Balkinization  

Friday, February 16, 2007

The President as Commander in Chief: More reflections on our defective Constitution

Sandy Levinson

We have all learned, over the past several years, that one of the most important hats worn by the President of the United States is that of “commander-in-chief.” One of the obvious values served by placing C-in-C authority in the President is the reinforcement of the principle of civilian control of the military. That being said, one can also say that the last couple of years have demonstrated that civilian control is not cost-free, since there is little doubt that the uniformed military, including, very importantly, military lawyers, have generally been far more trustworthy, in every sense, than their civilian superiors. But this simply reinforces the point that it is important to have civilians we can trust; otherwise, it would be enough to name any random civilian as Commander-in-Chief, which would as easily demonstrate that we really want civilian control over the military.

The most important thing that a Commander-in-Chief does, obviously, is to monitor the actions of his/her generals, admirals, etc., including the all-important act of firing those who are deemed to be lacking in the particular skills and attributes, including strategic visions, that one seeks in military leaders. Lincoln is a model in this regard, going through a number of generals before fixing on Ulysses S. Grant. Madison appears to have been a negative model, placing America in the hands of incompetent military leadership that managed to lose our national capital to the British.

So the question is this: If we rely on the Commander-in-Chief to have the requisite judgment to know when to replace generals, admirals, etc., because they are not adequately serving all-important national interests, then why can’t We the People fire a Commander-in-Chief (save on quadrennial election days) who has demonstrated similar deficiencies in judgment, strategic vision, etc. To allow Congress, by super-majority vote, to declare no confidence in the Commander-in-Chief is not in the least to question the principle of civilian control. Rather, it states that this particular civilian is in fact—or, at least, in the judgment of many, many informed political leaders—not up to the task. No one criticizes Lincoln for sacking McClellan; indeed, in the immediate aftermath of the triumphalist “victory” in Iraq, there were those who praised Bush (and Rumsfeld) for firing Gen. Shinseki, who had the bad grace to suggest that way too few troops were being sent to Iraq.

For those addicted to the fixed-term presidency, then why not contemplate splitting off the Commander-in-Chief function from other functions? That a President is committed to bad social policies is regrettable, but one might believe that quadrennial elections are sufficient as a monitoring device and that the President should get four years to try to persuade us that, say, private Social Security accounts really are a good thing or, after 2009, that we really do need to move toward a single-payer system of national health insurance, divorced from the workplace. But if “war is too important to be left to the generals,” then isn’t it also too important to be left to a civilian who is deemed, by most thoughtful Americans, to be incompetent at the task?

Perhaps one reason for the placement of Commander-in-Chief powers in the presidency was the assumption of the Framers that George Washington would be the first president, and perhaps they believed that we would generally turn to militarily-experienced persons for presidential leadership. That, of course, didn’t happen again until Andrew Jackson. And, as already noted, it was basically good fortune that kept the United States in one piece following Madison’s disastrous management of the War of 1812.

It is, as I have unhappily conceded, too late to do anything about the fact that George W. Bush has another 704 days to demonstrate his talents as Commander-in-Chief. But in 705 days we’ll have another President/commander-in-chief, and we might ask if we’re willing to place the same quasi-dictatorial authority in Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Rudy Guiliani, Sam Brownback, or whoever might turn up in the White House on Jan. 20, 2009. I note for the record that not one of the current “frontrunners” has spent a day actually involved in trying to manage complex military realities. John McCain is, by any measure, an estimable hero, but no one should confuse being shot down over Vietnam and spending five years as an inspiring prisoner with the kinds of experience enjoyed by, say, Zachary Taylor, Grant, or Eisenhower, to name the most obvious examples. Chuck Hagel actually fought on the ground instead of observing the war from the air, and I suspect this helps to account for some of the views. Does this mean that it is actually desirable that the Commander-in-Chief actually have military experience (and not simply observe wars from 15-30,000 feet over the terrain)? I am torn about the answer, but it surely provides a perspective that could turn out to be valuable before Presidents send young (and not so young) Americans (and, of course, others) to their premature deaths.

A final note: One of the regrettable consequences of our constitutional structure is that it leads to an inevitably "legalist" discussion about the inherent powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief, as against the powers of Congress to rein him/her in. (This tendency toward legalism, of course, is one of my objections to the Impeachment Clause.) David Barron and our own Marty Lederman, by any reckoning two of the ablest lawyers in the entire country, are currently working on what promises to be a seminal article/problem on the problem. And this is the topic, of course, of much of John Yoo's writing. But consider the possibility that if we could in fact fire the Commander-in-Chief, we could spent less time in ultimately frustrating legalist analysis and more time on the demonstrated judgment (or lack of same) by the Commander-in-Chief. At the end of the day, we honor Lincoln not for his scrupulous fidelity to every last jot and tittle of the legalist Constitution, but because he had a trustworthy character and capacity for learning from his mistakes.

Comments:

It's hard to know how seriously to take this odd and somewhat rambling post, but the proposal (such as it is) raises many more questions than it answers. Is there to be a separate election every four years (more frequently? less frequently?) for the "Commander in Chief"? How would this person's duties and responsibilities intersect with those of the actual President? What happens if the two officials disagree about, for example, some matter of foreign policy that lies in the twilight zone between diplomacy and military action -- whose judgment should prevail? If the CinC fails the congressional no-confidence vote, who would replace him and how would that person be chosen? What if the CinC dies in office -- would there be a Vice CinC?

This idea seems pretty half-baked; more a consequence of some semi-pathological obsession with George Bush's supposed wickedness than with any legitimate attempt to imagine a more perfect union.
 

At the risk of being unoriginal, if Congress could fire an incompetent C in C, it would probably have fired Truman when he fired McArthur and forced the US to invade China. Presidents and generals, there is no doubt, make serious blunders. So can Congress or the general public.
 

I am not obsessed with George Bush's "wickedness," but, rather, with his awesome ignorance and incompetence. Frankly, I am stunned by the general degree of apathy about his unfitness. My explanation, of course, is that our defective Constitution generates a psychology whereby, given its imperviousness to serious modification, we delude ourselves into believing its consequences are far better than they in fact are. but if I haven't persuaded you by now, I don't expect this to change anything. (And, yes, my posting was somewhat rambling.)

And yes, Truman's firing of MacArthur may serve as an illuminating example of inspired civilian control over a megalomaniacal general. But stopped clocks are right twice a day, and any serious effort in public policy has to be based on summing up the risks of both Type 1 and Type 2 errors. If, as is argued to be the case, we are now in an era of permanent war (against terror), then the risks of a defective Commander-in-Chief are considerably highter than they were in eras where war was less pervasive.

