Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Jack Goldsmith: How George W. Bush could have gotten everything he wanted had he not been so arrogant

In an article in this Sunday's (forthcoming) magazine section, Jeffrey Rosen discusses Jack Goldsmith, the conservative former Bush administration lawyer who has just written a book about how Bush lost the power he could have had just because of his arrogance. It's not a pretty story. Goldsmith's main point (as far as I'm concerned) is that if Bush had just asked Congress for the powers he wanted instead of just taking them, Congress would have given him everything he wanted. Here's an example.
In debates over the detention of suspected terrorists, Goldsmith says he was struck by how Addington’s efforts to expand presidential power ultimately weakened it. In September 2006, two months before the midterm elections, Bush eventually did ask Congress to approve his military commissions, and Congress promptly passed a law that gave him everything he asked for, authorizing many aspects of the military commissions that the Supreme Court had struck down. Although Bush had won the battle, Goldsmith sees the refusal to go to Congress earlier as the cause of an unnecessary Supreme Court defeat. “I’m not a civil libertarian, and what I did wasn’t driven by concerns about civil liberties per se,” he told me. “It was a disagreement about means, not ends, driven by a desire to make sure that the administration’s counterterrorism policies had a firm legal foundation.”

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