Carney: Obama Was For Signing Statements Before He Was Against Them

Jay Carney says President Obama was never against signing statements, just when President Bush “abused” them. In the press conference, Jay Carney seems to morph with John Kerry, who believed he had found safe political ground by noting that he voted for something before voting against it. For his part, Obama morphed into George W. Bush a while back on civil liberties and constitutional issues.

As on so many issues of civil liberties and constitutional law, Obama appears determined to legitimate and expand on the Bush policies. There appears to be little concern over the direct conflicts in his positions in running for the office and his positions as president. The White House is now relying almost entirely on a cult of personality for liberals to ignore that fact that Obama now stands against many of the defining liberal and libertarian principles.

Carney was confronted over the Bush-like refusal of Obama to comply with federal law and to use signing statements. His response is truly Kerryesque:

“His concern was with what he saw as an abuse of the signing statement by the previous administration. So that the positions he took in signing statements on the budget bill entirely consistent with that position, you need to retain the right to, as president, to be able to issue those signing statements, but obviously they should not be abused.”

Here is what he said when running for this office in 2008:

“That’s not part of his power, but this is part of the whole theory of George Bush that he can make laws as he goes along. I disagree with that. I taught the Constitution for 10 years. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress,” then-Senator Obama said as a presidential candidate in 2008.

Carney’s statement is, however consistent with the White House approach in other areas. Obama has continued many of the policies of Bush in blocking the investigation of torture, fighting public interest lawsuits on privacy etc. The single consistent position appears to be “I am Barack Obama so it is better when I do it.” What is remarkable is that many Democrats appear to agree from their silence. Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer have even publicly praised Obama for his undeclared war in Libya. After all, it is Barack Obama and he was against undeclared wars before he was for them.

Source: RealClearPolitics

Jonathan Turley

69 thoughts on “Carney: Obama Was For Signing Statements Before He Was Against Them

  1. Not only is this haunting the President, as the debt ceiling debate gets closer and the Repubs start showing where the President when he was a Senator didn’t want to raise the debt ceiling.

    Words have consequences.

  2. I taught the Constitution for 10 years. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress,” then-Senator Obama said as a presidential candidate in 2008.

    Lying POS

  3. It would be nice to live in a world where we would have an alternative to the Prez in 2012. But in the world we live in the choice will come down to some marginally batshit insane Republican or Obama. Not that crap like Nader won’t be on the ballot but that will just be a way to increase the margin of victory for the Republican. So we are stuck with a semi-sane Republican President with a very low bar on ethics until 2016. We as a nation are well and completely screwed.

  4. What Frank said, with emphasis on “we as a nation are well and completely screwed.” (Well said, Frank.)

  5. Elaine,

    These quotes from JT’s post today are exactly what I was speaking about yesterday. Glenn Greenwald points to this phenomena in his columns as well: “The White House is now relying almost entirely on a cult of personality for liberals to ignore that fact that Obama now stands against many of the defining liberal and libertarian principles.” and “The single consistent position appears to be “I am Barack Obama so it is better when I do it.” What is remarkable is that many Democrats appear to agree from their silence. Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer have even publicly praised Obama for his undeclared war in Libya. After all, it is Barack Obama and he was against undeclared wars before he was for them.”

    This is what I mean when I say liberals and Democrats believe in and support reactionary policies. They attribute reactionary policies solely to Republicans and the Tea Party, yet they also hold these same ideas. No group, not even the Tea Party is a monolith, so I am not saying everyone who is a liberal or a Democrat believes in reactionary policies, but many do. I will also say that not every Tea party member believes in the core ideas Mike A. listed yesterday, but many do. Therefore, we must look only at actions, not labels and respond accordingly.

  6. Frank, I disagree with you on this. We should quit worrying about the 2012 election and stand against executive/congressional wrong doing right now. 2012 is too late. What is happening right now is dangerous. It needs to be confronted immediately. Every illegality you let Obama get away with now will pass to him in 2012 and whoever is next in 2016.

    We have another path than waiting to vote. We can peacefully resist this criminal govt. NOW. If we do so, we have a chance. If we do not resist, there is no chance things will get better. It is up to we the people. We should take the responsibility and be brave.

  7. President Obama said,”I taught the Constitution for ten years. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States.”
    A good way to prove his Constitutional credentials would be to go to the Quantico Gulag and bring Bradley Manning a shirt, a pair of pants and whatever else he needs to live in dignity before his FAIR and LEGAL trial.
    And, before you leave, Mr. President, stop in at the Commandant’s office and remind him that this is the United States of America, not the Peoples Republic of North Korea. And remind him that in American prisons,inmates sleep undisturbed with the lights off. And that inmates are not drugged into a state of stupor to get them to make false confessions or get them to commit suicide. And that prisoners, especially those who have not been convicted of a crime, are entitled to receive visits IN PRIVATE with United States Congressmen and officials of the United Nations.
    Mr. President, you might also review the 6th Amendment of the Constitution you love so well: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury…”. That means a fair and public trial, not a military kangaroo court hidden from public view so that Bradley Manning can be railroaded into prison on trumped up charges by military officers more interested in protecting their careers than in seeing justice done.

