By passing the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008 in late January, Congressional Democrats have, once again, caved in and funded Mr. Bush’s occupation of Iraq without mandating any timetable for troop withdrawals. Mr. Bush signed the bill; and then, as he often does, issued a signing statement that said he would not comply with any part of the bill that might interfere with his ability to carry out his constitutional duties. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush seems to believe that his Constitutional duties as Commander-in-chief are the same as that of a king, and that Congress’ duties consist of no more than funding his wars and retroactively excusing his crimes.
Mr. Bush’s latest signing statement pointed out four specific parts of the National Defense Authorizations Act of 2008 that could interfere with his “constitutional” duties.
· A statute that forbids spending taxpayer money to build installations for purpose of permanently stationing of U.S. military forces in Iraq.
· A provision that would allow whistle-blowers, working for government contractors, to disclose wrongdoing without being fired. It also increased federal inspectors’ responsibility to investigate complaints of retaliation against whistle-blowers.
· A section that requires intelligence agencies to turn over information requested by House and Senate Armed Services Committees within 45 days, and if the request is denied based on executive privilege--it must be done in writing.
· A section that would establish a independent, bipartisan commission to investigate waste, mismanagement, and excessive force by contactors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Do these seem like things that would interfere with a President’s constitutional duties (foremost of which should be enforcing the laws that he signs), or do they seem like reasonable measures meant to express the will of the American people and assist Congress in its oversight duties?
The only reason I can see for Mr. Bush’s objections to these particular sections of the National Defense Authorizations Act of 2008--is to keep U.S. troops in Iraq to protect the war profiteers for as long as possible; and to protect those same profiteers from being exposed or investigated by Congress or anyone else.
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, made this comment:
· “I reject the notion in his signing statement that he can pick and choose which provisions of this law to execute. His job, under the Constitution, is to faithfully execute the law - every part of it - and I expect him to do just that.”
Ms. Pelosi is correct that the President’s job is to enforce the laws--not ignore and break them; but her job, as Speaker of the House, is to initiate impeachment proceedings against a President that breaks the law. She has refused to do that, so she has little credibility when it comes to talking about Constitution duties.
After tornadoes tore across five states, killing more than fifty people and leaving a path of destruction; George W. Bush visited one of the worst-hit areas and offered these assuring words:
· ...I’m here to listen, to determine -- to make sure that the federal response is compassionate and effective. I don’t want people to think something is going to happen that’s not going to happen. And therefore when we say something is going to happen to help them get their feet back on the ground, it will happen.
· “There’s no doubt in my mind this community will come back better than before,”
These inspiring words remind me of similar words spoken by Mr. Bush after Hurricane Katrina: