Friday, March 24, 2006

Bush to Ignore Part of Law He Just Signed

Do we even live in a democracy with checks and balances anymore?

The Boston Globe reports today that President Bush recently decided that he doesn't need to inform Congress of the FBI's activities, which is a provision required by the Patriot Act.

Sure, he just signed the reauthorization of the Patriot Act this month, but apparently he didn't like the oversight part of it. So why not just wipe it away?

According to the Globe report:

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The [reauthorization of the Patriot Act] contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Bush wrote: ''The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "

The statement represented the latest in a string of high-profile instances in which Bush has cited his constitutional authority to bypass a law.

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I cannot believe that the liberatrian wing of the GOP is letting Bush get away with this authoritarianism. How can they expect to be taken seriously as a group concerned about the government's intrusions into people's lives when they have hardly lifted a finger at blatantly intrusive and unconstitutional activities like this one?

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