No more Czars

Top News Article | Reuters.com

President Bush, embroiled in a fierce campaign battle over national security, on Friday expanded the power of the CIA director to include some of the broad authority that the Sept. 11 commission envisioned for a new intelligence czar.

Good. A strong Director of Central Intelligence is the right answer. Another “czar” in American government is not.

Titles of nobility are inherently symbolic – It’s not power that distringuishes a Cabinet Secretary from an hereditary Lord in England who is no longer even entitled to enter the House of Lords. It is the title. This habit of appointing Czars violates the spirit of the Constitutional prohibition on US Titles of nobility if not the letter. I’d maintain it actually violates the letter when every member of Congress refers to the appointee as a Czar, even if the actual bill may refer to “Office of National Drug Control Policy” or “Office of Intelligence Policy”.

Why does the title worry me? Well, the title itself is a threat and obviously the Framers agreed. The Constitution elsewhere guarantees “to every state in this union a republican form of government,” so hereditary power was not the issue. The issue in prohibiting titles of nobility was just that; the title itself is a threat to our system of government. The implication of some sort of divine right in the man who runs the Office of National Drug Control Policy, for example, creates a situation where criticism of the premise if not the policies is almost unheard of.
That we should have an unquestioned Czar in the much more important national issue of national security should be out of the question.

Isn’t it time that we learned the lesson of the Russians – having Czars leads to no good thing when they are finally overthrown.

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