Judiciary Hearing on Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations

Posted on by Jesse Lee

The Judiciary Committee is currently holding a hearing, “Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations.”

See the witness list >>

Watch the hearing live on C Span 1.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties gives opening remarks:

Rep. Nadler: “I had the misfortune to be here during the investigation and impeachment of President Clinton, who at worst lied about an affair. It had to be one of the most demeaning and prurient circuses too which I have ever been subjected. In this case, we are involved with far more serious allegations, allegations including violation of the anti-torture laws of the country, violations of the FISA laws and criminal prohibition agagainst warrantless wiretapping, illegal detentions, political interference with prosecutions, and a host of other serious illegal and possibly criminal acts, which by many definitions would be classified as high crimes and misdemeanors. I think it is vital that we look into these questions…”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10) testifies:

Rep. Kucinich: “The primary justification for going to war outlined in the legislation that the White House sent to Congress in October of 2002 have been determined conclusively to be untrue. Iraq was not continuing to threaten the national security interests of the United States. Iraq was not continuing to possess and to develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability. Iraq was not actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability. Iraq did not have the willingness to attack the United States. Iraq had not demonstrated the capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction…”

Rep. Walter Jones (NC-03) testifies:

Rep. Jones: “President George W. Bush has issued at least 152 signing statements, 118 of these have contained over 800 Constitutional challenges or objections. According to the American Bar Association, and I quote, ‘from the inception of the Republic until the year 2000, presidents have produced signing statements containing fewer than 600 challenges to bills they signed.’ That tells a great deal. I continue: Because future presidents are likely to continue this practice, Congress should act now to pass legislation to ensure proper understanding and disclosure of these signing statements.”

Rep. Brad Miller (NC-13) testifies:

Rep. Miller: “The Bush Administration’s insistence on acting in secret is more dangerous and more sinister than just an extravagantly ambitious claim to executive-branch powers. Control of information stifles dissent. It insulates the administration from challenge, either by Congress or critics. Control of information is incompatible with democracy. Informed criticism is the stuff of democracy. Democracy dies behind closed doors. It is Congress’s duty to throw the doors open and keep them open in future administrations, Democratic and Republican alike.”

Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr testifies:

Bob Barr: “But ranking near the bottom is the Department of Justice. Nearly four times as many Americans would sooner place their trust in the US Postal Service than the Department of Justice. That should concern all of us as Americans, and certainly all Members of the Judiciary Committee, regardless of which side of the aisle they sit on. And I think points to the very valid reason for the Chair convening this hearing today, which hopefully will be the first of many inquiring into and following on the earlier work of this committee to get to the bottom of what appear to be, certainly, problematic uses of Executive power that do great detriment, great harm, to the fundamental institutions of our government…”

Bruce Fein, former Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan, testifies:

Bruce Fein: “He decided he would flout the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which placed limits, very modest ones, on the ability to collect foreign intelligence because after 40 years of disclosed abuses by the Church Committee and other committees of this Congress. He also claimed not only could he violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but any limitation in his view, any limitation on his ability to gather foreign intelligence was unconstitutional. Thus, he could kidnap, detain in secret prisons, in violation of limitations saying ‘I’m gathering foreign intelligence,’ he could open mail, he could burgalarize homes. All in the name of gathering foreign intelligence, a frightening power. And he has not renounced that to this day. He has also asserted the right to shield what he has done from review and oversight by this body.”
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