T Nation

Signing Statements and Iraq

Looks like Presidential signing statements could be used to establish permanent military bases in Iraq. Of course, at our expense. Not to mention getting around prohibitions against using US taxdollars to exercise control of Iraq’s oil. I gotta admit, I fell for the Iraq war hook, line, and sinker.

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2008/01/29/in_signing_statement_bush_looks_to_bypass_four_laws/

It seems to be a constitutional battle and not intent of having or not having bases in Iraq.

I agree with his not letting Congress grab more power they way they tried to do. This will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court if necessary, as it should.

Bush has spent his whole presidency trying to prevent executive branch from losing more power.

Setting up permanent military bases in Iraq is one of the few things I agree with. I just don’t think we had to blow the shit out of the place and de-establish the entire infastructure and reimplement a new infastructure.
I think Saddam could have been bought. And we need bases dotting along the Iranian and Syrian borders primarily.

Seems to me the Executive shouldn’t be able to unilaterally establish long term/permanent military commitments. Isn’t spending on such things the role of Congress? That’s the impression I’ve always had, so this move seems pretty damn radical to me. I don’t see this as congress usurping Exectuve power. In my opinion Bush is using the idea of wartime powers to justify going around congress and it’s powers.

Here’s a very brief overview of the controversy. Congress has the War Power ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_powers ); the President has the Commandier in Chief Power ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commander-in-chief#United_States ). They disagree, and have for a long time, as to where the boundaries are.

[quote]Sloth wrote:
Seems to me the Executive shouldn’t be able to unilaterally establish long term/permanent military commitments. Isn’t spending on such things the role of Congress? That’s the impression I’ve always had, so this move seems pretty damn radical to me. I don’t see this as congress usurping Exectuve power. In my opinion Bush is using the idea of wartime powers to justify going around congress and it’s powers.[/quote]

Congress is not allowed to unilaterally and permanently ban the executive branch from making these kinds of decisions as they were trying to do. Bush’s signing statement merely reserves the executive branches rights.

The executive branch still would need congressional funding etc. to set up permanent bases.

Checks and balances are still in effect although the congressional action tried to strip the executive branch of its constitutional power.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:

The executive branch still would need congressional funding etc. to set up permanent bases.

[/quote]

I believe that’s what the signing statement would circumvent though. Basically, that the President is setting himself up with the ability to fund permanent bases without congressional approval.

I realize there is some strong support here on the forum for Iraq, and stabilizing it in the long term, but I’m wondering if everyone is considering the next couple Presidents using this power.

Edit: I suppose I’m concerned with fighting an abstract war on terror. When does it end? When terrorism no longer exists? As long as terrorism does exist, so does the war on terror? And since it’s a “war,” do these “war powers” stay in effect, well, forever? That doesn’t sit well with me.

[quote]Sloth wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:

The executive branch still would need congressional funding etc. to set up permanent bases.

I believe that’s what the signing statement would circumvent though. Basically, that the President is setting himself up with the ability to fund permanent bases without congressional approval.

…[/quote]

He could not fund them without congessional approval. That is what makes the whole thing empty politics. The Dems are just playing games and you are buying into it.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:

He could not fund them without congessional approval. That is what makes the whole thing empty politics. The Dems are just playing games and you are buying into it.[/quote]

“Provisions of the act…purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the president�??s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as commander in chief,” Bush said. “The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.”

One section Bush targeted created a statute that forbids spending taxpayer money “to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq” or “to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.”

Why target this statute then? If congress agrees to fund permanent bases, ok. But, why target a statute saying “hey, you need us to fund something like that?” Keep in mind we may have McCain on deck who comes off as supporting looong term US presence in Iraq.

Zap, I’m not falling for a Democrat trick here. I’m questioning the intent of this admistration (and the next, Republican or Democrat) to commit us to decades of possible intervention on behalf of Iraq.

[quote]Sloth wrote:

Edit: I suppose I’m concerned with fighting an abstract war on terror. When does it end? When terrorism no longer exists? As long as terrorism does exist, so does the war on terror? And since it’s a “war,” do these “war powers” stay in effect, well, forever? That doesn’t sit well with me.[/quote]

Which is why I think the war on terror should be called “The War against Al-Qaeda.” At least this is an organization which could be targeted and destroyed over time.

