Posted: December 28, 2013 Filed under: Emergency Presidential Power, Presidency, War on Terror | Tags: Chris Edelson, CSPAN, Obama administration, Syria, United States Constitution, War on Terror, War Powers Resolution, Washington Journal
Professor Chris Edelson will be LIVE on C-SPAN on Thursday morning, Jan 2 from 8:30-9:15am talking about his book, Emergency Presidential Power: From the Drafting of the Constitution to the War on Terror, on the show Washington Journal. Listeners are invited to call in to ask questions or make comments on the Democrat/Republican/Independent phone lines – please call in if you have a question you could ask about the book or want to offer something relevant in the news recently he could comment on as it relates to the book.
Posted: October 29, 2013 Filed under: Constitution, Emergency Presidential Power, Presidency | Tags: Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, Chris Edelson, Emergency Presidential Power, Government, Harry Truman, Los Angeles Times, New York City, Obama administration, United States, United States Constitution, War on Terror
From the American University website:
The framers of the U.S. Constitution gave Congress the job of declaring war, but also gave the president the power to take emergency action independent of Congress if the country was suddenly attacked.
While intended to provide the Commander in Chief a way to swiftly respond to security threats, a new book by Chris Edelson, assistant professor of government in American University’s School of Public Affairs, shows through historic records that U.S. presidents have tested, pushed, and increasingly overstepped the limits of their emergency powers, particularly in the post-9/11 era.
Edelson had the idea for the book, published this month by the University of Wisconsin Press, when he created his new class “The Constitution, National Security and the War on Terror,” and discovered no textbook existed on the topic. The resulting work, Emergency Presidential Power: From the Drafting of the Constitution to the War on Terror, draws from excerpts of the Constitution, Supreme Court opinions, Department of Justice memos, and other primary documents.
Edelson’s research has been an important contribution to the national dialogue on presidential power, with interviews and opinion pieces recently published in the Los Angeles Times and other notable news media outlets.
An Interest Sparked
Edelson says the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks sparked his interest in wartime use of presidential power.
“Living in New York City, I was personally affected by what happened that day, and concerned about how the government would respond,” says Edelson, who practiced law in New York City and Washington, D.C., and served as state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign. “Like many people, I was worried about the safety of our country.”
That concern eventually turned to skepticism, as Edelson saw the government invoke national security in questionable ways: waterboarding of terrorist suspects, torture at Guantánamo Bay, and the National Security Administration’s (NSA) mass phone and electronic surveillance. More recently, Edelson says President Obama’s military strikes against Libya and threats of force in Syria creep outside the Commander in Chief’s duties to protect the country.
Lincoln and Truman Did It
But Edelson says there is nothing new about pushing the limits of executive power. Abraham Lincoln, for example, suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War, but ultimately secured Congressional authorization to do so.
President Harry S. Truman ordered the Secretary of Commerce to seize and operate the country’s steel mills to produce weapons during the Korean War—a move the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional.
War on Terror Changed Everything
Congress in the post-9/11 era isn’t pushing back on executive power as much as it should, says Edelson, and presidents aren’t necessarily seeking approval from Congress when they decide to act. The War on Terror further complicates this as it has no clear end and no clear target, making it harder to define the parameters of the president’s emergency powers.
“After 9/11, Americans became afraid and have looked to the president to defend the nation,” Edelson says. “In this regard, a lot of people think it is actually dangerous to set limits on the president’s power.”
In his next book, Grand Illusion: Presidential Power and the Rule of Law under President Obama, Edelson will probe President Obama’s use of power.
Posted: September 18, 2013 Filed under: Emergency Presidential Power, War on Terror | Tags: Barack Obama, Chris Edelson, Louis Fisher, September 11 attacks, Terrorism, United States, United States Constitution, War on Terror
You can pre-order your copy now of Chris Edelson’s upcoming book – Emergency Presidential Power: From the Drafting of the Constitution to the War on Terror – due out in Nov 2013. With Forward by Louis Fisher. Available for pre-order now on Amazon.
From the book jacket…
Can a U.S. president decide to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely without charges or secretly monitor telephone conversations and e-mails without a warrant in the interest of national security? Was the George W. Bush administration justified in authorizing waterboarding? Was President Obama justified in ordering the killing, without trial or hearing, of a U.S. citizen suspected of terrorist activity? Defining the scope and limits of emergency presidential power might seem easy—just turn to Article II of the Constitution. But as Chris Edelson shows, the reality is complicated. In times of crisis, presidents have frequently staked out claims to broad national security power. Ultimately it is up to the Congress, the courts, and the people to decide whether presidents are acting appropriately or have gone too far.
Drawing on excerpts from the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court opinions, Department of Justice memos, and other primary documents, Edelson weighs the various arguments that presidents have used to justify the expansive use of executive power in times of crisis. Emergency Presidential Power uses the historical record to evaluate and analyze presidential actions before and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The choices of the twenty-first century, Edelson concludes, have pushed the boundaries of emergency presidential power in ways that may provide dangerous precedents for current and future commanders-in-chief.
Available for pre-order now.
Posted: September 10, 2013 Filed under: Emergency Presidential Power, Syria | Tags: Barack Obama, Chris Edelson, History, Military, Syria, United States, United States Congress, War Powers Resolution
Prof. Chris Edelson appeared on Sinclair television affiliates last night again. Check out the video for some compelling sound bites like “even the war powers resolution which says the president can use military force if the US is attacked or directly threatened – does not apply in this case, even if it’s been used in the past.”
Posted: September 6, 2013 Filed under: Syria, Uncategorized | Tags: Barack Obama, Bashar al-Assad, Chemical weapon, Chris Edelson, John Kerry, Middle East, Obama administration, Syria, United States, United States Congress
Thanks Paul Whitefield at LA Times for recommending Chris Edelson’s Op-Ed on Syria. To read Paul’s fill piece visit here – or see excerpt below:
OK, John Kerry, you convinced me: Let’s go bomb Syria! Just kidding.
Like many Americans, I have serious reservations about this country getting involved in that country’s nasty civil war.
Still, the sight of the secretary of State addressing senators about the Syrian crisis and taking questions Tuesday was, well, a sight for sore eyes. It’s about time that Congress took seriously the power invested in it by the Constitution to take this nation to war.
As American University professor Chris Edelson put it so well in his Aug. 30 op-ed in The Times,“Obama and the power to go to war”:
The president needs congressional authorization for a military attack that is not related to an actual or imminent threat to the United States. What is happening in Syria is an ongoing atrocity. Tens of thousands of people have been killed — some, it appears, by the Bashar Assad government’s use of chemical weapons. This is a moral outrage. But it is not a direct threat to the United States, and the Obama administration does not suggest otherwise.
And that sums it up pretty neatly. Americans don’t care for Assad; they certainly don’t accept the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians. But they also don’t see how this poses a direct threat to our security. And after Iraq, and Afghanistan (and let’s not forget Somalia, and the Balkans, and heck, even Lebanon in the 1980s), well, let’s just say that being the world’s policeman is getting old.