Must Read: The Legal Mind Behind Cheney's 'War on Terror'
Have you ever heard of David Addington? He's Cheney's chief of staff and according to Colin Powell, "He doesn't care about the constitution."
The New Yorker's Jane Mayer writes extensively about Addington and his influence over the administration's legal policies and his disdain for Congress and the current power structure in Washington. The piece is lengthy, but worth the read. Mayer was also interviewed on yesterday's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Listen here. Here's an excerpt from the article:
Bruce Fein, a Republican legal activist, who voted for Bush in both Presidential elections, and who served as associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan Justice Department, said that Addington and other Presidential legal advisers had "staked out powers that are a universe beyond any other Administration. This President has made claims that are really quite alarming. He's said that there are no restraints on his ability, as he sees it, to collect intelligence, to open mail, to commit torture, and to use electronic surveillance. If you used the President's reasoning, you could shut down Congress for leaking too much. His war powers allow him to declare anyone an illegal combatant. All the world's a battlefield--according to this view, he could kill someone in Lafayette Park if he wants! It's got the sense of Louis XIV: 'I am the State.'" Richard A. Epstein, a prominent libertarian law professor at the University of Chicago, said, "The President doesn't have the power of a king, or even that of state governors. He's subject to the laws of Congress! The Administration's lawyers are nuts on this issue." He warned of an impending "constitutional crisis," because "their talk of the inherent power of the Presidency seems to be saying that the courts can't stop them, and neither can Congress."
The former high-ranking lawyer for the Administration, who worked closely with Addington, and who shares his political conservatism, said that, in the aftermath of September 11th, "Addington was more like Cheney's agent than like a lawyer. A lawyer sometimes says no." He noted, "Addington never said, 'There is a line you can't cross.'" Although the lawyer supported the President, he felt that his Administration had been led astray. "George W. Bush has been damaged by incredibly bad legal advice," he said.