Feingold Takes Aim at White House Power Abuses
Here’s a radical query: What if the president of the United States were actually required to obey the law? That’s the question Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) is asking, and tomorrow he’ll hold a hearing to examine just how heavily the Bush administration has trampled on the Constitution over the last seven-plus years — and what steps should be taken to see that it won’t happen again.
In a telephone call with reporters last Friday, Feingold rattled off a host of tactics employed by the Bush White House — everything from warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay detentions; from questionable invocations of executive privilege to extraordinary rendition — as evidence of the importance of returning some accountability to the executive branch.
“It is a sad fact,” he said. “The Bush administration has treated the Constitution and the rule of law with a disrespect that we’ve never seen before in the history of this country … It is a shameful legacy that will haunt our country for years to come.”
Feingold also called on presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama to renounce the Bush administration’s power grab and pledge to abandon such tactics should they win November’s contest. That’s not as simple a request as it might sound. After all, who would volunteer to give up their power, particularly when you’re talking about two guys whose singular ambition these days is to become the most powerful person in the world?
Still, Feingold claimed the implications of not reining in the next administration would be severe. “If that’s not done,” Feingold said, “we could have one of the greatest reconfigurations in our constitutional history.”
For more on this saga, look here later this week.