“BARACK OBAMA is really the President Richard Nixon always wanted to be. He’s been allowed to act unilaterally in a way that we fought for so many decades.”
So said George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley on the Fox News Channel’s Hannity program Tuesday night. Turley is no Clarence Thomas conservative. He is a liberal, yet one who believes that government should obey the rule of law. That law is, supremely, the United States Constitution.
Turley is disturbed that Obama repeatedly speeds past federal law (narrowly) and the constitutional separation of powers (broadly), as he drives his agenda. This is frightfully clear, yet again, in the rapidly exploding controversy surrounding the Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl/Taliban-high-command swap.
“Even though one could agree with many of the policies — as I do — that this administration holds, the means that it is selecting are very troubling,” Turley lamented. “The President, once again, has said that he simply chose not to comply with federal law.”
Turley referred to Obama’s violation of Section 1035(d) of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act — a federal statute that Obama signed. This law requires Obama to give Congress 30 days’ notice before releasing anyone from Guantanamo. Obama argues that he emancipated the “Taliban Dream Team” — as Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C. calls them — due to Bergdahl’s declining health. The 28-year-old soldier, however, departed Afghanistan in apparently decent shape and arrived at America’s military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany in “stable condition.”
Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the Intelligence Committee’s top Republican, challenges Obama’s medical-emergency justification for this rushed exchange. “We have asked that question,” Chambliss said. “There has not been even the weakest case made, in my opinion, that he was suffering from a health standpoint to the degree to which a decision had to be made immediately.”
Furthermore, Team Obama claims, the administration has conferred with Congress about this potential trade for three years.
Bipartisan legislators disagree.
“It comes with some surprise and dismay that the transfers went ahead with no consultation, totally not following the law,” Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein, D–Calif., told journalists Tuesday. Indeed, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken phoned Feinstein to apologize for keeping her in the dark.
“I haven’t had a conversation with the White House on this issue in a year and a half,” said the visibly irritated Chambliss. “If that’s keeping us in the loop, then this administration is more arrogant than I thought they were.”
“What’s emerging is an imperial presidency, an über presidency, where the President can act unilaterally,” Professor Turley added. Obama “told Congress he would go it alone. In our system, you’re not allowed to go it alone.”
This latest offense in Obama’s widening crime spree has become a major, self-inflicted, domestic-policy headache for the White House. Meanwhile, the Bergdahl affair also is intensifying as a national-security migraine.
Obama promises that Americans have no reason to fear the liberation of these five top-level terrorists, whose return the Taliban specifically demanded. Their freedom “was conditioned on the Qataris keeping eyes on them and creating structure in which we can monitor their activities,” Obama declared Monday at a Warsaw press conference. “Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely.”
So far, the Qataris seem much more like cruise directors than wardens. The members of “Mullah Omar’s Board of Directors,” as Chambliss calls them, reportedly are living with their families in government-sponsored luxury villas in Doha.
“They are free to move around the country,” a senior Gulf official said Tuesday. “No U.S. officials will be involved in monitoring their movement.”
“Under the deal, they have to stay in Qatar for a year, and then they will be allowed to travel outside the country,” the unidentified Gulf leader told Reuters. “They can go back to Afghanistan if they want to.”
So, we’ve got that going for us.
Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.