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Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement

Old 03-26-06, 12:22 AM
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Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/wa...t_requirement/
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.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

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 . . . "

The statement represented the latest in a string of high-profile instances in which Bush has cited his constitutional authority to bypass a law.

After The New York Times disclosed in December that Bush had authorized the military to conduct electronic surveillance of Americans' international phone calls and e-mails without obtaining warrants, as required by law, Bush said his wartime powers gave him the right to ignore the warrant law.

And when Congress passed a law forbidding the torture of any detainee in US custody, Bush signed the bill but issued a signing statement declaring that he could bypass the law if he believed using harsh interrogation techniques was necessary to protect national security.

Past presidents occasionally used such signing statements to describe their interpretations of laws, but Bush has expanded the practice. He has also been more assertive in claiming the authority to override provisions he thinks intrude on his power, legal scholars said.

Bush's expansive claims of the power to bypass laws have provoked increased grumbling in Congress. Members of both parties have pointed out that the Constitution gives the legislative branch the power to write the laws and the executive branch the duty to ''faithfully execute" them.

Several senators have proposed bills to bring the warrantless surveillance program under the law. One Democrat, Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, has gone so far as to propose censuring Bush, saying he has broken the wiretapping law.

Bush's signing statement on the USA Patriot Act nearly went unnoticed.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, inserted a statement into the record of the Senate Judiciary Committee objecting to Bush's interpretation of the Patriot Act, but neither the signing statement nor Leahy's objection received coverage from in the mainstream news media, Leahy's office said.

Yesterday, Leahy said Bush's assertion that he could ignore the new provisions of the Patriot Act -- provisions that were the subject of intense negotiations in Congress -- represented ''nothing short of a radical effort to manipulate the constitutional separation of powers and evade accountability and responsibility for following the law."

''The president's signing statements are not the law, and Congress should not allow them to be the last word," Leahy said in a prepared statement. ''The president's constitutional duty is to faithfully execute the laws as written by the Congress, not cherry-pick the laws he decides he wants to follow. It is our duty to ensure, by means of congressional oversight, that he does so."

The White House dismissed Leahy's concerns, saying Bush's signing statement was simply ''very standard language" that is ''used consistently with provisions like these where legislation is requiring reports from the executive branch or where disclosure of information is going to be required."

''The signing statement makes clear that the president will faithfully execute the law in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. ''The president has welcomed at least seven Inspector General reports on the Patriot Act since it was first passed, and there has not been one verified abuse of civil liberties using the Patriot Act."

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues, said the statement may simply be ''bluster" and does not necessarily mean that the administration will conceal information about its use of the Patriot Act.

But, he said, the statement illustrates the administration's ''mind-bogglingly expansive conception" of executive power, and its low regard for legislative power.

''On the one hand, they deny that Congress even has the authority to pass laws on these subjects like torture and eavesdropping, and in addition to that, they say that Congress is not even entitled to get information about anything to do with the war on terrorism," Golove said.

Last edited by hahn; 03-26-06 at 12:25 AM.
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Old 03-26-06, 02:11 AM
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The Bush Administration is one big cherry-pickin' organization, which just so happens to have the reigns on Americans. I don't think I've ever read about such elitists in a democracy in my entire life.
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Old 03-26-06, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
I don't think I've ever read about such elitists in a democracy in my entire life.
Surely you jest!

Advise you begin reading with George Washington, and continuing.
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Old 03-26-06, 07:48 AM
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Well, that particular George did a little more for the US. This George is just a complete idiot.
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Old 03-26-06, 09:41 AM
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I can't believe the Congress and the Bush backers condone this kind of stuff. It's a giant FU to all of us.
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Old 03-26-06, 09:58 AM
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Dubya is only familiar with Article II of the Constitution. Well, maybe the 2nd amendment as well.
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Old 03-26-06, 10:57 AM
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Congress, stop bitching and outlaw signing statements, then. Christ. You're a branch of the federal government, not the office temp.
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Old 03-26-06, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
Dubya is only familiar with Article II of the Constitution. Well, maybe the 2nd amendment as well.
You'll have to admit that nearly every president has shown tendencies to believe only in Article II. Whereas, after Lincoln's death, the congress showed more than tendencies to believe only Article I.
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Old 03-26-06, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by CRM114
I can't believe the Congress and the Bush backers condone this kind of stuff. It's a giant FU to all of us.
I'm certainly not defending 'this kind of stuff', but it isn't really anything unusual for presidents to believe the way this one does.
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Old 03-26-06, 12:51 PM
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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."
I don't think any president repub or dem would have disagreed with this.
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Old 03-26-06, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by TracerBullet
Congress, stop bitching and outlaw signing statements, then. Christ. You're a branch of the federal government, not the office temp.
How could they do that? Pass a law that says the President may not make any statement when he signs a bill?

No, what needs to happen is for Congress to step up and sue the President the first time he misses a reporting requirement, and for the Court to say that it will give a Presidential signing statement the same weight it gives legislative history -- it may consider it to resolve ambiguous text, but in the face of unambiguous text, it has no value.
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Old 03-26-06, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
How could they do that? Pass a law that says the President may not make any statement when he signs a bill?
Well, yeah. I'm not saying it's a good idea, but Congress does ostensibly make the laws.
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Old 03-26-06, 01:07 PM
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Well, there are certain times the congress doesn't need to step up. They might be embarassed by what the court decides - the War Powers Act, for example. Isn't there something about sleeping dogs?
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Old 03-26-06, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
You'll have to admit that nearly every president has shown tendencies to believe only in Article II. Whereas, after Lincoln's death, the congress showed more than tendencies to believe only Article I.

What article is veto power mentioned? Now review what I said again.
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Old 03-26-06, 08:28 PM
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You've missed the point.
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Old 03-26-06, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
You've missed the point.

I understand your point, which states the obvious. My post was perfectly phrased to include Bush's lack of veto use, as well as other things.
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Old 03-26-06, 08:48 PM
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Why don't we just call it:

THE BUSH ACT
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Old 03-26-06, 10:51 PM
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If congress didn't have such a poor record of keeping secrets, would this be an issue? I don't really like it, but I can understand why a president would say this.
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Old 03-26-06, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
If congress didn't have such a poor record of keeping secrets, would this be an issue? I don't really like it, but I can understand why a president would say this.
So then why bother having a congress at all? In fact, why not get rid of the judicial branch too? Once we do that, we won't really have a president anymore. We'll have a king.
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Old 03-26-06, 11:54 PM
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Wake me up when it's a police state.
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Old 03-27-06, 03:16 AM
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It's the president's responsibility to OBEY the law, not be ABOVE the law. This "we're at war so I can ignore whatever laws I want" stuff is B.S.

All Hail King George.
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Old 03-27-06, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
If congress didn't have such a poor record of keeping secrets, would this be an issue? I don't really like it, but I can understand why a president would say this.
And to the hell with what the Constitution might say. I assume that's your position also.
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Old 03-27-06, 08:22 AM
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Apparently, as long as there is an R next to the name, the lawful conduct of the President is optional.
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Old 03-27-06, 08:50 AM
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What Bush is doing (and has done) is wrong. But Congress needs to get some balls too. If you look at it on paper, you would think Congress ran this country. Bush has never used the veto. How is he running the country? Only because Congress is bending over every chance they get. Use the power of the purse. Cut off funding to the war if they think we shouldn't be there.
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Old 03-27-06, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Venusian
Cut off funding to the war if they think we shouldn't be there.


This lesson brought to you by the year 1215.
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