  8. The Privacy Act of 1974 required all agencies to have Data Integrity Boards and for those boards to do various things and be composed in certain ways. They would then be governed by the Administrative Procedure Act which includes the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act. So even if meetings were closed and information was kept private there would still be advance public notice that there would be a meeting and some explanation as well as an after the fact record.

    The Privacy Act 5 USC 552a (u) also requires affirmative acts under the administration of the Data Integrity Board. These would be public meetings.

    For instance, in subsection (d) an agency is supposed to receive requests to correct records and if the request is denied then they are supposed to send a written explanation within 10 days.

    Right now, the government has a formal written procedures under the Freedom of Information Act. If you write and ask for a record they will assign request number and then certain things are supposed to happen.

    My federal experience is mainly with DOJ. I spent a lot of time reading about DOJ. DOJ announced it had a Data Integrity Board under Attorney General Thornburg but apparently it had no meetings. A college professor wrote about the appointment and it is in an old u.s. attorney magazine.

    In 2009- 2010, I made a super effort to get reports that are supposed to be filed under the Privacy Act by DOJ. I didn’t get any court order but eventually thru FOIA I got one one paragraph report dated 2006. Then I wrote again to get minutes of any meetings since 2005 and was informed there were none. So the idea is that the 2006 report was filed without a meeting. What DOJ sent me a few months ago had no signatures.

    Basically it seems that when DOJ gets complaints that it has violated the Privacy Act it ignores them unless people actually file a lawsuit.

    Governments’-Attic is an organization that gets lists of FOIA requests and publishes them. They get the info they publish from the government. I took a list of Privacy Act lawsuits and compared it with FOIA requests over the same timeframe and found that very few of the cases that made it into court are shown as having any pre suit government contact but I know this is not true.

    There is a lawsuit pending now in the Supreme Court related to whether the government has liability for emotional damages when it intentionally violates the Privacy Act or only for damages of the right to petition the court and prove able economic damages. The issue was decided against the government in the court of appeals and the government filed a petition for supreme court review. It is Stanmore Cawthon Cooper v. Federal Aviation Administration. The initial papers are on USDOJ.gov.

    In its petition, the solicitor general says that if the government has to pay for emotional damages it will be really expensive because they intentionally damaged the emotions of a lot of people.

    Where are the reports on the complaints from these people?

    Homeland Security has a Data Integrity Board that publishes notices of meetings and minutes. Department of Justice does neither.

    (u) Data Integrity Boards

    (1) Every agency conducting or participating in a matching program shall establish a Data Integrity Board to oversee and coordinate among the various components of such agency the agency’s implementation of this section.
    (2) Each Data Integrity Board shall consist of senior officials designated by the head of the agency, and shall include any senior official designated by the head of the agency as responsible for implementation of this section, and the inspector general of the agency, if any. The inspector general shall not serve as chairman of the Data Integrity Board.

    (F) shall provide interpretation and guidance to agency components and personnel on the requirements of this section for matching programs;

    (G) shall review agency record-keeping and disposal policies and practices for matching programs to assure compliance with this section; and

    (H) may review and report on any agency matching activities that are not matching programs.

    (4)(A) Except as provided in subparagraphs (B) and (C), a Data Integrity Board shall not approve any written agreement for a matching program unless the agency has completed and submitted to such Board a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed program and such analysis demonstrates that the program is likely to be cost effective.

    (5)(A) If a matching agreement is disapproved by a Data Integrity Board, any party to such agreement may appeal the disapproval to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Timely notice of the filing of such an appeal shall be provided by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to the Committee on Governmental Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Government Operations of the House of Representatives.

    (B) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget may approve a matching agreement notwithstanding the disapproval of a Data Integrity Board if the Director determines that–
    (i) the matching program will be consistent with all applicable legal, regulatory, and policy requirements;
    (ii) there is adequate evidence that the matching agreement will be cost- effective; and

    (iii) the matching program is in the public interest.

    (C) The decision of the Director to approve a matching agreement shall not take effect until 30 days after it is reported to committees described in subparagraph (A).
    (D) If the Data Integrity Board and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget disapprove a matching program proposed by the inspector general of an agency, the inspector general may report the disapproval to the head of the agency and to the Congress.

