May 3rd, 2006

Do you believe you live in a democracy?

President Bush has claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office.
Bush is the first president in modern history who has never vetoed a bill, giving Congress no chance to override his judgments. Instead, he has signed every bill that reached his desk, often inviting the legislation's sponsors to signing ceremonies at which he lavishes praise upon their work.

Then, after the media and the lawmakers have left the White House, Bush quietly files ''signing statements" -- official documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law.


The Constitution grants Congress the power to create armies, to declare war, to make rules for captured enemies, and ''to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces." But, citing his role as commander in chief, Bush says he can ignore any act of Congress that seeks to regulate the military.


On at least four occasions while Bush has been president, Congress has passed laws forbidding US troops from engaging in combat in Colombia, where the US military is advising the government in its struggle against narcotics-funded Marxist rebels. After signing each bill, Bush declared in his signing statement that he did not have to obey any of the Colombia restrictions because he is commander in chief.


In October 2004, five months after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in Iraq came to light, Congress passed a series of new rules and regulations for military prisons. Bush signed the provisions into law, then said he could ignore them all.

Given all of this information, i find the photograph in the article rather chilling:

The article provides a list of examples of Bush's signing statements (username:, password: cypherpunk). In these examples, Bush asserts the power to:

  • withhold from Congress information about use of the Patriot Act to search homes and secretly seize papers
  • torture prisoners
  • order government researchers to withhold scientific information from Congress
  • expose whistle-blowers in the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • order offensive combat in Colombia
  • ignore laws promoting diversity in the national intelligence workforce
  • obligate all military lawyers to follow the administration's legal conclusions
  • allow the military to use illegally gathered intelligence (including that gathered in violation of the Fourth Amendment)
  • prevent inspector generals in Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority from performing investigations or telling Congress about them
This doesn't sound like Government by the People to me.

Torture? What a surprise.

Army documents reveal that the U. S. knew about and approved torture before the Abu Ghraib scandal was exposed.
Among the documents released today by the ACLU is a May 19, 2004 Defense Intelligence Agency document implicating [Lieutenant General Ricardo] Sanchez in potentially abusive interrogation techniques. In the document, an officer in charge of a team of interrogators stated that there was a 35-page order spelling out the rules of engagement that interrogators were supposed to follow, and that they were encouraged to "go to the outer limits to get information from the detainees by people who wanted the information."


The ACLU also released an Information Paper entitled "Allegations of Detainee Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan" dated April 2, 2004, two weeks before the world saw the pictures of torture at Abu Ghraib prison. The paper outlined the status of 62 investigations of detainee abuse and detainee deaths. Cases include assaults, punching, kicking and beatings, mock executions, sexual assault of a female detainee, threatening to kill an Iraqi child to "send a message to other Iraqis," stripping detainees, beating them and shocking them with a blasting device, throwing rocks at handcuffed Iraqi children, choking detainees with knots of their scarves and interrogations at gunpoint.