War Powers: Is Bush Making History?

America's most revered Presidents often expanded their Executive power. Then again, so did America's most reviled Presidents. Judged against past precedents and past Presidents, how do George W. Bush's recent actions rate?

Since Sept. 11, the Bush Administration has detained more than 1,000 noncitizens, waged a foreign war, helped Congress broaden wiretap authority, endorsed military trials for alien alleged terrorists and authorized eavesdropping on certain conversations between lawyers and clients. Most of these measures find support in past practice. But some raise serious doubts.

Begin by considering the first President. As a general in the American Revolution, George Washington approved a...

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