Obama and Executive Power

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I might have missed it, but at today’s White House press conference I don’t think anyone asked the president about yesterday’s important court ruling enshrining Bush-era claims to sweeping executive power, powers that the Obama Justice Department has sought to protect. As the New York Times complained yesterday, “Barack Obama told voters in 2008 that he opposed the government cult of secrecy, but once he became president, his Justice Department also argued that the case should be dismissed on secrecy grounds.” And, pending a likely US Supreme Court decision, he has thus far succeeded.

In that vein, check out Washington Times national security correspondent Eli Lake’s provocative story today about other lines of continuity between Obama national security policies and those of the administration he condemned nonstop for most of 2007 and 2008:

On issues ranging from the government’s detention authority to a program to kill al Qaeda terrorist suspects, even if they are American citizens, Mr. Obama has consolidated much of the power President George W. Bush asserted after Sept. 11 in the waging of the U.S. war against terror….

Overall, [former CIA Director Michael] Hayden said, there is more continuity than divergence between the Bush and Obama administrations’ approaches to the war on terror.

“You’ve got state secrets, targeted killings, indefinite detention, renditions, the opposition to extending the right of habeas corpus to prisoners at Bagram [in Afghanistan],” Mr. Hayden said, listing the continuities. “And although it is slightly different, Obama has been as aggressive as President Bush in defending prerogatives about who he has to inform in Congress for executive covert action.”

I suspect we’re not likely to see a will.i.am video celebrating that anytime soon.