June 19, 2011

JACK BALKIN: Hey, the Obama Administration is looking a lot like the Bush Administration on this whole War Powers Act thing. “Obama’s strategy, like Bush’s, also short circuits the normal process of seeking opinions from the OLC; it simply does so in a different way. . . . Obama came into office promising to reform the abuses of the Bush Administration and its manipulation of the OLC. The best way to do that is not to create entirely new abuses of one’s own.” They told me if I voted — oh, hell, that’s too easy.

Obama is, of course, not bound by the opinions of any lawyers in the executive branch other than himself. However, when he does this sort of thing he’s not able to hide behind such opinions, either. Which is why this sort of behavior by presidents is “extraordinarily rare.”

Meanwhile, Greenwald says the Obama lawyers are worse than the Bush lawyers:

That George Bush would knowingly order an eavesdropping program to continue which his own top lawyers were telling him was illegal was, of course, a major controversy, at least in many progressive circles. Now we have Barack Obama not merely eavesdropping in a way that his own top lawyers are telling him is illegal, but waging war in that manner (though, notably, there is no indication that these Obama lawyers have the situational integrity those Bush lawyers had [and which Archibald Cox, Eliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus had before them] by threatening to resign if the lawlessness continues).

All I can say is, you expected respect for legal niceties from a Chicago machine politician? Hey, Rube!

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