CommunityFDL Main Blog

It’s Carrot Time…


Lately, David Broder has gotten some flack for some condescending comments about bloggers and other out-of-touch sentiments in recent columns.  But I am a firm believer in giving credit where it is due.

Today, David Broder writes a fantastic op-ed column in the WaPo about the Hamdan decision, and its ripples out into the need for oversight by Congress on a variety of issues, that is spot on — and I wanted to take a little time to pass out some carrots to the Dean of Washington journalists.  Broder writes:

…Once again the chief executive had to be reminded that he is not above the law. No more than the security threats Nixon invented to justify his rogue police state operations will the war on terrorism relieve the president of the burden imposed by the Constitution to "faithfully execute the laws." He can’t just make them up to suit his convenience.

For anyone who was worried that the United States was in danger of losing its precious freedoms as it mobilized to combat the threat of Islamic terrorism, the Stevens opinion was the best possible Independence Day gift….

I am delighted that Republican congressional leaders say they hope to turn the ruling to their advantage by engaging the Democrats in a lively debate about the president’s counterterrorism strategy. That debate is long overdue. In the first reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress gave Bush broadly worded authority to protect the country and strike back at the terrorists. After that it paid little attention for the next four years to the way that authority was being used — and how the administration assumed additional powers.

Amen. It is well past time for the Congress of the United States to stand up and do its duty under the Constitution and to uphold the rule of law.  And it is high time that the Democratic Party, as well as any principled members of the Republican Party who value their nation’s honor over a short-term power grab, stood up and said, "Enough!"

Broder refers to the July 3, 2006, issue of the New Yorker, in which Jane Mayer’s article about Dick Cheney, David Addington and their "unitary executive" machinations are detailed.  I’m working on something more about this for tomorrow, I hope, but suffice it to say the article is exceptionally well done and researched, and so infuriating that I threw the magazine across the room yesterday while I was trying to read it and take notes. 

But back to David Broder, who further says that:

As Stevens put it, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the Guantanamo detainee, may be "a dangerous individual whose beliefs, if acted upon, would cause great harm and even death to innocent civilians . . . but in undertaking to try Hamdan and subject him to criminal prosecution, the executive is bound to comply with the rule of law that prevails in this jurisdiction."

There is no reason for Democrats in Congress to fear the coming debate. They need not feel embarrassed about affirming that Stevens’s decision is correct and finding ways to legislate the needed rules for handling these detainees. Far from being defensive, Democrats could challenge the Republican majority to take the opportunity to examine all that Bush is doing — or not doing — to counter al-Qaeda and other threats to national security.

Congress is coming late to this task, but it is not too late to make our laws and our practices conform to the Constitution. And to remind this president that the law applies to him, too.  (emphasis mine)

The fact that any of this needed to be said at all is beyond appalling when, after all, these elected representatives all swear an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution in the performance of their duties. But it did need saying, and I am thankful today that David Broder laid it out in such plain and unambigious terms.

So, I’d like it if everyone could take a moment to send a thank you note to David Broder. He’s earned it, and is likely hearing nasty invectives about his patriotism (or lack thereof) from angry wingnuts. He oughtn’t just hear invective — especially when he’s penned such a needed patriotic missive that might — just might — get through a few thick-skulled Democrats who need a boost to their spines. Broder can be reached at

(Hat tip to reader lotus for bringing this one to my attention earlier.)

Previous post

Ned on Air America Heads Up

Next post

NY State Court of Appeals punts on SSM

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com