I agree, incidentally, that we need to think long and hard about how best to allocate the civilian "commander-in-chief" power. My own preference, obviously, is get rid of our commitment to a fixed-term presidency (except for criminals of a certain grandeur). My "proopsal," such as it is, is meant only as an initial thought experiment with regard to what may be the single most important (and ominous) presidential power.

We might follow the Swiss route of having a plural president (they have seven of them!), with the one filling the Commander-in-Chief portfolio being subject to a vote of dismissal by a vote of four of the six other "presidents." I am far from believing that I have knockdown solutions. My confidence is only that I'm asking some necessary questions. If you're one of the roughly 1/4 of the American public who's satisfied with our current state of affairs, then everything I write has to seem simply a rant. Fair enough. I'm writing to the other 75%
 

Enlightened Layperson: if Congress could fire an incompetent C in C, it would probably have fired Truman when he fired McArthur....

There is probably a long list of examples that could be presented here. If a GOP had the chance, they would have removed Clinton for his actions in Somalia, possibly Bosnia, or as a supreme irony, his bombings of Al Quaeda camps in Afghanistan.
 

I'm not sure what the complaint is about Bush. Mind you, I'm likely to agree with just about any complaint, but I'm just not sure exactly what it is.

I think we have to separate two functions, the policy function of the President and the CinC function. Bush's errors seem to me to be a consequence of bad policy rather than bad generalship.

Now, you may argue that he appointed bad generals or fired good ones. I don't think that explains the problems in Iraq. Best I can tell, the military has done the best it can do within the policy restrictions Bush has given them. It was a policy decision, for example, to invade with too few troops. It is a policy decision to insert our troops into the middle of a civil war. It is a policy decision to keep them there to fulfill a political goal ("free and democratic Iraq") rather than a military one.

Even if we removed the President as CinC, I assume he would still have a substantial say in policy (the Republican Congress enabled Bush, so shares some responsibility, as do some cowardly or mistaken Democrats). Thus, I can't see Iraq as a situation in which the CinC title plays much of a role.

Moreover, I'm not sure how we could simultaneously replace the President as CinC and maintain civilian control over the military. It might help to clarify the limitations of the CinC position (which I believe are substantial), but I can't see the benefit of inserting someone else in that role.

Just a note about Madison and his generals. It is true that the original generals in the War of 1812 were incompetent. The same could be said for many of Lincoln's original generals. By the end of the war, both succeeded in putting competent leaders in command (in Madison's case, generals like Scott, Brown and Jackson).
 

I've followed some of the excellent commentaries here on the flaws in the U.S. Constitution. Certainly many of the points made are insightful and accurate. The constitution is not a perfect document. It did not anticipate many of the problems that we face today in America. It ignored others while making correcting them difficult. But I feel that these arguments ignore the perhaps unique nature of the times we live in.

Sure it seems absurd to suggest we live in unique times but I still feel that way. They are certainly unique to my lifetime. Any time I look at the problems I see America facing I can't help but think the basis is an uninformed public. What I think of as the public dialog is not even vaguely related to the public interest. And the extension of that problem is that the idea of a representative democracy doesn't exist in America. The people's representatives don't represent the people, not because the people are lacking in perception skills but because they are misinformed and deceived regularly and systematically. The public dialog has become a propaganda machine and the alternatives for accurate sources are only just beginning to appear. This blog is one of those alternatives.

So all this denigrating of the constitution seems almost meaningless when in the last few decades we've seen the people's representatives act against the best interests of the people. What constitution could anticipate and counter that? A representative democracy was supposedly one avenue to counter an incompletely informed public. But what happens when the representatives aren't "representative?" Even a pure democracy is based on a truthfully informed electorate and America does not have that today and hasn't had it for decades.

In the last few years we've had a strong Republican majority in all branches of the legislature. That in itself is not unique, having a single party controlling multiple branches of the political structure. But the unique aspect is the block voting nature in a completely top down manner. Rather than voting in the interests of a representative's constituents, we've seen a rigid pattern of block voting in the interests of a Republican "majority of the majority."

The courts are strongly political and by political I don't mean ideological. Political. The 2000 presidential decision was not an ideological decision. It was a political decision. When I read Lawrence Lessig's commentary on the "Supreme" Court's decision on copyright term extension I couldn't believe his naivete. He thought he could persuade some of the jurists by using their own prior decisions, as if those decisions were based on some sort of judicial ideology. Dare I suggest, judicial honesty. But he was wrong because those decisions were based on political motivations rather than judicial ones.

We see this regularly both in the political and judicial realms. States rights? The political decisions are rarely in the interests of the people or the nation but again - in the interests of the political "majority of the majority." And the block voting representatives never challenge that structure and the people are never fully and accurately informed. It's been Republicans before Americans. The deciding "majority of the majority" is really a very select few.

Look at the revelations in the current Libby case. Much of the press was fully aware of the lies put forth by the highest reaches of America's government in matters of war and yet the people were never informed. Misinformed and mislead instead. The public dialog was a deadly farce. And the Libby case is being tried as a fibbing matter rather than one with connotations of treason. Much of the investigation's findings are being kept from the public and the public dialog. We're told, even by the "liberal" bloggers, that the prosecutor is a model of perfection. But is this perfection in the best interests of America?

Americans are passengers on a plane flying in a fog under instrument flight conditions. But the instruments are being manipulated to serve the choices of a select few. The plane goes where those few choose. It lands where they choose and crashes if they choose. If this analogy seems a stretch consider the repeated objections to verifiable votes.

You can blame the instruments but it's the fog that's the problem.

America has a vicious petty small minded person as president and an even more dangerous schemer as vice president. But they were described to the public as someone you'd like to have a beer with, a "regular guy" who related to "you" and a brilliant CEO. "Help" was on the way. These two "won" the election in 2004. Not much has changed since 2004 other than the lies becoming harder to keep hidden from the public dialog.
 

Prof. Levinson,

I understand you are making a macro-level point about political organization and form, so I will try not to get bogged down in constitutional detail. But I respectfully suggest that even on a macro level, you are suggesting new checks and balances to substitute for those we already have.

