52 Political Quotes of Benjamin Wittes

” If Trump wants to corruptly direct the conduct of an investigation in order to out an FBI source who was helping our government investigate Russian interference in our electoral processes, well, Article II of the Constitution begins with these terrifying words: ‘The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.’ “
” Eric Holder is a decent man. “
” When it comes to letting kids out into dark alleys, we understand that they have things to steal. We need to understand that in online life, too. “
” June 10, 2002, the day John Ashcroft announced the arrest of Jose Padilla, marked a low point in Ashcroft’s career as Attorney General. “
” If the ‘enemy combatant’ cases of Padilla and Hamdi present a clash between liberty and security, each side champions one while giving short shrift to the other. “
” How exactly the obstruction-of-justice statutes interact with the president’s broad powers to supervise the executive branch under Article II of the Constitution is a genuinely difficult question. “
” There is no doubt in my mind that Article II limits to a considerable degree the application of the obstruction statutes to the president when he is acting in his capacity as chief law-enforcement officer of the country. “
” I don’t doubt that there are many presidential acts that would constitute obstructions of justice if anyone but the president engaged in them but which constitute legitimate exercises of presidential power when the president engages in them. “
” The nature of constitutional delegations of power is that they entitle the empowered official to do certain things that other people can’t do. “
” I normally try to ignore presidential tweets. “
” The idea that the president doesn’t interfere in law-enforcement investigative matters is one of our deep normative expectations of the modern presidency. But it is not a matter of law. Legally, if the president of the United States wants to direct the specific conduct of investigations, that is his constitutional prerogative. “
” The notion of law enforcement as professional, not political, began developing as an aspiration and an ethos even while, in practice, the FBI was the personal fiefdom of J. Edgar Hoover. “
” For those who support same-sex marriage – and I support it without reservation – the ideal of equality and the belief in the dignity of same-sex relationships necessarily makes the issue seem a great deal like the civil-rights struggles of the past. “
” Conservatives complain that the Supreme Court is too liberal. Liberals complain that it’s too conservative. Both charges are inaccurate: in reality the Court is a careful political actor that arguably represents the center of gravity of American politics better than most politicians do. “
” In general, liberals fear conservative judges far too much. In almost all areas, in fact, they dramatically overstate the stakes. “
” The foundations of modern civil-rights law are exceptionally secure. Conservative judges nibble around the edges sometimes, and people still debate the constitutionality of affirmative-action programs. But almost no one seriously argues about the basic meaning or legitimacy of core civil-rights protections. “
” Although environmental groups sometimes raise issues in the confirmation process, environmental protection is not central to the fear-mongering of the liberal interest groups that oppose conservative judges. But the threat to basic environmental protections from conservative jurisprudence is broad-based and severe. “
” Liberals have been overselling the threat to reproductive rights for decades. “
” I generally favor permissive abortion laws. “
” A generation of women has grown up thinking of reproductive freedom as a constitutional right, and the Court should not casually take away rights that it has determined the Constitution guarantees. “
” Stability in law – particularly constitutional law – is critically important; the Supreme Court would do well to remember that. “
” One effect of Roe was to mobilize a permanent constituency for criminalizing abortion – a constituency that has driven much of the southern realignment toward conservatism. “
” The core constituency that Republicans must satisfy in high court nominations is the party’s social conservative base, which fundamentally cares about issues, not diversity, and has accepted white men who practice the judging it admires. “
” Full disclosure: James Comey is a friend. I won’t pretend to neutrality about him. He is a highly honorable and decent person, and I have no doubt that he made the many judgments for which people loathe him in good faith. “
” In the world of President Trump, we really want people who aren’t going to lie. We want people who can sit in front of a congressional committee for hours and, however mad they may make us, never give us reason to doubt that they are telling the truth as they see it. “
” In a way I never did with George W. Bush or Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, I will write about the actions of the Trump presidency with the working assumption that our nation must be protected both by and from the president. “
