Monday, January 09, 2006

McCain and the Prez toe off

There's been a lot of discussion recently concerning the president's use of "signing statements." These basically are written statements by the President on his view as to the intent of the law that he is signing. Cynics, such as myself, view them as excuses for Bush's vapid response to the efforts of Sen John McCain to attach an amendment to the budget bill, explicating and emphasizing "no to torture." As Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe puts it:

WASHINGTON -- When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief.

After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a ''signing statement" -- an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law -- declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.

''The executive branch shall construe [the law] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President . . . as Commander in Chief," Bush wrote, adding that this approach ''will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President . . . of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."

Some legal specialists said yesterday that the president's signing statement, which was posted on the White House website but had gone unnoticed over the New Year's weekend, raises serious questions about whether he intends to follow the law.

With his signing statement, Bush is putting Congress on notice that he will ignore the law when and if he choses, which is most of the time. From 1993, a statement from the Department of Justice, with their take on signing statements. See what you think.

Responding forcefully, Senator John McCain’s office issued the following:

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Jan 04, 2006

“We believe the President understands Congress’s intent in passing by very large majorities
legislation governing the treatment of detainees included in the 2006 Department of Defense Appropriations and Authorization bills. The Congress declined when asked by administration officials to include a presidential waiver of the restrictions included in our legislation. Our Committee intends through strict oversight to monitor the Administration’s implementation of the new law.”

However, with McCain's statement, the Senator is putting Goat Boy on notice that Congress is watching him, so look out. We'll see.

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