If there were a supermajority to fire the commander-in-chief in a given situation, there likely would be a supermajority to check his unpopular warmaking under the current constitutional structure. The consensus among reasonable observers seems to be that Congress has such tools, and some can even be employed by less than supermajorities. Much of your frustration seems to stem from the fact that such an antiwar supermajority has not yet materialized today, although things are trending in that direction.
 

our defective Constitution generates a psychology whereby, given its imperviousness to serious modification, we delude ourselves into believing its consequences are far better than they in fact are

Or, perhaps, the psycological effect goes like this: your burning hatred of George Bush deludes you into seeing flaws in our constitutional system that aren't really there (or to exaggerating the ones that are). You want to destroy the system because you really, really, really don't like the current occupant of the Oval Office. But I think it's misguided to seek an architectural solution to a personnel problem. Just because we have may have a rotten President doesn't mean that we have a rotten Constitution. In a way, you seem to have a almost touching faith in system design: if only we tinker with the machinery, we'll eliminate the problem of bad leaders, unjust wars, and misguided political judgments. But a scheme of government -- even a Levinson-perfected one -- will be no better than the leaders who run it and the people who choose those leaders. In the end, the fault, dear Sandy, lies not in our stars but in ourselves.
 

I think there's much to consider in what "madisonian" writes in the past post. I have no doubt that he's right that my burning contempt for Bush leads me to be critical of the Constitution in ways that I might not otherwise be, since the costs, say, of a fixed-term presidency seem especially obvious. But, more to the methodological point, I think that "madisonian" is describing a form of "reflective equilibrium" analysis in which we constantly go back and forth between fairly abstract propositions--e.g., adherence to precedents generally promotes stability--and concrete cases--e.g., this particular precedent is really terrible and adherence to it might even promote instablity, and so on. So I think I can plead guilty (maybe only to a misdemeanor) without condemning myself to pleading guilty to irrational analysis. "'Til death do we part" might seem perfectly acceptable, for many years, so long as one's spouse is acceptable. When (s)he turns out to have unexpected and ominous sides, one may re-evaluate the principle. Committed Catholics would say it's irrelevant. Most of the rest of us believe that divorce can be justified in at least some circumstances, even if we reject "no-fault divorce."

It may be, at the end of the day, that George Bush's presidency can be accepted as a very costly instance of presidential power, but that the costs are offset by lots of other examples of beneficent use of the Commander-in-chief powers under pressure. George Bush is, to be sure, only one data point, and there are many others that have to be considered in the mix.

My point is simply that we should be having a conversation about whether we're in fact being well served by our present system (one which, recall, is markedly different from most of our fellow democratic political orders around the world). At the point, the conversation is more important to me than the final outcome, even if I do adopt a rhetorical style of slugging with a baseball bat (or perhaps the better metaphor is throwing a cold bowl of ice water on someone who is unwisely, from my perspective, continuing to sleep) in order to get the reader's attention.
 

Prof. Levinson,

The stopped-clock aphorism needs some tweaking. In this case, the mechanism tends to reinforce both good and bad decisions. Can you clearly articulate a standard that dances the line between Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus and Bush's? More importantly, a standard that would be comprehensible to the public you're looking to to provide the motive force for impeachment?

I'm not certain that I'd want to take a devil's bargain like that one, nor have to make it politically workable. I'm having trouble seeing where the "thought experiment" ends and the substantive critique begins.
 

Can you clearly articulate a standard that dances the line between Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus and Bush's? More importantly, a standard that would be comprehensible to the public you're looking to to provide the motive force for impeachment?

I know I'm jumping in here, but I wanted to correct one part of your question if that's ok. Bush hasn't suspended habeas.

As for the standard, the Constitutional one -- invasion or rebellion; public safety endangered -- seems pretty clear IMO.
 

To spin off from A's post: if we all were to agree that this was precisely the sort of action that needed to be taken, what then? By what process should we begin to change the current situation?

Repeatedly in recent posts (and obviously, this is related at least somewhat to the appearance of the countdown) there has been mention of how we can't do anything about the current example, but in Xxx days we'll have another person with the potential to screw up in like (or worse) fashion. The underlying message/motivation is: "act now before its too late."

Assuming some of us agree, in part if not in whole, with your assessment of the current conditions, what do you suggest we do to move the project forward?

Or should we be simply providing input towards a better theoretical model that will be implemented at a later to-be-determined date?
 

Back in the day, left-liberal academics wrote scholarly tomes designed to prove that generals made terrible presidents. Nonetheless, Adlai couldn't get elected. There's no reason to take Prof. Levinson any more seriously than Arthur Schlesinger. (Or my old history professor, Ramsey McMullen, who wrote a book to show that Iran/Contra was just the sort of thing that caused the fall of the Roman Empire.) All of them like to make up long weighty constitutional/historical analyses to explain why the results of the last election are wrong. In a few years, when a Republican congress is trying to stop a Democratic president from intervening in Rwanda or something, it will all be "never mind."
 

My argument in the book is that we could ultimately use a new constitutional convention. But that's not going to happen for some years, obviously. A preparatory condition is to awaken public concern about the defects of the Constitution, just as other people try to tell their friends about global warming, the threat to social security solvency, or whatever future possibility they are very worried about and think needs more discussion.

A completely different point: I just read an analysis of the German constitution that suggests that it is absolutely averse to "direct democracy," including the kinds of referenda that work quite successfully in Switzerland, because of the use that Hitler made of direct democracy. Maybe that makes sense in Germany, but if one were advising a country today, INCLUDING THE US, about whether to include a mechanism for direct democracy, which, of course, is available in many of our Western states, would the single example of Hitler be enough to say, no, never, or would you simply have to take it account in putting together a more nuanced view about whether to include or exclude such mechanisms? I obviously believe that the latter is correct.
 

With regards to Mark's point: I apologize for the rhetorical flourish, but it was Professor Levinson who made the Lincoln comparison in his post. I was merely asking him to follow up on it.

Professor Levinson: Are you referring to Kim's paper on Bush/Gore? (She is, after all, a contributor here.) I don't think that your reading of the German constitution is particularly nuanced -- if you're referring to the rule-of-law provisions, there's a lot more to it than that.

To respond specifically, many of the former Warsaw Pact countries have used similar provisions to good effect; I think that you could make a strong argument for including such a provision in a "new" U.S. Constitution. Would you consider that acceptable?

In addition to hearing how you would balance direct democracy against republican government, I'm still curious to hear your thoughts on Lincoln versus Bush.
 

The example of direct democracy in, say, California, is more than sufficient to give me misgivings about the initiative.
 

The example of direct democracy in, say, California, is more than sufficient to give me misgivings about the initiative.

I don't know whether you're referring to their referendum process or their recall process, but I was saving both of those as ammunition. Oh, well.
 

The example of direct democracy in, say, California, is more than sufficient to give me misgivings about the initiative.

