Executive Power

It Takes a Congress of Minions to Hold Us Back

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Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists reports that Congress is not exactly maximizing its oversight duty on the NSA:

The Government Accountability Office maintains an office at the National Security Agency but it remains unused since no one in Congress has asked GAO to perform any oversight of the Agency, the head of GAO disclosed last week. […]

Comptroller General David M. Walker, the outgoing director of GAO, confirmed that it was true.

"We still actually do have space at the NSA. We just don't use it and the reason we don't use it is we're not getting any requests, you know. So I don't want to have people sitting out there twiddling their thumbs," Mr. Walker said.

During the last presidential campaign, I wrote about how Ford Administration veterans Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were being successful in their 30-year quest to roll back post-Watergate congressional checks on executive power. And when Ford died, I argued that our long national nightmare was still going strong.

NEXT: The Latest Fake Memoir Continues to Undermine Authorial Authority in an Age When America Has Already Lost What Little Was Left of Its Innocence after That Game Show Scandal in the 1750s...

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  1. Damnit Welch,
    You’re suppose to be keeping McCain out of the oval office. And now I wake up to find he’s secured the nomination.

    Unlimited executive power wouldn’t be such a problem if we had the right executive you know. [/sarcasm]

  2. Why would anyone want to oversee the NSA? They’re here to protect us. Come with them if you want to live. Remember, the terrorists can’t be reasoned with; they can’t be bargained with; and they will not stop–ever–until we are dead.

  3. Congress is busy making sure baseball is ‘clean’.Think of the children.Oh, and the ‘family’ farm.

  4. You’ve really crossed a line with your title this time.

  5. You’ve really crossed a line with your title this time.

    You shoulda dialed 9-11 a long time ago….

  6. In twentifirst century America, NSA oversees you.

  7. Farrakhan’s a prophet that Obama’s gonna listen to…

  8. “Where are we going-The Council of Scientists, the World Coordinator or something like that?”
    “Who? Oh, no. We call them ‘President’ and ‘Congress.

    I don’t know what the Federation of American Scientists is but I am glad to see they aren’t a “concerned union in the public interest” or anything like that.

  9. Unless Chaney and Rumsfeld have learned Jedi mind tricks, it isn’t their doing that Congress isn’t fullfilling its oversight role. Congress is not fullfilling its oversight role with the NSA because if it actually did, it might learn something and share some responsibility for decisions. That is that last thing anyone in Congress wants. Better to remain blissfully ignorant and play to the nutroots and Libertarian lefties like Welch about the evils of the Bush Administration and still be able to blame anyone and everyone else if God forbid something bad happen.

  10. Welcome to the errordome.

  11. “Libertarian lefties like Welch…”
    Hahahahahahahahahahah, (gasp) ahahahahah!

  12. The principal reason that the presidency grows increasingly in power is Congress. Even when controlled by an opposition party, it does virtually nothing to challenge executive abuses. Nor does it exercise its considerable power to check executive actions. I don’t understand why–maybe John’s right about them all wanting to say “not our fault!”

  13. their 30-year quest to roll back post-Watergate congressional checks on executive power.

    Wait, I’m confused. Does this mean we can still intern Japanese people, since that wasn’t part of Watergate?

    Because, lets be honest, we all hate having them in our classes, raising the curve and being smugly quiet and polite.

  14. Because, lets be honest, we all hate having them in our classes, raising the curve and being smugly quiet and polite.

    True, but without the Japanese, who are we going to point at to make our sexual deviance look wholesome by comparison?

    Oh yeah, the Germans. Proceed.

  15. Nor does it exercise its considerable power to check executive actions. I don’t understand why

    They don’t want to set a bad precedent that could leave them unable to perpetrate their own executive abuses (which, unlike the opposing party’s, are Right and Good and In The Public’s Interest).

  16. They don’t want to set a bad precedent that could leave them unable to perpetrate their own executive abuses (which, unlike the opposing party’s, are Right and Good and In The Public’s Interest).

    Well, TallDave, I absolutely agree with this. The Dems are going to be just as bad when they get their paws on these powers as Bush has been.

    But remember, it wasn’t the Dems who grabbed the power in the first place. Blame where blame is due.

  17. Hold on there, hoss. The Bush administration is hardly the first to increase executive power. Far from it. In fact, the Democrats have played a greater role than the Republicans in increasing presidential power since WWII. Before that, the GOP had Abe and Teddy helping to imperialize the system. Bah–it’s the partisan stuff that’s making us blind. It’s okay to abuse power so long as it’s either my guys doing it or it’s for an end I agree with.

  18. Yeeeeah boyeeeee!

  19. Congress is all about themselves and nothing about the citizens.

    The fact they execute no oversight is no surprise. There’s been no investigation or hearing on the Barksdale nuclear bomb incident, either…

    Unbelievable…

  20. But remember, it wasn’t the Dems who grabbed the power in the first place.

    It goes back pretty far. There was Jackson, who told the SCOTUS to go f**k itself, the aforementioned Lincoln and Tedd, and FDR, who was the closest thing to a dictator the United States ever saw (not that a Republican would necessarily have been better (just different)).

    In fact, at the time some were actually urging FDR to take the powers of a dictator, which wasn’t the dirty word then that it is now.

    And even Thomas Jefferson had people who criticized him thrown in jail.

    Another reason to be glad we live in 2008.

  21. Lincoln actually suspended habeas corpus for American citizens.

    The Bush administration only held one American citizen as an illegal combatant, before indicting him when they knew the Supreme Court would order them to do so anyway.

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