I sent this around today via the famous "greymail", but decided it was just too important to not elaborate.
I ran across a piece this morning in Slate's "Today's Paper":
And what's not in the papers … Yesterday's Post noted President Bush's penchant for "signing statements," which give the White House interpretation of a law being, well, signed. The idea is to have challenges to a law on paper and thus give the administration a potential leg up in future court cases. The signing statements are an attempt to "address specific provisions of legislation that the White House wishes to nullify," said one presidential historian. He added that they are "also in an effort to significantly reposition and strengthen the powers of the presidency relative to the Congress."So now Bush has these little formal "signing" ceremonies which include his own legal findings on laws he's to sign, designed to bolster Presidential power in the courts and clarify exactly what he thinks the law should do. And the Bushies apparently use these "signed findings" with a force of law. Cool. By arranging a neat table and a few pens, and then signing whatever Velma was told to type up, Bush becomes a legislator and a judge, all in one swoop of the pen.
The Post did a great job burying the above trend: "ALITO ONCE MADE CASE FOR PRESIDENTIAL POWER." Also, what the WP didn't pick up on—and what nobody else seems to either: The White House issued just such a signing statement—an apparent attempt at nullification—for Sen. McCain's anti-torture amendment. The statement says:The executive branch shall construe [the amendment] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President ... of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.The president acceded to the McCain amendment just a few weeks ago and ended up praising it. Anybody care to ask the White House whether, given the above language, it considers the government absolutely bound by McCain's ban?
Beyond the obvious abuse of power and unconstitutional nature of this. I have another "issue" with this practice. Why hasn't the media covered this more thoroughly? These actions are nothing short of further attempts to grab more dictatorial power. His style as President has been to assume it's ok unless and until a terminator-like character comes to the White House door, beats it in, puts his foot on the Preznit's chest and says, "no Mr. President, you can't do that". And given a Republican Congress, that just hasn't happened. I guess our press, who is so deserving of our respect and protection just thought this one wasn't worth of paper/ink. Or maybe they were too busy at the holiday cocktail circuit to be bothered with a measley separation of powers problem.
Anyway, Bush just keeps making it up. Here's yet another instance where we'll see if there are any honest Republicans left.