Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"Push and Push and Push"

According to The Terror Presidency, a new book by former head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (and current Harvard Law professor) Jack Goldsmith, attorneys within the Bush Administration pressed hard using faulty legal arguments to expand executive power at the expense of Congress and the courts. David Addington, Vice President Cheney's legal counsel at the time, said, "We're going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop."

The New York Times Magazine will publish a lengthy piece on Sunday (available here) about Goldsmith and the challenges he faced trying to resist the Bush Administration's legal maneuverings. According to Goldsmith, the president's lawyers adopted a "go-it-alone" perspective on the presidency "because they wanted to leave the presidency stronger than when they assumed office, but the approach they took achieved exactly the opposite effect. The central irony is that people whose explicit goal was to expand presidential power have diminished it."

Needless to say, similar ironies can be found in most of the Bush Administration's counter-terrorism policies.