That’s the number of laws that Bush has claimed authority to disobey.
Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ”whistle-blower” protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.
Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush’s assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government.
The President’s job is to faithfully execute the laws. In his (or his advisors’) view, the Supreme Court’s job and the Congress’ job is really his job too.
I think that perhaps he’s spent a little too much time with the Royal Family – no, not his own, but the Saud variety. American boots on the ground in Saudi Arabia, protecting the regime of the royal family, acted as one of the first recruiting points for bin Laden’s terrorist network (despite his own ties) there. Our role in the middle east has been unpopular — supporting dictators, establishing military bases, things like that. Our decades-long protection of this family has been documented to some extent already – but I fully expect to see more revelations of just how deep our complicity has been, and how much it has really cost, as time goes on. Meanwhile, they’re raking it in even faster than ExxonMobil.
In any case, the expansion of executive power in this administration has been striking. They must feel very confident in continuing “Republican” power (They’re not really Republicans, are they…).
Here’s how it’s done, the modus operandi: Signing statements. It’s a form of crossing fingers behind your back, if you remember that children’s “loophole on a promise.”
Bush is the first president in modern history who has never vetoed a bill, giving Congress no chance to override his judgments. Instead, he has signed every bill that reached his desk, often inviting the legislation’s sponsors to signing ceremonies at which he lavishes praise upon their work.
Then, after the media and the lawmakers have left the White House, Bush quietly files ”signing statements” — official documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law. The statements are recorded in the federal register.
In his signing statements, Bush has repeatedly asserted that the Constitution gives him the right to ignore numerous sections of the bills — sometimes including provisions that were the subject of negotiations with Congress in order to get lawmakers to pass the bill. He has appended such statements to more than one of every 10 bills he has signed.
”He agrees to a compromise with members of Congress, and all of them are there for a public bill-signing ceremony, but then he takes back those compromises — and more often than not, without the Congress or the press or the public knowing what has happened,” said Christopher Kelley, a Miami University of Ohio political science professor who studies executive power.
Here are a couple of examples:
Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.
Bush’s signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.
Oct. 29, 2005: Defense Department personnel are prohibited from interfering with the ability of military lawyers to give independent legal advice to their commanders.
Bush’s signing statement: All military attorneys are bound to follow legal conclusions reached by the administration’s lawyers in the Justice Department and the Pentagon when giving advice to their commanders.
Nov. 6, 2003: US officials in Iraq cannot prevent an inspector general for the Coalition Provisional Authority from carrying out any investigation. The inspector general must tell Congress if officials refuse to cooperate with his inquiries.
Bush’s signing statement: The inspector general ”shall refrain” from investigating anything involving sensitive plans, intelligence, national security, or anything already being investigated by the Pentagon. The inspector cannot tell Congress anything if the president decides that disclosing the information would impair foreign relations, national security, or executive branch operations.
The method of “no veto, then ignore with signing statement” is deceitful, especially given the way he does it. A Presidential veto can be overturned by Congress, but this cross your fingers behind your back is just plain infantile – not to mention creepy – and more than 750 examples is rather excessive.
“Ha-ha – take it back! Fooled ya again!”
It’s amazing to me that Congress is handing over its powers like this. It’s got to burn even the most rabid right-wingers a little bit.