Saturday, January 07, 2006


Reading the Fine Print

Congress passes a popular no-torture bill, but as President, you and your administrative colleagues think torture is good. What do you do?

You could veto the bill, but then you would look like a jerk to everyone but Pat Robertson and Eric Cartman. And even if you didn't mind looking like a jerk, the veto could be overridden and you could no longer torture people.

What if you could have the best of both worlds. You pass the bill, look like a hero, but you still get to torture!!!

Introducing...(everyone together now!) the Presidential signing statement! It's been around for a long time but unless you work at the White House, Capitol Hill or are a professor of law or public policy, you probably haven't heard much about it.

The Mercury News quotes Presidential scholar Christopher Kelley:
"These are directives to executive branch agencies saying that whenever something requires interpretation, you should interpret it the way the president wants you to."
The article also notes that while the Bush administration has cited the unitary executive theory to resist congressional directives to federal agencies in more than 100 of his signing statements, it has never been fully tested in court.

Here's the kicker. On Christmas Eve, the NY Times reported that Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito (while a justice department attorney under Reagan) wrote a memo for expanding the use of Presidential signing statements and argued that the attorney general should be immune from lawsuits when he illegally wiretaps Americans.

On the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, he does a segment, "This is WireTap" In the "This is SpinalTap" font.

It's awesome. I love the real news.
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