Constitution allowed a President to do [x] with answers in the form of "I don't believe I'd ever want to do [x]".

              •  He answered it responsively (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cdreid, pioneer111

                I have a problem when someoen says X is non responsive simply because he didn't answer X as they wanted him to. He says he disagrees with the Bush Doctrine- why would he disagree with the Bush doctrine if he didn' think it was outside of the limits of Presidential power?

                •  Policy choice (6+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  theran, NonnyO, vernonbc, oldliberal, Fonsia, Hope08

                  That you disagree with one form of unrestrained foreign policy doesn't mean that you wouldn't try to implement one of your own.

                  •  But why would you make such a concluson (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    cdreid, pioneer111

                    I would love to get clarifying answer to my question- is this more about an idealogical desire to restrain the executive powers in way that has not existed before? It seems that this is going the other direction of Bush- where as he wanted to broaden beyond its previous boundaries- is the goal here to restrict it with absolutes that shrinks it to well below its pre Bush doctrine boundaries?

                    •  He's being wishy washy. (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Got a Grip, vernonbc, oldliberal, Fonsia

                      He's giving answers that don't hold his feet to the fire if he goes back on them.

                      Yes the goal is to shrink the powers back to what they constitutionally are.

                    •  Let me give you my answer. (10+ / 0-)

                      The question is about presidential authority under the constitution. You are right, in that this is not just about Bush. I believe Bill Clinton may have also overstepped his constitutional authority in his foreign policy ventures.

                      So the question is simply "Does the president have constitutional authority to do such a thing?". Edwards did not answer the question. You are saying that the answer may in fact be "yes", which is open to debate, but Edwards just worked around the question while others clearly said "no".

                      •  Exactly (6+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Dauphin, NonnyO, ccyd, vernonbc, oldliberal, Fonsia

                        And if you have to parse and interpret the answer to a question then he wasn't being very forthright was he?

                        •  Please specify which part is confusing to you? (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          cdreid

                          cut and paste for me- since you make the statement- what part is unclear and then say why its unclear.

                          •  asdf (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Adam B, Luam, NonnyO, vernonbc

                               7. If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president's authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?

                               It is hard to believe that the president and his supporters are engaged in a debate about how much torture we should have. The United States should never torture, for several reasons: because it is not the American way, because it undermines our moral authority in the world, because it places our troops at risk, and because it does not work. I strongly oppose George Bush's possible veto of the Congressional bill prohibiting torture.

                            That whole answer is confusing because he doesn't answer the question.  The question isn't asking whether torture should be permitted.  It's asking if the congress passed a law banning a technique would he use it.

                            Even Mitt says "We shouldn't torture" in a slimy way because that makes you have to define what torture is.  And in his mind, for example, water boarding is not torture.

                          •  I keep saying this- (0+ / 0-)

                            Your argument is confusing.

                            The post above actually says that Edwards doesn't support toture at all (without mentioning type), but you say its confusing because he doesn't say that he would not allow a specific type of torture.  '

                            Logically speaking, if you don't' support torture as a class, why would you support a particular subset of the class? Or, to think of it another way Edwards say he doesn't support class D which contains 1, 2 and 3. Your argument is that because he didn't specify 1, 2 and 3 his answer is confusing.  Logically speaking, that's your argument.

                            I suppose you can argue as you do that in Edwards mind that he thinks torture doesn't include waterboarding. Hence, your comment about Romney. BUT, is this a realistic argument to make about any of the Democratic candidates? I suppose if you are predispose you could- but then- he specifies he's against the veto. What does that mean to you?

                            That's the problem with this game. It's not being unclear unless you parse everything he says to argue he doesn't mean what he says. This is why others were discussing bias here.

                          •  I don't think he supports torture, but again... (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            NonnyO, recusancy, vernonbc, Fonsia

                            That's not the question, even if it is the implication. What if the "specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances" was in fact asking the question under oath? Just for the sake of argument... that would make Edwards' answer completely irrelevant, because he has not answered the actual question. The question is one of separation of powers and again, the reach of the executive.

                          •  huh? (0+ / 0-)

                            sorry but really. i get your point that  the issue tangentially relates to separation of powers, but torture as an issue isn't something that should be condoned even if congress approved it. the question has a context- it was about bush's use of toturer , not as approved by congress. i think many of you are taking a lot of liberties and i dont care about your numbers that you simply can't take in any intellectually honest way.  the idea that the question about torture is about what torture congress approves is bizzare. but let's pretend for a sec that it is- are you saying that if congress passed a law saying that the prez must use torture, and that a veto overroad it- he as a presdient must use torture?

                          •  Intellectually honest? (0+ / 0-)

                            but let's pretend for a sec that it is- are you saying that if congress passed a law saying that the prez must use torture, and that a veto overroad it- he as a presdient must use torture?

                            The opposite.  If congress passes a law banning a technique, would he still have the powers to use it.

                          •  if he's against all torture (0+ / 0-)

                            that answers your question. he's respond to the concept of torture (the implications of the question) as being okay. creid discusses this below, and i wanted to write this last night, but decided to go to bed. i think part of the problem with your argument is that you are taking a broader repudiation of the concept of torture itself- which as you notice the question doesn't try to address. or to put another way, it's a little like asking  a candidate how do you like to hit your wife? the question itself can be answered by pointing out the ways one doesn't like to hit teh wife, or one can be agains the entire concept.

                            my question was to point out the intellectual construct that you and others have been using- you said this is constitutional in nature. if the president is forced by congressional action to commit forms of torturer than you should be for it- if one is arguing as you are arguing. i was willing to begin to imagine that you were some kind of constitutional absolutest about how you perceive sep of power and fuctionalist but yoru answer here indicates that i am right- its t he subjec to torture itself. Which viscerally Edwards answered.

                          •  I guess we'll agree to disagree (0+ / 0-)

                            I understand your argument but you are really stretching in trying to make it.  I don't think you'd be making this argument in favor of another candidate.

                            The whole reason many people on this diary have problems with his answers is because he left if open to interpretation as is proved by the fact that you have to defend him (although you seem to think that my argument is of lower intelligence - feel free to think what you like).  If he would have said yes or no to the question there would be no problem.  That is all.

                          •  TANGENTIALLY relates to the sep. of powers? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            nolalily

                            The entire question is about separation of powers.  It's "Can Congress restrict the President in this area?"  I can see this, and I'm no lawyer; someone who passed the bar is undoubtedly able to read the plain meaning of the question.  He can't claim that the question is asking anything other than what it is asking, and it's disingenuous of you to do the same.

                            That John Edwards dodged the question is troubling to me; it seems like he's trying to reserve the power to ignore Congressional direction even as he reassures people he won't use it to torture.

                            That, in my opinion, is wrongheaded; we shouldn't give our Democratic primary votes to anyone who isn't willing to stand up for constitutional government in every form, including the separation of powers.

                          •  its tangetial (0+ / 0-)

                            in that he was discussing the visceral question of torture itself.

                            the sep of powers argue is one now being made, but it seems like many of you are making it to avoid the fact that edwards was talking about torturer itself.

                            i've tested whetehr this is really about sep of power with the poster above. if you are both for fuctional sep of powers as you define it- you are okay with torture so long as the reverse is true- ie so long as it passes congress? if congress passes a veto proof law saying water torture is okay- are you okay with that?  thats the question because that tests your assertion that this is about functional sep of power.

                          •  Your question is irrelevant. (0+ / 0-)

                            Of course I wouldn't be okay with that, but it's not the question.  The question was whether the President has the power to override explicit Congressional prohibitions.  It's clearly a question of separation of powers.

                            The two viable candidates figured this out and gave the kind of unequivocal, direct answers Democrats give on clear constitutional issues like this; John Edwards was apparently either too stuck on his talking points or unwilling to cede that power to answer the question directly.  Either of those options is extremely troubling.

                          •  the question was about torture (0+ / 0-)

                            and like the other person when challenged you demonstrte that the con law principle really isn't all that improtant to you when you say 'of course you would.' my questions are tests of whether you mean what you say.

                          •  Wow.... I don't know how else to explain it. (6+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            nolalily, Adam B, NonnyO, ccyd, vernonbc, Fonsia

                            The question asks "If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances" does he, as President, have the right to not abide by that law.

                            He doesn't say yes or no.  He says he opposes torture, which is great, but he doesn't answer the direct question.  He's a smart guy so I'm sure he knows he's avoiding a yes or no.  The question is, why is he avoiding it?

                          •  At this point there is nothing to clear up (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cdreid

                            I sense the inunendo factor in your comment. ie, Edwards is a smart guy is inuendo about some nefarious end. Smart about what I could ask but then that would simply be begging you to be more forthright about what's really going on in this conversation- namely you bias against the candidate masquerading as concern over his statement. I mean- you completely and conveniently gloss over him saying he doesn't support the veto of the bill. How anyone can translate that into meaning "he's up to something because he's a smart guy" is beyond me, but I think this is the best level of clarity I am going to get. I conclude its not his answer- its how you choose to view it. You parse and say it doesn't mean what it says it means. I can't argue with your belief because at this level of analysis it becomes belief.

                          •  My innuendo is that he doesn't have the balls (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            nolalily, vernonbc, Fonsia

                            to say a yes or a no because he's scared of looking weak in the general. - to put it bluntly.

                            I don't think he's being devious or nefarious in any way such as you imply.  I'm sure he doesn't want to torture.  But he won't make a strong statement to the fact for political purposes.

                          •  Because they're spinning Bruh (0+ / 0-)

                            You're trying to have a logical argument with people who are intentionally misreading what multiple candidates said, not just Edwards.

                            I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

                            by cdreid on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 03:23:10 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  sadly i think you are right (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cdreid

                            i read the answers- the dems answers were all good for the most part. so to pretending they are somehow bad just annoys me. there are leadership style reasons and substantive issues that they really differe on to disagree honestly like , but to have to spin like  a top like this is just beyond me. why make  shit up?