    (6) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall, annually during the first 3 years after the date of enactment of this subsection and biennially thereafter, consolidate in a report to the Congress the information contained in the reports from the various Data Integrity Boards under paragraph (3)(D). Such report shall include detailed information about costs and benefits of matching programs that are conducted during the period covered by such consolidated report, and shall identify each waiver granted by a Data Integrity Board of the requirement for completion and submission of a cost-benefit analysis and the reasons for granting the waiver.
    (7) In the reports required by paragraphs (3)(D) and (6), agency matching activities that are not matching programs may be reported on an aggregate basis, if and to the extent necessary to protect ongoing law enforcement or counterintelligence investigations.

    So basically several administrations both Democrat and Republican decided to ignore statutory requirements to implement complaint reception and reporting systems and also to skip having meetings in which they were required to consider whether they were doing certain things, such as receiving complaints, or creating systems of records that it doesn’t disclose to Congress and the public through the Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations.

    DOJ has many components and many systems and DOJ has set up FOIA/PA implementation around the agency components but it avoids a public hearing on the effects of DOJ’s master system. In other words, the Code of Federal Regulations addresses various statutory disclosure regulations about certain systems such as the Warrant Information Network, Joint Automated Booking Systems, and systems that keep track of people who have filed FOIA requests or filed an application for government employment. But there is very little disclosure about information shared within these systems. If the Data Integrity Board actually had meetings some of the ways that systems of records affect civil and political rights might be addressed and put into the system specifications, training manuals, and personnel administration.

  9. I can’t help but remember a story about a guy with a ring… something about power corrupting.

    And no, I’m not talking about Wagner or Tolkien.

  10. I understand that this post is about the President and not signing statements per se, but for those of us who don’t know: why are signing statements “wrong?” (As a corollary are all signing statements wrong, or just some?) How do signing statements differ from legislative history as a tool for statutory construction?

  11. mahtso,

    A good discussion of this issue may be found at Glenn Greenwald’s blog. The particular recent signing statement is one in which Obama decides he can ignore the power of the purse delegated to Congress. This dovetails into exactly what Bruce Fein was writing about in his articles of impeachment. He said: “If he {Obma} can wipe out the war powers authorization, why can’t he wipe out Congress’s authority to spend?” asked Fein.” If we’re going to be a government of laws, and not descend into empire, this is Caesar crossing the Rubicon.”

    This decision to ignore Congress as the funder of the govt. is quite dangerous. If by some miracle Congress did stop funding our many wars of empire and our many bailouts of the criminally wealthy, what happens if Obama decides he will unilaterally fund more wars and bailouts? Why couldn’t he do this if Congress isn’t raising a peep, and neither are most of the people?

  12. Jill,

    You wrote the following on the Tea Party thread:
    “Mike A. everything you write is correct. The problem is who is and who isn’t included in supporting the value system of the tea party. What has happened in our nation is that people who consider themselves polar opposite of the tea parties, people who truly feel they are liberals, have come to believe in and support extreme right wing positions.”

    I responded to you as I did on that thread for the following reasons:

    1) You made a generalization about liberals that does not hold true for many of us liberals.

    2) You were comparing apples and oranges. Tea Partiers are members of the Tea Party. Liberals may belong to a number of different parties–or may have no party affiliation at all. Liberals may be members of the Democratic Party, the Green Party…or they may be Independents.

    In addition, there are liberals like Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, and others who have criticized President Obama on a number of issues. Kucinich even brought up the suggestion that the President’s decision on the US bombing of Libya was an impeachable offense.

    Words have meaning. You made a generaliztion about liberals on the other thread. I argued the point you made about Tea Partiers and Liberals holding the same far-right positions. I listed a number of issues on which Tea Partiers and Liberals hold vastly different opinions in comments that I addressed to you. You didn’t respond to those comments. I’m not sure why.

  13. I did respond Eliane. I don’t think I’m getting through. That’s why I used JTs’ quotes: ““The White House is now relying almost entirely on a cult of personality for liberals to ignore that fact that Obama now stands against many of the defining liberal and libertarian principles.” and “The single consistent position appears to be “I am Barack Obama so it is better when I do it.” What is remarkable is that many Democrats appear to agree from their silence. Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer have even publicly praised Obama for his undeclared war in Libya. After all, it is Barack Obama and he was against undeclared wars before he was for them.”

    This is what I’m saying, nothing different. I tried again to explain and respond today by saying: “No group, not even the Tea Party is a monolith, so I am not saying everyone who is a liberal or a Democrat believes in reactionary policies, but many do. I will also say that not every Tea party member believes in the core ideas Mike A. listed yesterday, but many do. Therefore, we must look only at actions, not labels and respond accordingly.” I just don’t know what else to say. I was hoping by quoting JT and referring to Glenn Greenwald who constantly brings up liberals and Democrats supporting actions done by Obama what they used to condemn when done by Bush as a way of showing what I meant. I keep saying that I am referring to MANY liberals or Democrats, that groups aren’t monoliths, which doesn’t mean most or all (I agree words have meanings). So I’m at a loss as to where to go now.

