Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Exposing Bush's willful lawbreaking

(Originally posted at The Carpetbagger Report.)

The Boston Globe is reporting that "[s]ince taking office in 2001, President Bush has issued signing statements on more than 750 new laws, declaring that he has the power to set aside the laws when they conflict with his legal interpretation of the Constitution". The Globe lists ten truly disturbing examples.

I still wonder what John McCain — once a maverick, now a sycophant, all with the Oval Office on his mind — thinks of this one:

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.

Oh, and how about this little gem:

Aug. 5[, 2004]: The military cannot add to its files any illegally gathered intelligence, including information obtained about Americans in violation of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches.

Bush's signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can tell the military whether or not it can use any specific piece of intelligence.

In tandem with this piece, the Globe's Charlie Savage has a must-read
overview of Bush's willful lawbreaking (or law-ignoring):

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 Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional…

Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws — many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.

Whether or not Bush is the worst president of all time isn't really the question anymore. What we should be asking is whether he's the most dangerous president of all time. The Bush presidency may now be in full-out meltdown mode, but these repeated transgressions of the very foundations of America's constitutional self-governance — those old-fashioned checks and balances we all learn about, even up here in Canada — continue nonetheless. After all, whatever his approval ratings, however much of a lame duck he may be, he is still the president. He may not have much, if any, political capital left, he may have nothing in the way of a domestic agenda, and he may yet start up a new war with Iran, perhaps before the November midterms, but this — this is very much his legacy, right alongside the mess in Iraq.

For more, see
Glenn Greenwald, who, as always, is right on top of this: "We literally have a President who has been saying for years, right out in the open, that he can act without regard to the law whenever he wants, and we need to repeat that fact — and prove it — over and over until that debate is finally had."

Yes, we do. We need to scream in from the rooftops. We need to open up our windows and proclaim to any and all that we just won't take it anymore. And that's because America just can't take it anymore. Think what Bush will have left behind, what damage he will have inflicted, once his eight years are up. I welcome a debate, but ultimately we must demand that he be finally held accountable.

The Globe is on the case, Glenn is on the case, we must all be on the case.

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