June 27, 2006

David Addington: A Yes Man Par Excellence

Via War and Piece, an interview with the New Yorker's Jane Mayer, who has a profile on David Addington out now:
[A]: Some constitutional scholars have questioned whether Addington, in his eagerness to expand the powers of the Presidency, which he and Cheney see as having been unduly diminished since Watergate, gives enough weight to the legislative and judicial branches of the federal government. Some have suggested that he has aggrandized the powers of the President in such a way that the executive branch ignores the system of checks and balances set up by the Founding Fathers, so that its actions are unchecked and unaccountable. Bruce Fein, a Republican legal activist, told me that he regards Addington as an adequate lawyer but an inadequate student of American history, because he believes that Addington has failed to understand that the Founders designed the U.S. government specifically to insure that the executive would not have unlimited power. Fein suggests that the Founders, unlike Addington, understood the perils of concentrated power. They had seen in George III, among others, what tyranny meant. [...]

[Q]: David Addington doesn’t speak to reporters, and he refused your interview requests. After speaking to many people about Addington, what would you like to ask him now?

[A]: I’d like to ask him whether, in his view, there is anything that the President cannot legally do in the service of national security. Bruce Fein, the Republican legal activist, suggests that, in Addington’s view, the President could kill someone in a public park if he deemed the person to be an enemy combatant. I’d like to hear Addington’s thinking about why such an extreme view might be justified, and also why it is that, according to colleagues, he sees no political downside to these extreme views.


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