  14. Neither Professor Turley nor Glenn Greenwald has expressed commonality with the tea party that I am aware. Neither has advocated overthrowing Obama.

  15. I guess the best thing to do is to ask this question. What do you think of JT saying: “The White House is now relying almost entirely on a cult of personality for liberals to ignore that fact that Obama now stands against many of the defining liberal and libertarian principles.”?

  16. Glenn Greenwald recommends this article on his twitter page: “The Wall Street Journal website has an interesting summary of a recent study tracing the decline of the anti-war movement over the last few years, despite the deepening involvement of the United States in multiple wars:

    President Obama inherited two wars, neither of which has ended—and the United States is now involved in military action in Libya—yet the anti-war movement has all but vanished. Why?

    The answer, according to a new research article, has to do with the complex relationship between non-partisan activists and those who identify as Democrats. In short, many antiwar Democrats saw the election of President Barack Obama as a sufficient victory for their cause and withdrew from the streets.

    The researchers conducted 5,398 surveys at 27 antiwar protests from January 2007 through December 2009. They also interviewed movement leaders and conducted ethnographic observations. The largest protest during that period occurred on Jan. 27, 2007, and drew over 100,000 people, by the researchers’ count. By October 2009, however, protests were drawing mere hundreds (which is about where they’ve remained).

    What changed? During the period studied, the proportion of protesters who identified themselves as Democrats dropped from about 50% to roughly 20%. The rest of the protesters identified with no party or, less often, a third party. The proportion of third-party activists grew over time.

    Both the Democratic Party and the antiwar movement gained advantages from their interaction, the researchers argue. But Democrats viewed the election of President Obama as a victory per se, while nonpartisan protesters were more attuned to policy continuities. Such continuities as—well, the wars not ending, and the one in Afghanistan escalating.

    As I have explained elsewhere, many people, especially committed partisans, tend to act as “political fans”: processing political information in a highly biased way that overvalues anything that confirms their views or partisan loyalties, while ignoring or downplaying evidence that cuts against them.

    One manifestation of this tendency is that committed partisans will tolerate behavior from their own party that they would be among the first to condemn if the opposition did it. When “our” side does the kinds of things that we condemn the other party for, partisans tend to ignore it, downplay it, or pretend that there is a meaningful distinction between the two cases even when there isn’t. This is similar to the way that sports fans denounce cheating or bad calls that go against their team, but ignore such things when they help the team win.

    Many anti-war activists who are also partisan Democrats are willing to tolerate, if not actually support, aggressive military action undertaken by Obama that they would not have vehemently opposed under a Republican president. In the immediate aftermath of Obama’s election, it might have been plausible to believe that Obama would quickly cut back on US military action abroad, even though he had actually promised to escalate the Afghanistan war during the 2008 election. By now, however, it is clear that Obama intends no such thing. Indeed, he has actually entered another war — this time without congressional authorization, and despite the fact that Muammar Qaddafi’s regime poses little threat to US national security interests, and does not have nearly as extensive a record of mass murder as Saddam Hussein did in Iraq.

    A few antiwar liberal Democrats, such as Rep. Dennis Kucinich, have indeed denounced Obama’s war policies. But most have either kept quiet or actually supported the president. As the article by Michael Heaney and Fabio Rojas shows, this reaction is in sharp contrast to that of antiwar activists who are not also Democratic partisans. The latter have consistently opposed the various wars under both Obama and Bush, and have correctly recognized the substantial degree of continuity between the two.

    Of course, this kind of partisan bias is far from limited to liberal Democrats. During the Bush presidency, many Republicans tolerated a vast expansion of federal spending and regulation that they would never have accepted from a Democrat. Earlier, the famous “Nixon in China” phenomenon arose because most Republicans were willing to accept Nixon’s cosying up to a mass-murdering Communist dictatorship just a few years after its worst crimes, even though they would not have tolerated similar policies from a liberal Democrat. There were principled conservative Republicans who denounced Nixon and Bush. But the overall level of Republican opposition was far lower than it would have been had a Democrat done the exact same thing.”

  17. Jill,

    You think I’m not getting your point–and I think you’re not getting my point.

    I’m a liberal. I do not ignore the fact that Obama has continued on with many of the same abhorrent policies put in place by the Bush Administration. There are many, many liberals like me who do not. No REAL liberal would support such policies.