                      •  thanks for the clarification (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        cdreid

                        Edwards answer was the same answer that Obama gave this summer regarding Pakistan. In fact, I challenge you and others to give me a conceptual difference between the two. ANd the fact you want a 'yes' 'no' answer to this says a lot about it to me too. He answered the question by saying that he doesn't believe in preemptive wars. THat's clearly above in the post.   That was the question he was asked to answer. So when you say that he didn't answer the question- I conclude you mean you wanted him to limit the powers of the executive to well beyond what it was even before Bush?

                        •  No, that wasn't the question (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          ccyd, vernonbc, Fonsia

                          The question was "... would the president have constitutional authority ...". I challenge you back, to find a thread where Obama has not clearly answered a question AND I have defended his answer.

                          The constitutional authority of the president is not determined by presidential candidates or even presidents themselves. Edwards was asked about his understanding and interpretation of such authority, and he did not provide a direct answer to the main point of the question. Like others, I criticize him for it. That does not mean you should not vote for him, it is only one issue and one point among many. The same goes for any other candidate. I just don't understand why we feel the need to say that "our" candidate is always right about every single issue and every single time.

                          •  Again (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            cdreid

                            give me the conceptual difference between what OBama said about Pakistain and Edwards answer here?

                            By the way- This isn't about whom I will vote for. That's the mentality of people here. If someone is talking- they are talking for a candidate.

                            You reduce ALL to whom someone supports. I defended Obama this summer against Edwards and Clinton supporters who excoriated him for his views on Pakistan. I did so as an Edwards supporter because I agreed with Obama on the issue at hand. Like the 'pie fighter' guy you pressume alot, and I can imagine if I get pissed at you for making your assumptions i will again be called troll. My point is about the subject matter, not the candidate. Please show respect by actually answering my question rather than trying analyze why you think I am asking the question. First, most importantly because you are wrong. Second, because it just side tracks the conversation.

                          •  I'm only commenting on this thread (0+ / 0-)

                            I have not read your posts elsewhere, nor am I commenting on any other debates or Q&A with the candidates. You are asking me to answer a question about a Q&A this summer, which I have not read and do not know about. You talk about side-tracking, yet instead of focusing on the candidates' answers to the question posed, you are pointing me to something from this summer.

                            If Obama was asked whether the president has the constitutional authority to attack Pakistan on his own, and if like Edwards in the above, he sidestepped the question, then I do not approve of his answer and I would prefer the answer of whatever candidate who said "no, the president has no such authority".

                            Is that clear enough?

                          •  If you think asking you (0+ / 0-)

                            to know the context of the discussion at hand is side tracking that says a lot. I was asking you to conceptually differentiate and explain how the answer is ambiguous by asking about a point of compare and contrast that would allow me to understand your position. And if you are going to make statements you really should know the context.  By leading simply at the statement I would not now understand that you are against apparently the entire concept of pre-Bush presidential power to act as commander in chief.  SO you are against not just the repudiation of the Bush doctrine but want to strink PResidential powers further/ That was the core point of Obama this summer- that if Al Qaida were in Pakistan, and as a last resort, he might send in a strike force to attack Al Qaida. I agreed with Obama that a President, and any leader, should not take options of a last resort off the table so long as they repudiate the Bush doctrine. Both Obama and Edwards have repudiated the extension of executive powers under the Bush doctrine, but still believe in the power of the executive as commander and chief to act in imminient circumstances as last resort. I wanted to know whether some of you were going further by broadly shifting the right of the executive further by strinking further than this. If you didn't know this was  the context, I don't fully understand how you can say his answer was ambigous.

                          •  This is getting silly (0+ / 0-)

                            I know Obama said he'd strike at Bin Laden in Pakistan on his own, and I do disagree with him on that. I think it was just "populist" rhetoric, the kind of thing that people like to hear.

                            You are just all over the place, because you do not want to accept that Edwards avoided answering the question. Imminent danger to the country was clearly not part of the situation that was presented.

                            I'll stop now, since I believe this has stopped being a constructive dialog for some time now.

                    •  Constitutional Powers (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ccyd

                      this more about an idealogical desire to restrain the executive powers in way that has not existed before?

                      No, it's about reverting back to executive powers as defined by the Constitution.  No more, no less.

                      We all know Bush has assumed de facto dictatorial powers by claiming he has 'unitary executive' privileges (as determined by Cheney, whose stated goal when he was campaigning for VP was to "strengthen the presidency" - that's why he's the brains behind the unconstitutional power grab; Cheney remembered the Nixon years when he served in the White House), all of which are not in the Constitution.

                      Under the Constitution a president has no authority to authorize a war of any kind, least of all a "preventive war" - which is nothing short of a "war of aggression" as defined in the Nuremberg Judgment (where an act of aggression was defined as a war crime), and it's a war crime under the Geneva Conventions (incorporated into our Constitution's treaties clause), which makes invading another country on any president's say-so a war crime and an unconstitutional act (and it would also be a war crime if Congress authorized a "pre-emptive invasion").  Only Congress has war powers; only Congress can finance a war under our Constitution.

                      (¯`*._(¯`*._(-IMPEACH-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯)

                      by NonnyO on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 11:06:45 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

              •  BS (0+ / 0-)

                It was directly on point. He made his answer clear and added to it. As did Hillary.

                I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

                by cdreid on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 03:21:18 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  This is my take: (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Adam B, kiwing, Quicklund

              While several other candidates specifically answered "No" to questions about whether the President has the Consitutional authority to do X, Mr. Edwards merely stated that he would not do X if he were elected President.  

              One of the themes of this election is whether the "Unitary Executive" concept that Bush has foisted upon us is legitimate under our Constitution.  Think of the sum of Presidential power as a bunch of tools in a tool box.  Each President hands the tool box over to his or her successor, and Bush's toolbox is formidible.  The issue isn't whether the next President would use a certain tool claimed by Bush, but rather whether that tool should be in the toolbox in the first place.

              Mr. Edwards said he would not use the tools in a few of his answers.  He did not say that those tools should not be in the toolbox.

              While it gives me comfort that President Edwards would not use certain tools handed over to him by Bush, I hate to think what a President Romney would do if President Edwards handed over a bunch of unused tools that he should have tossed out of the toolbox.

              •  Yep. That's the problem right there. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Quicklund

                The only way Bush's power-grab won't set a precedent is if the next person in office makes it crystal-clear not just that Bush "abused" his powers, as Edwards states, but that Bush took powers that were not rightfully his.  Edwards falls short of that mark, and knowingly so; he wants to reserve the powers even while claiming he would not abuse them.  From these answers, it's clear to me that Obama and Hillary would support legislation limiting or clarifying presidential war powers by increasing the power of Congress; it's not as clear to me that Edwards would.

                This questionnaire alone should disqualify him from receiving the vote of any Democrat, especially as the two viable candidates gave the kind of crystal-clear and constitutional answers we should demand out of Democrats.  That John Edwards is unwilling to state unequivocally that the President cannot legally implement a policy prohibited by Congressional statute is extraordinarily troubling.

          •  He would ask legal scholars, surely.Any president (0+ / 0-)

            will.  When he's elected , maybe he can ask Barack for an opinion...among others.

    •  You're Right, Support Former a Con Law Prof (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      taylormattd, theran, Quicklund, willb48

      Support Biden ;-)

      Vote Biden (D-Ascerbia) Physicist Wolfgang Pauli upon reading a paper: "This isn't right, this isn't even wrong."

      by ChapiNation386 on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 09:16:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with you Adam B. that Obama was clear. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LithiumCola, 417els

      I also feel that Edwards' is in 'campaign' mode and spoke from talking points.

      While I've seen a number of his speeches dealing with the topic of torture and its inhumanity...his answer to Boston Globe was not clear enough for those unfamiliar with his policies to see his position.

      He didn't rise to the occasion as he could and should have.

      But I have little doubt, when faced with the reality of these two questions as president, he would come through with flying colors.  

  •  A good and important diary (11+ / 0-)

    Hope more people see it.

    Thanks!

    May your entire existence be one sensuous, frolic-filled experience lived in defiance of care.

    by Fonsia on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 08:11:20 PM PST

  •  Great topic! Thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LithiumCola, NonnyO
  •  Thanks for the 4-1-1. Not surprised by Flipping (7+ / 0-)

    Mitt...Mr. ' I'll double Guantanamo'.

    He's hideous.

    Not laughing, but sort of laughing at them not sending it to Kusinich - they know that was wrong.

    Obama's answers surprised me not.

  •  I hope Dennis Kucinich will publish (6+ / 0-)

    his own answers to this questionnaire, despite having been snubbed by Charlie Savage.

  •  I am an Edwards supporter, (16+ / 0-)

    but I am disappointed in John's answers. I expect and have become used to Edwards being straight forward. Here, not so much. I would like him to take a mulligan and take another swing at this.

    roman catholic by birth---- thoroughly confused by life

    by alasmoses on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 08:25:52 PM PST

    •  Me too. (17+ / 0-)

      I also wish there had been a whole debate on TV about this topic.  Maybe Edwards didn't get that other candidates were going to answer the question instead of give general opinions and views.  Or, you know, something like that.  In a debate that would have been clearer.

      •  He gave clear views on this one (17+ / 0-)

        Question 8
        Under what circumstances, if any, is the president, when operating overseas as commander-in-chief, free to disregard international human rights treaties that the US Senate has ratified?

        Barack Obama
        It is illegal and unwise for the President to disregard international human rights treaties that have been ratified by the United States Senate, including and especially the Geneva Conventions. The Commander-in-Chief power does not allow the President to defy those treaties.

        Hillary Clinton
        The international human rights treaties that the U.S. has joined represent an historic advance for the cause of human freedom. Under our Constitution, they also are the law of the land, and the President has the same duty to comply with them as with any other valid law.

