I've always considered CATO at best worthless, more likely deeply pernicious, and in any case routinely stupid. We had a joke at my alma mater: Rich kids with too many trips to rehab to get into Brown. (Brown students, surely, have the same joke about Harvard.) CATO, I figure, is a dumping ground for middling intellectuals too lazy for tenure and too idiosyncratic for the clubbier environs of AEI. On economics, it is basically corporatist in its outlook--Grover Norquist would not not be at home. On liberty in the broader sense, it might as well be the National Review. P.J. O'Rourke is their "Mencken Fellow." Nuff fuckin said, right?
Via Thoreau at UO, I see that Roger Pilon, "the Cato Institute's B. Kenneth Simon Chair in Constitutional Studies"--yoy and double-yoy! to that--wants us to understand that unless Congress exempts telecoms from the law, "the president's statutory power to prevent terrorist attacks will be seriously compromised." Now, y'all, I'm no fancy big-city lawyer, nosiree; why, I'm just a simple country IOZ with simple notions 'bout right an' wrong . . . But in the paragraph that follows, I smell a big fat rat:
This dangerous situation should never have arisen. From the beginning, presidents have exercised their Article II executive power to gather foreign intelligence--in war and peace alike, without congressional or judicial intrusion. As our principal agent in foreign affairs, the president is constitutionally bound to protect the nation. For that, intelligence is essential.I'm pretty certain that powers delegated to the executive by the Constitution do not constitute statutory authority. Why, I'm fairly certain that statutory authority is conferred by statutes, and I'm pretty sure that those are acts passed by legislative bodies, like, for instance, Congress, and it occurs to me, friends and neighbors, that if "the Cato Institute's B. Kenneth Simon Chair in Constitutional Studies" wants to not-so-cunningly elide the difference between the two as part of a sophistic tangle of bad-faith arguments that Congress' and the Judiciary have an affirmative responsibility to act in the increase of executive authority but must also obey a prohibition on "interference" when it comes to any decrease in such authority . . . well, I'm pretty sure that what you've got there is know-nothingism in defense of tyranny.