Executive Powers Run Amok

(illustration: Harry Campbell / The New York Times)

By John Yoo / The New York Times
February 6, 2017

As an official in the Justice Department, I followed in Hamilton’s footsteps, advising that President George W. Bush could take vigorous, perhaps extreme, measures to protect the nation after the Sept. 11 attacks, including invading Afghanistan, opening the Guantánamo detention center and conducting military trials and enhanced interrogation of terrorist leaders. . . . But even I have grave concerns about Mr. Trump’s uses of presidential power.

Faced with President Trump’s executive orders suspending immigration from several Muslim nations and ordering the building of a border wall, and his threats to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, even Alexander Hamilton, our nation’s most ardent proponent of executive power, would be worried by now.

Article II of the Constitution vests the president with “the executive power,” but does not define it. Most of the Constitution instead limits that power, as with the president’s duty “to take care that the laws are faithfully executed,” or divides that power with Congress, as with making treaties or appointing Supreme Court justices.

Hamilton argued that good government and “energy in the executive” went hand in hand. In The Federalist No. 70, he wrote that the framers, to encourage “decision, activity, secrecy and dispatch,” entrusted the executive power in a unified branch headed by a single person, the president.

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How President Trump Could Seize More Power After a Terrorist Attack

Wall Street Hope Revived as Trump Plans to Roll Back Rules
(photo: Aude Guerrucci / Getty)

President Trump and his top White House aides have been obsessed with highlighting a threat that does not exist.

By Ryan Lizza / the New Yorker
February 7, 2017

“I do believe the world faces a serious and growing terrorist threat. But Trump, either by ignorance or malice, is distorting the nature of that threat by targeting very well-vetted immigrants, including legal permanent residents and refugees. He simply does not have a strong national-security case to make against these people, which is why it is reasonable to wonder if he has some ulterior motive for taking such extreme steps against them.”
— Evan McMullin, former C.I.A. officer and Republican who ran for President as an independent candidate against Trump

Since September 11, 2001, ninety-four people have been killed in the United States in ten attacks carried out by a total of twelve radical Islamist terrorists. Each of the attackers was either an American citizen or a legal resident. More than half of the ninety-four murders occurred last year, when Omar Mateen, who was born on Long Island, killed forty-nine people at a night club in Orlando.

According to the comprehensive terrorism database maintained by the New America Foundation, since 9/11 there have been three hundred and ninety-six people involved in American terrorism cases, which New America defines as “individuals who are charged with or died engaging in jihadist terrorism or related activities inside the United States, and Americans accused of such activity abroad.” Eighty-three per cent of these individuals were American citizens or permanent residents. (Seventeen per cent were non-residents or had an unknown status.)

And yet, for more than two weeks, President Donald Trump and his top White House aides have been obsessed with highlighting a threat that does not exist: jihadist refugees and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

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Trump Needs a Holy War

U.S. President Donald Trump walks through the White House on his way to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Jan 31, 2017. (photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

It’s an inconceivably scary thought that the Trump administration is simply winging it without a plan. But here’s the even scarier possibility — that there is, in fact, a plan.

By Bradley Burston / Haaretz Opinion
February 6, 2017

“We’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.”
— Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist

It’s an inconceivably scary thought that the Trump administration is simply winging it, breakneck, disrupting and detonating and taking America apart — and all of it without a plan.

But here’s the even scarier possibility — that there is, in fact, a plan.

A plan which would dramatically concentrate and expand Donald Trump’s power, inflame and mobilize his base, whip up and and leverage racism, Islamophobia and, at a later stage, if needed, anti-Semitism, in order to slough all shortcomings onto scapegoats.

He needs a war.

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U.N. Says Israeli Settlement Law Crosses “Thick Red Line”

Laborers work at a new housing project in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, Feb 7, 2017. (photo: Oded Balilty / AP)

The United Nations condemns a new Israeli law legalizing dozens of unlawful West Bank settler outposts on illegally appropriated Palestinian land.

By Josef Federman / AP News
February 7, 2017

Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N.’s coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said the legislation “opens the floodgates to the potential annexation of the West Bank.” . . . It also marked the first time that the Israeli parliament has imposed Israeli law on Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank. The area, captured by Israel in 1967, is not sovereign Israeli territory and Palestinians there are not Israeli citizens and do not have the right to vote.

The United Nations’ Mideast envoy on Tuesday said a new Israeli law legalizing dozens of unlawful West Bank settler outposts crossed a “very thick red line,” while Israeli rights groups said they would fight to overturn the measure in the Supreme Court.

The explosive law, approved by Israeli lawmakers late Monday night, was the latest in a series of pro-settler steps taken by Israel’s hard-line government since the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. It is expected to trigger a number of challenges in the Supreme Court, while members of the international community have already begun to condemn it.

