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President Obama “ordered executive officials to consult with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. before relying on any of them to bypass a statute”, but “also signaled that he intends to use signing statements himself if Congress sends him legislation that has provisions he decides are unconstitutional.” I don’t recall George Bush ordering a review of his predecessors’ orders, so I guess that’s an improvement. He was clear on the campaign trail that he believed they were legitimate as well so we can’t say it’s a surprise. On the other hand, well, I’ll just quote myself here:
Will the next [president] claim executive privilege to cover up any politically uncomfortable truth, or make extensive use of signing statements to justify not following the law, or inflate relatively modest tools like Status of Forces Agreements into robust ones like treaties? The candidates aren’t saying at the moment, but unless they explicitly disavow them (as John McCain has on signing statements) we should expect them to happily do so.
And he has. It is a very bad practice, though. If he doesn’t like what he sees he should veto it (or even better work with Congress beforehand to have clarifying language included).
Obama’s break with Bush on signing statements is relatively minor compared to his willingness to support the latter’s torture policies and purely cosmetic changes to detention policy. Which is why it’s important to keep pushing for openness and yet another reason to be a card-carrying, dues-paying member of the ACLU (and yes I am both, thank you very much).
It turns out being on the torture team while in government might hurt your job prospects once you leave. Maybe looking at more practical and less high minded reasons not to go down that path will be more persuasive.
You didn’t get your asses handed to you for the past two election cycles because you were insufficiently authoritarian.
Compare the saturation coverage of a (black) pastor saying “God damn America” to the report-it-once-and-drop-it style applied to the revelation of a (white) anti-Obama fanatic actively assembling the parts of a radiological weapon. If those who accused Obama of palling around with terrorists, or asked who he really is, or who hope he fails or says he must be stopped - those in high places in the GOP who have kept up this drumbeat not against his policies but against the man himself - cannot make the simple connection between their whipping up of hatred and the violent responses of their most extreme supporters - well, the rest of us are smarter than that.
I pretty much wrote off Steny Hoyer during last year’s FISA debate, so his loud promises of action on popular legislation followed by quiet failure to deliver is no surprise to me, but I thought I’d make note of it anyway.
I normally enjoy reading what lambert has to say over at Corrente but I found this to be exceptionally amusing. At least the bailout is providing lots of material for sharp observers.
Goldsmith set aside the big moral questions and instead focused in on the law. But he found the two interrogation memos highly disconcerting from this standpoint as well. They were quite similar. Both had clearly been written to circumvent the 1994 torture ban. Both displayed what New York University law professor Stephen Gillers, a specialist in legal ethics, called “the veneer of serious scholarship (abundant footnotes, many citations, long dense paragraphs) to create an aura of legitimacy for near-death interrogation tactics and unrestrained executive power.” But beneath the surface, both of Yoo’s interrogation opinions had the same flaw. As Goldsmith wrote in his account, The Terror Presidency, Yoo’s assertions of absolute power for the commander in chief in dictating the treatment of wartime captives “had no foundation.” It was so extreme it would mean the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and all laws written by Congress regulating warfare, were illegitimate. In Goldsmith’s view, Yoo’s legal guidance had “no basis in prior OLC opinions, or in judicial opinions, or in any other source of law.” Yoo’s adamant assertions - which were guiding the United States government in prosecuting a global war - were simply unsubstantiated.
None of which, ironically enough, hurt his job prospects.