Obama's "Open Government" Deletes Top Proposal on "End Imperial Presidency"

By David Swanson

Is irony even the word for this? The president created a new online “open government” system in which people were free to brainstorm and vote proposals up or down. Far and away the leading proposal in the category of “Legal and Policy Challenges” as of the scheduled end of brainstorming was End Imperial Presidency. You can still find it, but it’s been removed from that category and from the list of all proposals. Unless you have the direct link to it, you cannot find it, and when you do you can no longer vote for it. It has a label at the top with a closed lock and the words “pending moderator approval.” When voting was scheduled to end on the 28th, this proposal was at the top in its category and ranked #3 over all.

Then the Open Government announced that it would keep the brainstorming open until June 19th and not begin Phase 2, involving discussion of the brainstormed ideas until June 3rd. So, voting continued, and “End Imperial Presidency” moved up to second place over all. And here we are on June 3rd, and the proposal has been removed from the running. I’m not sure if you call this irony, but I definitely wouldn’t call it Open Government. During the campaign, the top demand of Obama’s supporters on his website was that he keep his promise to oppose and filibuster immunity for telecom companies. During the presidential transition, the top question was whether Obama would allow the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor for Bush-Cheney. Both of those proposals were rejected. Now this one has been rejected as well.

In case it’s deleted from the “Open” Government, this was the proposal to end the imperial presidency:

Leave the White House less imperial than you found it. Appoint an independent prosecutor to prosecute Bush, Cheney, and their top officials in order to deter in the future the crimes of aggressive war, misleading congress, defrauding congress, misspending funds, war crimes, murder, warrantless spying, torture, domestic propaganda, violations of the Hatch Act and the Voting Rights Act, obstruction of justice, misprision of felony, retaliating against whistleblowers, etc. Restore to Congress the power to legislate, the power to begin and end wars, the power to raise and spend money, the power to approve or reject treaties and appointments, and the power to oversee the functioning of the federal government including through the power of impeachment and the power of inherent contempt. That means no more signing statements rewriting laws, and instead support for legislation that would criminalize such behavior. And it means similar action on each of the other offenses.

We, the people, must:

Demand that Congress ban the use of funds for any activities created in violation of the law by presidential signing statements.

Amend the Constitution to clearly ban the use of presidential pardons to pardon crimes authorized by the president.

Amend the War Powers Act and the Constition to include the requirement that Congressional authorizations of war include time limits of no more than 12 months, after which Congress must vote again to extend the war or end it, to disallow the unconstitutional initiation of wars without Congressional approval, and to make the law enforceable.

Make war profiteering by any war maker a major felony. This would apply to any employee of the federal government or anyone who had within the past decade been an employee of the federal government.

Legislate a requirement that, in any war, the military aged children and grandchildren of the president, the vice president, all cabinet officials, and all Congress members serve on the front lines in the most dangerous combat positions — no exceptions, no exemptions.

Prohibit the use of mercenaries or any armed contractors, as well as the use of any military force on American soil except when directly engaged in defensive war against a foreign nation.

Repeal the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, the Protect America Act, the original Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the PATRIOT Act.

Ban secret budgets, secret laws, and secret agencies.

Change the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster.

Create a task force to research whether the Senate has ever served any useful purpose not better served by the House.

End all rendition, as distinct from extradition.

Amend the Constitution to make the ban on ex-post-facto laws include any laws that would retroactively grant immunity for crimes.

Amend the Constitution to bar the vice president from exercising executive power.

Amend the Constitution to clarify the congressional power of inherent contempt.

Amend the Constitution to include the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted publicly at the polling place.

Give Washington, D.C., full voting representation in Congress.

Amend the Constitution to ban private financing of campaigns, create public financing, and provide free air time to candidates.

Sign and ratify the Rome treaty to join the International Criminal Court.


OPTIONAL PART 2 OF THIS PROPOSAL – Drafted and withheld at first, posted May 29th in response to useful comments from ttahiti and many others posted below.

Release more evidence, and support organizations suing in court for the release of evidence.

Ask Congress to update and reissue the subpoenas that were refused during the 110th Congress, and to enforce them through inherent contempt.

Support media reform and independent media outlets. Break up the monopolies. Invest in public media, including an E-Span election network to provide free substantive election coverage.

Advance a long-term vision in which the corrupting influences of money, media, and party are restrained, and our rights are restored, enforced, and expanded, including the right to vote and to have our votes counted publicly and locally, equal rights for all, environmental rights, the right to education and healthcare, worker rights, the right to basic welfare, freedom of press, freedom from war lies, and the right to know your rights.

Push for approval, ratification, and enforcement of international human rights treaties. Build toward Constitutional amendments or a convention with a plan to establish the right to know the laws and to have them applied equally, a ban on signing statements, whistleblowers protected, inherent contempt established, corporations stripped of human rights, monopolies restricted, clean campaign money and free media created, the power of parties reduced, nonpartisan (not bipartisan) redistricting, limiting election seasons, no more electoral college, a bigger House with no Senate, the right to be represented, no appointing of senators, limiting terms for judges, requiring a balanced budget, limiting bills to single topics and requiring clarity, allowing legislation by public initiative, allowing recall elections, creating citizen assemblies, and developing a fourth (people’s) branch of government.

Why Is This Idea Important?

Empires end and they can end happily by voluntarily reforming, or they can end miserably by refusing to.

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