Thursday, May 10, 2007

Presidential Obligations

There has been alot of talk recently about politicians in Washington determining military strategy and Generals on the ground and so on.

I find the disdain shown by the administration for civilian control of the military troublesome. The constitution specifies the roles set forth by the various branches of government, and there is not ONE clause to be found in that document giving the military autonomy to set it's own policies. The President is a civilian, elected to office for a set term by civilians specifically for the constitutional purpose of serving as Commander in Chief. The funding of the military is the job of Congress, a body populated by civilians, each elected by civilians. Drawn to the ultimate conclusion the logic arguing against civilian interference in military matters is as if the President has suddenly proclaimed that he has abdicated his role as Commander in Chief to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he is outraged that Congress will not follow suit.

Luckily, the mainstream media seem to be seeing through this talking point, as I hear Chris Matthews and other's question it's validity on constitutional grounds. However, there is another long standing administration talking point that directly relates to this entire willingness to subvert the constitution out of a desire for security. The most recent example given by an administration figure of the faulty logic I wish to refute (yet again) was given yesterday by Tony Snow, when he said:
The President is Commander-in-Chief, and he is President of all the American people. He understands the political concerns of people. But as Commander-in-Chief, his job, his solemn obligation really is one toward national security, and that is first and foremost.
The Presidents "solemn obligation" which is "first and foremost" is to uphold and defend the constitution. The constitution is very clear in this regard. Here is the oath used at inauguration to swear in the President, word for word as given by the constitution:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
The President does not swear to keep us safe or secure. The oath he takes is to preserve, protect and defend the constitution! That is the Presidents first and foremost obligation, his sacred duty and the purpose which should be his main concern.

There is no excuse for the President authorizing unconstitutional measures in the pursuit of security. In fact I think the President, by flouting the FISA law in pursuit of security, deserves impeachment for precisely this reason. (There are several other justifications to impeach as well mind you...) The freedoms given us by the constitution the President is supposed to protect are what make us unique as a nation. What use is it to have a nation entirely secure, each of us safe from harm, but living without freedom? Is that really America as you and I understand it? By and large, citizens of Saudi Arabia are safe. Citizens of Cuba are safe. There are citizens of various repressive regimes around the world that are generally secure in their persons from danger, but whose lives are lived under distinctly un-American circumstances, due to the system of government that rules them.

I would LOVE to hear an administration figure respond to this rebuttal of one of their favorite talking points.

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