The law legalized dozens of outposts home built unlawfully on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. According to the law, Palestinian landowners would be compensated either with money or alternative land, even if they did not agree to give up their property.

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An Apology to Muslims for President Trump

Outside a home in Avondale Estates, GA, on Monday. (photo: Erik S. Lesser / European Pressphoto Agency)

We Americans should now condemn our own extremist.

By Nicholas Kristof / The New York Times
February 2, 2017

My dream is of the day when Jews protest Islamophobia, Muslims denounce the persecution of Christians and Christians stand against anti-Semitism. That’s why I apologize to Muslims, and it’s why ALL of us, not just Muslims, should stand up to condemn extremism in our midst.

Whenever an extremist in the Muslim world does something crazy, people demand that moderate Muslims step forward to condemn the extremism. So let’s take our own advice: We Americans should now condemn our own extremist.

In that spirit, I hereby apologize to Muslims. The mindlessness and heartlessness of the travel ban should humiliate us, not you. Understand this: President Trump is not America!

I apologize to Nadia Murad, the brave young Yazidi woman from Iraq who was made a sex slave — but since escaping, has campaigned around the world against ISIS and sexual slavery. She has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, yet is now barred from the United States.

I apologize to Edna Adan, a heroic Somali woman who has battled for decades for women’s health and led the fight against female genital mutilation. Edna speaks at American universities, champions girls’ education and defies extremists — and she’s one of those inspiring me to do the same.

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Illinois Doctor’s Visa Cancelled

The passport of Dr. Amer Al Homssi, after U.S. officials prevented him from boarding a plane from Abu Dhabi to Chicago. (photo: The New Yorker)

On his way home from his wedding, an Illinois physician was prevented from boarding his flight and his visa was cancelled.

By Jennifer Gonnerman / The New Yorker
February 1, 2017

Editor’s note: Since this piece was published, Dr. Amer Al Homssi has been cleared to enter the U.S. On Wednesday evening, his lawyers said that he had boarded a flight in Abu Dhabi.

Early on Sunday morning, Dr. Amer Al Homssi walked into Abu Dhabi International Airport with a ticket for a 4 a.m. flight to Chicago. He had flown in from Chicago, eleven days earlier, to get married. Now Al Homssi, who is twenty-four and a resident in internal medicine, needed to get back to his job, at the University of Illinois College of Medicine/Advocate Christ Medical Center, in Oak Lawn, Illinois. When he arrived at the airport, he had an Illinois driver’s license and valid J-1 visa to work in the United States. But he was born in Syria and carries a Syrian passport. Al Homssi was not permitted to board the airplane.

A lawsuit, filed on his behalf in federal court in Illinois yesterday, states that, at the Etihad Airways counter, an airline representative noticed his Syrian passport and made a call. The representative checked his luggage, but told him to go to U.S. pre-clearance to receive approval to leave the country. At U.S. pre-clearance, a security officer “took his passport, his form DS-2019 (a supplementary document to his J-1 visa), and his boarding pass,” according to the complaint. “The officer took his fingerprints and then ordered him to a secondary security check room.”

There, another officer searched his phone, wallet, and luggage, and reviewed his school transcript and work contract. The officer asked a few questions, “but no questions about whether Dr. Al Homssi was affiliated in any way with a designated terrorist organization.” Finally, a third officer told Al Homssi that he was being refused entry because of President Trump’s executive order, which bars citizens of Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries for the next ninety days. Al Homssi was escorted out, allowed to get his luggage, and given his passport back. According to his lawsuit, “When Dr. Al Homssi looked at his passport, he noticed that the J-1 visa page had been marked diagonally with a fat black marker pen drawn through it, and in blue pen along that black mark, it was written: ‘Cancelled E.O. 59447v.8.’ ”

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Children Protesting Trump’s Immigration Ban

Meryem Yildirim, 7, left, sitting on the shoulders of her father, Fatih, and Adin Bendat-Appell, 9, sitting on the shoulders of his father, Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Apell, protesting President Donald Trump’s immigration and refugee order at O’Hare International Airport, Jan 30, 2017. (photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo / Chicago Tribune)

The story behind the viral photo of Muslim and Jewish children protesting at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

By Vikki Ortiz Healy / Chicago Tribune
February 1, 2017

“Our tradition is not ambiguous about remembering our history for the sake of acting out in this world today.”
— Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Apell

A Muslim and a Jewish father had never met before bringing their children to O’Hare International Airport Monday to join in a protest of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. But after a photograph showing their son and daughter interacting went viral, they decided to bring their families together next week for dinner to celebrate peace.

As of midday Tuesday, the photograph taken by Chicago Tribune photographer Nuccio DiNuzzo and shared on Twitter by @ChiTribPhoto had been retweeted by other Twitter users more than 16,000 times. The two fathers said they have fielded calls from friends, acquaintances and national news outlets wanting to hear their story.

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