As a CA resident and voter, I say "amen" to that. I'd still consider an initiative, but there need to be modifications from the CA model.
 

"(This tendency toward legalism, of course, is one of my objections to the Impeachment Clause.)"

I consider this a more than slightly ironic note, since it is only that very legalism which you decry that stands in the way of your realizing , in practice, Congress can fill the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" with any meaning the requisit number of members of each House are in a mood to support. Your "vote of confidence" already exists.

Further, I must agree with Jao that Congress in fact has all the tools at it's disposal necessary to rein in any President. What it lacks is the will, and you do not propose a way to give them that.
 

Apropos Brett's last posting, I believe, especially after the Clinton impeachment, that a majority of the country would refuse to accept as legitimate the view that one could be impeached for "whatever" the House decided. The analogy that comes to mind is the refusal to accept FDR's Court-packing plan because it just didn't seem kosher, not least because FDR lied through his teeth about his motivation for the plan.

If this be legalism, make the most of it.

Incidentally, I've written quite extensively on Lincoln, including an article in the Illinois Law Review suggesting that the Emancipation Proclamation raises all sorts of difficulties for someone who is not enamored of full-throated presidential war powers.
 

In 2007 we may not criticize Lincoln for firing McClellan, but in 1862 some Northern Democrats did. Lincoln's wartime leadership was always controversial, and if there had been opinion polling during the Civil War, I'm sure his approval rating would have been abyssmal at several points. Whether a congressional supermajority would ever have removed him we cannot know, but if the Constitution had allowed it, an attempt might well have been made, which hardly could have helped the Union cause.

In any case, a wartime American president does far more than simply "hire and fire" commanders; he (or she) decides the most basic questions of strategy. FDR decided to defeat Germany first, to develop nuclear weapons, to invade North Africa in 1942, to make a double advance across the Pacific, to demand unconditional surrender, to invade France in 1944. Truman famously had to decide how to bring about Japan's surrender. And so on.

Countries that have changed their wartime leadership "in midstream" have fared for both the better (Churchill replacing Chamberlain in 1940) and the worse (Erich Ludendorff taking control of Germany in 1916).

Professor Levinson, clearly you favor a Constitution that would permit GW Bush getting the immediate hook for his conduct of the Iraq war. If the Constitution had been amended along the lines you suggest in 1975, do you think President Carter should have been ousted from office in 1980 following the failed attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran?
 

So the question is this: If we rely on the Commander-in-Chief to have the requisite judgment to know when to replace generals, admirals, etc., because they are not adequately serving all-important national interests, then why can’t We the People fire a Commander-in-Chief (save on quadrennial election days) who has demonstrated similar deficiencies in judgment, strategic vision, etc. To allow Congress, by super-majority vote, to declare no confidence in the Commander-in-Chief is not in the least to question the principle of civilian control. Rather, it states that this particular civilian is in fact—or, at least, in the judgment of many, many informed political leaders—not up to the task.

Under this reasoning, you could equally argue that the People through the President should be able to fire Representatives or Senators for incompetence in enacting a budget which is not in the national interest. After all, it is unimportant which civilian controls the budgetary process and the President is the only federal office elected by all the people and is more likely to be acting in the national rather than the parochial interest.

Professor Levinson, it is interesting how you keep calling an elected Congress the voice of the People, while calling an equally elected President some sort of dictator. Did you make this distinction when the President was a Dem and the Congress was GOP?

I think not. This is why the Framers made the Constitution difficult to amend.
 

I happen to favor a constitutional convention, too. Not because I think the Constitution is hugely defective; As the joke goes, "The Constitution, for all it's flaws, is better than what we have now."

But a con-con could contribute to restoring the rule of law, by resetting the current vast divergence between the judiciary's "Constitution" and the actual document. Thus allowing our government to function without such a staggering level of sophistry being required to pretend that the day to day operations of the Leviathan are consistant with a constitution mandating limited government.

It's a pretty funny legalism that won't let the President be impeached for continuing to wage a war Congress undeclares, but sees nothing wrong with reading the commerce clause as it is currently read.

At any rate, a Congress with the necessary supermajority could satisfy your legalism by passing a veto proof law the President was sure to violate, and then impeaching him for the violation.
 

a Congress with the necessary supermajority could satisfy your legalism by passing a veto proof law the President was sure to violate, and then impeaching him for the violation.

They tried that with Andrew Johnson. Didn't work.
 

The question about Carter in 1980 is extremely interesting. As many will recall, Cyrus Vance resigned in protest after the fiasco of the attempted rescue. So let's play out the suggestion that a supermajority of Congress would have been sufficiently turned off by Carter's ineptitude to bounce him. Under one scenario, Walter Mondale would have become President, which is just fine. Under another, the Democratic caucus in Congress would pick the successor, who would have been in office until Jan. 1981. Would the world (or the American republic) have come to an end? I doubt it.
 

Just about every democratic constitution describes the head of state as commander-in-chief. There's not even much variance in the language. Why has it become a central aspect of the US presidency? Why does the man on horseback symbolism dominate presidential conduct of foreign relations?

You might be interested in a fundamentally different different idea about being a commander-in-chief by a former governor-general and high court justice of Australia.
 

I've just skimmed the comments and I need to re-read Prof. Levinson's post but this essay might be interesting. I understand Colin Powell was one of the judges in 1992 and that a few years ago this essay was again making the rounds. Before I get to that, let me just say that I found Madisonian's retreat into the less credible than pop psychology "Bush Derangement Syndrome" less than convincing. Please don't make us rub your nose in the Freep Clinton and Bush bashing. The kind of hatred that leads to assassination attempts and bombings of federal buildings just doesn't exist where Madisonian is projecting it. I commend Prof. Levinson for his honest and introspective response.


Lieutenant Colonel Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., USAF, is the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, US Central Command, at MacDill AFB, Florida. He is a graduate of St. Joseph's University (Pa.), the Villanova University School of Law, and the Armed Forces Staff College, and he is a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College, Class of 1992. He has taught at the Air Force Judge Advocate General's School, and served tours in Korea and the United Kingdom. In 1987 he was a Circuit Military Judge, First Judicial Circuit, and was subsequently assigned to the Air Staff in the Office of the Judge Advocate General. Lieutenant Colonel Dunlap was recently named by the Judge Advocates' Association as the USAF's Outstanding Career Armed Services Attorney of 1992. The present article is adapted from his National War College student paper that was co-winner of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1991-92 Strategy Essay Competition, in which students from all the senior service colleges compete.


The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012
CHARLES J. DUNLAP, JR.

