President votes “present” on detainee detention

| January 1, 2012

Yesterday, the President signed the National Defense Authorization Act “despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.” He had previously threatened to veto the bill in it’s entirety because of that provision, but so much for the courage of his convictions. He instead issued a “signing statement” – a practice he criticized President Bush for during the 2008 campaign.

[The Obama Administration] will oppose any attempt to extend or expand them in the future, and will seek the repeal of any provisions that undermine the policies and values that have guided my Administration throughout my time in office.

In other words, he’ll pick and choose which laws he will enforce – that kind of runs contrary to the whole purpose of the Executive Office, the duties of which include executing the laws passed by the Legislative branch. That’s why they call it the Executive branch – it’s supposed to execute not legislate.

Since the White House has failed to publish that signing statement on it’s website in a timely manner, I’m forced to rely on media accounts of the signing statement.

Category: Barack Obama/Joe Biden, Legal, Terror War

Comments (19)

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  1. CI says:

    Signing statements are unconstitutional….no matter who occupies the White House.

  2. AW1 Tim says:

    Agreed. At some point, Congress is going to have to ask the courts to weigh in on the issue, or find some other way, like defunding the 1st Lady’s office, staff, etc, in order to bring Presidents into line with the Constitution.

    Of course, King George III wouldn’t listen to the people and see how well THAT turned out for him. 🙂

  3. CI says:

    The list of items to bring government in line is probably too long to detail here, but would surely include the indefinite detention of American citizens

  4. B Woodman says:

    That’s what we get when there’s a person with NO morals or convictions in the top leadership position, the ultimate hypocrisy, signing an unconstitutional bill into law that even HE doesn’t agree with.

  5. UpNorth says:

    “repeal of any provisions that undermine the policies and values “. This administration has values? Who knew? I would have been far more comfortable if he’d said that he’d repeal any provisions that violated the Constitution.

  6. DaveO says:

    ““despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.” ”

    Since when has the POTUS had such reservations? When the terrorist tried in NY looked like he could get acquitted, the POTUS was on national television saying that regardless of the judge’s decision, said terrorist would be held anyway.

    By the way: what is the law’s definition of a terrorist these days? The Taliban are our friends, according to the WH. But there still exists that pesky report noting white military veterans are very likely to become radicalized.

    I can’t find where Presidential Signing Statements are forbidden in the Constitution and its amendments. Obama never does the same thing as Bush-43 unless it both serves his purpose, and can be successfully defended in the SCOTUS.

  7. CI says:

    @6 – There is no specific section of the Constitution that disallows signing statements, nor does any allow them….although the Presentment Clause seems to limit a President only to veto it, sign it, or do neither.

    “The Taliban are our friends, according to the WH.”


  8. 2-17 AirCav says:

    The argument that goes, “If it ain’t prohibited, it must be permitted” may be a winner in some arenas, but it is not when it comes to the Constitution. The Constitution does a great many things and chief among them is to set forth the express powers and duties of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The express powers are limited to those listed in the Constitution and the duties are those mandated by the Constitution. The implied powers are those which are not listed in the Constitution but which necessary and proper to fulfill the express powers. IF we can agree to the foregoing, then we can ask, “Is Obama doing something that is not prescribed by the Constution or is he failing to do something that is mandated by it?” And that’s where the fun begins!

  9. Marble Mountain says:

    “Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against – then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

    (Atlas Shrugged)

  10. kate says:

    the imperial presidency…

  11. WOTN says:

    Ok, maybe I’m missing something. I had presumed that a “signing statement” was simply him saying he didn’t like something in the legislation he was signing. The 1st Amendment says he’s free to use his mouth to prove he’s as stupid as he wants to be.

    Or, is a “signing statement” something different than just him talking some more, in a generally incoherent manner?

    Jonn, I was looking at the WH website yesterday too, I have a copy of the “DoD” press release on the signing, which quotes him extensively, and a copy of the signed legislation. If you want a copy, I’ll send you one or both, but frankly the DoD press release was just political double-speak and hot air of the POTUS.

  12. B Woodman says:

    Thank you, Marble Mountain. Well said, and extremely appropriate.

  13. DaveO says:

    CI, yes.

    Two key graphs from the last article:

    1: “As controversy greeted Vice President Joe Biden’s assertion that the Taliban “is not our enemy,” the militant Afghan movement on Tuesday launched a verbal assault against the United States, demanding that it pay compensation and that its leaders be put on trial for the “nine year occupation of Iraq.”” Perhaps that payment is part of the 1.2 billion Obama’s is prepping to ask for.

    2: “During a press briefing Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked whether Biden regretted making the Taliban comments, and replied, “not at all.””

    Nope, not. At. All.

  14. CI says:

    @13 – Yes I know very well about Biden’s comments. That remark doesn’t come within miles of “the Taliban are our friends”.

  15. DaveO says:

    #11 WOTN: yes, a signing statement is a means of registering disagreement with Congress. By law (Constitution) and by precedent in the SCOTUS, the POTUS can disagree with Congress all he wants, but he still has to execute (even defend) the law. That was settled back in the Nixon admin, I believe.

    The POTUS is considered the preeminent legislator, working through his allies in Congress to get his agenda passed. Bush-43 did this relatively easily, even when the GOP did not control both houses. Obama just said he disagreed, although Drudge registered a story in which he fully acknowledged his sweeping new power.

  16. Cedo Alteram says:

    Frankly I thought it was stupid when President Bush was writing signing statements. They are simply irrelevent and nonbinding. The President only has two options, he can sign said bill into law or veto it, that’s it. The power to legislate law, belongs to the congress alone. His doodles in the margins are meaningless.

    Obama’s blatant hypocrisy doesn’t shock me. Especially after he publically brought this up.

  17. UpNorth says:

    I’d say that the Veep, in his brain-dead way, was conveying his, and the administration’s, thoughts on the Taliban. He doesn’t find them to be the enemy, if they aren’t the enemy, they’re either friends or, at best, neutral.
    Then, there is this gem, “According to Reuters, U.S. officials are hopeful that 10 months of secret negotiations with Taliban insurgents will soon result in a breakthrough that will allow the U.S. to leave Afghanistan as scheduled by 2014 without leaving the country to the whims of the hardline group”. So, the Taliban will pinky-promise to behave, if only the war-mongers will leave, then, in between throwing acid in the faces of school girls, and blowing up schools and such, they’ll overthrow the government, and we’ll be right back at September 1, 2001? Or, please, please, let us leave in time for the 2014 mid term elections. The naivete is just breath taking.

  18. DaveO says:

    CI: you may wish to review the definition of “miles” then. The WH doesn’t define it as we do.

  19. CI says:

    @18 – “The WH doesn’t define it as we do.”

    Apparently not.