Although the president’s powers as commander-in-chief are expansive, there are constitutional bounds. Even in wartime presidents can overstep the limits of their constitutional authority in pursuit of seemingly important ends. Proponents of a “unitary executive” theory claim that the president’s constitutional role as chief executive should give him unqualified executive power. Although the president does have substantial power, he does have the authority dictate substantive decisions that are entrusted to Congress by law.
As stated by Freeman, in Should the President be King, President Bush has not only eluded to, but forwardly stated that in his position, he need not answer to anyone, particularly to the Congress. Under the Administration of President Bush, the system of checks and balances that is to ensure this democracy that we live in has been over-ridden, and virtually thrown out the window. President Bush clearly believes that throughout this war, that he created, he has gained unqualified power to make all decisions. To date, Congress has virtually left this power unchecked, although it is their responsibility to do so.
In coming months, Congress is going to have to step up to the plate and take responsibility for what is occurring within the administration. Congress must hold the President accountable for his decisions and for the illegal manner in which his Administration has made decision. Members of the Congress have called for a censure of the President. Censure would lead to nothing more than a slap on the wrist, or a disapproving look. Congress must provide more assurance to the American people than that. An investigation of this Administration and the decisions it has made is what needs to occur if the American people are too know the truth.
The President must be held accountable for authorizing a program that clearly violates the law and then misleading the country about its existence and its legality. The President has argued that Congress gave him authority to wiretap Americans on U. S. soil without a warrant when it passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force after September 11, 2001. There is no language in the resolution and no evidence to suggest that it was intended to give the President authority to order these warrantless wiretaps.
Warrantless domestic surveillance is not an “incident of war” akin to detaining an enemy soldier on the battlefield as the Administration has argued. To date, the Congress has not been successful in holding the President accountable for this offense or the countless others that have occurred. The United States Constitution provided for a system of checks and balances, designed to prevent the assumed power of one branch of government over another. The Canadian parliamentary is considering steps to prevent this same occurrence in their country.
The Canadian parliament has experienced situations similar to that of the United States in that “party politics” has ruled their discussion. Party politics is what has prevented the American people from learning the truth as the Republicans have been in control. It is precisely this type of partisan structure that has caused Congress to allow the President this type of power and prevented them from questioning it. The Canadian parliament has had to justify their reasoning for questioning what is occurring or their questions would not be allowed.
This is not free communication within a government and will not provide responsible government. It simply supports “unitary” reign. The Canadian parliament is considering allowing more free votes in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister has had the authority to appoint the Deputy Ministers, the Justices of the Supreme Court, Senators, and the Heads of Crown Corporations, to name a few. This results in an overwhelming amount of power to the Prime Minister and again only represents one party in partisan politics. This too can be said of the political system of the United States.
President Bush establishes his cabinet, leaving few to question his decision making ability. To make this population more diverse, would increase the representation across the board and ensure a system of checks and balances that was intended to be present. Further, the Canadian parliament recommends more freedom within committees, and permanent status on committees through the duration of the Parliament. This would ensure that committees are responsible to the people for the work of the committee, rather than being responsible to their party.
Committees are where the majority of work should be done, and membership should not be based on the ability of members to cooperate with the controlling party. Allowing them to remain on the committee provides for the opportunity to be experts in the area they are concerned with. Further the parliament would recommend enhancing communications levels between the committees and the people. This would clearly provide for the opportunity for the citizenry to be apprised of the details of committee work and the end result.