The letter that follows takes us on a darkly imagined excursion into the future. A military coup has taken place in the United States--the year is 2012--and General Thomas E. T. Brutus, Commander-in-Chief of the Unified Armed Forces of the United States, now occupies the White House as permanent Military Plenipotentiary. His position has been ratified by a national referendum, though scattered disorders still prevail and arrests for acts of sedition are underway. A senior retired officer of the Unified Armed Forces, known here simply as Prisoner 222305759, is one of those arrested, having been convicted by court-martial for opposing the coup. Prior to his execution, he is able to smuggle out of prison a letter to an old War College classmate discussing the "Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012." In it, he argues that the coup was the outgrowth of trends visible as far back as 1992. These trends were the massive diversion of military forces to civilian uses, the monolithic unification of the armed forces, and the insularity of the military community. His letter survives and is here presented verbatim.

It goes without saying (I hope) that the coup scenario above is purely a literary device intended to dramatize my concern over certain contemporary developments affecting the armed forces, and is emphatically not a prediction. -- The Author

Dear Old Friend,


It's hard to believe that 20 years have passed since we graduated from the War College! Remember the great discussions, the trips, the parties, the people? Those were the days!!! I'm not having quite as much fun anymore. You've heard about the Sedition Trials? Yeah, I was one of those arrested--convicted of "disloyal statements," and "using contemptuous language towards officials." Disloyal? No. Contemptuous? You bet! With General Brutus in charge it's not hard to be contemptuous.

I've got to hand it to Brutus, he's ingenious. After the President died he somehow "persuaded" the Vice President not to take the oath of office. Did we then have a President or not? A real "Constitutional Conundrum" the papers called it.[1] Brutus created just enough ambiguity to convince everyone that as the senior military officer, he could--and should--declare himself Commander-in-Chief of the Unified Armed Forces. Remember what he said? "Had to fill the power vacuum." And Brutus showed he really knew how to use power: he declared martial law, "postponed" the elections, got the Vice President to "retire," and even moved into the White House! "More efficient to work from there," he said. Remember that?

When Congress convened that last time and managed to pass the Referendum Act, I really got my hopes up. But when the Referendum approved Brutus's takeover, I knew we were in serious trouble. I caused a ruckus, you know, trying to organize a protest. Then the Security Forces picked me up. My quickie "trial" was a joke. The sentence? Well, let's just say you won't have to save any beer for me at next year's reunion. Since it doesn't look like I'll be seeing you again, I thought I'd write everything down and try to get it to you...

 

"They tried that with Andrew Johnson. Didn't work."

The fact that every trial doesn't end in a conviction doesn't mean that trials "don't work". Don't get into Sandy's trap, where any mechanism which has a chance of leaving Bush or Cheney in office is thereby "defective". Johnson would have been convicted if one more Senator had actually wanted to get rid of him.

Bush and Cheney aren't in office because of a "defective" Constitution. They are in office because they were elected, and there is no consensus to remove them. Any mechanism which would remove them under the present circumstances would render removal so easy that divided government would become an impossiblity.

Maybe Sandy thinks divided government is bad, but that doesn't make a system permitting it "defective".q
 

The accumulation of powers rested within the American Presidency is certainly quite unique: Head of State, Head of Government, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, the Power of Pardon, and on top of it it is almost impossible to remove him prematurely from office once elected. It seems he has to exhibit openly criminal behaviour or be seen as clinically insane to get him possibly removed. This happened only once (or better was on the verge of happening) in the case of Nixon. No wonder that the assassins bullet was a far more common form of removal from office.
For the case at hand, it seems to strip the President of the CinC job is actually one of the easier tasks. Just make it like in Germany and give the job to the Secretary of Defense during peacetime and transfer it to the President when Congress declares formal war. This way the President has to get a proper DoW from Congress when he wants a shot at military glory and at the same time the senators cannot pretend they didn't know what they were actually voting on (Senator Clinton being a good example for this). This has the added advantage that in case of a fuckup the SecDef can be easily fired, made the scapegoat for the whole disaster, and the course smoothly be changed while the President pretends he had nothing to do with it without having to insist on a current course of action just because he has invested already so much face in it.
 

I apologize for going off topic for a moment, but after the screaming headlines parroting the claims by Padilla's attorneys that their client was tortured to the point of being mentally incompetent, I noticed a tiny article buried in page A28 of my paper reporting that the Bureau of Prisons psychs examined Padilla against the strenuous objections of his attorneys and found him completely competent.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
content/article/2007/02/13/
AR2007021301064.html

Big surprise.

Anyone want to wager that Padilla's claim that he was fed LSD is also a lie?
 

The fact that every trial doesn't end in a conviction doesn't mean that trials "don't work".

I read your earlier post as implying conviction rather than as a procedural device to get around the "legal" hurdle.

Bush and Cheney aren't in office because of a "defective" Constitution. They are in office because they were elected, and there is no consensus to remove them.

Well, I don't think either one could win an election today, so I'm not sure what constitutes a "consensus". I think Prof. Levinson's point is that the door should open both ways equally, so I'm not sure your argument actually undercuts his.

Personally, I think removal should be harder than election, so I share your view that Cheney and Bush remain in office due to lack of the (implicitly necessary) "consensus".
 

I apologize for going off topic for a moment...

Big surprise.

posted by Bart DePalma : 10:22 AM


Why apologize, Bart? I'm just surpised you didn't take the opportunity to wax indignant about the "liberal media" burying the "truth". The big surprise would be if the Bureau of Prisons' shrinks found him incompetent. It doesn't say much in that article (anonymous doctors), except that it sounds like Dr. Frist was doing another long distance TV diagnosis.

"U.S. prison doctors have deemed suspected al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla mentally competent to stand trial on terrorism charges, based in part on a review of military interrogation documents that will be turned over to his lawyers, court records showed on Tuesday... Padilla's lawyers said the report was based in part on documents they had not seen, including interrogation records and medical records from the time Padilla was held at the military brig by order of President Bush, who had declared Padilla an enemy combatant.

The judge on Friday ordered that those documents be turned over to defense lawyers."


You already owe me a grand, Bart. Want to get even? Double or nothing Dr. Sally Johnson.

Don't apologize for going off topic or even for going off your meds. Just try to stay on both.
 

They are in office because they were elected

They were selected by the SCOTUS. Then they were re-elected, maybe.
 

Mark Field said...
"The example of direct democracy in, say, California, is more than sufficient to give me misgivings about the initiative."

As a CA resident and voter, I say "amen" to that. I'd still consider an initiative, but there need to be modifications from the CA model.


