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War presidency as limited-term dictatorship.

According to Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, "Our big wars--and the war on terrorism ranks with the big ones--have a way of starting in the first year of a decade. Supreme Courts, which historically have been loath to intervene against presidential war powers in the midst of conflict, have tended to give the president until mid-decade to do what he wishes to the Constitution in order to win the war." (Emphasis added.)

By this reasoning, once a "state of war" exists--whether or not Congress has actually declared war--it is customary to permit the president a five-year period during which he is essentially an elected dictator.

To justify this assumption, Krauthammer invoked the familiar precedents of Lincoln suspending habeas corpus and "trashing the Bill of Rights," and FDR's summary imprisonment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Both of those wars were ended during what Krauthammer considers the customary five-year limit for wartime dictatorship. But the "war on terror" will continue indefinitely, he adds, meaning that the only rational course, as he sees it, is to promote unrestrained presidential power in perpetuity.
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Publication:The New American
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 7, 2006
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