        John Edwards
        The president should consult with Congress before withdrawing from a treaty, although the courts have recognized that the president has the authority unilaterally to withdraw from a treaty.

        •  Hmm. (9+ / 0-)

          Why the discrepency?  Edwards answer seems to be in direct opposition, on the facts, to the others.

          What's going on there?  (IANAL.)

          •  Con Law I was twelve years ago for me. (6+ / 0-)

            I don't remember the answer.  A Federalist Society paper agrees with Edwards, but I'm pretty sure this never reached the Supreme Court.

            •  Okay that's interesting. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Got a Grip

              Thanks.

              •  I recall from reading the Constitution (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                LithiumCola

                that treaties are the supreme law of the land; I'm certainly not an expert (I'm a high school student), but that's the type of phrasing used regarding the Constitution itself.

                •  Its a bit more complicated than that (0+ / 0-)

                  depends on the treaty, depends whethers its been ratified, been signed, whether the treaty has an enforcement mechanism, whether its been incorporated into US law, whether any reservations were made when signing it, etc etc

                  Generally you are right but its not as cut and dried as is commonly thought.

                  The system is rigged - John Edwards

                  by okamichan13 on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 07:49:10 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  This is settled constitutional, international law (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                LithiumCola

                under the executive's powers dealing with foreign policy. Its basically the opposite side of the idea that the executive is the one that enters into treaties (the Senate ratifies, but can't actualy make treaties). The converse of this is that the exectutive has the power to withdraw from treaties as well and many if not most treaties will address specifically how this is done with a sort of notice requirement written into the treaty or as an annex..

                Note that even withdrawing from a treaty may not end its binding effect on a country if it has already reached the status of customary international law (like the Geneva Convention for example).

                Our Supreme Cout kind of goes back and forth on the role of customary international law relating to our law, but this issue in particular on a general level is settled constitutional and international law under numerous rulings of the World Court.

                The system is rigged - John Edwards

                by okamichan13 on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 08:08:02 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Its settled law (0+ / 0-)

              as part of the powers of the executive branch. Basically if you can enter into treaties, you can also withdraw. This coincides with international law as well because of the principle of sovereignty.

              I wrote a bit more on this here:
              http://www.dailykos.com/...

              The system is rigged - John Edwards

              by okamichan13 on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 08:10:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not sure of that (0+ / 0-)

                Check out Article 42 of the Law of Treaties again -- "[t]he termination of a treaty, its denunciation or the withdrawal of a party, may take place only as a result of the application of the provisions of the treaty or of the present Convention. The same rule applies to suspension of the operation of a treaty."  

                I'm also wondering if there's any Charming Betsy issue.

                Finally, as you know, the most recent court to address this (Kucinich v Bush) didn't reach this question, resolving this on standing and on Congress' own failure to seek self-help.

                •  Thats correct but not complete (0+ / 0-)

                  you either go by the provisions already in a treaty or by the general provisions as explained later on the Viena Convention. What article 42 means specifically is explained later on in the Convention.

                  As I mentioned its not a cut and dried issue because it really depends on the specific treaty language and what the treaty involves along with a host of other issues. For example you can't just step out on the Geneva Convention even if you wanted to because a) its settled international law besides the treaty and b) we've (the US have relied on it extensively already any number of times.

                  In the bigger scheme there is an inherent conflict between 2 principles of international law: sovereignty and consensus.

                  The big problem is of course enforcement.

                  The system is rigged - John Edwards

                  by okamichan13 on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 08:49:09 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  You're disregarding languange in your analysis (0+ / 0-)

          There's a big difference between defying a treaty and withdrawing from a treaty.

          The question relates to whether or not the President can take a course of action contradictory to the language of a treaty. Edwards says nothing to affirm that stance. He simply says that a President has teh right to withdraw from treaties. The whole problem with Bush (from a legal standpoint) is that he's been defying these treaties while the US remains a signatory to them (Geneva Conventions, Human Rights, etc...).

          Theoretically, if the US withdrew from all of those treaties, there would be no legal problem with us doing what we're doing (although it would still be morally reprehensible and unwise to boot). As an international relations student, I don't think there's anything wrong with Edwards clarifying the point that he's allowed to withdraw from treaties when he needs to. That's the one of the tools a President needs to be effective on the world stage.

          Quite frankly, I think it's rather disingenuous of you to try and paint Edwards as authoritarian simply because he's keeping his foreign policy powers free of unreasonable limitation.

          And is that the entire answer to the question? I can't find a link to the entire questionnaire at the link LC provided, so I haven't been able to check myself.

          •  But it's sidestepping the question. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            red 83

            Putting aside the question of whether the President can unilaterally withdraw from treaties, that isn't the question he was asked.  If you and I can see that there's a difference between defying and withdrawing from a treaty, surely John Edwards, a trained lawyer, can see this too; nevertheless, he doesn't seem willing to state that the President cannot defy treaties.  He sidesteps by talking about withdrawal.  Democrats should not accept this kind of dodging on a very clear constitutional issue.

      •  If those who were at YK this year will recall, (13+ / 0-)

        this same sort of indirect answering from Edwards was present in the candidate forum.  Questions were asked directly, but he did not answer them directly.  Instead he would wander off into something that sounded like a stump speech, but that never touched the actual question.  It was disappointing, to say the least.

        I haven't picked a candidate yet, I was hoping for Gore, and I've been leaning towards Dodd just because he's earned my respect with his leadership in the Senate.  By the time the primaries are held in Illinois any choice I make may be a moot point. I happen to like Edwards (after all he's a likable guy), and if he were to win the nomination and then the presidency, I'd certainly be content with that.  But if he really wants to win my vote in the primaries, then he needs to be giving straightforward answers to difficult questions.  We've had 7 years of creative language already, we don't need more.....

        Calling bullshit on "bracing rhetorical thrusters" since Fall 2006....put your words into action at Road2DC

        by Got a Grip on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 08:56:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  How is his answer indirect? (0+ / 0-)

          He defined the limits of the power without given the circumstances in which he would act. That's not indirect. That's given a definition of what he sees as the boundaries. I see your answer as confusing as much as this diary. Again is this all just candidate posturing by some of you  or some interpretation of Con Law that's radically different in the same way as Bush's view is radically different from what was previously understood before bush entered office?

          •  I would not go to war with Iran (6+ / 0-)

            was what he said, effectively wasn't it?  Or were you talking about anyother occasion.

            Because in that context that's a statement of his policy preferences, not that he thinks it is forbidden for the president.

            Incidentally I don't really know what Edwards thinks on presidential power either.  I like his stances on policy issues.  I know he said his AUMF was wrong because the evidence was wrong. But the seperate point: has he addressed that? Can presidents declare war, or can they not? If there are exceptions, when?

            And does he see Iraq as a Congressionally-authorized War?  Or not?

            It's not often you find a politician talented enough to smear the opponent as a drug dealer, terrorist AND uppity black boy

            by Nulwee on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 09:02:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Here's why this diarist confuses me (4+ / 0-)

              Edwards was responding to the broader nature of the question- which was about the Bush Doctrine. They didn't call it that- but that's what they were discussing. I am looking at what Edwards said in that context rather than the rather bizzare way the diarists claims that Edwards doesn't give a direct answer.

              Edwards according to the diarist on posting said the following:

              "I strongly oppose George Bush's doctrine of "preventive war" and believe that force always should be an option of last resort."

              How much more clear could he have been? This is why the diarist is confusing me. Essentially he says that Edwards didn't answer the question but in the actual posting edwards answers the question.

              The only thing I could figure out was as I say below that the diarist wanted an interpretation that was a radical departure from Con Law prior to Bush's doctrine. And it is for this reason that I am confused. I seek clarification but I am guessing quite frankly this is more about trying to spin candidate statements than reading what they actually said.

              •  yeah but (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kiwing, LithiumCola, 417els, Got a Grip

                this damn campaign is so dumbed down at this point--do we really need a "i'm not like them!" election to turn into the fact that the Democrats are against the Bush war?"

                couldn't it be said in a way where we're talking about broader things like...presidents don't have the constitutional power to declare wars... and so more than Iran or Iraq there will be no more presidential wars because that's constitutional implausible, not because they don't like the circumstances with the country?

                You can see why someone who thinks this way can't you? And I do and I know many progressives do, would not like Clinton's answer about "all options on the table".  It feeds into an illusion of presidential right, even if it's not about that.

                It's not often you find a politician talented enough to smear the opponent as a drug dealer, terrorist AND uppity black boy

                by Nulwee on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 09:21:18 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I see your point (0+ / 0-)

                  But I also see Edwards point which as I say is similar to Obama's point this summer regarding pakistan. This seems like more some idealogical rather than what are the limits of executive powers as commonly understood before Bush debate. Presidential candidates- including Obama- and Presidents will rarely say absolutely never. What you want to know are the boundaries of their power. I see Edwards answer as defining the boundaries.

                  I can also understand why some say this isn't elegant analysis. Ie, one argument was that he referenced his belief rather than as an objective argument. But to me that feels more like a quibble over style than an argument that anyone really believes that Edwards didn't answer the question.

              •  What's so hard... (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mang glider, NonnyO, Got a Grip, Fonsia

                about a "No" or a "Yes"?  You can still explain, justify and cite examples, as well as expound on what you'd do differently.

                But on the question of will you do something that is/not constitutional, I think we have a legitimate interest in hearing an un-shaded answer.  I LIKE Edwards, and I LIKE nuance.  But there are times for nuance, and this wasn't one.

                As in:

                No. The president does not have authority to go to war without the authorization of Congress.  The president, as commander-in-chief, is certainly responsible for defending the nation, but that does not and cannot extend to pre-emptive war.  George Bush was wrong to have done so, and in going so has violated his oath of office.

                Period.  What's so hard there? It says No.  And it kicks Dubya in the nuts, and it lays out the case.  You can do all of them.

