Earlier, I linked up the Boston Globe article on the signing statement that President Bush apparently attached to his signing of the Patriot Act renewal on March 9, 2006. He’s trying to gut the Congress’ ability to provide meaningful oversight of FBI actions under the Patriot Act (and other agencies as well, potentially, the way that the signing statement is reported to have been written).
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."
Bush wrote: ”The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president’s constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "
I can’t begin to tell you how angry this makes me — that the separation of powers mean so little, let alone the need for meaningful oversight by a third party to reduce the potential for misuse of power. And I didn’t want us to head into the weekend without everyone have a chance to really read this article.
The President of the United States does not get to just pick and choose which laws apply to him. The same laws apply to everyone. Period. And if Congress does not stand up and say so and hold him accountable for this, then they might as well stop taking my tax money as a paycheck.
I’ll have more on this issue over the weekend, but it needed to be highlighted today.
(Okay, I know the photo has absolutely nothing to do with the Patriot Act or George Bush. But the idiots who took the photo also pissed me off, so I thought I’d include it with my general air of crabbiness for your perusal.)