How the times have changed for the worse!
As the Revolutionary War came to a close, King George III asked American-born painter Benjamin West about George Washington’s plans after winning independence. West replied, “They say he will return to his farm.”
“If he does that,” said the king, “he will be the greatest man in the world.”
He did. And he was — through the influence of example without a standing army.
Jump forward 240 years.
President Barack Obama currently exercises more unchecked, tyrannical power than King George III, whose tyrannies provoked the Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary War won by General Washington.
Mr. Obama has exterminated American citizens not accused of crime without due process of law on his secret say-so alone.
He has initiated wars against Libya, Syria, and the Islamic State without congressional authorization.
He has imprisoned persons indefinitely without accusation or trial at Guantanamo Bay — even detainees whom the military has found to be innocent of international terrorism.
He has used military tribunals in lieu of independent courts for the prosecution of civilian offenses.
He has substituted executive agreements for treaties to extend United States troop and combat commitments in Afghanistan and to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
He has issued presidential signing statements to unilaterally de facto void provisions of duly enacted laws.
He has refused to enforce deportation laws and prohibitions on torture and warrantless surveillance of American citizens in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
He has expended money contrary to the limits set by Congress in appropriation measures.
He has placed the entire United States population under dragnet surveillance in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s right to be let alone — the most cherished right among civilized peoples.
He has frustrated legislative or judicial oversight by improper invocations of state secrets or executive privilege.
He has issued executive orders regulating government contactors which usurp the legislative powers of Congress.
He has brandished the Espionage Act to impair freedom of the press.
He has failed to superintend the conduct of his subordinates in the Internal Revenue Service, Central Intelligence Agency, and Office of National Intelligence so as to check their lawlessness or excesses.
Even more harrowing than Mr. Obama’s lawless actions are the constitutional principles he has asserted. He claims a limitless power to murder any citizen whom he unilaterally concludes based on secret evidence may be a national security threat. He further insists that neither Congress nor the judiciary are authorized to second guess presidential murders. That is the most awesome power ever possessed by any tyrant since the beginning of time.
Equally frightening is Mr. Obama’s claimed right to initiate and to continue global warfare for any reason or no reason in perpetuity without congressional authorization. War is the death knell for liberty, transparency, the rule of law, and the Constitution’s separation of power. Alexis de Tocqueville lectured in Democracy in America: “All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest means to accomplish it.”
Those who won our independence did not idle in the face of tyrannical principles such as these. James Madison, father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, taught: “The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it.”
I have been warning against congressional surrenders and presidential usurpations of power that are crushing liberty and crippling the rule of law for almost a decade, including Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire Before The Fall. Time has more than vindicated my warnings.
It takes willful blindness not to see we will be living under one branch tyranny in a few decades if we do not find the courage to protest the president’s vandalizing of the Constitution with the acquiescence of Congress and the Supreme Court. If we shy from our duty, we will be execrated by posterity for readily surrendering liberty won at such high cost by men who risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
For more information about Bruce Fein, visit www.brucefeinlaw.com.