    I think part of our country’s problem has been caused by the press and the media. They gave Bush a “buy” on a lot of things. They are now ignoring some of the things that Obama is doing. Where is their outrage at torture, the indefinite confinement of prisoners, the treatment of Bradley Manning, and to what is/has been going on in this country?

    We have journalists like Greenwald, Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill, Jane Mayer, and some others speaking out–but most in the mainstream/corporate media are more concerned about their own professional careers than about issues of great import that are having a terribly negative impact on this country and its reputation.

    *****

    Here’s a story for you:

    Teenagers Now Look Favorably On Torture Because The Media Taught Them It Was Morally Acceptable
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/13/teens-torture-media-red-cross_n_848751.html

  18. Elaine,

    I understand and agree with everything you just wrote. I know I affirmed yesterday that you were a social justice liberal. I will reaffirm that today, gladly. I am not attacking you. It sounds like you think I am doing that. I’m not. I am trying to suggest a way out of the mess our nation is in. First, recognize that reactionary ideas have permeated our entire society, (such as the article on torture shows). To think of them as belonging solely to the tea party or Republicans is a mistake, they are in Democratic and liberal circles as well–they really have permeated our society. So, how to respond to these inculcated reactionary ideas? Ignore party and pay attention to actions. Respond solely to actions, no matter who engages in them.

    I also agree that teens and many other people now think torture is acceptable. We have both Bush/Cheney and Obama to blame for that as well as Congress and the media. That is sad, it is horrible and somehow we’ve got to turn it around. I think you are trying to turn it around. So am I. I’m not your enemy. I don’t consider you my enemy.

  19. The agencies aren’t supposed to have records that don’t correspond to an authorized purpose. That is one reason why the budgets are supposed to be very specific and not to include slush funds.

  20. Jill,

    I’m not getting my point across to you. I don’t think you’re attacking me.

    I blame all who are guilty for getting our country into the mess it’s in–not just Republicans. Democrats gave Bush the votes to go to war in Iraq. Obama and the Democrats have caved on a number of things that I wish they hadn’t.

    That said, some of the things that Republicans are trying to do and some of the legislation that Republicans are trying to pass in Congress and in state legislatures–which Tea Partiers support–has got to be seen as far worse than what the Democrats are doing.

  21. The focus seems to be on protesting the republican tea party governors now. Did you meet a lot of republicans when you were at the state capitol, Blouise?

  22. Elaine,
    Great video of Roy Zimmerman. It was hilarious!
    I agree with your comments about the lesser of two evils position that progressives find themselves in. We do object to many Obama decisions and positions, but when you look at the alternative, there isn’t much of an option politically. We have to keep pressing Obama to be the Obama the candidate and hold his feet to the fire whenever necessary. We have to criticize and protest bad decisions and stand up for our principles.
    Women will be an endangered species if any of the current Teapublican candidates ascend to the White House. The middle class and unions and our way of life will be threatened if any of the current Teapublican candidates win the White House. The Rich will pay zero taxes just like many of the corporations who are overburdened by taxes already! Social Security will be privatized if it exists at all and Medicare and health care will be strictly a pay as you go system. There are plenty of reasons why Obama should be criticized and rebuked, but there are many more why he or another “liberal” or “progressive” needs to be in the White House.

  23. Elaine,

    I don’t agree with your last statement. If you look very carefully you will see Republicans and Democrats work hand in hand on all matters, economic. I think the film, “Inside Job” does an excellent job of showing this. There’s also an article just out by Matt Taibbi that may be of interest to you. These actions have all occurred under the Democratic watch. They have gutted the middle class on down.

    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/04/16-1

  24. Jill,

    You keep missing my point. Did I ever absolve the Democrats of the things they’ve done wrong? I’ve read all of Taibbi’s articles and books. (I already left a link to that Taibbi article on another thread.) I know what’s going on in Congress. I still happen to believe the Republicans and Tea Partiers are worse than the Democrats by several degrees. You disagree. We have a difference of opinion. Let’s leave it at that.

    Some questions for you:
    – Which party is trying to dismantle the financial reform bill that was passed?
    – Which party is trying to take away a woman’s right to choose?
    – Which party wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare?
    – Which party wants to spend millions of dollars defending DOMA?
    – Which party is anti-union and trying to do away with collective bargaining for public sector workers?

    Here is one of the posts I wrote that includes links to several of Taibbi’s other articles:
    http://jonathanturley.org/2011/04/09/fed-up-a-post-about-ben-bernanke-senator-bernie-sanders-and-the-bailout%e2%80%a6with-a-song-parody/

  25. SwM,

    Yes, I did. A great many public service workers are republican … or were republican. If they are going to remain republican then they are very careful to note that they are NOT TeaParty Republicans.

    Kasich is viewed as a TeaParty Republican … a usurper, if you will. By viewing him as a teabagger, they are quite comfortable in protesting against him.

    Those who are aligned with the Democratic Party don’t make that careful distinction … neither do the Independents.

    Over the last three months teabaggers have announced protests in all sorts of Ohio towns but only a few individuals actually show … and by few I mean any where from 2 to 12. They stand around for awhile with a couple of signs and then disappear not to be seen again.

  26. Swarthmore mom
    1, April 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm
    I think the demise of the middle class started under Reagan.

    ===================================================

    I would agree with you on that … in my opinion, Nixon was pro-middle class and felt uncomfortable in upper class society.

  27. IMHO the best way that I’m telling the difference between the two parties lately is that one party will kiss you first.

  28. I think that mahtso’s questions about signing statements were glossed over and should be examined. I am not a lawyer, so I have only a layman’s understanding of the law, but in my reading of the Constitution I have never seen anything about “signing statements” or any indication that they have any legal standing whatsoever. The U.S. court system and ultimately the Supreme Court decides on the Constitutional legality of bills passed by both Houses of Congress, NOT the president. As far as I know, the President’s opinion expressed in a “signing statement” has no more standing in law than my opinion expressed in a comment on the Turley Blog. The President has no more authority than I do to amend laws or make up his own laws. I would be interested in hearing from one of our lawyers on the legal standing of “signing statements”.

  29. I voted democrat and all I got was a lousy republican. I do have to thank President Obama for opening my eyes in regards to the democratic party. They are just republicans who are better at lying.
    At least the republicans are honest about hating the vast majority of the people of the United States.

  30. HenMan said: ‘I would be interested in hearing from one of our lawyers on the legal standing of “signing statements”.’

    I’d also like to know about the history of how they have been used – which presidents have done this the most? (I suspect the signing statement graph will have an unusually large peak during the last decade…)

  31. Signing statements are not law and ought not to be given any legal significance whatsoever. Although I am not familiar with their history, they have largely become a means by which the President let’s us know which parts of a statute he will ignore. However, I have not been able to find a “King’s X” clause in the oath of office.

    Signing statements are public proclamations of defiance intended to concentrate power in the executive branch at the expense of the legislative. They fit in nicely with the theory of the unitary executive, the authoritarian doctrine that has become especially popular with presidents as soon as they assume office.

    In my view, they are a pox on republican government and ought to be denounced loudly and repeatedly. And, under the right circumstances, they should provide grounds for impeachment.

  32. Gee, thanks, Elaine. I cited a handy fluff piece and you responded with a 33 page, single-spaced academic analysis which I now feel compelled to read in its entirety. :)

  33. Mike A.,

    As Buddha so often says–I live to be of service. I’ll let you read all of that report. You’re the lawyer. I’m just a little ole retired schoolmarm.

    ;)

  34. Wow … the link Mike A. provided to pbs was very educational … “until Ronald Reagan that signing statements began to become much more frequent, and more influential. ” Figures it was Reagan but what about “with the help of young Justice Department Lawyer, Samuel Alito”.

    If this issue were to make it to the Supreme Court, wouldn’t Alito have to recuse himself?

    If it is an impeachable offense and Obama finds himself facing that situation … too bad … he was the last one caught holding the ball.

    Now it’s on to Elaine’s link. I don’t mind her homework assignments … there are usually 2 to 3 a week and one does learn.

  35. REVEALED: Boehner’s High-Priced Lawyer Is Charging the American Taxpayer $520 Per Hour
    April 19th, 2011 at 1:00 PM
    Think Progress
    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/04/19/clement-520-per-hour/

    ThinkProgress has obtained a copy of the contract House Republicans signed with Paul Clement, a former Solicitor General who earns $5 million a year, to defend the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. Although Clement’s firm is charging less than the $900 an hour they typically bill for their top attorneys’ work, Clement will still leave the American people with a massive legal bill:

    2. The General Counsel agrees to pay Contractor for all contractual services a sum not to exceed $500,000.00. … Furthermore, it is understood and agreed that should the $500,000 cap be reached before the Litigation is complete, and if the cap has not then been raised by written agreement…contractor shall not be obligated to continue providing legal services under this Agreement.

    3. The General Counsel agress to pay Contractor at a blended rate of $520.00 per hour for all reasonable attorney time expended in connection with the Litigation, and at 75 percent of the Contractor’s usual and customary rates for all reasonable non-attorney time…and to reimburse Contractor for all reasonable expenses incurred by the Contractor in connection with the Litigation[.]

