The Real Agenda
By Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor, Slate
It sounds counterintuitive, but I think the president is thinking that he may have lost the battle but he’s won the war. The battle being the short-term fight in Iraq and maybe some political capital. The war being the endgame: enshrining a radical new vision of the scope of executive power. The president may be unpopular. His war may be a disaster. But in pursuing that war, he’s expanded presidential authority almost beyond recognition. The prison at Guantánamo may be futile, but he’s won the right to operate it. Abusive interrogation may yield no useful information, but he’s seized the right to do it. Warrantless eavesdropping may not catch terrorists, but he’s staked out the power to order it. If securing such power was always the endgame of this administration, the war in Iraq is nothing but a speed bump. And putting two justices on the Supreme Court who appear willing to sign off on an imperial presidency is the cherry on top.