[quote]Sloth wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:

He could not fund them without congessional approval. That is what makes the whole thing empty politics. The Dems are just playing games and you are buying into it.

“Provisions of the act…purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the president�??s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as commander in chief,” Bush said. “The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.”

One section Bush targeted created a statute that forbids spending taxpayer money “to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq” or “to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.”

Why target this statute then? If congress agrees to fund permanent bases, ok. But, why target a statute saying “hey, you need us to fund something like that?” Keep in mind we may have McCain on deck who comes off as supporting looong term US presence in Iraq.

Zap, I’m not falling for a Democrat trick here. I’m questioning the intent of this admistration (and the next, Republican or Democrat) to commit us to decades of possible intervention on behalf of Iraq.[/quote]

Why indeed? Why propose something so meaningless? Because it puts Bush on the spot and makes it seem like they are doing something.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Bush has spent his whole presidency trying to prevent executive branch from losing more power. [/quote]

…I just sprayed water all over my keyboard. That’s how hilariously retarded this statement is.

Do you think Congress has been “grabbing power” from the Presidency for only the years Bush was in office? Even when the GOP controlled Congress?

You are aware Congress is supposed to be the most powerful branch, yes?

[quote]Gkhan wrote:
Sloth wrote:

Edit: I suppose I’m concerned with fighting an abstract war on terror. When does it end? When terrorism no longer exists? As long as terrorism does exist, so does the war on terror? And since it’s a “war,” do these “war powers” stay in effect, well, forever? That doesn’t sit well with me.

Which is why I think the war on terror should be called “The War against Al-Qaeda.” At least this is an organization which could be targeted and destroyed over time.[/quote]

As Al-Qaeda was not in Iraq when we entered it, and as we apparently have no wish to invade Pakistan, calling it such would bring us unwanted responsibility and the chance of losing.

As long as it’s a war on an issue, and not a force, we cannot lose. We cannot clearly win obviously, but we can have “victories”.

[quote]Beowolf wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Bush has spent his whole presidency trying to prevent executive branch from losing more power.

…I just sprayed water all over my keyboard. That’s how hilariously retarded this statement is.

Do you think Congress has been “grabbing power” from the Presidency for only the years Bush was in office? Even when the GOP controlled Congress?

You are aware Congress is supposed to be the most powerful branch, yes?[/quote]

Ummm, wow. Where did Zap say that Congress has only been doing that since Bush has been in office?

Secondly, no I wasn’t aware that Congress was supposed to be the most powerful branch. Last I looked, they were all supposed to equal.

mike

[quote]Mikeyali wrote:
Secondly, no I wasn’t aware that Congress was supposed to be the most powerful branch. Last I looked, they were all supposed to equal.
[/quote]
Well then, in the interest of “equality” Congress should get the power of signing statements too.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

Well then, in the interest of “equality” Congress should get the power of signing statements too.[/quote]

They do - it’s called legislation.

[quote]Beowolf wrote:

You are aware Congress is supposed to be the most powerful branch, yes?[/quote]

Someone else chimed in, but it is worth repeating - the branches of the tripartite government are co-equal.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

Well then, in the interest of “equality” Congress should get the power of signing statements too.

They do - it’s called legislation.[/quote]

I thought the point of a signing statement was that it didn’t have to pass the scrutiny of congress…you know? that thing we like to call “checks and balances”?

Doesn’t legislation have to pass the scrutiny of the president therefore it cannot be considered an analog of a signing statement?

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
thunderbolt23 wrote:
LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

Well then, in the interest of “equality” Congress should get the power of signing statements too.

They do - it’s called legislation.

I thought the point of a signing statement was that it didn’t have to pass the scrutiny of congress…you know? that thing we like to call “checks and balances”?

Doesn’t legislation have to pass the scrutiny of the president therefore it cannot be considered an analog of a signing statement?[/quote]

Congress has the power to defund Bush’s projects and withdraw authorization, as examples, thus providing checks against signing statements.

Signing statements are variously aggressive, but none of them are insulated from a “check”. Congress is not without power to address it if they don’t like it.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
Signing statements are variously aggressive, but none of them are insulated from a “check”. Congress is not without power to address it if they don’t like it.[/quote]

Then what is the point of a signing statement if it doesn’t give more power to the executive? I am genuinely curious about this.