Sunday, January 22, 2006

Above the law

President George W. Bush has made it very apparent that he considers himself above the law. There are no lack of examples that are now well known by the American people ... at least, those who are not sticking their heads in the sand to avoid cognitive dissonance.

Those who have researched the details of the facts surrounding the gathering of intelligence about WMD in Iraq know that the president actively conducted a campaign of deceit against the American people. He believed that the law did not apply to actions he had to take to get buy-in for the invasion of Iraq. Of course, the president wouldn't have let the American people stop him from deposing Saddam Hussein anyway. The Downing Street Memo showed us that the Iraq War was a foregone conclusion. It is irrefutable evidence that the president had decided before July 23, 2002, that he was going to invade Iraq, even though the US Constitution says he must first get the authorization of congress.

It's not just American law which the president thumbs his nose at. The Geneva Conventions are international treaties that forbid torture. Although the US is party to these laws, its military force and intelligence agencies have been exposed as returning to the use of torture under the command of president Bush.

The latest news which serves as another example of the president acting as if he were above the law is only public because of a leak. The president has ordered the NSA to conduct electronic surveillance of communication with thousands of American citizens without a court order. Although the program, which spies on both telephone calls and email, has been ongoing for the past four years, the president has not requested a subpoena from a FISA court to approve the action to this day. Clearly, the president believes he is not subject to Amendment IV of the Bill of Rights.

However, there is an even more sinister way in which the president thinks he is above the law which few Americans know about. It turns out that during his first term, the president scribed an unprecedented 108 signing statements when executing legislation. Signing statements are addenda written by the president to bills passed by congress. However, the statements give the terms and conditions of the bill which the president desires. In other words, while the legislature thinks he's signing their bill into law, the president is actually writing and executing his own law.

For example, congress recently passed a defense appropriation bill with an amendment that forbids torture. It was the amendment sponsored by Senator John McCain which the president and vice president Dick Cheney vigorously fought to defeat. However, after congress passed the appropriation bill anyway, the president would look bad vetoing it because it would mean not providing funding to the war he started. The president's solution was to add his own signing statement to the bill. The statement, written in convoluted legaleze so the average American would not understand it, said basically that the president is not subject to the bill and would disobey the law as he sees fit.

The president obviously considers himself above the law. Unfortunately, his signing statements demonstrate that he also considers himself the author of the law. Hopefully, the Supreme Court won't support one of his signing statements in the future to establish legal precedence for this impunity.

1 comment:

Mr. Cheney said...

Dear TPZ Blogmeister:

I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know you're coming in "loud and clear," if you know what I mean.

Down here at the Agency, we "hear" everything you say, from your phone conversations, to your e-mails, to those things you utter each night in your sleep (does "Congresswoman Pelosi, are your trying to seduce me?" sound familiar?).

Anyway, we just wanted to let you know you're in good hands with us. We don't really care about your day to day things. But you can bet your bottom dollar that when the day comes that you spill the beans on your secret Fiesta Taco Salad recipe, we're going to get it!

Take care,
"Uncle" Dick
(Vice President and Chief Information Funnel)