Andrew Sullivan (November 03, 2008) - Barack Obama For President:
These mistakes were compounded - and in large part created - by what I believe will one day be seen as the core event of the last eight years: the collapse of constitutional order and the rule of law fomented in a mixture of hubris and laziness by the president himself. It is now indisputable that the president and vice-president of the United States engineered a de facto coup against the constitution after 9/11, declaring themselves above any law, any treaty, and any basic moral norm in their misguided mission to rid the world of evil. This blog has watched this process with increasing dismay - and watched several attempts to bring the US back to sanity foiled by a relentless and unhinged vice-president's office.
Cheney and Bush, unlike any presidency in American history, have dangerously pushed constitutional government to the brink of collapse. They did not merely assert a unified executive in which actions and regulations reserved to the executive branch were kept free from Congressional and judicial tampering. That is a perfectly defensible position, especially in wartime. They did not merely act in the immediate Agabuse wake of an emergency to protect American citizens swiftly - again a perfectly legitimate use of executive power, unhampered by Congress or courts. They declared such power to be unlimited; they asserted also that it was as permanent as the emergency they declared; they claimed their dictatorial powers were inherent in the presidency itself, and above any legal constraints; they ordered their own lawyers to provide retroactive and laughable legal immunity for their crimes; they by-passed all the usual and necessary checks within the executive branch to ensure prudence and legality and self-doubt in the conduct of a war; they asserted that emergency war powers applied to the territory of the United States itself; they claimed the right to seize anyone - anyone, citizen or not - they deemed an "enemy combatant," to hold them indefinitely with no due process and to torture them until they became incoherent, broken, brutalized shells of human beings, if they survived at all. They did this to the guilty and they did this to the innocent. But they also had no way of reliably knowing which was which and who was who. Never before in wartime has the precious, sacred inheritance of free people been treated with such contempt by the leaders of the democratic West.