                Why not Say It Clearly?

                "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

                by ogre on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 10:44:47 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  He answered the questions (0+ / 0-)

                  Generally, the whole 'yes' /'no' point you are making is one about form, not substance.

                  Where you do argue substantively, I disagree with how you define presidential powers. I've explained that multiple times here why a President shouldn't give absolutes. It's the same reason I gave when agreeing with Obama with regard to his position on Pakistan this summer. Conceptually if one of you can give me a difference between Edwards answer and Obama-- in terms of Presidential powers and int'l law- I would love to hear it.

                  •  Failure to give absolutes (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Conservative Liberal, Fonsia

                    is somewhere between duplicitous and cowardly--when we're dealing with Constitutional limitations.

                    I don't want a non-absolute when it comes to a presidential candidate affirming that he/she WILL uphold the Constitution and will not seek to fudge, bend, twist, fold, spindle, mutilate and get around it.

                    So thanks, you've helped me feel clearer about supporting Obama in the primary race, rather than Obama or maybe Edwards.

                    "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

                    by ogre on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 11:14:47 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  I have no intention of getting in a piefight (8+ / 0-)

            with you or anyone else.  This is exactly why I do not go into candidate diaries or generally discuss who I may or may not be supporting.  As I've said, I do not have a horse in this race.  I have a vague leaning to Dodd simply because he showed leadership when it was called for and when no one else stepped to the plate to deliver it.  This is, however, not at all set in stone.  Edwards, Obama, and Clinton can all still win my vote if they want it.  But I find Edwards' answers disquieting, and that's all I'm saying.

            Merry Christmas to you, I hope it was good one.  May the New Year bring us peace.....

            Calling bullshit on "bracing rhetorical thrusters" since Fall 2006....put your words into action at Road2DC

            by Got a Grip on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 09:04:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I hate posters like yourself (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              moira977

              Not because of your opinion, but because of your laziness. I wasn't engaging in pie fight. I was asking you a question because your analysis confuses me in terms of what the law was prior to Bush and Edwards actually saying this:

              "I strongly oppose George Bush's doctrine of "preventive war" and believe that force always should be an option of last resort."

              You can believe what you want, but don't dishonestly claim that I am engaging in a pie fight to ask  you for clarification of your thought process especially when you give them in an open forum. We aren't hear to talk passed each other and just through out opinion without thinking about what each other are saying. Well I am not. I can't speakf or you.

              •  Peace to you, bruh1. (7+ / 0-)

                Hate me if you will, but I'm holding on to the spirit of what I wrote in this diary earlier today.  I came to LC's diary to learn, not argue.  And I'm leaving it now for just that reason.

                Calling bullshit on "bracing rhetorical thrusters" since Fall 2006....put your words into action at Road2DC

                by Got a Grip on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 09:14:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Can you please state the Con Law (6+ / 0-)

                analysis of what "last resort" means?

                It seems to me you keep bringing up your Con Law classes in order to defend an interpretation of something that cannot possibly have been in a Con Law class.  Please clarify.

                •  Presidents as commanders and chief (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  trashablanca

                  have certain powers to act in that capacity or have been interpreted as such without declaration of war by congress. when i hear last resort, i think in terms of the same way that Obama meant it when discussing Pakistan this summer. In other words, in that situation he was being asked what he would do about Al Qaida being in Pakistan and if the pakistainian govt did nothing, and there was no other option- he said as a last resort he might unilterally engage in a military strike- not a war- just a strike. Many argued at that the time that he was wrong, and I say, and now, I am not sure there is any such limit on the President as Commander and Chief.  When I am referring to con law- its not a hammer, but as a realization that I am confused by the idea that this is a radical idea that an American president would never say never.  That what he or she does is to define the limits--ie repudiation of the bush doctrine or that this is somehow evasive for simply not saying never.

                  •  So you tell me. (5+ / 0-)

                    If Obama said he could bomb Pakistan without congressional approval, was he Constitutionally right or wrong?

                    •  I am asking you (0+ / 0-)

                      to point out where in Con Law (the claim of the diarist) it requires an absolute such that Presidents must always (under the case law) seek Congressional approval for every act of the military.

                      I am saying that your argument is as radical the other way, as Bush's position is radical- in terms of its departure from what I've understood to be the law and limits in this area.

                      As a practical matter these events should be rare- but are you saying that under no circumstance is it possible that a President may not engage in a strike on say Al Qaida camp in Pakistan without Congressional vote on it?

                      •  I am the diarist. (4+ / 0-)

                        And I am agreeing with you that your argument has some merit.  This is why I updated the diary.

                        But you seem to be sliding back and forth.  Whether or not a President needs congressional approval to preventatively bomb Pakistan has nothing to do, logically, with whether a President can ever, under any circumstances engage in military action without congresssional approval.  I take it as obvious that in cases of immanent danger the President does not need such approval.  Upon re-reading the Boston Globe Question, I see that the question was not clear -- it used parenthises in a way that rendered the question(s) unclear.

                        So, to make the question simple: according to your view of Con Law, does a President need Congressional authority before engaging in preventative, non-immanent, strikes?

                        •  Edwards answers that question (0+ / 0-)

                          doesn't he by repudiating the Bush doctrine. But to answer your question-- what do you consider prevenative? This summer several argued that even with Al Qaida in Pakistan that doesn't constitute a reason to strike without prior COngressional approval or that as I remember the debate of Pakistan. I would argue looking at specifics that this is within Presidential powers where he needs to act quickly to strike at a camp and diplomacy has failed. Should he seek advice - sure- should he be constrained not to act in such imminent situations (as I see it) then I see nothing that so constrains him as commander and chief. The problem by the way with these question are that they are fact specific. Thats why absolutes for me because problematic.

                          •  So "immanent" is open to interpretation. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Got a Grip

                            Fairly broad interpretation.  I'm just asking about your view.

                          •  If there were no way (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            LithiumCola

                            other than that- then going into Pakistain to get at Al Qaida is okay with me. But I am not con law scholar. I am looking at the issue practically. I know that presidents have done so in the past. i know that here under the situation I describe- last resort- its not  as  broad as you claim. and i know that issues are never as simple as the absolutes you seem to want. if i am wrong, if you aren't looking for an absolute, then you are always going to have these vagarities, and i am not sure any candidate who is hoenst will be able to say yes or no to this. if they are- like with clinton's attack on obama for stating the obvious this summer- i got a problem with it. the obvious being that countries will protect their interests. and so long as thats within the pre bush limits of presidential powers- i am hard pressed to say that i can come up with some absolute.

                      •  It depends on whether we're talking (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        NonnyO

                        about an act against a criminal organization, or against a government.

                        The latter is an act of war--and requires (absolutely and unequivocally)--Congressional approval.

                        "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

                        by ogre on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 10:48:02 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Invading the territory of another country (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          NonnyO

                          is also considered an act of war. there isn't any  "unless you are doing it to get at a criminal organization' exception.

                          •  In that case... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            NonnyO

                            Edwards is out of bounds.

                            Because the power to authorize war is Congress's--exclusively.

                            There's no "unless you don't think it will lead to an extended war" exception.

                            "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

                            by ogre on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 11:10:23 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  That was a non answer by you (0+ / 0-)

                            I asked you for a conceptual difference between Obama and Edwards here.  Obama this summer, and I agreed with him, said that he would invade Pakistan to get at Al Qaida. You said that was okay because it was a crimiinal organization. I responded that's not a conceptual difference in terms of presidential power. Can you provide an actual conceptual difference? If this is none, I will conclude this is about the candidate, not the issue.

              •  You're getting close to troll-rating (4+ / 0-)

                territory.  Easy does it.

              •  Great. Just what we need... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Quicklund, Got a Grip

                a hater.

                "I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor." King George III

                by ogre on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 10:45:46 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  don't feel bullied (4+ / 0-)

              into selecting anyone Got a Grip. This kind of crap is par for the course in candidate diaries.  Merry Christmas to you!

          •  False dichotomy. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Got a Grip

            Again is this all just candidate posturing by some of you  or some interpretation of Con Law that's radically different in the same way as Bush's view is radically different from what was previously understood before bush entered office?

            •  Referring to Pakistan (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Fonsia

              Al Quida attacked us and has admitted doing so.  So therefore if we went after them it would not be a pre-emptive attack.  It would be an appropriate response to their attack on our country.  It is quite different than Iraq or Iran.

              •  In his statement (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cdreid

                Edwards repudiates the Bush doctrine which means he agrees with that. His answer clearly says that. So to me its exactly like the Pakistan /Al Qaida situation. Logically speaking how is it not since he repudiates the very doctrine which says pre-emptive attacks are okay? I do get some wide comment that he may mean some other kind of strike but I don't understand that argument since Edwards repudiates the whole concept.

                •  The words "Bush Doctrine" (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Got a Grip, vernonbc, Fonsia

                  are not in the constitution.  He should have answered the questions as they pertain to the constitution not as they pertain to what Bush has done.

                  You can say anything what Bush has done is wrong and get a pat on the back.

                  •  Lame argument (0+ / 0-)

                    Everyone that's been paying attention to events these past 7 years knows what the Bush doctrine is. The Bush doctrine of preventative war is the reason they asked the question in the first place, the reason there's a constitutional question about it. If he says he's against the Bush doctrine, then he's effectively affirming the constitution.

                    •  But he says "*I* strongly oppose"... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      recusancy

                      ...he doesn't say it's illegal.  The two viable candidates seem to have no problems with saying that preemptive military action without an immanent threat is illegal unless authorized by Congress.

                      John Edwards, who as a lawyer and former Senator knows what the question is asking, doesn't answer the question.  He "strongly opposes" the Bush doctrine, but reduces it to a matter of his personal preference rather than calling it a matter of constitutional law, which it is.

