Thursday, May 22, 2014

"yes" lawyers

The story goes that Lyndon Johnson was interviewing a candidate to be White House counsel. "What I want to know is, are you a "yes" lawyer or a "no" lawyer?"  Obviously, LBJ wanted someone who would not block what he wanted to do on narrow legal grounds.

It looks as if President Obama has "yes" lawyers at State and Defense. In a hearing yesterday, they reportedly argued that the President has sufficient Article II [of the Constitution] authority to go after terrorists, even in the 2001 law linked to the 9/11 attacks is repealed.  That leaves Congress' clear wording of that law -- where lawmakers rejected the Bush request for a blank check to use force even to deter terrorist attacks -- seemingly irrelevant.

Congress needs to fix this mess by passing a law that gives the President clear authority against today's terrorist threats but imposes limits and procedures to prevent a permanent or unconstrained war. War is too important to be left to lawyers.

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