During an interview last Friday on PBS with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) host Bill Moyers asked Feingold what he wanted from the upcoming Obama administration. “I would like the new president to do exactly what he said he’s going to do,” Feingold said, such as bringing the country together, ending the Iraq war and closing Guantanamo.
Feingold also told Moyers that in his inaugural address, Obama should “renounce the extreme claims of executive power”:
FEINGOLD: Well, of course, the new president, minutes after he’s sworn in, in this wonderful moment — it will be cold out there. It will be short speech. But included in the speech, I would hope, would be some attempt by this new, wonderful president to renounce the extreme claims of executive power. To simply renounce these claims that were made by the Bush administration.
Indeed, since his election as president, Obama has reiterated his promises to close Guantanamo and end the Iraq war. But in a Daily Kos diary published one day after his interview with Moyers, Feingold expounded on why Obama needs to the condemn Bush’s abuses of executive power as soon as he takes office:
[F]ailing to act swiftly to reverse the damage could essentially legitimize that conduct and the extreme legal theories on which it was based. That is why it is critically important for President-elect Obama to unequivocally renounce President Bush’s extreme claims of executive authority. As I mentioned in the interview yesterday, stating this position clearly in the inaugural address would affirm to the nation, and the world, that respect for the rule of law has returned to the Oval Office.
In a speech on the Senate floor last September, Feingold outlined a series of expert recommendations “on what should be done to restore the rule of law” that focus on four key areas: “[T]he separation of powers among the branches, government secrecy, detention and interrogation policy, and protecting the privacy of law-abiding Americans.”
“I am hopeful that with the election of Barack Obama, the assault on our Constitution will end,” Feingold said.