              •  The "problem"... (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                417els, Got a Grip, vernonbc, cybrestrike

                ronnied:

                As I see it, the "problem" with the Bush/Cheney reaction to al Qaida's criminal acts on 9/11 (hijacking four planes, killing almost 3000 people) was over-kill on a massive scale; the monstrous criminal acts were not an act of war.  I knew that in '01 and '02, and when Dickie and Georgie started talking about invading Afghanistan and then diverting troops to invade Iraq, a country that didn't have one single solitary thing to do with 9/11, I was horrified.

                I never did understand why Congress Critters AND Lamestream Media didn't point out the obvious cognitive dissonance, point out that 9/11 involved heinous criminal acts, it was NOT an act of war, point out the break with reality in the Bush/Cheney rhetoric, and point out that the proposed Iraq invasion was a war crime.

                Al Qaida is NOT an organized army representing ANY country and they did not "attack" us on 9/11 with an invading army representing any country, but 19 men (most of whom were from Saudi Arabia) did use criminal means to kill thousands of people (and no country declared war against us on 9/11, including Afghanistan where al Qaida was allegedly hiding with OBL).  Al Quaida is a gang of thugs, the mentality is not much different from any gangs in this country, albeit they have bigger guns and all, yes, but the fact remains that international law enforcement agencies should have gone after al Qaida, not armies.

                We had UN approval to go into Afghanistan, IIRC, and Congress passed AUMF with the intention of authorizing going into Afghanistan to find and capture Bin Laden (who still hasn't been caught, of course, but OBL sure is trotted out as the scary boogey man when Dickie and Georgie need to scare the bejeebers out of sheeple and try to convince Congress it's okay to give up our rights), but invading Iraq based on lies for oil (which will only benefit oil corporations and other military-industrial corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, etc.) was a war crime as defined by the Nuremberg Judgment and the the Geneva Conventions (incorporated into our Constitution under the treaties clause), and we all know it.

                (¯`*._(¯`*._(-IMPEACH-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯)

                by NonnyO on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 12:30:56 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  I think you're right LithiumCola on this post. (0+ / 0-)

        I think he seems off on the tone of this article.  Given another whack..I'm sure you'd find more clarity.  I don't think any shiftiness was involved, here.

        He's not a constitutional scholar as is Obama, but that doesn't mean that he wouldn't make the right decisions...He's a very decent man.  Saying he would shut down Guantanamo as soon as he takes office indicates how he morally feels about the issue.

        •  Isn't the JRE supporters whole attack against (0+ / 0-)

          Barack that fact that you think he's just a "decent man" but we need more then that in the White House?

          •  You keep faking like the difference (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            okamichan13

            is about whom people support. I've read this thread. Most people either support Edwards, Biden, CLinton or others but they explain this principles without regard to candidate. An Edwards supporter endorsing CLinton's argument and my arguing and your not being able to explain logically the difference between Obama's answer to Pakistan and what Edwards has said. In fact, at this point because you keep repeating this intellectual dishonesty that- it's about whom we support- i have to assume you know what you are doing because you have been corrected and clearly  shown where your arguments are flawed only to keep repeating wthout any conceptual explaination as to why they are right.

  •  This Proves My Point (15+ / 0-)

    I'm hardly a legal expert but based simply on observing power in action--

    I'm adamant that these stolen powers cannot be "returned." They've established precedent which, no matter how long politely ignored, sooner or later some executive will use to do the same if not more. It's clear that most present candidates are unwilling to renounce all the overreaches for their own potential administrations.

    Power stolen by one branch has to be taken back by one or both others. And the judiciary has already been packed by these fascistas with founders and even authors of these doctrines.

    As far as I can see, the Constitution has to be amended. It probably needs to clarify some authorities of the legislature, and second it needs to give the legislature tools of enforcement which now are too controlled by the Executive.

    Our present structure gives the Executive enforcement of laws might violate. That is the domestic equivalent of having given him the ability to raise international armies and declare war unilaterally. It's an astonishing structural blunder to my eyes, for framers paranoid about executive power.

    Legislative authority where it can be usurped by the executive has to be balanced with tools of force, or there is no practical meaning to it.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 08:36:04 PM PST

  •  Typical diary by an Obama supporter... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cdreid, moira977, Chaoslillith, eaglecries

    .........I read JRE's responses and see no problem re: the torture response and bombing Iran. His framing is more geared to addressing voters not enagaging in 'Senator Speak' which the citizenry normally doesn't respond to very postively.

    Frankly,

    The United States should never torture...

    and....

    I strongly oppose George Bush's doctrine of "preventive war" and believe that force always should be an option of last resort. I opposed the recent Kyl-Lieberman bill declaring Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, which I believed was the first step on the administration attacking Iran. I believe that the 2002 bill authorizing force in Iraq does not in any way authorize the use of force in Iran.

    Seem pretty clear to me. But hey! What do I know since I believe Hillary voted for Kyl-Lieberman and Obama didn't even bother to vote 'present' I'm clearly just another guy who can't 'see' the greatness of Senators Cackle and Compromise.

    Bring me my sunglasses honey....'The future's so bright gotta wear shades!'

    'I'm writing as Nestor since scoop in it's awesome wisdom won't let me use my real screen name: A.Citizen'

    by Nestor Makhnow on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 08:47:23 PM PST

  •  Executuve Power (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cdreid, burrow owl, Luam, TexDem, Chaoslillith

    Just to weigh as a lawyer with just my courses from law school on Executive Power- I found the question overly broad and vaque in that it's asking for specifics that no honest Presidential candidate can give.

    Edwards answer wasn't an evasion unless you think that the executive must in all circumstances ask for Congressional approval as Commander and Chief. If there are instances of military action in which you think that's not the case- then your argument seems wrong.

    I suppose I am a little confused by your analysis in general- is that your point? That the executive can never act without prior approval of Congress even if it's a singular action that's not going to lead to sustained war?

    If so,that's as radical to me as what Bush has done. That's never been the view under what I learned in Constitutional law. Nor, quite frankly would I want it to be. The question is an unfair one in that its asking the candidate to specify circumstances unrealistically. Edwards was defining the limits of what the executive power should be as we know them right now. It's what you would reasonably expect as an answer. Anything broader wherein you want him to say he will never do it would be basically irresponsible.

    This came up with Obama I believe this summer, and I found myself agreeing with Obama when he was discussing Pakistan and the options he was leaving on the table with regard to if diplomacy failed and there were no other choice regarding Al Qaida forces in the country.  

    Let me be clear- this isn't about American exceptionalism. I assume much of the discourse is really at base idealogical rather than Constitutional or military. I am not advocating that American presidents should have this power becuase Americans are exceptional. I am making the point again based on what I've understood the limits of presidential powers as commander and chief have been in the past and militarily the reality that not all singular actions (again versus wars) can be a matter of Congressional action. What if they want to hit an Al Qaida camp in say Pakistan and the intel is good- are you arguing that they should go to the Congress with only hours or a day to act?

    Just want you to also define the limits  of your argument becuase many above seem to take it as a given what you mean.

    •  I don't follow when you write this: (9+ / 0-)

      I suppose I am a little confused by your analysis in general- is that your point? That the executive can never act without prior approval of Congress even if it's a singular action that's not going to lead to sustained war?

      You're either not addressing the question the Boston Globe asked or I'm missing something.

      Here is what the Boston Globe asked:

      Question 2
      In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

      How does answering "none" to that commit one to saying the President can "never" act in defense of the country without prior congressional approval?

      •  But he did answer the question about (4+ / 0-)

        imminent danger. Your post indicates that he did.

        WHere I am confused is your claim that he did not. He said that Bush's doctrine is wrong. The Bush Doctrine is about that very issue. So when you say he didn't answer the question I am left to conclude you mean something more than the repudiation of the Bush Doctrine- am I wrong?

        •  The question wasn't about the Bush Doctrine. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          andyj2287, Potus2020, Got a Grip, Drewid

          Please copy and paste the part where Edwards said anything about getting congressional approval.

          He said the 2002 AUMF does not authorize force in Iran.  That wasn't the question, either.

          •  I thought he was merely (0+ / 0-)

            using an example of the abuse considering that the question is being asked because of Bush's abuse of executive power.  It's concrete not abstract to readers, he brings it to an easy understanding by those who are not lawyers.  Bush does not have the power to attack merely because approval was given prior in Iraq, it's a parallel isn't it?

            I have learned there are much more important things in life than winning elections at the cost of selling your soul. John Edwards

            by Ellinorianne on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 02:16:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, it was; (0+ / 0-)

            and you said so in your opening .  

            Without specifically using the phrase "unitary executive", the 12 questions were nevertheless clearly designed to test each candidate's willingness to roll back Presidential powers accumulated under George W. Bush.

            Edwards is not stupid.  He could clearly see the questions were wearing a wig and a phony nose.  

            Who are you supporting in the primary?   From your Rorschach test, I would guess not Edwards.

        •  I linked to this back-and-forth (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          taylormattd, Quicklund

          in an update in the diary.  I think you might be right.  In any case readers ought to make up their own minds.  Thanks.

          •  disagree (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RFK Lives

            in the post above he says the following " I strongly oppose George Bush's doctrine of "preventive war" and believe that force always should be an option of last resort." This goes to the heart of the constitutional question does it not? he simply as I am realizing didn't word it the way some here wanted him to rather than not answer the core question.

            •  bruh1, it is not helpful (7+ / 0-)

              to be told that a candidate opposes Bush's doctrine of preventative war when the question didn't ask about it.  

              I am frankly reminded of Edwards' parsing on the phrase "combat troops" as in Clinton will keep "combat troops" but Edwards will not keep "combat troops" in Iraq.  That is very uneasy-making.  I don't care what they are called.

              Here, being told that Edwards specifically opposes "Bush's" doctrine of preventative war and then being told that the 2002 AUMF doesn't authorize the use of force -- which has nothing to do with the question, which was about whether or not the president needs anything at all -- is not responsive to the question.

