Congress’s Complicity in the Imperial Presidency

The New York Times reports that the “Senate will investigate recent national security leaks to the news media after articles in The New York Times about a ‘kill list‘ for terrorists and the use of cyberweapons against Iran.”

Recent examples of the Obama administration’s overly broad use of Executive power have prompted talk about how Congress isn’t doing its job as a co-equal branch of government, one that provides checks to the authority and control of the president. Jeremy Scahill, in a discussion on MSNBC last weekend, said that “we have a dictatorship of the Executive Branch of government when it comes to foreign policy” and that “Congress is largely boxed out and also asleep at the wheel.”

And after successive, extremely public revelations about the Obama administration wielding inordinate power in the realm of foreign policy and national security, what does the Senate do? One would think, given their constitutional mandates, that they would launch an investigation into these unprecedented practices of extra-judicial executions, stripping of due process rights, aggressive cyber-terrorism, and borderless, unaccountable drone wars

Instead, they launch an investigation of the leaks that officials involved in the Executive overreach went to the press with. The moral and legal transgression that the Senate believes has been committed here is being too open with the American people about these king-like practices. Not, of course, that they are taking place. Far from being asleep at the wheel, Congress is complicit in the Imperial Presidency.