From today’s Presidential Press Conference:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I wonder if you can tell us today, sir, what, if any, limits you believe there are or should be on the powers of a President during a war, at wartime? And if the global war on terror is going to last for decades, as has been forecast, does that mean that we’re going to see, therefore, a more or less permanent expansion of the unchecked power of the executive in American society?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I disagree with your assertion of “unchecked power.”
Q Well —
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on a second, please. There is the check of people being sworn to uphold the law, for starters. There is oversight. We’re talking to Congress all the time, and on this program, to suggest there’s unchecked power is not listening to what I’m telling you. I’m telling you, we have briefed the United States Congress on this program a dozen times.
This is an awesome responsibility to make decisions on behalf of the American people, and I understand that, Peter. And we’ll continue to work with the Congress, as well as people within our own administration, to constantly monitor programs such as the one I described to you, to make sure that we’re protecting the civil liberties of the United States. To say “unchecked power” basically is ascribing some kind of dictatorial position to the President, which I strongly reject.
Q What limits do you —
THE PRESIDENT: I just described limits on this particular program, Peter. And that’s what’s important for the American people to understand. I am doing what you expect me to do, and at the same time, safeguarding the civil liberties of the country.
(resisting the urge to correct “The President” to “El Shrubbito”)
John on AMERICAblog summarizes it nicely:
Q: Are there any limits on the power of a president during war time. And if the war on terror will last for decades does that mean we’re going to see a permanent expansion of the unchecked power of the executive during wartime.
A: I disagree with the phrase unchecked power. blah blah blah. I am not a dictator. [paraphrase]
[THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES JUST HAD TO DENY BEING A DICTATOR]