To the Editor:
Re “Shift on Executive Power Lets Obama Bypass Rivals” (“A Measure of Change” series, front page, April 23):
The unilateral actions of President Obama in the domestic arena to circumvent Congress are more than matched by the president’s unilateralism in foreign affairs. Among other things, President Obama has unilaterally commenced war, authorized the assassination of American citizens abroad and denied the writ of habeas corpus to detainees not accused of a crime.
Executive branch power at the expense of Congress and the Constitution’s checks and balances has mushroomed since World War II. Examples include President Truman’s undeclared war against North Korea; President Eisenhower’s executive agreements to defend Spain; President Johnson’s Gulf of Tonkin Resolution regarding Vietnam; President Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia and assertions of executive privilege; President Clinton’s undeclared war against Bosnia; and President Bush’s countless presidential signing statements, Terrorist Surveillance Program, waterboarding and Iraq war.
The Constitution gave Congress the power to declare war because the president is inclined to aggrandize executive power when faced with conflict or danger. As James Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson: “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.”
The steady escalation of unchecked presidential power has transformed the Republic whose glory was liberty into an empire whose glory is perpetual war and domination.
Washington, April 24, 2012
The writer was associate deputy attorney general under President Reagan and is the author of “American Empire Before the Fall.” He is a former adviser to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign.