Saturday, March 25, 2006

When the Moon is in the 7th House

The Boston Globe reports on the latest "signing statement" by Bush as he attempts to rewrite laws (and history), in Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement:

When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

* * * *

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."

* * * *

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues, said the statement may simply be ''bluster" and does not necessarily mean that the administration will conceal information about its use of the Patriot Act.

But, he said, the statement illustrates the administration's ''mind-bogglingly expansive conception" of executive power, and its low regard for legislative power.

''On the one hand, they deny that Congress even has the authority to pass laws on these subjects like torture and eavesdropping, and in addition to that, they say that Congress is not even entitled to get information about anything to do with the war on terrorism," Golove said.
(via Firedoglake)

Gee, I think the Signing Statement's list of exceptions to the requirement that Bush follow the law might have missed the "Moon in the 7th House, Jupiter aligned with Mars" exemption. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo calls it our permanent constitutional crisis.

Seriously, the litany of exceptions to the requirement that Bush follow the reporting requirement imposed by the reauthorization of the Patriot Act is an example of the legal concept of "exception that swallows the rule." That is, when the scope of an exception to the general rule is so broad, the rule itself no longer has any meaning, it is in effect nullified.

The Patriot Act itself is a dangerous step that could eviscerate our civil liberties. Blogger Seeking a Little Truth cites a recent article that considers the continuum of the erosion of our constitutional protections. For anther view, blogger Concealed Position, provides commentary on "The 14 Characteristics of Fascism," an essay by Lawrence Britt.

Another legal maxim, the "slippery slope" argument, is appropos of the direction the country is headed. Our civil rights may just be slip, sliding away.

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. -- Thomas Jefferson

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