Then We Have “Executive Privilege”

WE heard the term many many times during Watergate and now with this hearing thing in full swing we are hearing it again……but what is “executive privilege”?  What do they mean?

Let’s go to the definition….

The Constitution does not specifically enumerate the president’s right to executive privilege; rather, the concept has evolved over the years as presidents have claimed it. As the courts have ruled on these claims, their decisions have refined the notion of executive privilege and have clarified the instances in which it can be invoked. The courts have ruled that it is implicit in the constitutional Separation of Powers, which assigns discrete powers and rights to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. In reality, however, the three branches enjoy not separate but shared powers, and thus are occasionally in conflict. When the president’s wish to keep certain information confidential causes such a conflict, the president might claim the right of executive privilege.

The term executive privilege emerged in the 1950s, but presidents since George Washington have claimed the right to withhold information from Congress and the courts. The issue first arose in 1792, when a congressional committee requested information from Washington regarding a disastrous expedition of General Arthur St. Clair against American Indian tribes along the Ohio River, which resulted in the loss of an entire division of the U.S. Army. Washington, concerned about how to respond to this request and about the legal precedent his actions would set, called a cabinet meeting. Although no official record was kept of the proceedings, Thomas Jefferson described the deliberations in his diary. The participants, Jefferson wrote, concluded that Congress had the right to request information from the president and that the president “ought to communicate such papers as the public good would permit & ought to refuse those the disclosure of which would injure the public.” In the case at hand, they agreed that “there was not a paper which might not be properly produced,” so Washington provided all the documents that Congress had requested. This event, though notable as the first recorded deliberation concerning executive privilege, did not carry precedential value until after 1957, when Jefferson’s notes were discovered. In 1958, Attorney General William P. Rogers cited Jefferson’s remarks as precedent for an absolute presidential privilege. Legal scholar Raoul Berger declaimed Rogers’s arguments as “at best self serving assertions by one of the claimants in a constitutional boundary dispute.” Instead, Berger argued, Washington’s willingness to turn over the requested documents shows his recognition of Congress’s right to such materials.

In subsequent incidents, however, Washington and his successors did choose to withhold requested information from Congress, citing various reasons. In 1794, for example, the Senate requested from Washington the correspondence of Gouverneur Morris, the U.S. ambassador to France, who was suspected of aiding the French aristocrats against the revolutionaries despite the United States’ official stance of neutrality. Washington provided the letters, but he censored them first, acting on the advice of officials such as Attorney General William Bradford, who said that the president should “communicate to the Senate such parts of the said correspondence as upon examination he shall deem safe and proper to disclose: withholding all such, as any circumstances, may render improper to be communicated.” The following year, Washington refused to provide the House with information relating to Ambassador John Jay’s negotiation of a treaty with Great Britain, arguing that the House had no constitutional right to participate in the treaty making process and so had no right to request materials associated with it.

A short history of the situation and its use and legality……

You now more than you did before you read this piece……you are welcome!

Believe me we will be hearing this term a lot in the coming months and now you can write on the phenom with a bit more knowledge….

Closing Thought–21Mar17

“There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side

 We all have seen the massive protests in the last couple of months….of course the “Ignorati” would have us believe that all these protesters are being paid and that they all are violent…..silly but what can you expect from people with shoe size and IQ the same?
Now that the Right has a new puppet master all this protesting will come to an end……right?

A new report from the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence wing has likened certain types of political protests to “domestic terrorism,” and specifically outlined anger at President Donald Trump’s election as a driving force.

The document, obtained by the Intercept, was prepared by the North Carolina Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAAC) and DHS’s Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A) with a particular focus on North Carolina. The document comes as Republicans in at least 18 different states have proposed anti-protest bills that seek to criminalize protesters engaging in property destruction and blocking highways, among other forms of protest.

Source: Homeland Security report likens anti-Trump protests to ‘domestic terrorist violence’

This should come as NO surprise after all the Tweets and lip service the Master has given on this subject that his DHS would label this as “terrorism”….

Source: Anti-Trump Riots are Domestic Terrorism | MediaBent

I was wondering how long it would take for the state GOPs to flex their little brains….when they would start trying to ban ALL protests….did not have to wait too long…….

