27 March 2006

Prez sez: "In case you missed it the first time..."

"Piss off."
Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement

By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff

WASHINGTON -- When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."
Wonder of wonders. Just like with the torture amendment, all that wrangling and debate over hashing out a "compromise" on the oversight provisions for the PATRIOT Act turned out to be just another dog and pony show. After all was said and done and the Congress finished playing "democracy," Dear Leader just dusted off his generalissimo's uniform and, once again, went banana Republican dictator.

"Nice law. I'll obey it if, and when, I feel like it."

For those that believe his little crossed fingers tricks aren't that capricious, think about this: what does the President do that couldn't be considered part of the "deliberative process of the executive?" There is no standard for withholding information other than his say-so and, based on that and that alone, the laws don't apply.

And no one has said anything.

All those Senators who trumpeted their compromise as a victory for civil rights and oversight just got slapped square in the face. El Presidente used them and then proceeded to neuter them--again--dismissing the notion that he was bound by their laws. And, true to form, they responded with cowed and cowardly silence. As CNN noted, only a handful of Senators stood up and voted against the "compromise" bill that the President later decided to ignore anyway: Jim Jeffords, I-Vermont, and Feingold (D-WI), Byrd (D-WV) and seven other Senate Democrats: Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Carl Levin of Michigan, Patty Murray of Washington and Ron Wyden of Oregon. The integrity that they showed is only further magnified when compared to the other 90 members' meek acceptance of their own marginalization.

This week sees two major initiatives: Judiciary Committee hearings on Bush's illegal spying program, and Feingold's censure motion. Sadly, humiliation and trivialization at the hands of the executive branch has yet to inspire any more passion in the Senate for either.

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