January 13th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the New York Times

I agree with your editorial (Pro-Choice Senators and Judge Alito, January 13th, 2006. A22) which states that Judge Alito has tipped his hand with regard to his anti-abortion views. But there is one very high hurdle that Senators Specter, Chaffee and Collins will have to overcome if they are to vote against confirmation: that is deference to the President's wishes. This is especially strong when President and Senator share the same party affiliation.

To help overcome this hurdle, I would argue that the President has, over the past five years, forfeited his right to claim compliance with his wishes from the Senators. His actions have systematically undermined the rule of law in this country. His use of warrantless spying on Americans will I am sure be declared unconstitutional and it is so unnecessary as under current law NSA can undertake surveillance without a warrant for 72 hours. Surely that allows NSA to move swiftly and surely. Secondly his repudiation of the McCain amendment on torture in his signing statement is a direct violation of the intent of Congress. Thirdly, his failure to hold anyone, other than low level "grunts," accountable for the actions at Abu Ghraib is unconscionable.

Finally there is his appalling ignorance. Despite his years of education at Yale and Harvard, he doesn't understand the first thing about the managerial decision making process. His decision to go to war in Iraq was marred by group-think and uncertainty absorption (the removal of data about the level of confidence the CIA had in its information about weapons of mass destruction), and perhaps willful misinformation by his subordinates (It's a slam-dunk, Mr President). A well-informed leader would not have allowed this perversion of the process.  Additionally, despite a well founded understanding that torture does not produce valid information, the President insists on reserving the right to have his agents torture suspects to extract information. This is a totally unnecessary right to retain.

I believe that these actions on the part of the President release his Senatorial colleagues from the obligation to defer to his nomination by voting for confirmation of Judge Alito.