Georgia has become the latest state to take up legislation seemingly designed to have a chilling effect on First Amendment rights. Georgia’s State Senate passed SB1 earlier this month and the bill is now before the lower house of the state’s General Assembly. It goes further than many of the other so-called ‘anti-protest bills’ introduced in other states, by expanding the legal definition of domestic terrorism and creating a state-level Department of Homeland Security with surveillance and intelligence sharing capabilities.
This from the party that wraps itself in the Constitution every chance that get…..I believe that is a part of that document that says protests are okay…..but that never stopped the GOP from ignoring it when it suits their aims.
 For your musical enjoyment…Buffalo Springfield

Closing Thought–07Mar17

Look behind the door!

From time to time here on IST I will write a “what if” scenario…it is a post about how things could be brought about with a few minor changes……

I recently gave a talk at the local university about a coup d’etat and how it could come about through non-violent means….and that talk got me to thinking about our present day dilemma….well only in some people’s minds that is……

I looked at the people around Pres. Trump and especially the VP, Mike Pence….if you take a close look at him he is a theocrat…..and some of the cabinet I am not sure of their loyalty to the president……but how could any of these people pull off a coup without the use of weapons and violence was my next question….

The Constitution came to mind and the 25th amendment……

The answer lies in Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.

The amendment states that if, for whatever reason, the vice president and a majority of sitting Cabinet secretaries decide that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” they can simply put that down in writing and send it to two people — the speaker of the House and the Senate’s president pro tem.

Source: The 25th Amendment, explained: how a president can be declared unfit to serve – Vox

I am not saying this is what should be attempted….but I am saying that after careful consideration I would not trust Pence and some within the cabinet as far as I could spit them.

But there is a more troubling situation brewing…..a “Deep State” coup…….

The deep state, although there’s no precise or scientific definition, generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions. They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret, in the dark, and so they’re barely subject to democratic accountability, if they’re subject to it at all. It’s agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world’s worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads. This is who not just people like Bill Kristol, but lots of Democrats are placing their faith in, are trying to empower, are cheering for as they exert power separate and apart from—in fact, in opposition to—the political officials to whom they’re supposed to be subordinate.

Source: Leading Progressives Say that Even Americans Who Hate Trump Should Defend Him Against Attempted Coup by the “Deep State” | Zero Hedge

I agree there is something nefarious going on in DC these days…..another disturbing thought.

Pres. Trump a word of warning…..your enemies are closer than you think…..do not turn your back on Pence……

How’s that for a closing…..my day has come to an end and I must take my leave but never fear….the Professor will return tomorrow with more STUFF!

We No Longer Have Three Branches of Government

I agree with the premise of this article….we have SCOTUS legislating from the bench….we have a Congress that seldom works and when they do they do nothing of substance and we have a president that circumvents the Congress…

In essence we NO longer have what was set up in the Constitution….3 branches of government….

Below is an article written by an ex-member of Congress and a Civics teacher about his observations of our government….

It has been my habit to begin each semester by slowly taking students through the Constitution, each article and section in turn, emphasizing not only each provision but why it was included. Fundamental to the constitutional process, I taught, was the unique delineation of authority and responsibility: the separation of powers that so cleanly distinguished American government from those that had gone before it. There were three branches, independent of each other, with varied duties and roughly equal. The greater power—overtaxing, spending, deciding whether to go to war, confirming members of the president’s Cabinet and justices of the Supreme Court—had been placed in the Congress, I said, because while the Founders had created a republic, they also added a sprinkling of democracy: The people would choose who would do the actual governing. I would underscore this point by noting the provisions that made clear the Framers’ deliberate rejection of a parliamentary system like the ones they had known in Europe, where legislative and executive power were joined. Here, it was to be the people, not the parties, that ruled, I told my students.

Source: We No Longer Have Three Branches of Government – POLITICO Magazine

I totally agree and before this country can be “great” again we need all 3 branches doing their job and only their job.

He, Trump, has had his time in the light…time for him to start acting like the president and become part of the legislative process….

(Side note:  If SCOTUS is not a political position then why is there a political ad for the newest nominee?)

Will There Be Freedom Of The Press?

Praise the internet gods!  My connectivity has returned……(for now)…….

In the past year there has been an uproar about “fake news”….both sides claim the other is the fake and no one but them can know what is true and what is false.  Of course when this type of debate rages there will always be one side or the other that claims something about the freedom of press, which usually includes that old thing about free speech.

