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ABUSE OF POWER PANEL... It's pretty clear, from news like this, that John McCain intends to pocket many of the constitutionally dubious powers that George Bush and Dick Cheney claimed for the executive branch. But what about Barack Obama? If he's elected president, will he A] publicly disavow these extra powers (like expanded use of signing statements to override Congress) that his predecessor claimed, or B] stay largely mum about those powers, neither using nor disowning them, thereby keeping them "in reserve" for use if and when he feels he needs them? If he chooses A, would that make it any harder for future presidents to assert such powers? If he chooses B, will that effectively strengthen his and any future president's claims to them? How much, in other words, should we be worried that the current administration's abuses of power will be baked into our system of government, no matter who prevails in November? And if we have good reason to be worried, what should we be doing now to prevent that from happening?

I don't have very well-informed answers to these questions. But they're among those l hope to ask at an event I'll be moderating tomorrow here in DC, and if you're in the area, you're invited to come. It's a panel discussion sponsored by Common Cause with four noted experts on executive powers, rule of law and other such matters--Stanley Brand, former counsel for the House of Representatives; Liz Holtzman, former Member of Congress and author of The Impeachment of George W. Bush; John Shattuck, CEO of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and former Assistant Secretary of State for democracy, human rights and labor under President Clinton; and Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University.

The event will be held from 11 AM to 1 PM at the Jack Morton Auditorium (where Crossfire used to be taped) at George Washington University, 805 21st St. NW, Washington. For more information, and to reserve a seat, click here. Should be an interesting discussion.

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