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Questions for John Kerry, President Obama's New Pick for Secretary of State | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Questions for John Kerry, President Obama's New Pick for Secretary of State

Editor’s Note: The New York Times reports today that President Obama plans to nominate Senator John Kerry as secretary of state. Here are some key questions he should be asked at his confirmation hearing.

Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

The nomination of a secretary of state gives the Senate the opportunity to probe the administration’s foreign policy priorities—and many of President Obama’s policies demand inquiry. Republicans like Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who have disgracefully sniped at UN Ambassador Susan Rice, have expressed few coherent reservations about our current course. Instead, it will be incumbent on Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—particularly Barbara Boxer (CA), Bob Casey (PA) and Tom Udall (NM)—to lead a responsible review.

Here are only a few of the questions that senators could ask the nominee.

● Presidential war making: Are there any limits to the president’s war powers in the so-called war on terror? Contrary to expectations, President Obama has broadened George W. Bush’s view that the congressional resolution authorizing pursuit of Al Qaeda after 9/11 gives the president the right to attack any suspect group in any country of the world for as long as there are terrorists—or essentially forever. That prerogative is said to include the power to identify, target and kill anyone—including US citizens—the president decides poses a terrorist threat to the United States.

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

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