    The House GOP’s decision to stand by this unconstitutional assault on gay families is indefensible, and it is made all the worse by their fiscally reckless decision to hire one of the most expensive lawyers in America. Indeed, it wasn’t even necessary for the Republicans to hire a law firm at all to represent their anti-gay position. The U.S. House’s Office of General Counsel already employs a team of exceptionally competent lawyers who are all perfectly capable of drafting and filing a legal brief, and none of these lawyers earn more than a fraction of Clement’s multi-million dollar salary.

    In a few months, the debt ceiling will need to be raised, and House Republicans will whine over and over again about how the United States is spending too much money. If they really care one bit about fiscal responsibility, they should show it by firing Paul Clement.

  36. Way off topic:

    WikiLeaks Suspect Being Moved Out of Quantico
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Published: April 19, 2011 at 7:03 PM ET
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/04/19/us/politics/AP-US-US-WikiLeaks-Army-Private.html?_r=3&hp

    Excerpt:
    WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pentagon official says the Army private suspected of giving classified data to WikiLeaks is being moved to a state-of-the-art facility at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. But the Pentagon’s general counsel says this does not suggest that the soldier’s treatment of the soldier at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., was inappropriate.

    Jeh Johnson said Tuesday that Army Pfc. Bradley Manning will be moved in the very near future to the medium security facility at Leavenworth. He says Manning can be moved now because his interview in the Washington region to determine his competency to stand trial has been completed.

  37. I did my homework and now await Mike A.’s opinion. In particular, I paid close attention to the Conclusion (CRS 30) but would highly recommend that the entire paper be read for the interesting facts contained therein.

    The term “unitariness” in this context was new to me and in searching for other references I happened upon this link which deals with the following:
    Unitariness and Myopia: The Executive Branch, Legal Process and Torture (Cornelia T. Pillard, Georgetown University Law Center)

    … which many of you may find interesting and apropos to the present discussion

    http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1192&context=facpub&sei-redir=1#search=“unitariness”

  38. Looks like Obama felt the pressure from his former professor, Lawrence Tribe, with regards to Manning.

  39. Swarthmore mom
    1, April 19, 2011 at 7:49 pm
    Looks like Obama felt the pressure from his former professor, Lawrence Tribe, with regards to Manning.

    ==============================================

    One would hope so but Leavenworth ain’t no country-club prison …

    I’ve been told that “Despite the theory that you are “innocent until proven guilty,” the reality of a military court martial is that a Solider, Sailor, Airmen or Marine is often guilty until proven innocent.” Is it true that the burden in on the defendant to prove his innocence rather than on the prosecution to prove his guilt?

  40. Guilty until proven innocent is the standard for so called “vexatious litigants” and it is basically assumed for most middle class people in America these days who are criminally charged or for whom a petition for a restraining order is filed.

  41. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/04/19/us/politics/AP-US-US-WikiLeaks-Army-Private.html?_r=2&hp

    WikiLeaks Suspect Being Moved Out of Quantico

    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Published: April 19, 2011 at 8:02 PM ET

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Army private suspected of giving classified data to WikiLeaks is being moved to a state-of-the-art facility at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where Pentagon officials said more extensive mental, emotional and physical health care will be available.

    Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, said the move does not suggest that Army Pfc. Bradley Manning’s treatment at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., was inappropriate.

    But the transfer, which Johnson described as “imminent”, comes in the wake of international criticism about Manning’s treatment during his detention at the Marine Corps base at Quantico. And the conditions of Manning’s detention have been the focus of repeated protests from human rights groups and lawmakers.

    Johnson, however, said that “The fact that we have made a decision to transfer this particular pretrial confine … should not be interpreted as a criticism of the place he was before.”

    Speaking to reporters Tuesday during a hastily arranged briefing, Johnson and Army Undersecretary Joseph Westphal acknowledged that the brig at Quantico was not designed to hold pretrial detainees for more than a few months.

    “This is the right decision, at the right time,” said Westphal. “We were looking at a situation where he would need an environment more conducive for a longer detention.”

    The new facility, they said, will be more open, have more space, and Manning will have a greater opportunity to eat and interact with other prisoners there. They added that the move was in Manning’s best interest because Leavenworth’s Joint Regional Correctional Facility has a broader array of facilities, including trained mental, emotional and physical health staff.

    Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton, who is in charge of the medium-security detention facility at Leavenworth, said Manning will undergo a comprehensive evaluation upon his arrival to assess whether he is a risk to his own or others’ safety. The 150 inmates there — including eight who are awaiting trial — are allowed three hours of recreation per day, she said, and three meals a day in a dining area.

    She said the facility, which opened in January, is designed for long-term detention of pretrial inmates. Officials agreed that Manning’s case, which involves hundreds of thousands of highly sensitive and classified documents, is very complex and could drag on for months, if not years.

