Thursday, January 31, 2008

Latest & Greatest Evidence that Bush Is Out to Controvert Our Constitution...

Mikaela promises:
I'm not even going to harp on this, because I feel I've been shrill enough every.single.time it's been in the news, but Bush's latest Executive Signing Statement (which is nowhere to be found in our Constitution, by the way, just to be clear) excusing himself from following a law passed by Congress (this time about not using federal dollars to construct permanent military bases in Iraq. Ahem.) has to be the last straw.

I could barely even read about it, I was so insanely angry. I have to post about it here lest it never get taken up in the mainstream news.

The whole things's covered beautifully (as usual) by Dan Froomkin in the White House Watch (some formatting added & passages excerpted by me).

It's about as basic as it gets: Congress has the power of the purse. And Section 1222 of the massive defense appropriation bill enacted this week asserts that power. It reads, in its entirety:

"No funds appropriated pursuant to an authorization of appropriations in this Act may be obligated or expended for a purpose as follows:

  • "(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq.
  • "(2) To exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq."

But in another of his controversial " signing statements," President Bush on Tuesday asserted that Section 1222 ... "impose[s] requirements that could inhibit the President's ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, ... and to execute his authority as Commander in Chief."

The overall message to Congress was clear: I'm not bound by your laws.

The three ... sections Bush reserved the right to ignore are significant.

  • One mandates the establishment of a commission to investigate waste and fraud in military contracts;
  • another strengthens protections for whistle-blowers working for federal contractors;
  • a third requires the president to explain in writing each time an intelligence agency refuses to respond to a document request from the House and Senate armed services committees.

... [!]

Charles Savage [the reporter who broke the story about Bush's unprecedented use of Signing Statements to controvert the law] quotes Speaker Nancy Pelosi as saying:

"I reject the notion in his signing statement that he can pick and choose which provisions of this law to execute. . . . His job, under the Constitution, is to faithfully execute the law - every part of it - and I expect him to do just that.'"

Savage also talked to legal specialists who disagreed with the administration's legal theory.

"'Congress clearly has the authority to enact this limitation of the expenditure of funds for permanent bases in Iraq,' said Dawn Johnsen, an Indiana University law professor who was the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel during the Clinton administration. . . ."

Said Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee: "...[T]he President vetoed an earlier version of this Act, which contained the same specific provisions that he singled out in his signing statement yesterday. The President did not choose to exercise his veto over these provisions, and as a result they have not changed in any way whatsoever in the version of the bill he chose to sign. With his signature these provisions become the law of the land. Congress and the American people have a right to expect that the Administration will now faithfully carry them out."

Can Congress please do one of two things?

  1. Impeach his ass for violating our constitution and his oath to execute the laws of this land (which are written by Congress!!!), along with his power-grabbing VP, OR
  2. At the very least, send this jackass to a mandatory civics class? I know he famously got a C in the subject from ... Yale, was it? But it's far past the time for him to pick up on this little thing called "Balance of Powers" and actually read what powers he does NOT have, based on our Constitution.
How much longer can our "democracy" continue under a dictator in all but name?

And if you think that the danger will have passed come Inaugration Day a YEAR FROM NOW, think again. These are now precedented unprecedented powers, and all future presidents will be tempted to use them. These unchecked powers must be checked NOW and for all time.

And that's all I have to say about that.*

[*Except that I really wish Congress would choose Option 1 above. Please?]