Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Another Presidential Signing Statement

When scholars discuss the steps that will be necessary to "unwind" a Bush presidency, one issue that is raised repeatedly is reassessing the use of the signing statement. John Dean describes this administration's use of the signing statement as an abuse of power comparable to Nixon's - or worse.

Gary Hart has an editorial in the Huffington Post expounding on the President's latest signing statement, issued upon passage of the Defense Authorization Bill.

Yesterday, President Bush signed the Defense Authorization Bill, including Section 1222 prohibiting permanent military bases in Iraq, with the now customary "signing statement" declaring that he has no intention of enforcing the law of the land, including this provision, though bound by oath and Constitution to do so.

Anyone paying attention has known for years that our plans for Iraq included permanent bases to facilitate a longterm occupation. We posted this in May of 2006.
We're not planning to stay in Iraq past the completion of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We'll stand down as Iraqis stand up. There are no plans for permanent bases in Iraq. Yes, framing is really nothing more than the marketing of political ideas. In truth, we are mired in a military operation without clear objectives and no definable endpoint. Yes, we're going to hear a lot of noise about "troop drawdowns" this year, but they are merely window dressing designed to get the GOP through the 2006 elections without having to actually address the issue of withdrawal. By President Bush's own admission, finishing this business will fall to his predecessor.
Fast forward not quite two years later, and the only thing that has changed is the date. Clearly, the boy prez plans on riding the "surge" all the way to his last day in office.

To protect our access to Iraq's oil, Bush will do everything in his power to ensure that we not only complete those permanent bases, but that we are bound by our own treaty to occupy them. As Hart states:
To seal the deal, with the expectation of binding future presidential successors, Mr. Bush and Iraq president Nouri al-Maliki are in the process of negotiating a "status of forces agreement" that would commit the U.S. military to combat any internal or external factions the Iraqi government deemed a threat. This represents a one-directional security treaty cloaked in the form of an agreement not subject to Senate ratification. And it guarantees U.S. involvement in age-old Iraqi sectarian conflict for decades to come.

The key to the Democrats winning the oval office this fall is forcing the Republicans to have the debate, not about some nebulous "victory" which the administration has purposefully never defined, but about the costs of empire.

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