Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Checks & Balances are not just “Academic”

And they aren't "quaint" either. They are integral to what makes us, well, America. I am sick of my birthright being sacrificed on the altar of the "Global War on Terror™." You should be to, if your citizenship is American. And if you aren't smart enough to get properly pissed off about this, stay the hell out of my way. If you aren't in, at least don't be a hindrance to those of us who want liberty restored.

When John Conyers ordered the GAO report on signing statements, I got tingly. I’m weird that way, but you already knew that. Well, it is out. I have not had a chance to read the actual report yet (I will be doing that and following up soon) but I have read the Washington Post article about it.

For example, Congress directed U.S. Customs and Border Protection to relocate its checkpoints around Tucson every seven days to improve efforts to combat illegal immigration. But the agency took the law as an "advisory provision" that was "not always consistent with CBP's mission requirements." Instead, the agency periodically shut down its checkpoints for short periods of time, believing that would comply with congressional demands.

Frustrated by the Pentagon's broad budget submissions for the "global war on terrorism," Congress demanded in its 2006 military spending law that the Defense Department break down its 2007 budget request to show the detailed costs of global military operations, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The department ignored the order. While the Pentagon did break out the costs of operations in the Balkans and at Guantanamo Bay, it did not detail expenditures in other operations.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency also ignored Congress's demand that it submit an expenditure plan for housing assistance and alternatives to the approaches that failed after Hurricane Katrina. FEMA told the GAO that it does not normally produce such plans.

In all those instances, presidential signing statements had asserted that congressional demands were encroaching on Bush's prerogatives to control executive branch employees as he sees fit and to receive effective services from his employees. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Congress should not be surprised that the administration carried out the recommendations of the signing statements, although he cautioned that he could not know whether the agencies took action because of the statements.

Okay - I am not even going to address the absurdity of closing a checkpoint to increase the effectiveness of the strategy. Or that the Pentagon uses a bookkeeping system so effed up as to be unauditable. And if I go down the Katrina path one more time, I'm liable to set my locks alight. I'll just stick to the article, which you have to read to the end to get the point.

The findings are significant because they confirm that the Bush administration has sought to marginalize the peoples representatives. This means that they sought to marginalize you – when they embarked down that path – in the naked power grab that has amounted to an imperial presidency.

Bruce Fein, a conservative Constitutional lawyer who served on an American Bar Association panel that excoriated the use of signing statements in a report last year said that the report could be used as a basis for legal action against the Bush administration. "At least it makes clear the signing statements aren't solely for staking out a legal position, with the president just saying, 'I don't have to do these things, but I will,' " Fein said. "In fact they are not doing some of these things. You can't just vaporize it as an academic question."

Legal action against BushCrimCo? I’m game.

Diane Silver has more, Here and Here.

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