Behind Bush’s New Paradigm: Shades of Louis XIV

In this week’s New Yorker, Jane Mayer reveals the unprecedented influence of David Addington, architect of the Bush Administration’s “war on terror.”

Addington, Cheney’s chief of staff and longtime principal legal adviser, advocates the “New Paradigm,” a legal theory resting “on a reading of the Constitution that few legal scholars share — namely, that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority to disregard virtually all previously known legal boundaries, if national security demands it. Under this framework, statutes prohibiting torture, secret detention, and warrantless surveillance have been set aside.” (Emphasis added.)

Even many conservatives are flabbergasted. Says Mayer:

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.’ “

The article is only available in print, unfortunately, but you can read an interview with Mayer on the New Yorker’s website.

The image is taken from a Boston Globe story, “Bush Challenges Hundreds of Laws.” See also:How a bill becomes a law (Unitary Executive remix).”


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