              Again, as I said in the diary, this may be up to interpretation, but I would rather not have to interpret this stuff too much.

              •  Again your comment confuses me (0+ / 0-)

                You aren't looking for the powers broadly defined in terms of their limits, but absolute limits that are more restrictive than any interpretation prior to this point?

              •  Your need to interpret is self-induced (0+ / 0-)

                While Obama's answers are more responsive to the questions asked, there's nothing wrong w/ JRE's answers.  On Iran, in fact, his answer is better than HRC's.

                Edwards says that attacking Iran is a bad idea and the pre-emptive war is a worse idea.  The fact that he doesn't address whether Congress needs to approve actions he clearly thinks shouldn't be taken becomes secondary at that point.  

                While HRC does call for Congressional approval, it's obvious that she hasn't categorically rejected the idea of attacking Iran.  Is that approach the better one here?

                Edwards makes it equally clear that he finds the practice of torture to be morally abhorrent.  Again, if you categorically reject a policy, your views on whether the executive can unilaterally engage in that policy become distinctly secondary.

                You're reading far too much into his answers.

                Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

                by RFK Lives on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 07:56:21 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  No, it doesn't go to the heart of the question. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Quicklund

              The heart of the question is whether or not it's legal, not whether or not John Edwards would do it.  That he approaches the questions from a place of "I would..." and "I would not..." rather than discussing the legal matters at hand and making clear that Bush's power-grab is in no way legal or constitutional, is troubling.  He seems to believe that these things are a matter of the President's personal beliefs, not of constitutional law.  And quite simply, that view is wrong.

              Why won't John Edwards be straight with the American people on this?

        •  "Oppose" is a weasle word (0+ / 0-)

          He did not explicitly say he would never employ The Bush Doctrine WRT Iranian nuclear sites.  He said he "opposes" TBD.  "Oppose" can mean "to argue against".  That is spoken like a candidate.  It is not spoken as a sitting Commander-in-Chief, as the question's scenario presumes.

          The Boston Globe offers us a political excercize, not a pop quiz on Constitutional Law. It is rather easy for the voter to evaluate the degree of political expediency contained in answers to this question.

          Assume in 2010 a President Edwards launches a "preventative" attack on suspected Iranaian nuclear sites.  His political opponents point to this statement and accuse him of lying.  The Edwards response?

          "I opposed the use of force as long as I could, but top-secret intelligence info forced me to reluctantly authorize this attack. I will continue to oppose the use of force as long and as hard I possibly can."

          Presidents do not argue against or oppose.  They just say "no."

          "Oppose" is a weasel word.  Candidate Edwards evaded the question.  So rules the Court of The Voter.

    •  Fact is (0+ / 0-)

      Hillary gave the best answer on war powers. Which actually shocked me. Thing is most of these self declared experts dont seem to get that the law actually gives the president emergency powers. Dates back to Johnson. Clintons strike against Bin Ladin is a good example. He provides many more and foreign policy was the only place clinton was a liberal.

      But this diary isnt about reality. It is about deceptively spinning honest responses to be other than they are.

      I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

      by cdreid on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 03:35:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think the diarist is being deceptive (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cdreid

        I do have think several posters here aren't particularly interested in a conversation. They are engaged in the approach to politics where you label your weakness as someone elses. For instance they keep claiming that anyone who doesn't see it as they do are all Edwards supporters who can't handle cricism. Ironically you can see above how several of them respond to criticsim.

  •  Great, thought-provoking diary LC. (11+ / 0-)

    Thanks for writing it.  I'm afraid I'm going to leave now, though.  I'm stuffed with Christmas pie, and I fear no matter what comments I may make will end with me wearing more than I've eaten.  Good luck to you, here, I think you'll need it.

    And, by the way, Happy Holidays to you, my friend..... ;-)

    Calling bullshit on "bracing rhetorical thrusters" since Fall 2006....put your words into action at Road2DC

    by Got a Grip on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 09:10:31 PM PST

  •  Did Anyone Here Look at Biden's Answers? (13+ / 0-)

    Considering that Executive Power is such an important issue, perhaps we should look at Senator Biden's responses to the questionaire.  They're fantastic.

    Here's part of his response to question 2:

    There’s only thing worse than a poorly planned, intentional war: an unplanned, unintentional war.

    It is precisely because the consequences of war – intended or otherwise – can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens.

    They reasoned that requiring the President to come to Congress first would slow things down and allow for more careful decision making before sending Americans to fight and die – and ensure broader public support.

    The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right. Thus, the President has no authority to use force in Iran unless Iran attacks the United States, or there is an imminent threat of such an attack. The Constitution is clear: except in response to an attack or the imminent threat of attack, only Congress may authorize war and the use of force.

    Here's Question 3(question bolded):

    *3. Does the Constitution empower the president to disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops -- either by capping the number of troops that may be deployed to a particular country or by setting minimum home-stays between deployments? In other words, is that level of deployment management beyond the constitutional power of Congress to regulate?*  No. Congress has the power to raise and support Armies, and to provide and maintain a Navy, and to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces (Article I, Section 8, clauses 12-14). Pursuant to these powers, the Congress may limit and regulate the deployment of forces.

    Question 4:

    1. Under what circumstances, if any, would you sign a bill into law but also issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass the law?

    I would not. The American people are best served when the branches of government work together, respecting and observing the separation of powers envisioned by our Founding Fathers. As President I will develop a relationship of trust and cooperation with the legislature. I will work hard to ensure that the laws they pass respect and take into account the powers of the Presidency, but I will not use a signing statement to attempt to override a valid act of Congress.

    Question 5:

    1. Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?

    No. The Supreme Court resolved this issue in a case called "Hamdi" in 2004. An American citizen held as an enemy combatant has a constitutional right to due process to determine whether his detention is legal and is adequately based on fact.

    Question 6-9:

    1. Does executive privilege cover testimony or documents about decision-making within the executive branch not involving confidential advice communicated to the president himself?

    No. The Executive Privilege only covers communications between the President and his advisors. Even when the privilege does apply, it is not absolute; it may be outweighed by the public’s interest in the fair administration of justice.

    1. If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president's authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?

    No. The President must comply with all valid acts of Congress. That’s why I’ve introduced the National Security with Justice Act, unequivocally banning waterboarding and other forms of torture.

    1. Under what circumstances, if any, is the president, when operating overseas as commander-in-chief, free to disregard international human rights treaties that the US Senate has ratified?

    Treaties are the supreme law of the land under Article VI of the Constitution. The President must faithfully execute them, just as he must faithfully execute laws approved by Congress. He has no power to disregard treaties.

    1. Do you agree or disagree with the statement made by former Attorney General Gonzales in January 2007 that nothing in the Constitution confers an affirmative right to habeas corpus, separate from any statutory habeas rights Congress might grant or take away?

    I disagree categorically with Mr. Gonzales. The Constitution guarantees the right of habeas corpus unless in the case of rebellion or invasion it is suspended. My National Security with Justice Act reinforces this Constitutional right by extending by statute meaningful habeas review for all Guantanamo detainees.

    1. Is there any executive power the Bush administration has claimed or exercised that you think is unconstitutional? Anything you think is simply a bad idea?

    The Bush Administration has consistently violated the separation of powers and many parts of its national security policy are a bad idea. Warrantless wiretapping, the extraordinary rendition program, the CIA black site program, the "enhanced interrogation" technique program are just several examples of the President overstepping the bounds of Executive Power, and all of them were bad ideas.

    1. Who are your campaign's advisers for legal issues?

    (From staff) Sen. Biden relies a great deal on his own experience as a Constitutional law professor and the Chairman or Ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, but he discusses legal issues frequently with Larry Tribe of Harvard Law School; Walter Dellinger, acting Solicitor General for Bill Clinton; and Erwin Chermerinsky and Chris Schroeder, both of Duke Law School.

    1. Do you think it is important for all would-be presidents to answer questions like these before voters decide which one to entrust with the powers of the presidency? What would you say about any rival candidate who refuses to answer such questions?

    Yes, they should answer these questions. Sharing the vision of my presidency with voters is what campaigning is all about. As part of the primary process, candidates are able to explain their policy positions and beliefs regarding governance in real detail

    Vote Biden (D-Ascerbia) Physicist Wolfgang Pauli upon reading a paper: "This isn't right, this isn't even wrong."

    by ChapiNation386 on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 09:13:47 PM PST

  •  It's a revealing set of answers (5+ / 0-)

    Though I think you're being too harsh on Edwards. Haven't gone back to reread all the questionaires, but my original impression was that there was little to complain about in the answers of Edwards, Obama, and even for the  most part Clinton.

    I was surprised though that you said nothing about McCain, whose answers likewise were unexpectedly good on nearly all the issues raised.

    Romney, as you say, was revealed to be absolutely terrifying.

  •  LC: I've not read this yet, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    andyj2287, LithiumCola, Potus2020

    but just from the title I know that, once again, you have highlighted one of the key questions of our time.

    Thanks for writing.

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 09:26:10 PM PST

  •  So, then Romney's a socialist? (6+ / 0-)

    Romney asserts that "Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive".

    I think that means pretty massive healthcare for about everyone doesn't it? Does that right trump the duty of being a solider? I'm pretty sure that endorses a guaranteed nutrition level for everyone.

    I want to see every candidate on live tv, being grilled about the Constitution, section by section. While I'm at it, I also want to see mandatory frequent spots on tv teaching "how to spot debating and propaganda tricks."

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 09:39:23 PM PST

    •  EXCELLENT catch, Jim P... (0+ / 0-)

      "Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive."             - Mitt Romney

      M. Willard is on the record now with a short unambiguous statement.  These words should be quoted back to him at every opportunity.

      He is so shallow that he doesn't realize what he said.  He, of course, means that all constitutional freedoms, rights and government restraints can be tossed aside by the POTUS to "protect the homeland from another terrorist attack".

