Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Theory of the Imperial Executive: Three Readings

Three data-points--past, present, and future--in the secret history of how America stopped being a democratic republic.

1. DailyKOS has a good review of Charlie Savage's Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy, connecting the dots on the Imperial Executive theory pushed by the Bush administration on every constitution front available.

However appalled, angry, and afraid you've become, it's not enough.

2. At his day job at the Boston Globe, the increasingly indispensable Savage also pursues a question I've harped on for some time: Can any of the current presidential candidates walk away from the wildly and dangerously expanded executive powers that Cheney, Bush, and a spineless Congress will leave out on the table for them? Follow your favorite candidate and see how comfortable you feel that they'd roll back this power once in office.

3. How much more anti-American power grabbing has been going on that we didn't know about? It's no newsflash that J. Edgar Hoover had a Stalinist approach to law enforcement and national security, justified as convenient by the Cold War. Here's one you might not have known about: A recently declassified document shows J. Edgar's plan to launch what we might call the "Police Action Presidency" a few months after the Korean War started, ditching habeas corpus, rounding up 12,000 people he personally considered potential threats to the internal security of the nation, and generally coming as close as anyone outside the military chain of command could come to declaring martial law.

Obviously, his plan never went into effect, but it's not clear if that's because Truman thought it was fundamentally anti-American on the merits, or if he chose not to implement it for some other reason.

These are going to the Readings list on the sidebar.

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