United for Peace and Justice
New York, NY -- United for Peace and Justice, the country's largest anti-war coalition with over 1400 member groups, condemns President Bush's continued arrogant and unconstitutional use of signing statements.
On Monday, Jan. 25, 2008, President Bush released a signing statement claiming the right to violate four sections of H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which he had just signed into law. These four sections: 841, 846, 1079, and 1222, Bush announced, would be "construed" in a manner "consistent with the constitutional authority of the President."
Among the measures Bush's latest signing statement declares the right to violate are: the establishment of a commission to investigate U.S. contractor fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan, the expansion of whistleblower protections, a requirement that U.S. intelligence agencies respond to congressional requests for documents, a ban on funding permanent bases in Iraq, and a ban on funding any actions that exercise U.S. control over Iraq's oil money.
Over the past seven years, the same language used by Bush on Monday, usually attributed to Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff David Addington, has been the precursor to numerous violations of law by his administration, including sections of law banning the use of torture and banning the use of funds to construct permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. The president has signed laws blocking funding for the construction of permanent bases in Iraq six times, but never stopped the construction.
In January 2007, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on Bush's use of signing statements at which Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Elwood claimed that the president is free to violate any laws until the Supreme Court rules otherwise. Following this hearing, the Government Accountability Office studied a small sample of Bush's signing statements and found that in a significant percentage of cases his administration was, in fact, violating the sections of law he had claimed the right to "interpret."
The U.S. Constitution requires that the president "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Article I, Section 7, says that:
"every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law."
"The rule of law established by the Constitution has been undermind in an almost unnoticed revolution," said Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ). "The Constitution allows the president to veto bills or sign and enforce them, not to rewrite them or to disobey them. The same document that gives the Congress the power to make every law, gives it the sole power to raise and spend money, and the sole power to declare war. The people's representatives in Congress are losing all of these powers through their failure to act on the remedy provided for precisely this situation: impeachment."
According to the U.S. State Department, 65% of Iraqis favor a withdrawal of U.S. troops. In fact, neither the Iraqi people nor the people of this country have ever supported a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq, and the U.S. Congress has never approved one.
"The sooner all the troops and military contractors are home," said Cagan, "the sooner rebuilding can begin for the Iraqi nation and for our democracy."
UFPJ is urging its members to speak with the media about this matter and to phone the House Judiciary Committee at 202-225-3951 to request that it begin impeachment hearings.
President Bush's latest signing statement:
Government Accountability Office Report:
Database of Bush Signing Statements:
Report on January House Judiciary Committee Hearings: