The U.S. Constitution makes the President of the U.S. the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, and it also requires that the president see to it that the laws of the nation are followed. Are these mutually contradictory? Does the president have the right to disregard or disobey laws in his role as Commander in Chief?
Apparently, President Bush and his Attorney General believe that laws do not bind a Commander in Chief during wartime. They believe that the president in defense of the country can break laws that would have to be obeyed during peacetime, such as laws governing the ability of the U.S. government to spy on its own citizens without warrants from appropriate courts.
If Alberto Gonzales and George Bush are correct, then Bush could determine on his own, without any supervision by the courts, that a citizen of the U.S. or a non-citizen, is a terrorist and Bush could take a .45 caliber pistol and execute the person right in the White House as a necessary, but unfortunate exercise of his role as commander in chief in defense of the nation during wartime. Homicide laws would not apply, according to the logic of Bush/Gonzales, because he was acting in defense of the nation during wartime. Bush could personally set up a shooting range in the basement of the White House and could personally execute all the declared "terrorists" he wanted and no one could stop or even challenge him.
Worse yet, Vice-President Dick Cheney reaffirmed his view yesterday that this "War on Terror" would go on for years, even decades into the future. As long as the U.S. keeps motivating and creating "terrorists", it can go on warring against them indefinitely, and executive power can thus be extended into the indefinite future.
If Bush decides that environmentalists are terrorists, no laws protecting them will apply and they can be detained indefinitely or even killed if Bush believes he is thus defending the nation. If dissidents come into the Bush radar as threats to the state, the same would be true for them, because a nation at war must be defended at all costs. Even those Democrats who occasionally criticize the President, including Al Gore, could be hauled into the basement of the White House and shot by Bush or anyone he appoints as long as Bush felt the nation was in need of defense from them.
This is the dangerous world emerging in the second half of the first decade of the new millenium. Never mind that Congress never declared war on anyone as required by the Constitution. As long as Congress signs a declaration authorizing force, the President become Commander in Chief and this president has no qualms whatsoever about exercising force against anyone.
Now comes along Judges Roberts and Alito, added to Scalia and Thomas and the stage is set for Supreme Court ratification of the Bush agenda. Who knows, maybe Bush will determine that wartime is no time for presidential elections in this new type of warfare, and will cancel the next presidential election, void the constitution, and make himself president for a third term. With his men on the Supreme Court, who will stop him? Maybe Bush will determine that Hillary Clinton is a terrorist too, and will have her detained and thus teach the rest of the Democrats a lesson perspective.
The possibilities are endless, and the mindset of this administration is positively scary…