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Presidential power needs limits

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, December 30, 2005

"Unlimited Chief Executive authority" is the very antithesis and opposite of democracy. There can be no justification for it in a democracy. Never, no time, no way. A far more honest and accurate term for that is "dictatorship."

Allowing unlimited power to a president - any president - is a serious and grave danger to a democracy. Our current president seeks ever more power at the expense of rights and freedoms we have long taken for granted in our country. There is a pervasive and uneasy feeling of intimidation, and those who criticize the abuses of presidential power and our loss of freedoms are fiercely castigated as "unpatriotic" and far worse.

President Bush has abrogated to himself the right to redefine legality, and assigned to himself the absolute right to ignore laws, civil rights and common human decency, internationally and within our own country. He has shamed us and dragged our country's name through the mud. He is aided and abetted by a compliant majority who apparently sincerely believe they are acting in the interests of "national security." Many influential people publicly support the loss of our civil rights and freedoms as 'necessary in time of war.' How quickly we have succumbed to what surely seems to be more like a fascist mentality than anything else.

Americans are told that extraordinary measures are needed in war time. But, we must not forget who insisted upon the "preemptive" Iraqi war, and the belligerent flag-wrapped far right-wingers who vociferously supported that war from the very beginning. In fact, there is evidence to suggest an Iraqi war was strongly advocated - even planned - before President Bush took office. The United State was right to take the battle to Afghanistan and our real enemies - but Bush largely abandoned that fight to attack Iraq instead. No matter how odious the Saddam regime was, Iraq posed little threat to our country and had no part in the 9/11 attacks.

The neo-cons hold no mandate for their power grab, and can only do as much as our own citizens will allow them to do through our fear, and their intimidation and manipulation. Our country is vulnerable and in very real danger of losing our democracy under the excuse of "national security" today. Many, even in the president's own party seem to now be waking up to reality however. Perhaps we haven't quite descended into a complete dictatorship yet.

Erik Lie-Nielsen

Juneau



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