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The War Powers Problem

photoRobert Byrd, the silver-haired senior statesman from West Virginia stood valiantly but alone on the floor of the Senate today.

Waiving a worn copy of the Constitution, he warned against giving President Bush sweeping military powers in the Middle East. "Congress is ceding, lock, stock and barrel, its power to declare war - handing it over to a chief executive," he said. "Congress might as well just shut the door and put a sign up there that says, 'Going fishing.'"

He's holding up the Senate's vote on a war resolution, but he's also posing an important question: who should have greater control over war, the President or Congress? Is the Constitution, and its separation of powers, an outdated document in this age of "instant, imminent" threat?

Guests:

Jack Rakove, professor of history, Stanford University, and author of, "Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution"

David Rivkin, partner in the Washington office of Baker & Hostetler, served in the Department of Justice and White House during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations

Jack Beatty, On Point News Analyst and Senior Editor at the Atlantic Monthly Magazine

This program aired on October 10, 2002. The audio for this program is not available.

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