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Watergate. Iran-Contra. The Torture Memos. Three outbreaks of illegality in forty years. But the last time around, President George W. Bush was not required to indulge in Nixonesque claims that "when the president does it, that means it is not illegal." He could personally approve waterboarding without conceding its blatant illegality. As he explains in Decision Points, the "Department of Justice and CIA lawyers conducted a careful legal review,'' concluding that it "complied with the Constitution and all applicable laws, including those that ban torture." This is much worse than Nixon's brazen assertion of power. Decline and Fall predicts there will be more rubber-stamping in the future, unless the presidency reforms the way it goes about interpreting "the laws" that it must "faithfully execute."
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