Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Emails, Signing Statements - the Rule of Law is Dead!!

Crablaw seems pretty upset over the revelation that many in the White House had – and used – email accounts with the RNC. He links to a website that in turn repeats large swaths of a Rep. Waxman (D-CA) release that finds this matter of the utmost seriousness and evidence of massive indifference to the law.

…and maybe it is. But anything out of Henry Waxman’s office deserves more than a little skepticism and a great deal of adjustment for partisan spin. Him criticizing the president is the ultimate political “dog bites man” story.

My reaction to this is much the same as I had upon learning that Al Gore made fundraising calls out of his White House office – I didn’t care. It struck me as ludicrous to expect the Vice President to leave his office just to make a few phone calls.

In this instance, learning that many political appointees split their emailing between official .gov and RNC accounts just doesn’t register any alarm. Am I to believe that had the alternative been true – that all their emailing had gone through their .gov account – that Henry Waxman would not now be expressing grave concerns over their misuse of a government account and possible violations of the Hatch Act? This all stems from the investigation into the legal firing of certain attorneys and, like that, will probably end up as another expensive (for the taxpayers) Democratic dead end.

Anyway, while we’re focusing on grave constitutional threats, we might as well throw some additional meat to the constitutional guard dogs out there:

'Signing Statements' Study Finds Administration Has Ignored Laws

“President Bush has asserted that he is not necessarily bound by the bills he signs into law, and yesterday a congressional study found multiple examples in which the administration has not complied with the requirements of the new statutes.” (an earlier take on what President Bush has actually asserted)

Reading a bit more we learn that “multiple” means “six” – out of the 19 laws studied.

“The instances of noncompliance were not as dramatic as some of the signing statements that have caused the most stir, such as Bush's suggestion that he was not bound by a ban on torture in U.S. military detention facilities. But congressional aides said they were significant.”

Post writer Jonathan Weisman doesn’t name those congressional aides nor does he identify their legal background nor does he identify their political affiliation,…so I’m going to assume they are Democrats whose legal education begins and ends with Linda Greenhouse. One violation involved not rotating an immigration checkpoint near Tucson enough, others involved not turning in certain reports either in a timely matter (late 17 days) or at all.

But this alarms those who are alarmed at signing statements including Bruce Fein who, since earlier criticizing the President on signing statements, has become everybody’s favorite conservative lawyer:

“But the GAO report suggests that the dispute over signing statements is not an academic one, Fein said, adding that Congress could use the report to take collective legal action against the White House.”

…which is an academic response. Look, if Congress feels that certain governmental parties aren’t complying with its laws and mandates, it can demand compliance. (I guarantee you that you could have canvassed both houses of Congress and been hard-pressed to find one member that would have even known about these violations.) After all, with control of the purse strings comes respect.

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