My observations, having been here for almost 40 years, in both cases, the initiative process and the recall process, it's almost what Amos said, partly the instrument and partly the fog, or the ability to manipulate and confuse the voters. With enough money and deceptive information, the voters can be fooled.

Amos Anan... You can blame the instruments but it's the fog that's the problem.
 

"They were selected by the SCOTUS."

I will readily grant that Bush's margin of victory in Florida, as measured by both the election day count, and several recounts, was small. And recounting IS a noisy procedure, especially when human bias is given free rein by the refusal to mandate a uniform counting standard. And, thus, if you simply kept recounting, over and over, eventually Gore would have won a recount, the Democratic party would have declared the election over, and we could have all gone home.

I scarcely think the Supreme court's refusal to let a state Supreme court carry out that trivial demonstration of basic statistics amounted to the Supreme court "selecting" Bush.
 

Brett... I scarcely think...


Supreme Court Case Study: Bush v. Gore

Or:

Supreme court fails to argue recount ruling

BY CLYDE SPILLENGER


...Worst of all, the sequence of its actions - first preoccupying the Florida court with its views on the "safe harbor" provision, then discovering at the 11th hour the problem of equal protection while leaving the Florida court with neither the time nor the legal space to address the problem - has left the U.S. Supreme Court vulnerable to the charge that it engaged in ill-concealed opportunism.

In perhaps its most remarkable observation, the Supreme Court said, "Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities." This observation is the very antithesis of the rule of law. The Court's authority to decide such momentous questions rests on its ability to demonstrate that its reasoning is not just made for the occasion, but expresses a more universal norm. That is why, despite the fact that the Court could have made its conclusions persuasive, its actions instead constitute one of the sorriest chapters in its history.

 

I will readily grant that Bush's margin of victory in Florida, as measured by both the election day count, and several recounts, was small. And recounting IS a noisy procedure, especially when human bias is given free rein by the refusal to mandate a uniform counting standard. And, thus, if you simply kept recounting, over and over, eventually Gore would have won a recount, the Democratic party would have declared the election over, and we could have all gone home.

This is apparently a common view, but it's not accurate. Gore won both the popular vote and FL. Now, in fairness, he didn't win FL according to any recount he requested, but he DID win if all the votes had been fairly counted.

The key to understanding this is recognizing the distinction between overvotes and undervotes. Gore sought a recount of "undervotes". These were the hanging chads, etc. He would have lost and recount based on the undervotes, making it all the more ironic that Bush opposed such a recount.

Gore did not ask for a recount of the "overvotes". "Overvotes" typically occur when someone fills in the bubble next to the candidates name and then also puts other marks on the ballot. For example, someone might check off Bush's name and then write in "Bush" below.*

As it turned out, the "overvotes" would have given Gore the victory. Link (pdf).

*There are other categories of "overvotes" also. These were situations in which the voter checked two names as a result of confusion about the ballot design. If you're willing to make the assumption that, for example, Palm Beach voters who voted Dem for Senate meant to vote for Gore and not Buchanan (both names being checked), then Gore's margin of victory would have been in the 10s of thousands.
 

"but he DID win if all the votes had been fairly counted."

IF you define "fairly counted" as "counted in the manner most likely to result in Gore winning even if it requires guessing how voters really intended to vote, instead of counting the votes they actually cast".

I don't. We don't count intentions, we count ballots.

And it certainly points out the absurdity of blaming the SCOTUS for "selecting" Bush by cutting short a procedure which would have... selected Bush. Unless you're positing that that, absent Bush v Gore, the recount would have been followed by yet another recount conducted by yet another set of rules, which was a recipe for a real Constitutional crisis.

All of this is beside the point, though, aside from underscoring the absolute necessity of conducting elections and counting according to the rules established before the vote, when judgements about what procedures are "fair" are not poisoned by the knowlege of what procedures would result in a particular candidate winning.
 

Just some historical notes:

1. Hitler didn't directly become CinC of the German armed forces until 1938, after the Blomberg/Fritsch putsch, when he took over the Defense Ministry within his newly created OKW. Technically, I suppose he gained control of the armed forces in 1934 when he combined the offices of the President and Chancellor into the new office of "Fuhrer." Hitler also became CinC of the Army itself in December, 1941, creating the anomalous position of subordinating himself to his own OKW (which was of course beholden to him as Fuhrer).

2. In WWII, Churchill was both Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. He insisted on this consolidation of authority in himself. As he said, he didn't want the responsibility without the authority (any US President would probably feel the same way, and be right). This consolidation of authority was expressly challenged during the war by a Motion of Censure, June, 1942. Members of the House proposed a division, and the appointment of a full-time "war leader," divesting Churchill of his duties as Minister of Defence. Churchill's reply could serve as a reply to SL's proposal, and can be found in Churchill's volume "The Hinge of Fate," pp. 391 and following. The Motion failed in the House, 475-25.
 

Brett... We don't count intentions, we count ballots.

That sounds like something Stalin said.

Brett "scarcely thinks" the will of the electorate is of any importance. It's the "desired and preferred" outcome that's important. It's better when you scarcely think. Keep it up and you'll strain something
 

MD... In WWII, Churchill was both Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. As he said, he didn't want the responsibility without the authority (any US President would probably feel the same way, and be right). This consolidation of authority was expressly challenged during the war by a Motion of Censure, June, 1942. Members of the House proposed a division, and the appointment of a full-time "war leader," divesting Churchill of his duties as Minister of Defence. Churchill's reply could serve as a reply to SL's proposal, and can be found in Churchill's volume "The Hinge of Fate," pp. 391 and following. The Motion failed in the House, 475-25.

England during WWII is not America post 9/11. This comparison is as ludicrous as trying claim the GWOT is WWIII or WWIV. And Bush is no Churchill. Bush went AWOL from his own military service. Churchill went AWOL from a POW camp in Pretoria. I do agree that total responsibility for this entire clusterfuck (that's a technical military term) rests squarely in Bush's lap.
 

JT, I don't want elections officials licensed to read minds. (Or for that matter, licensed to switch between full and hanging chads on the fly depending on hos the count is adding up, as we saw in Palm Beach.) If a ballot records votes for two candidates for the same office, barring physical evidence on the ballot, such as an "X" drawn next to one of the votes, with an arrow to the other being underlined, there's no trustworthy basis for assigning the vote to one or the other candidate. "Surely nobody in THAT neighborhood could have meant to vote for Buchanan!" is not the sort of thing elections officials ought to be taking account of.

