Among the complaints against King George III in the United States’ Declaration of Independence that today could be leveled at President George W. Bush is: “He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good1.” One way Bush refuses assent to a law is by neglecting to enforce it, as in the case of the law against hiring illegal immigrants. Under Bush, prosecution and fines for violations of that law were down more than 90% from 1999 to 20032. Another way Bush refuses assent to a law is by issuing a signing statement claiming the right to ignore parts of it he doesn’t like. Bush has made more than 750 such claims3, such as one to ignore a ban against torture, and another to ignore the Patriot Act’s requirement to report to Congress on the FBI‘s use of the act’s expanded search and seizure powers4. Yet another way Bush refuses assent to a law is by simply violating it, as in his NSA domestic warrantless wiretapping program. Bush ordered the program in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which requires a court order for such wiretapping5. Whereas the remedy for this and other complaints against King George III was a war for independence, the remedy for this and other complaints against President Bush would be impeachment and removal from office6x7.
Between 1999 and 2003, work-site enforcement operations were scaled back 95 percent by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which subsequently was merged into the Homeland Security Department. The number of employers prosecuted for unlawfully employing immigrants dropped from 182 in 1999 to four in 2003, and fines collected declined from $3.6 million to $212,000, according to federal statistics.
In 1999, the United States initiated fines against 417 companies. In 2004, it issued fine notices to three.
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.
And when Congress passed a law forbidding the torture of any detainee in US custody, Bush signed the bill but issued a signing statement declaring that he could bypass the law if he believed using harsh interrogation techniques was necessary to protect national security.
Bush’s expansive claims of the power to bypass laws have provoked increased grumbling in Congress. Members of both parties have pointed out that the Constitution gives the legislative branch the power to write the laws and the executive branch the duty to ‘‘faithfully execute” them.
Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.
– Bush decreased major fines for safety violations by mining companies, did not collect fines in 1/2 of cases, and violated law by not handing delinquent cases to Treasury for collection efforts.
– 2 senior Democrats demand Bush obey laws by rescinding signing statements of his intent to violate laws enacted by Congress.
– The US quietly used evidence obtained from a US citizen, rendered and tortured in Saudi Arabia, in court for criminal conviction.
Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration’s intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.
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