      The Financial and Social Elites such as Bush and Romney...who certainly lack what it takes to qualify as 'intellectual elites' whom they continually sneer at and vilify...have no interest in addressing what is required to keep the unwashed masses of US commoners alive.

      "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

      by 417els on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 02:13:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can't help but add this info with (9+ / 0-)

    this take from firedoglake http://firedoglake.com/...

    Apparently the trio of top Dem candidates wrote articles recently for Foreign Affairs. Obama wants to "rebuild" the military, expand ground forces. Edwards wants to spend more on recruitment and equipment. I'd have to think that would mean status quo more or less on our military/foreign policy. Hillary wants to  "expand and modernize" the military.

    So, universally, they buy into the "troops worldwide" established practice. How much more expensive does that expanded military gets as oil goes up? As revenues from taxes grows less while the economy slows? From what part of the budget--the social?--comes this money to fund this bigger and better worldwide military presence.

    I'm not really sure it will be possible to address any social issue whatsoever without first addressing the question "now, exactly why do we have bases in 130+ countries?"

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 10:12:28 PM PST

    •  Yeah. (7+ / 0-)

      I agree entirely that it sucks that all of the front-runners agree in America as World's Policeman or whatever.  Massive military; bases all over.

      •  I guess I connect the two (0+ / 0-)

        because of the "out" clause on Presidential war-starting potential when you have, almost by definition, enemies the world over, any of which could be declared a threat.

        Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

        by Jim P on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 11:28:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Read a bit closer on those (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim P

      Edwards is the only one that is not calling for a 100,000 increase in our troop levels especially considering our withdrawal from Iraq and no defined mission for new troops. Regarding the three plans, I have a diary that goes into depth on this - there are real differences.

      In that context, more money for recruitment would seem to be raise the quality of troops - we take just about anybody now.

      Regarding decreasing military spending, Edwards was endorsed not only will cut spending on the military but was endorsed by Iowans for Sensible Priorities, which has that as their major concern. You can read more here. There are also links in there to what Edwards has proposed to cut.

      People make a lot of assumptions that there isn't much difference between the big 3, but that's just true. But it does require a bit of work to find them. We shouldn't assume the MSM or any diarist is going to do it for us.

      The system is rigged - John Edwards

      by okamichan13 on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 07:36:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The question for me is (0+ / 0-)

        "Continue the Empire or end it?"

        In that context, the differences aren't all that much.

        Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

        by Jim P on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 08:25:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well if its disband the military or not (0+ / 0-)

          if thats the standard, you might as well not read anything on any of them because no one is going to say that. If you set the bar so high that noone can reach it, I'm not sure what the point is.

          But there are very clear differences regarding funding, regarding increasing troops etc. And those matter. Whether you are going to expand the military or decrease it, seems like a very clear difference. I know which direction I would prefer.

          The system is rigged - John Edwards

          by okamichan13 on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 08:32:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Didn't mean "disband" the military. (0+ / 0-)

            We need them for our self-defense. I'm talking about the status quo national defense strategy which implicitly requires we use force and the threat of force worldwide.

            That nobody is willing to renounce that is a big danger to our national and domestic security and well-being, imo.

            Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

            by Jim P on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 09:36:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Always wondered what would happen if (10+ / 0-)

    We elected a constitutional law professor to be President.  Would be pretty interesting, I think. ;-)

    Barack Obama. Because we can do better.

    by poblano on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 10:27:17 PM PST

  •  Edwards's answer to question #7 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Akonitum, Ellinorianne

    is exemplary and explicit: FOUR REASONS why America should never torture:1) It's not the American way; 2) It undermines America's moral authority in the world; 3) It makes our troops less safe; 4) It doesn't work.
    That is a clear and explicit answer how deeply wrong the Bush policy is.

    •  It's not a 3 or 4 bullet answer I was looking for (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie, recusancy, vernonbc, Fonsia

      and he was 0 for 4 with me...

      what I was waiting for his to say is

      "The United States should never torture because it's against the Law, and the President is bound by it."

      He could've just completely misunderstood what the Globe was looking for in these questions, but I am having a difficult time convincing myself of that because John is a lawyer.

      "It's time we steer by the stars, and not the lights of every passing ship"

      by andyj2287 on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 12:36:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  But he missed the two most important answers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      andyj2287

      One, it's wrong, PERIOD, regardless of what the "American Way" says about it, and about America's alleged (and I think wholly unearned in recent years) "moral authority in the world" (and I HATE it when candidates pander to voters' infantile and depressing need to have their misplaced sense of American exceptionalism and moral superiority reinforced ALL THE FREAKING TIME, like a conceited teacher's pet).

      And two, it's against the law. As in NOW, without an unnecessary new law to reaffirm what is and has been law since we signed the Geneva Convention.

      That's IT, period. The rest is just supportive reasons, nice to hear about but not necessary.

      A good lawyer should know this. A confident candidate should say this.

      0101011101100101 010101000110100001100101 010100000110010101101111011100000110110001100101

      by kovie on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 01:36:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The problem with your answer is... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that there is a fairly LARGE percentage of the population that seems to think that torture is fine, depending on who is being tortured and who is doing the torturing.

        ie, if we're torturing a terrorist, that's a-ok-fine, so long as we have confirmed he's a terrorist.

        Edwards' answer is not one to say that it's fine for non-Americans to torture, but to try to convince the people who have let their morals slide to that point that torture is wrong for reasons they will be able to see and accept.

        Finally, yes, it's against the law, but it has become necessary to reaffirm that torture is the law, because Bush and his cronies have let the world know that we'll do whatever it takes to keep our precious 'way of life' going, even selling out our most base principles.  The rest of the world doubtless KNOWS we torture, despite W's assurances (or perhaps even because of them).

        It would be nice to be able to move into the next Presidency and pretend this Presidency doesn't leave a huge stain on our country, but it just isn't so.  We can't move on with all the things that 'everyone knows' are wrong...because there are a lot of people who have let their standards be shifted far to the right in the name of 'security'.

        No Timeline. No Funding. No Excuses. Edwards '08!

        by Stymnus on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 04:32:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

          He seems to be answering the broader idea that any form of toture is okay rather than the implicited assumption that some forms can be made illegal and that torture itself can still be okay. WHile others settle on the Con Law sep of power above, he was answering the question about torture itself which is at base what the question was about, not the type of torture or whether congress approves or disapproves of it.

  •  Good job bringing this info forward. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    andyj2287, NonnyO, Fonsia

    "We are in a defining moment in our history. Our nation is at war. The planet is in peril." Barack Obama, Nov.10, 2007

    by keeplaughing on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 12:32:19 AM PST

  •  Excellent work, as usual, LC ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kovie, Got a Grip

    None of the front-runners are 100% reassuring.

    Ain't that the understatement of the year?

    "Just remember, boys, this is America. Just because you get more votes doesn't mean you win." - Special Agent Fox Mulder

    by Meteor Blades on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 01:19:23 AM PST

  •  Not sure if anyone's noted it here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Got a Grip

    (search is STILL not working for me under XP/IE7) but Glenn Greenwald posted a diary a couple of days ago on Romney's quite chilling response to this questionaire. Well worth reading. But that's a redundant point when the name Glenn Greenwald is involved.

    Well, you too LithiumCola, of course. Well done! :-)

    And you've just restored a bit of my lost faith in Obama, further confusing things for me. ;-)

    0101011101100101 010101000110100001100101 010100000110010101101111011100000110110001100101

    by kovie on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 01:26:57 AM PST

  •  Youve gone round the bend (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    clarkent, Ellinorianne

    on Edwards

    The United States should never torture, for several reasons: because it is not the American way, because it undermines our moral authority in the world, because it places our troops at risk, and because it does not work. I strongly oppose George Bush's possible veto of the Congressional bill prohibiting torture.

    Does he have to slap you upside the head with "TORTURE IS WRONG" for you to get it or are you just intent on spinning aka lying?

    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

    by cdreid on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 01:52:35 AM PST

    •  A further note (0+ / 0-)

      You even intentionally misinterpreted Hillarys response which was frankly a suprisingly good one. Obama fan maybe? Or just incapable of reading. You really disappoint me. So easy to sell ones credibility. And you certainly have.

      I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

      by cdreid on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 01:55:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Further is too far. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        andyj2287, jabbausaf, vernonbc

        You even intentionally misinterpreted... Or just incapable of reading...So easy to sell ones credibility. And you certainly have.

        These accusations are uncalled-for...you have compromised your own credibility by making them.

        "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

        by 417els on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 02:34:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bull (0+ / 0-)

          Edwards made it clear he was antitorture and went farther. Hillary Clintons answer re congressional authorisation was an excellent one and the best answer a presidential candidate could give as the question was a trap. LC Spun them as the opposite. That is either willfully deceptive or comprehension impaired take your pick.

          I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

          by cdreid on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 02:59:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The only way you can conclude that Edwards (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cdreid

            doesn't speak broader on the question to include all torture is to do as one poster above does- imply through inuendo that somehow "edwards a smart guy" and therefore up to something nefariou. ie, using romney int he same post to make his statement. at base, i don't think the diarist is being intentional, but not paying intention the implicit bias in what they are saying here. how can one decide that a broad statement of saying one is against all torturer turned into he's up to something unless the reader is letting their own biases into the answer. good luck getting an answer- i've yet to get one.

      •  Thanks for the personal attack. (0+ / 0-)

        If you think I've misread or over-interpreted, that's fine.  Explain.

        Don't tell me what I "intentionally" did unless you have ESP.  I open to criticism but not insults.

        •  It isnt a personal attack (0+ / 0-)

          as stated below. If one concludes that the statements were clear yet the commentor stated they were otherwise you must logically conclude that the commentor is either intentionally wrong or unintentionally wrong. Intentionally wrong would equate to lying (spinning)
          Being unentintionally wrong, especially on such expansive and direct statements, would logically mean the poster lacked the ablity to comprehend for some reason.