So, yes, the intention of the electorate is important. And the ballots actually cast are the most reliable, and certainly the only legitimate, way of determining that intent.

And if you want your vote to count, take some care in filling out your ballot.
 

1. "England during WWII is not America post 9/11. This comparison is as ludicrous as trying claim the GWOT is WWIII or WWIV."

This is true, and it's also irrelevant. The point is the construction of a general principle that encloses all military conflicts, of all kinds. The general principle proposed by Churchill -- the consolidation of responsibility with the authority to conduct the war -- is the point at issue.

2. "And Bush is no Churchill. Bush went AWOL from his own military service. Churchill went AWOL from a POW camp in Pretoria. I do agree that total responsibility for this entire clusterfuck (that's a technical military term) rests squarely in Bush's lap." '

This is also true, but merely begs the question. If not a Presidential CinC, then what? I suspect the founders believed that the various funding, military, and war-making authorities vested in Congress would serve to constrain, or even emasculate, an impetuous or incompetent CinC. Because these constitutional restrictions have not functioned to restrain Bush is not to claim that they don't exist.
 

IF you define "fairly counted" as "counted in the manner most likely to result in Gore winning even if it requires guessing how voters really intended to vote, instead of counting the votes they actually cast".

That's not at all what the study showed. What it showed was that in most FL counties, overvotes were counted a certain way. In a few, they were not counted that way. If they had been counted the same way in all counties, Gore won.

I know it's an article of faith among some on the right that Bush "won" FL. So he did, in the real world sense that he has occupied the White House for the last 6 years. Nobody's going to undo that. There are, however, lessons to learn about our electoral practices from the mistakes in FL. To learn those lessons, everybody needs to acknowledge the basic facts.
 

MD... This is true, and it's also irrelevant. The point is the construction of a general principle that encloses all military conflicts, of all kinds. The general principle proposed by Churchill -- the consolidation of responsibility with the authority to conduct the war -- is the point at issue.

What war? The GWOT? You are joking, right? It's not only relevant, it is the point. But then, we have always been at war with Oceania.

Brett... And if you want your vote to count, take some care in filling out your ballot.

You don't live in Florida, (the "blue hair" capital of the country), do you?

Just one of the oddities:
Some 179,855 ballots were not counted in the official tally. These were ballots which were mistakenly filled out. However, in predominantly white counties the voting machines (Accuvotes) would return the ballot and allow voters to try again, whereas in predominantly black counties the reject mechanisms were not enabled, thus giving voters only one chance to mark the ballot correctly.

Jeb, Katharine Harris and the rest of those thugs down there pulled out all the stops to get it as close as they did. One only has to look at the moron now squatting in the White House to know that he was never "elected". Blue haired Floridians may be easy to confuse but they aren't that stupid.
 

And before the MADisonian chimes in as regular as a church bell on Sunday... This is the real Bush Derangement Syndrome or your brain on guns. And I like guns, but like Wyatt Earp, I am very much in favor of allowing local municipalities, counties, or even states to regulate them in any way they see fit. It's just not a good idea to let some children play with them. They are not toys. This bozo has never leveled a loaded weapon on another human being, had one aimed at him, or come anywhere near a firefight, except on his computer. But I'd be willing to bet every real trigger he pulls "down at the range" is a shot fired in anger. That's derangement. Wanting to get the incompetent pretender in the White House out without reaching for a gun, that's not derangement.
 

Brett... And if you want your vote to count in Florida, don't vote while black.

Fixed your typo.
 

"Jeb, Katharine Harris and the rest of those thugs down there pulled out all the stops to get it as close as they did. "

Sigh. Yes, Katherine Harris snuck into each of those polling places, and threw a switch on the voting machines...

Considering that, for better or for worse, the mechanics of voting are administered by local officials, I suppose the lesson would be, if you want your vote to count in Florida, don't vote where Democrats are administering the elections.
 

Flying combat missions is not exactly "observing" a war. Observation is something you do form the top of the Empire State Building. Flying over hostile territory, amking diving and strafing runs, close air support and other missions with top rate NVA AA coming at you from all directions is not "observation".

Prof Levinson's lack of knowledge about the military is amazing.

I guess the thousands of Americans who were shot down over Europe and the Pacific and Korea and Vietnam weren't relaly fighting, they were just observing.

Same with all the sailors who are often at sea miles away from the action. Would you say that everyone on a carrier is just "observing"?

In many cases, being a combat pilot is actually more dangerous than being on the ground.

In any event, if electing a CINC with military experience is so important for you, I take it you voted for Bob Dole in 1996 and George HW Bush in 1992 over Bill Clinton.

You didn't?

Why am I not surprosed.
 

Brett... if you want your vote to count in Florida, don't vote where stupid black people are administering the elections.

Fixed your typo.

Now, if you haven't got anything to add, other than baseless assertions that haven't been operative since 1960 in a few wards in Chicago, put your tin foil hat back on and go sit quietly in the corner with De Palma and Sarah Weddington, until we need some truly outrageous comments for comic relief.
 

"Fixed your typo."

I'll have to translate that to latin, and scribble it in next to "Ad Hominem" and "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc" in my old logic textbook. ;)
 

"Bart" DePalma [to Prof. Levinson]:

Professor Levinson, it is interesting how you keep calling an elected Congress the voice of the People, while calling an equally elected President some sort of dictator. Did you make this distinction when the President was a Dem and the Congress was GOP?

I think not.


Show of hands: Who cares what "Bart" thinks?

<*crickets*>

Thought so. ;-)

If "Bart" has a legitimate example of Prof. Levinson's supposed hypocrisy or partisanship here, the honourable thing for "Bart" to do would be to trot it out. "Bart", however, is not an honourable person. Rather, he'll tell you that he, "Bart" thinks that Prof. Levinson is inconsistent aned intellectually dishonest, and absent any evidence for such, present that bare insinuation as some kind of 'argumnent' or 'discussion'. Typical "Bart" MO.

Cheers,
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Brett... I'll have to translate that to latin, and scribble it in next to "Ad Hominem" and "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc" in my old logic textbook. ;)

Don't be daft, man. It goes next to "read between the lines" and is usually accompanied by a specific and well known hand gesture. :-)
 

"Bart" DePalma says:

Anyone want to wager that Padilla's claim that he was fed LSD is also a lie?

Anyone want to wager that "Bart" thinks that feeding him LSD would have been perfectly acceptable?

We can go back to the Google record for the answer once the bets are in.

