A Dark Side of the White House

ImageNetflix’s new series House of Cards is a clear attempt to craft a show to rival broadcast favorites like AMC’s Mad Men or HBO’s Game of Thrones – or anything HBO has produced, for that matter. While many broadcast networks seek to produce reality television, talent contests, or chipper comedies, cable networks – most especially the aforementioned three-letter networks – have hollowed out a niche in high quality programming that focuses on character development and period set-design, achieving a result closer to film than traditional television. And in most ways, House of Cards is a fitting entrant to the ranks.

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Expanding Executive Power

Two recent actions by the White House provide an interesting study in the expansion of executive power.

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The first instance is a Federal judge’s decision that the legal reasoning behind the May 2011 drone strike that killed Anwar Al-Awlaki – an American citizen and member of Al-Qaeda – need not be released by the Justice Department. In what she called “a veritable Catch-22,” Judge Colleen McMahon noted that a combination of Constitutional contortions and executive precedent have rendered the Freedom of Information Act petition filed by The New York Times and the ACLU ineffectual. The judge skeptically quoted Attorney General Eric Holder’s assertion that assassinations like that of Al-Awlaki are befitting of “due process,” though not “judicial process.”

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