Jonathan Powell Quotes

Profession: Diplomat
Jonathan Powell Quotes About:
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While Congress saw some need to loosen the standard in the initial days of a war, it wanted the president to comply with FISA in carrying out surveillance in the United States. open_in_new

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Law professors like Obama tend to view the law as one means to an end, and others, like myself, tend to view it as the end itself. open_in_new

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I happen to agree with many of President Obama's policies, but in our system, it is often as important how you do something as what you do. open_in_new

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There are many people that frankly cannot get themselves to oppose Barack Obama. They make a lot of excuse for him. open_in_new

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People don't realize that the Obama Administration has been, if anything, harder on whistleblowers than the Bush Administration. Part of the reason is that they know that the response will be more muted because the traditional constituency supporting whistleblowers just happen to be the same constituency as Obama's. open_in_new

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The Republican and Democratic parties have accomplished an amazing feat with the red state/blue state paradigm. They've convinced everyone that regardless of how bad they are, the other guy is worse. open_in_new

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After almost half a billion dollars spent on the computer registration system for Obamacare, the website coughed, sputtered, and appeared to descend into an immediate coma as millions tried to log on. One reason is that the Obama administration never fully tested it. open_in_new

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There's a misconception about Barack Obama as a former constitutional law professor. First of all, there are plenty of professors who are 'legal relativists.' They tend to view legal principles as relative to whatever they're trying to achieve. open_in_new

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Obama is as likely to be impeached as he is to be installed as the next pontiff. And I say that as someone who has testified in Congress that this president has violated federal laws, unconstitutionally appointed various executive-branch officers and improperly transferred money. open_in_new

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I've said it before: Barack Obama is really the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be. You know, he's been allowed to act unilaterally in a way that we've fought for decades. open_in_new

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Few people know that President Obama has used drone attacks many times more than Bush ever did. Obama's off the charts in terms of drone attack. open_in_new

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Bill Clinton was impeached primarily for criminal conduct: lying under oath and misleading a federal grand jury about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Nixon would have been impeached for a wide array of criminal acts, as well as abuses of power. open_in_new

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For many, the recent disclosure of massive warrantless surveillance programs of all citizens by the Obama administration has brought back memories of George Orwell's '1984.' Another Orwell book seems more apt as the White House and its allies try to contain the scandal: 'Animal Farm.' open_in_new

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Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency. open_in_new

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Under the common law, one of the more controversial rules is the 'no duty to rescue rule' that says that, if you were not responsible for placing someone in danger or risk, you have no obligation to help them, even when it would cost little to save their life. open_in_new

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Truth be known, President Obama has never been particularly driven by principle. Right after his election, I wrote a column in a few days warning people that even though I voted for Obama, he was not what people were describing him to be. I saw him in the Senate. I saw him in Chicago. open_in_new

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In Washington, task forces work like Tylenol: they reduce the symptoms of scandal while leaving the substance untouched. open_in_new

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There is no conflict in the world that cannot be solved. open_in_new

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Every time we meet a new terrorist group, we argue they are utterly different and we can learn nothing from the last time. Of course they are different, but some lessons on how we deal with them seem to apply in all cases. open_in_new

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Maybe strong leaders are not quite as alluring as we think, and we should celebrate the fact that our leaders are just like us. Just because one candidate can't remember his whole speech and the other likes to put his feet up on the job doesn't mean they can't govern. open_in_new

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Terrorism seems to be the ugly twin of democracy. We need to learn to live with it because we are vulnerable to it. open_in_new

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Northern Ireland still suffers from its past, and it will take generations to escape sectarianism and for violence to end totally. Nonetheless, it is in a different place now than during the Troubles, and it will not go back to the old days. open_in_new

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I'd love to have a proper sailing boat and go around the world. open_in_new

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I'm of the establishment but anti-establishment. open_in_new

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I do not think that war is always wrong: sometimes it is necessary to stop a dictator, prevent massive human-rights abuses, or expel an invader. But I have also seen that in the modern world, civil wars are the greatest threat to humanitarian security. open_in_new

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You can't negotiate in public. People won't make concessions in public. They will do that in private. Like sausage making, you have to do it behind closed doors. open_in_new

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The Israeli people are skeptical about the chances of a long-term peace, but if they saw it, they'd grab it. Any Israeli government that wants to be reelected should be interested in a lasting peace. open_in_new

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It was the rootlessness that went with being the son of an RAF officer that shaped me. I had been to 11 schools by the time I was 9. open_in_new

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If you are going to make peace, you can't just meet nice people. open_in_new

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When it comes to terrorism, governments seem to suffer from a collective amnesia. All of our historical experience tells us that there can be no purely military solution to a political problem, and yet every time we confront a new terrorist group, we begin by insisting we will never talk to them. open_in_new

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Since the beginning of time, we have expected our leaders to be supermen, unlike mere mortals. We want them to be much greater than us so that we can look up to them. open_in_new

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