The latest is this little nosh as reported by PissedOnPolitics allows the government to confiscate the property of any American deemed to be "undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq." Section 5 neatly addresses any Constitutional problems by ruling that the Constitution does not apply.
It is outrageous, of course. With the stroke of a pen Bush has made it illegal to attack his Iraq War. No need to debate the matter in Congress first. None of that bothersome "trial by jury" business. Just a neat, clean Royal Decree that has the force of law with none of those pesky checks and balances.
Many Executive Orders are about internal operations of the Executive Branch such as EO13261 which establishes the order of succession in the event an epidemic starts wiping out the leadership of the EPA. Others are more malignant, like EO13199 that created the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. An entire new federal agency that grants taxpayers money to selected favored groups was created by Royal fiat without so much as a by your leave from Congress. The worst are the Executive Orders that actually write new criminal laws. The notorious EO13425 created an entirely new criminal justice system for trying "enemy combatants."
Then there are the Secret Executive Orders. The evil they do cannot be known. There is the Bush Torture Executive Order and the possible Executive Order declaring war with Iran. The huge NSA spying program was created and operated by secret Executive Order with no congressional involvement whatsoever. There is the secret order to collect "young, fresh virgins" so Bush can feed on their still beating hearts. That's probably a joke; but, I can't know for sure because it is secret.
During time of war or during any other period of national emergency declared by the President, the President may, through any agency that he may designate, or otherwise, investigate, regulate, or prohibit, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe... ~ Section 5(b) War and Emergency Power Act of 1933The power of the Executive Order comes from that clause. By simply declaring a "national emergency" the President, any president, grants himself dictatorial powers. For the eight years of the Clinton Presidency conservatives wailed over the death of democracy caused by a constant state of national emergency. With Bush's election they fell silent and even became champions of the Unitary Executive theory. We liberals were the reverse - cheering Clinton's orders while bemoaning Bush's.
The truth is all national emergency Executive Orders are abominations to the Constitution, regardless of the party holding the presidency. Congress must repeal the War and Emergency Power Act and all the many other laws that allow the president to grant himself dictatorial powers. Until that is done this president, and the next one and the one after that, will continue to grant himself the power to rule as a monarch. Although no president, Democrat or Republican, would let such legislation pass without a veto. They all like being king.
Other readings: a conservative viewpoint (pre-Bush); even conservatives are getting scared of Bush; Congressional Research Services report regarding national emergencies (2006); Constant State of Emergency; Bush Power Grab; Civil Liberties (2007)