” I’m an unabashed apologist for strong national-security authority. That’s why I might be more alarmed by Trump. “
” If you believe, as I do, that the scope and range of presidential authority is great, that puts a lot of weight on the civic virtue and decency of the individual who holds the office. “
” President Obama’s decision not to go to Congress for help in establishing reasonable standards for the continued detention of Guantanamo detainees is a failure of leadership in the project of putting American law on a sound basis for a long-term confrontation with terrorism. It is bad for the country, for national security, and for civil liberties. “
” To get a FISA warrant to spy on a suspected spy, the feds go before a super-secret court located in a sealed room in the Department of Justice. With no defense lawyers present, they need only show probable cause that the target is an ‘agent of a foreign power’ engaged in intelligence gathering against the United States. “
” The reason the FISA standard is constitutional is that the government is supposed to use FISA surveillance not for criminal investigations but for counterintelligence probes pursued under the president’s authority to conduct foreign policy. “
” Broadly speaking, the problems with the Espionage Act are that it is hopelessly broad. And we tend to use the Espionage Act – we think about the Espionage Act as forbidding disclosures of classified information. That’s not really what the statute says. What the statute talks about is information related to the national defense. “
” I understand that a lot of people who use phrases like #resistance have found my work valuable. But my job is to look at difficult problems of national security in ways that may be useful to policymakers and the public. “
” The nature of the job of attorney general has changed – irrevocably. And we should never again have an attorney general, of either party, capable of expressing surprise at the role that national security issues now play in the life of the Justice Department or in the role of its chief. “
” We should never again have an attorney general capable of saying virtually nothing as the law of major intelligence programs and the integrity of his department’s work in overseeing these programs are assailed over a protracted period of time. “
” We should stop thinking of Snowden, to the extent that we ever were, as a hero. We should stop thinking of him as a whistleblower. “
” In 1999 and 2000, when I was a young editorial writer at the ‘Post’, the ‘Post’ won the public service medal two years running. “
” Good intelligence analysis, after all, is all about discrimination between what’s important and what’s not. “
” National security is not just things that go boom. It is not just terrorists and foreign adversaries. “
” It is possible for great nations to rot from within. “
” Reasonable people can disagree about the authorities the NSA should have, when it’s appropriate for the CIA to use drone strikes, and how assertive U.S. foreign policy and intelligence should be. “
” It’s hardly a news flash that a secret, clandestine intelligence agency might resist giving out information about its operations when not not legally required to do so. “
” Sometimes, the intelligence community does legal collection against a legitimate foreign intelligence target and that target interacts with U.S. persons, against whom our people thus end up collecting information as a collateral matter. “
” I have fiercely criticized both the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies and the Obama administration’s – and fiercely defended both as well. “
” Government lawyers, like private ones, face the problem routinely of aiding in the defense and development of positions in whose correctness they don’t believe. “
” The concept of war is not the construct that will govern – psychologically, politically, and legally – our continuing response to Al Qaeda. “
” I’m a rationalist and a skeptic, someone who safely separates faith from reason. “
” Drosnin’s ‘The Bible Code’ would hardly be worth mentioning were it not such a smash hit. “
” In any long string of letters, one can find countless anomalies that will seem like convincing proofs of hidden meaning to the mind that wants to believe that the text is somehow special. Numerological tricks, for example, can demonstrate that William Shakespeare wrote the ‘King James Bible.’ “
” Once upon a time, science, philosophy, and theology were disciplines largely undifferentiated from one another, and proving the existence of God was a fairly commonplace intellectual exercise. But as the scientific method became increasingly refined, particularly through the nineteenth century, science and religion grew apart. “
” It might seem perverse for honestly religious people to group their faiths with those of the sadists and megalomaniacs who run most cults, but a growing number are doing just that. “
” The difference between a cult and a religion, of course, lies in extremity. “