    Johnson said that Manning, who has been at Quantico for more than eight months, can be moved now because his interview in the Washington region to determine his competency to stand trial has been completed. That interview lasted one day and was done April 9.

    Johnson also said he believes that Manning’s lawyer was told about the move Tuesday. The lawyer, David Coombs, did not respond to a request for comment.

    Manning faces nearly two dozen charges, including aiding the enemy, a crime that can bring the death penalty or life in prison.

    His transfer to Leavenworth comes a bit more than a week after a U.N. torture investigator complained that he was denied a request to make an unmonitored visit to Manning. Pentagon officials said he could meet with Manning, but it is customary to give only the detainee’s lawyer confidential visits.

    The U.N. official, Juan Mendez, said a monitored conversation would be counter to the practice of his U.N. mandate.

    A few days later, a committee of Germany’s parliament protested about Manning’s treatment to the White House. And Amnesty International has said Manning’s treatment may violate his human rights.

    Human rights activists have also staged protests near the Quantico facility.

    Tom Parker, a policy director at Amnesty International, said Tuesday that it would be good if the military was responding to concerns about Manning’s detention.

    “The conditions that he was reported to be held in at Quantico were extremely harsh and could have damaged his mental health,” said Parker.

    Manning has been held in maximum security in a single-occupancy cell at Quantico, and he is allowed to wear only a suicide-proof smock to bed each night.

    At least part of that will not change, Hilton said, noting that all of the pretrial detainees at the Leavenworth facility are held alone in their cells.

    President Barack Obama and senior military officials have repeatedly contended that Manning is being held under appropriate conditions given the seriousness of the charges against him.

    A former intelligence analyst, Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, including Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, confidential State Department cables and a classified military video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Iraq that killed a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

    Army prosecutors, however, have told Manning’s lawyers that they will not recommend the death penalty.

    There are several detention facilities at Fort Leavenworth, including the military’s maximum security prison. The new 464-bed Joint Regional Correctional Facility, which opened last fall, combined the operations of several military prisons around the country.

    ___

    Associated Press National Security Correspondent Robert Burns contributed to this report.

    ___

    Online:

    Joint Regional Correctional Facility: http://www.army.mil/jrcf

  42. what is being ignored by everyone is the fact that every president since eisenhower is owned and operated by the elites. what is also being ignored by the main stream media is what they are printing in the news is NOT WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD. not everyone is misinformed but millions are. there is NO LONGER A GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE. the government has been turned into a corporation. with barack ostupid as the ceo. he had no intentions of keeping any of his campaign promises. and he hasnt. he has continously made life harder for anyone not of the uber rich circle. they are no longer even bothering to try to hide what they are doing to the country. there is a site named educate-yourself.org that is one of a few legit sites that does what it can to INFORM THE PEOPLE OF THE TRUTH. of course because of that truth the sites owners are constantly under attack but all it takes if for you learn the truth make your informed decisions after doing some extensive research and you will find out what is about to happen to all of us!!!!!!

  43. Aint_Mizbahavin,

    Isn’t that a site that talks to aliens … no way I’m clicking on that one …

    Sigh … it’s Thursday … time to welcome the trolls

  44. Elaine,

    Extraterrestrials … I believe some of the people on that site talk to them too. I’ve never visited the site but I’ve read about it … don’t want to have my IP address show up there … the aliens might come through the intertubes and get me.

  45. […] This Obama-Herring approach to “governing,” goes well beyond the kind of nullification some constitutional conservatives advocate. Unlike the President, they seek to nullify only laws that they deem unconstitutional, not merely laws they think unwise. And unlike both the President and Herring, they suggest nullification through duly-adopted state legislation, not by the unilateral decision of an executive officer. (Needless to say, the Obama-Herring practice also goes well beyond President George W. Bush’s practice of issuing interpretive “signing statements,” which libera… […]

  46. […] The Obama-Herring approach to “governing” goes well beyond the kind of nullification some constitutional conservatives advocate. Unlike the President, they seek to nullify only laws that they deem unconstitutional, not merely laws they think unwise. And unlike both the President and Herring, they suggest nullification through duly-adopted state legislation, not by the unilateral decision of an executive officer. (Needless to say, the Obama-Herring practice also goes well beyond President George W. Bush’s practice of issuing interpretive “signing statements,” which libera… […]

  47. […] The Obama-Herring approach to “governing” goes well beyond the kind of nullification some constitutional conservatives advocate. Unlike the President, they seek to nullify only laws that they deem unconstitutional, not merely laws they think unwise. And unlike both the President and Herring, they suggest nullification through duly-adopted state legislation, not by the unilateral decision of an executive officer. (Needless to say, the Obama-Herring practice also goes well beyond President George W. Bush’s practice of issuing interpretive “signing statements,” … […]

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