Cheers,
 

Mark Field:

Gore did not ask for a recount of the "overvotes". "Overvotes" typically occur when someone fills in the bubble next to the candidates name and then also puts other marks on the ballot. For example, someone might check off Bush's name and then write in "Bush" below.*

One small note: Gore didn't have to ask for a recount of the overvotes. The Florida courts, by law, were granted fairly wide latitude in fashioning a remedy should they have upheld the contest.

Cheers,
 

brett:

IF you define "fairly counted" as "counted in the manner most likely to result in Gore winning even if it requires guessing how voters really intended to vote, instead of counting the votes they actually cast".

I don't. We don't count intentions, we count ballots.


Ummm, in Florida (as in many states, including Dubya's Texas under laws he signed), the relevant standard is the "intent" of the voter as best can be determined. Technical adherence to every detail of voting procedure is not required; one prior case had requierd ballots that were marked in ink to be counted (IIRC) despite warnings that they should only be marked by "#2 pencil". IIRC, they had to go back and recount all the ballots not marked so as to be machine-readable.

Cheers,
 

Mark Field:

That's not at all what the study showed. What it showed was that in most FL counties, overvotes were counted a certain way. In a few, they were not counted that way. If they had been counted the same way in all counties, Gore won.

In some counties, "stealth" manual recounts (includng overvotes) had been done, resulting (IIRC) in close to 200 votes added for Dubya.

What was most ridiculous was the U.S. Supreme Court sayng that statewide recounts would (in advance of any factual basis for even making such a "determination"), result in an impermissible EPV, but their "remedy" (which froze in place the horrible mishmash of some counties having done manual reconts and others not) unarguably produced the very situation that they claimed to find so unacceptable: that different votes would be counted under different standards (i.e. some manually recounted, such as Broward, and some just what the machines read).

FWIW, Judge Lewis has stated that he was considering whether to order that all ballots be recounted, includng the overvotes.

Cheers,cmlfmsnq
 

brett:

"Jeb, Katharine Harris and the rest of those thugs down there pulled out all the stops to get it as close as they did. "

Sigh. Yes, Katherine Harris snuck into each of those polling places, and threw a switch on the voting machines...


No. She illegally purged many thousands of people from the voter rolls ... and then resisted all attempts to actually count all the ballots.

See here and here.

More links on the election here.

Cheers,
 

Brett reads the Constitution, Arne. Blacks are only 3/5 of a person.
 

Brett also thinks Jim Crow is the name of that pie he always has to eat around here.
 

Arne, you seem a bit confused about who does what in Florida elections. Here's a simple question:

Did Katherine Harris have the power to purge voters?

No, she had the power to send out an admittedly over-inclusive list of potentially ineligable voters. Here's how People for the American Way, no friend of Republicans, described the list:

"a list of more than 47,000 registered Florida voters who the Division thinks may be ineligible to vote because of felony convictions."

The word, "may" in your vocabulary? The list was not sent out as a list of names to purge, it was sent out as a list of names to check.

Now, some elections officials just purged them without checking. Some, a great many of them Democrats, just ignored the list, deliberately leaving people who really WERE ineligible registered.

It's an interestng question which factor predominated in 2000: People wrongly purged who might have voted for Gore, or people wrongly NOT purged, who DID vote for Gore.

Democrats seem to have little interest in the latter group...
 

brett:

Arne, you seem a bit confused about who does what in Florida elections. Here's a simple question:

Did Katherine Harris have the power to purge voters?


Yes and no. I'm not confused. I know what went on.

No, she had the power to send out an admittedly over-inclusive list of potentially ineligable voters.

Which she indicated should be used to pure the rolls. Trying to pretend she was just sending out fluff that could be ignored is simply dishonest.

... Here's how People for the American Way, no friend of Republicans, described the list:

"a list of more than 47,000 registered Florida voters who the Division thinks may be ineligible to vote because of felony convictions."


WTF does that quote have to do with the price of tea in Sri Lanka?

As Palast has discovered and reported, the list was woefully inaccurate, it was known to be inaccurate (and it was known who was likely to get inaccurately "purged"), and it was based on a false reading of Florida law (for one, people whose voting rights had been restored or hadn't been revoked in other states were eligible under Florida law, but the list included them anyway.

... The word, "may" in your vocabulary? The list was not sent out as a list of names to purge, it was sent out as a list of names to check.

Oh, bulltwaddly.

Now, some elections officials just purged them without checking....

How are they going to check it if the list says that someone should be purged (due to supposed loss of voting rights in other states, even though the purge list doesn't say why they're supposedly ineligible)?

.. Some, a great many of them Democrats, just ignored the list, deliberately leaving people who really WERE ineligible registered.

Your proof of this? As for people ignoring the list, if what you say is true, that it was just a "recommendation", and Harris had no power, then what's your beef here?

The people that igored the list saw that it was trash. At the very least, officials that ignored the trash were not committing a crime of commission, and causing problems themselves by using known faulty information to deny legitimate voters their rights. If that meant that perhaps some ineligible voters did get a chance to vote, so be it, but if someone who's ineligible to vote vites, that's their problem, and if they misrepresent themselves, it is they that should, and can, be held to account.

It's an interestng question which factor predominated in 2000: People wrongly purged who might have voted for Gore, or people wrongly NOT purged, who DID vote for Gore.

For moonbat Republican apologists, for whom evidence is optional and in fact best ignored when inconvenitent to the party line, perhaps. You have evidence for the latter, out with it.

Democrats seem to have little interest in the latter group...

And in flying pigs and LGMs on the moon.

Cheers,
 

It was reported in the Miami Herald, Arne.
 

Brett said...
It was reported in the Miami Herald, Arne.


So was the false assertion that Iraq had ties to al-Qaeda and posessed WMDs.

You must be a rocket scientist, huh?


On September 8, 2006, Miami Herald's president Jesús Díaz Jr. fired three journalists because they had allegedly been paid by the United States Government to work in anti-Cuba propaganda TV and radio channels. The three were Pablo Alfonso, Wilfredo Cancio Isla and Olga Connor. Less than a month later, and following the pressure of the Cuban community in Miami, Díaz resigned after reinstating the fired journalists. Nevertheless, he continues claiming that such payments, especially if coming from organisms of the state, violate the principles of journalistic independence. At least other 7 journalists that don't work at the Herald, namely Miguel Cossio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Juan Manuel Cao, Ariel Remos, Omar Claro, Helen Aguirre Ferre, Paul Crespo and Ninoska Perez-Castellón, were also paid for programs on Radio Martí or TV Martí, both financed by the government of the United States through the Broadcasting Board of Governors, receiving a total of between 15,000 and 175,000 USD since 2001.
 

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