Presidential Candidates Answer 12 Questions On Executive Power

Dear Everyone;

The Boston Globe asked all the major presidential candidates 12 specific questions on where they stood on issues of executive power. Giuliani - Huckabee - Thompson did not respond to the questions. All the Democratic candidates did as well as the all the other contending Republican candidates including Ron Paul.

While it is an absolute certainty the responses were thoroughly vetted before responding the tone and tenor of the responses is quite interesting. This is due to the similarities of the responses and the disimilarities of some of the responses of all candidates - including Ron Paul. The responses are well worth taking the time to read.

The one person who comes off badly is Romney and the way he answers the questions. had an analysis of Romneys responses by Greenwald. After first reading Romney's responses then the Greenwald article I have to agree that Romney is not the greatest candidate for protecting liberties - at least the ones that are still left.

Ron Getty
SF Libertarian

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Candidates on executive power: a full spectrum
They assess use of signing statements
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | December 22, 2007
WASHINGTON - Republican John McCain says that if he is elected president, he would consider himself bound to obey treaties because they are "the law of the land." But Mitt Romney says he would consider himself free to bypass treaties if they "impinge" on his powers as commander in chief.
Democrat Hillary Clinton says "in very rare instances," she might attach a so-called signing statement to a bill reserving a right to bypass "provisions that contradict the Constitution." But Bill Richardson says if a president thinks that parts of a bill are unconstitutional, then "he should veto it," not issue a signing statement.
These contrasts are found in the answers to a Globe survey of the presidential candidates about the limits of executive power. The study is the most comprehensive effort to date to get the candidates to declare in specific terms what checks and balances they would respect, and whether they would reverse the Bush administration's legacy of expanded presidential powers.
"These are essential questions that all the candidates should answer," said Illinois Senator Barack Obama in responding to the survey. "The American people need to know where we stand on these issues before they entrust us with this responsibility - particularly at a time when our laws, our traditions, and our Constitution have been repeatedly challenged by this administration."
In 2000, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were not asked about presidential power, and they volunteered nothing about their attitude toward the issue to voters. Yet once in office, they immediately began seeking out ways to concentrate more unchecked power in the White House - not just for themselves, but also for their successors.
Bush has bypassed laws and treaties that he said infringed on his wartime powers, expanded his right to keep information secret from Congress and the courts, centralized greater control over the government in the White House, imprisoned US citizens without charges, and used signing statements to challenge more laws than all predecessors combined.
Legal specialists say decisions by the next president - either to keep using the expanded powers Bush and Cheney developed, or to abandon their legal and political precedents - will help determine whether a stronger presidency becomes permanent.
"The sleeper issue in this campaign involves the proper scope of executive power," said Richard Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor.
Six Democrats and three Republicans provided answers to the Globe survey. Three GOP candidates did not respond to the survey: Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson.
The Giuliani campaign instead provided a general statement by its top legal adviser, former Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson. He said that a president "must be free to defend the nation," but provided no specific details about what limits, if any, Giuliani believes he would have to obey as president - in national security or otherwise.
The refusal by some candidates to answer the questions drew a rebuke from Representative Ron Paul, the Texas Republican who has made strict adherence to the Constitution a centerpiece of his campaign.
"What are they trying to hide?" Paul asked. "Why are they embarrassed to answer the questions?"
Of the nine candidates who answered, Romney expressed the most positive view of Bush's approach to presidential power.
"The Bush administration has kept the American people safe since 9/11," Romney said. "The administration's strong view on executive power may well have contributed to that fact."
By contrast, the other two Republicans who responded - McCain and Paul - both expressed reservations about legal claims Bush has made. For example, both rejected the idea that a president, as commander-in-chief, has "inherent" power to wiretap Americans without warrants, regardless of federal statutes, as the administration has argued.
"I don't think the president has the right to disobey any law," said McCain, an Arizona senator.
Peter Shane, an Ohio State University law professor who studies executive power, said Romney's answers suggest that the former Massachusetts governor will probably embrace the Bush administration's legal theories on executive power.
"It's fair to say that the Democrats, Senator McCain, and Representative Paul are united in supporting a reinvigoration of checks and balances and the reassertion of a meaningful congressional role in national security affairs," said Shane.
But there were some disagreements that fell along party lines, such as the scope of the president's power when it comes to troop deployments.
McCain and Paul suggested that it would be unconstitutional for Congress to "micromanage" wars by capping the number of troops that the president may deploy to a particular nation, but most Democrats said Congress has the authority to do so.
Among the Democrats, only former North Carolina senator John Edwards refused to say that he would be bound to obey a law limiting troop deployments, instead saying, "I do not envision this scenario arising when I am president."
Similarly, Romney talked generally about a president's need to both "respect" Congress's constitutional powers over war while also remaining "faithful to commander-in-chief powers," but he declined to say whether he believed he could disregard a law capping troop deployments.
The troop deployment question was just one of several in which both Edwards and Romney declined to define the limits of presidential power. Edwards criticized Bush's "abuses," but did not categorically rule out invoking the same expansive theories of executive power in other circumstances.
But the other two leading Democrats - Clinton, a New York senator, and Obama - were both more definitive. Along with Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, and Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Clinton and Obama endorsed a more restrained approach to executive power than Bush.
The Democrats said a president must obey laws and treaties that restrict surveillance and interrogation. They also said that the Constitution does not allow a president to hold US citizens without charges as "enemy combatants" - even though Bush has won court rulings upholding his right to indefinitely imprison citizens suspected of terrorist links.
There were some differences among the Democrats. For example, Clinton, a veteran of congressional investigations of her husband's administration during the 1990's, embraced a stronger view of a president's power to use executive privilege to keep information secret from Congress than some rivals.
And while all the Democrats condemned Bush's use of signing statements, Clinton, Edwards, and Obama each said that they would use them too - just less aggressively. Obama said the problem with Bush's signing statements is not the device itself, but rather that Bush has invoked legal theories that most constitutional scholars consider "dubious" when reserving his alleged right to bypass certain laws.
"No one doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president's constitutional prerogatives; unfortunately, the Bush administration has gone much further than that," Obama said.
By contrast, Biden, Dodd, and Richardson called for an end to signing statements altogether.
Among the Republicans, their stance was echoed by McCain and Paul, both of whom said they would never issue a signing statement. Romney, by contrast, praised signing statements as "an important presidential practice."