I wrote a post earlier about “free speech” and what it means……

Source: That Thing Called “Free Speech” – In Saner Thought

The 1st amendment and the 2nd are about the only ones that most Americans know by heart (that may be a bit of a stretch)…..but just in case….

The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to gather, publish, and distribute information and ideas without government restriction; this right encompasses freedom from prior restraints on publication and freedom from Censorship.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the press.” The courts have long struggled to determine whether the Framers of the Constitution intended to differentiate press freedom from speech freedom. Most have concluded that freedom of the press derives from freedom of speech. Although some cases and some legal scholars, including Justice Potter Stewart, of the U.S. Supreme Court, have advocated special press protections distinct from those accorded to speech, most justices believe that the Freedom of the Press Clause has no significance independent of the Freedom of Speech Clause.

Okay I got you caught up a bit……

The reason I brought up the quick lesson was because of something that is happening….looks like the FBI will have an easy time spying on journalists…..

Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials — far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures.

The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating from 2013, govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form.

Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information.

Source: Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists

This does NOTHING to protect the concept of a “Free Press”….and Obama help this process before he left office……

Source: The Birth Of The “Ministry Of Truth” – In Saner Thought

Do you feel much safer now?

Is The Constitution Our National Strategy?

This is a great question.

Ever election has in it several parts but the one part that seem to get the most lip service is the US Constitution.

There are attacks almost daily in our daily lives and yet it has survived…even with all the debate on its content…..

Our new president might do well to get a cram course in the Constitution before he takes office…..that would be best for him…that is if he truly wants what is best for all Americans.  (I will gladly send him my leather bound copy of the document if he would like)

There is an interesting op-ed in the Washington Times…….

Contrary to conventional wisdom (which is invariably wrong), the United States Constitution is the nation’s strategy for greatness. The strategy entails invincible self-defense; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; and, entangling alliances with none.

At present, that strategy means returning our troops stationed abroad back to the United States to defend we the people, not foreigners whose loyalties lie elsewhere. It means repositioning all of our air and naval forces to defend we the people, not foreigners whose loyalties lie elsewhere. It means devoting our cyber warfare capabilities to defending we the people, not foreigners whose loyalties lie elsewhere. And it means renouncing all of our treaty commitments to defend other nations militarily without congressional declarations of war.

Source: The Constitution is our national strategy – Washington Times

My thought is if one does not want to live by the Constitution then call for a convention and change it….if not then shut up and live within its parameters.  It is that simple…even a Trump supporter could understand it.

Presidential War Is Unconstitutional

With the latest election I have been rather kind to the Obama admin….I have been busy trying to decide it the Trump admin will be better or worse for American involvement overseas……

But I shall rectify that oversight on my part…..

The wars that were are fighting now have NOT been authorized by Congress…..it stretches all the way back to the Bush admin…..if you think the Constitution is the law of the land then these wars are unconstitutional….period!

But let us take a look at the Constitution and war……

More generally, after 9/11, rather than following the congressional authorization and focusing like a laser beam on countering the original al Qaeda group and their patrons, the Afghan Taliban, the George W. Bush administration launched a general “war on terror,” which covered all terrorist groups of international scope, regardless of whether or not they focused on attacking US targets. In the end, this massive Bush administration violation of the narrow 2001 authorization led to illegal US drone wars and airstrikes in countries all over the Middle East and Southwest Asia, Somalia (against al-Shabab), Yemen (against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), Pakistan (against the Pakistani Taliban), and Iraq, Syria, and Libya (against ISIS). The Obama administration then accelerated all these unconstitutional wars. Now Obama is trying shore up the already thin legal fig leaf, so that it can pass such travesties – which actually make Islamist groups more rabid each time the US intervenes – onto the incoming Trump administration. When Obama took office, he complained that he inherited from the Bush administration an economic meltdown and a military quagmire in Iraq, but he in turn is bequeathing a legal quagmire to his successor.

Source: Presidential War Is Unconstitutional – Antiwar.com Original by — Antiwar.com

Have you noticed that the Congress has refused to do its job and vote on the authorization of war….and since they have not done their job….all these “wars” are unconstitutional and should be halted until such time as the Congress acts on the authorization thing.

Will Pres. Trump uphold the Constitution?  Or is it just a prop like with all other politicians?