700 and counting...
700 and counting...
Signing Away the Constitution?
by William Fisher
NEW YORK - Last March, the U.S. Congress passed legislation requiring Justice Department officials to give them reports by certain dates on how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is using the USA Patriot Act to search homes and secretly seize papers.
But when President George W. Bush signed the measure into law, he added a "signing statement". The statement said the president can order Justice Department officials to withhold any information from Congress if he decides it could impair national security or executive branch operations.
Late last year, Congress approved legislation declaring that U.S. interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.
But President Bush's signing statement said the president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.
These are but two examples of more than 100 signing statements containing over 500 constitutional challenges President Bush has added to new laws passed by the Congress -- many times more than any of his predecessors.
Another opposition view came from Prof. Edward Herman of the University of Pennsylvania, who told IPS, "The brazenness of Bush's use of this practice is remarkable. But even more remarkable is the fact that this de facto further nullification of congressional authority fails to elicit sustained criticism and outrage. It is part of a step-by-step abrogation of constitutional government, and it is swallowed by the flag-wavers and normalised."
"We are in deep trouble," he added.
Signing statements are not new -- their use started with the fifth U.S. President, James Monroe (1817-1825), and from that time they were used sparingly and mostly for rhetorical purposes. Until Ronald Reagan became President in 1980, only 75 statements had been issued. Reagan and his successors, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, made 247 signing statements between them.
But President Bush has taken the practice to a new level, attracting criticism both for the number of statements he has issued as well as for his apparent attempts to nullify any legal restrictions on his actions.
I suggest that you follow the link and read the entire article.
Bush, Constitution, signing statements, torture