The Corner

Limiting Executive Power

Andrew Cohen finds fault with Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R, Pa.) lengthy essay in the New York Review of Books on limiting executive power. Cohen believes that Specter is trying to have it both ways, writing his long article about how dangerous Bush had been as an executive power-grabber, and at the same time opposing a commission investigating torture allegations against the Bush administration.

[H]ow exactly does [Specter] reconcile his meat-and-potatoes opposition to a “torture commission” with his statement in the Review that his experiences with the Bush Administration “have crystallized for me the need for Congress and the courts to reassert themselves in our system of checks and balances”?

He writes of the need for “vigorous congressional oversight of the executive branch” but never explains how blocking a bipartisan torture investigation would accomplish that function. Is he arguing that Congressional oversight should only always look forward and not back? If that’s the case how in the world would the legislators ever offer a rejoinder to executive branch overreaching?

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