          If you arent intentionally lying i regret causing you any emotional grief, truely. On the other hand the logic would seem honestly clear to me. I cannot comprehend how anyone could misconstrue very clear statements, and always in one particular direction, otherwise.

          I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

          by cdreid on Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 03:08:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  You're giving me an itchy donut finger (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabbausaf

      But since this diary has put Edwards on the defensive (and rightfully so), I think a troll-rating isn't warranted.

      Seriously though, implying that LC is

      1. Lying
      1. Supporting Obama

      ...and then pretending like you're disappointed??

      "It's time we steer by the stars, and not the lights of every passing ship"

      by andyj2287 on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 02:48:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  TR away (0+ / 0-)

        Enjoy yourself.

        Im not implying anything. I am stating that LC is either
        a: Intentionally spinning (Lying) about At least Edwards and Clinton
        b: Incapable of language comprehension.

        I made no statement as to which. And btw NOT a hillary fan.

        I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

        by cdreid on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 03:02:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's their only construction (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cdreid

          you can't be making these statements based on generally held principles so they must conclude you are doing it for a candidate. when i asked for a principled conceptual destinction between edwards essentially saying leave options on the table and obama's response to what he would do on pakistan this summer- i received no clear reply other than claiming they were different for what were irrelevant differences. why? because i am an edwards supporter. as if logic and conceptualizing what is being written and said is a matter of whom you support. the fact that i supported obama's positin this summer somehow is glossed over in favor of pretending its about edwards rather than my principles on the issue being discussed. you are merely receiving the treatment i did. i disagree that the diarst must bwillfully doing this. i think on reading it and his attempt to correct, he really believes what he is saying. i just think he's wrong in terms of logical interpretation, unless you do as some have done a) change the conversation to pretend its about something like the 2002 war vote or b) imply by inuendo some nefarious end on edwards part

        •  I am quite capable of language (0+ / 0-)

          comprehension, and my ability to type a diary would seem to be a demonstration of that.  Therefore you must mean that I'm a liar.

          That's fine, cdreid, you go ahead and believe what you want.

          Just do me a favor, read through all the answers from the candidates and tell me you don't think Edwards is the most dodgy.

          •  Not dodgy at all (0+ / 0-)

            Neither were Clintons'.

            They're both used to being handed catch 22 questions and instead gave the Correct answers. Whereas Obama jumped right in and gave fine, but not really correct, answers.

            2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

            The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

            He's flat out wrong on the law.

            After which he spends 3 paragraphs touting his candidacy. You didnt seem to have a problem with that.

            7. If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president's authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?

            No. The President is not above the law, and the Commander-in-Chief power does not entitle him to use techniques that Congress has specifically banned as torture.

            Heh.. Specifically banned as torture. So since congress hasnt specifically defined shoving an elephant tusk up your bunghole thats fine!
            No i dont actually believe he  thinks that. I believe they all three rightly consider torture illegal and immoral. But you spun the answers.

            OH maybe your intentions were noble or whatever. But  you're posting to a website at the heart of the left. The voice of the left. Product matters here far more than process intention. We are entitled to expect accuracy and truth regardless of intention.

            I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

            by cdreid on Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 02:59:36 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. (0+ / 0-)

      He has to slap me upside the head with a list by saying that congressionally forbidden techniques will not be engaged in by an Edwards Presidency.

      •  Hmm i withdraw my good faith a bit (0+ / 0-)

        What you just said is pure spin. "congressionally forbidden techniques".. after Obama specifically used a very legally specific phrase which fits neatly with your request. Edwards made it clear he would condone no torture period. Obama stated he wouldnt condone techniques specifically forbidden by congress. So the Giles Corey technique is all good.

        Ya see i dont actually believe that. Dont believe that Obama would countenance torture. But i didnt spin it to look like he might. Thats the difference between honesty and spin.

        I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever TJ

        by cdreid on Fri Dec 28, 2007 at 03:13:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Obama is where it's at (0+ / 0-)

    Vote Obama, vote for the constitutional law professor, vote for a bad motherfucker with a candy coating.

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 03:18:30 AM PST

  •  This Is A Very Informative Diary (0+ / 0-)

    It would be great to have more and more detailed information about what the candidates are actually in favor of re concrete issues.

    Talking about their "health plans" or whatever is not so useful, since it's not so likely that these will come into being in concrete form anytime soon after a candidate is elected.

    I'd like to know more in detail about:

    1. How the candidate stands on all the real issues we're facing, like the decline of the dollar, Mideast foreign policy long- and short-range, FISA issues, mercenaries, veterans' benefits, energy policy, etc., etc.
    1. How the candidates who are in the Senate have performed over their most recent term, how many bills/laws they introduced, how many key debates and votes they participated in, how they stood up to GWB and to the GOP in the Senate, what their legislative successes have been, etc. In the case of Edwards, re the last term he was in the Senate, for comparison.

    I'd like to hear a lot less about how candidates or their surrogates may have slighted or attacked other candidates in personal terms, and/or how candidates counterattacked. There seems to be lots of this kind of "National Enquirer" stuff -- way too much, and it provides no useful information.

    Focusing on providing more actual facts about candidates' track records and their positions on crucial issues facing us, in some detail, as in this diary, would be such a great New Year's Resolution for 2008.

  •  your obama bias is obvious (0+ / 0-)

    especially the way to interpret edwards answer. nt

    Keep Religion in Church

    by titotitotito on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 04:04:58 AM PST

  •  The Power Genie does not go back in the bottle (0+ / 0-)

    by itself.

    If Kongress doesn't put it back, then all future Presidents, regardless of what they say on the campaign trail, will use the power of the Unitary Executive as they see fit.


    The good news out of all this is that this means that Hillary can, if she wishes, use this power to declare that our Health Care System has created a National Emergency ( after all 300,000 needless deaths per year is pretty serious business unless you own a health insurance company ) and then procede to Nationalize the entire industry.

    Paybacks are a bitch.

  •  Guiliani is even worse than Romney (0+ / 0-)

    The Giuliani campaign instead provided a general statement by its top legal adviser, former Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson. He said that a president "must be free to defend the nation," but provided no specific details about what limits, if any, Giuliani believes he would have to obey as president - in national security or otherwise.

    They refused to say and looky who is providing his legal advice -former Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson.  

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. - John F. Kennedy

    by DWG on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 05:48:21 AM PST

  •  Dodd is solid on every answer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kiwing, Existentialist

    This issue has been the center of Dodd's campaign, and every answer is great.  Take a look:

    1. Does the President have inherent powers to conduct warrantless wiretapping?  "Absolutely not."
    1. When can the President bomb Iran?  "Only in the case of an imminent threat ..."  and he is still bound by the War Powers Act.
    1. Would you use signing statements to reserve the right to bypass a law?  "Never."
    1. Can the President detain U.S. citizens?  "No."
    1. Can the President order torture?  "No."
    1. Habaes Corpus?  "Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution"

    If you're interested in defending the Constitution, then Dodd is your man.

    I'm supporting Senator Chris Dodd for President.

    by corncam on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 07:11:04 AM PST

  •  One thing you might be missing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catchawave, LithiumCola, benny05

    regarding Iran and John Edwards, which of course isn't in the questionaire, but does relate to it:

    Edwards was the only candidate to support Webb's bill requiring congressional authorization before an attack on Iran when it was introduced.

    Here's the press release (in part):

    "The threat of a nuclear Iran is one of the greatest threats to world peace today, but we must deal with this threat by being smart. It's impossible to trust President Bush to do that - his reckless Iraq policy has created a chaotic situation in Iraq and damaged America's moral standing in the world.

    "Congress has the power to stop this President from taking our country down another disastrous course in Iran, and they should use it now. President Bush long ago exceeded his authority in Iraq and needs to return to Congress for new authority to manage the withdrawal of the U.S. military presence.

    "He certainly has not been granted Congressional authority to pursue military action in Iran and Congress should put him on notice that he must request authorization before doing so.

    "I applaud Senator Webb for standing up to President Bush and introducing a bill that sets a clear standard and reflects the will of the American people.

    As far as I know none of the major candidates supported this the first time it was introduced. Clinton later added herself on as a sponser (which seemed to piss Webb off since she hadn't supported it before).

    The system is rigged - John Edwards

    by okamichan13 on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 07:18:11 AM PST

  •  Thanks for this link (0+ / 0-)

    We've had more than our necessary share of candidate debates on this topic.  Hopefully, this may shed a more realistic light on where candidates stand regarding Presidential power and Constitutional Law.

    I did find this interesting.

    Among the Democrats, only former North Carolina senator John Edwards refused to say that he would be bound to obey a law limiting troop deployments, instead saying, "I do not envision this scenario arising when I am president."

    Draw your own conclusions.  Better yet, don't draw any conclusions until you've asked enough questions.

  •  I wanted to point a couple things out (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LithiumCola

    that many here may not be aware of (seems so by looking through the comments) so reproducing this comment:

    Edwards is the only one that is not calling for a 100,000 increase in our troop levels especially considering our withdrawal from Iraq and no defined mission for new troops. Regarding the three plans, I have a diary that goes into depth on this - there are real differences.

    In that context, more money for recruitment would seem to be raise the quality of troops - we take just about anybody now.

    Regarding decreasing military spending, Edwards was endorsed not only will cut spending on the military but was endorsed by Iowans for Sensible Priorities, which has that as their major concern. You can read more here. There are also links in there to what Edwards has proposed to cut.

    People make a lot of assumptions that there isn't much difference between the big 3, but that's just not true. But it does require a bit of work to find them. We shouldn't assume the MSM or any diarist is going to do it for us.

    The system is rigged - John Edwards

    by okamichan13 on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 07:38:54 AM PST

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