HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

October 8, 2007
Charlie Savage to Discuss New Book

Jeffrey Demers


The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage, 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner for national reporting, raises critical issues for Americans to ponder in his new book, Takeover: The Return of The Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.

In preparing for a forthcoming interview with Mr. Savage to be aired via Comcast and World Radio Network, Lawrence Velvel, Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, will ask Savage questions he believes should concern every American that cares about how this nation is being transformed from a democracy to an autocracy.

Velvel says he believes Savage's book will be regarded by future historians as the Bible of how the Bush regime usurped power and created a constitutional crisis as deep and divisive as that brought on by the Viet Nam war. Here are questions Velvel will put to Mr. Savage:

  • Describe the use of the Espionage Act to threaten investigative reporters, an idea attributed to Vice President Richard Cheney.

  • Explain how the Solicitor General lied to the Supreme Court about not mistreating prisoners on the very day that the first leaked pictures from Abu Ghraib were broadcast.

  • Explain how the Executive used 9/11 to vastly increase the scope of secrecy, including closed hearings, and for seizing thousands of people to be held incommunicado.

  • Explain how the Executive began withholding documents under FOIA, and how Cheney and the first President Bush benefited.

  • Explain how President Bush unilaterally decided to pull out of the ABM treaty even though treaties are the supreme law of the land.

  • Describe the Administration's claim, and its consequent action in the Padilla case, that it can summarily imprison an American citizen and hold him indefinitely.

  • Explain the use of signing statements by past presidents and their escalation by President Bush, who has used them 150 times to say he is not bound by Congressional oversight requirements.

  • When the bureaucracy follows the direction of the President's signing statements doesn't it make them as guilty as Bush in not following the laws of Congress?

  • Discuss the duck hunting trip and the subsequent Supreme Court decision under which not even a judge can view documents the executive claims must be kept secret.

  • Describe the development of the theory of the unitary executive and the marriage of this idea with the theory of inherent executive power. Explain the counter theory of overlapping powers.

  • Explain the judicially approved secrecy regarding Cheney's energy task force and the relationship to Hillary Clinton's medical plan task force.

  • Explain how the Executive used 9/11 to vastly increase the scope of secrecy, including closed hearings, and for seizing thousands of people to be held incommunicado.

  • Explain how the Executive began withholding documents under FOIA, and how Cheney and the first President Bush benefited.

  • Describe the creation of new categories of restricted information, with thousands of bureaucrats having the power to put information off limits, the cutting off of information that formerly had been available as a matter of course, and of the serious harassment of whistle-blowers.

  • Explain how the Administration emasculated the GAO's ability to be a watchdog, and the FBI's vastly increased use of warrantless searches.

  • Explain the way in which (1) Cheney "briefed" committee chairs and ranking members like Senator Jay Rockefeller, and that it was a crime for them to discuss the relevant matters with anybody; (2) how bureaucrats' reports were altered and how they were barred from telling Congress the truth; and (3) how legislators were forbidding from discussing secret bills.

  • Explain that secret memo from John Yoo that stated, because the whole U.S. is a battlefield, the Commander-in-Chief can wiretap domestically without warrants and Congress can't stop him.

  • Discuss the huge increase in classified and other secret documents, and how Cheney received authority to classify and declassify such documents "on the spot," selectively, and for purely political purposes as in the Plame Wilson affair, rather than having to follow procedures.

  • Describe the Executive's use of the state secrets privilege ---nowhere provided for in the Constitution --- to prevent scrutiny of its actions.

  • Explain how our actions to torture and mistreat people stem from what the North Koreans and Chinese Communists did to force people to lose touch with reality and thus falsely confess to things that aren't true but that torturers wanted them to say, rather than to obtain truths prisoners are seeking to hide.

  • Chief Justice Roberts recused himself when the case he unethically sat on went to the Supreme Court after his appointment but now there are other cases raising the same or similar problems of extraordinary, counter-constitutional Presidential power. Comment?

  • Elaborate on ways in which, under the unitary executive theory, Bush, Cheney & Co. have sought to impose control on civil rights attorneys, government scientists, regulators and military lawyers.

Lawrence Velvel is dean and cofounder of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, the only law school in America purposefully dedicated to providing an affordable, quality education to minorities, immigrants, and students from modest economic circumstances.

Dean Velvel's interview with Charlie Savage will be aired in a variety of formats. On television, the Comcast CN8 network will distribute it throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic States under the title, Books of Our Time.

Advanced DVD copies of the interview will be available from Jeff Demers by writing to mdemers@mslaw.ed.

Shortly after airing, the video will be available online in its entirety at http://video.google.com.

As a radio program, the interview will also be aired as an installment of the program What the Media Doesn't Tell You with Larry Velvel. This programis available on affiliate AM/FM stations and satellite outlets in the United States and Europe.

To listen online visit MSL's own internet radio station at http://tinyurl.com/2vtdk2.

The podcast form is available at http://velvelonmedia.libsyn.com.

Direct downloads are available at http://mslawradio.com.


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