Legal Constraints Disregarded In War On Terror, Book Alleges

LAWFUEL- The Legal Newswire – Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials “blew through” legal constraints they didn’t like and weakened the presidency with a go-it-alone approach in the war on terror, a former Justice Department official writes in a new book.

In “The Terror Presidency,” former assistant attorney general Jack Goldsmith details what he calls “one of the underappreciated stories in the war on terrorism: the daily clash inside the Bush administration between fear of another attack — which drives officials into doing whatever they can to prevent it — and the countervailing fear of violating the law, which checks their urge toward prevention.”

Goldsmith rescinded two legal memos written by attorneys who previously ran the Office of Legal Counsel, which he later took over, and which provides opinions that both define the limits of presidential authority and provide the legal justification for presidents to act. The rescinded memos had narrowed the definition of torture.

He focuses on the strong influence wielded by Cheney lawyer David Addington, now the vice president’s chief of staff.

Cheney and Addington had abhorred the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s “intrusion on presidential power” since its enactment in 1978, writes Goldsmith. It requires court warrants to conduct surveillance.

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