Tuesday, October 17, 2006

To Issue An Executive Order Or To Not Issue An Executive Order

All bets are on. Which do you think it will be? The President issues an executive order to constrain his definition of torture, or not?

...I'm betting not. The president doesn't like to have others construe the law for him. He likes to use things like signing statements to do that trick. The bonus of Tuesday's bill signing is that Congress gave him the lattitude to define his own job without their oversight one more time (which is just what it seems the republicans wish for in their government, no presidential oversight).

But this is the object of much discussion at today's whitehouse press briefing. Have a look.

Q And the interpretations that were required by the law, that are to be published in an executive order --

MR. SNOW: What it says is the President is authorized to do an executive order. I'll read you the language in a moment. The President's senior advisors are going to make recommendations as to the appropriate steps. Once you have a law passed, then you have the people in the executive branch try to interpret how to make it happen. So there will be further consultations with Congress and consideration of additional legal guidelines in issuance of an executive order. So they're going to try to walk through all the --

Q It says the executive order is published in the Federal Register, right? Your intention is --

MR. SNOW: Let me just -- let me read to you, because -- I'll just read you the language. It sort of speaks for itself, but it's worth going through, with your forbearance. It says: "As provided by the Constitution in this section, the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and to promulgate higher standards and administrative regulations for violations of treaty obligations which are not grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

"The President shall issue interpretations described by Sub-paragraph A" -- which I just read to you -- "by executive order published in the Federal Register. Any executive order published in this paragraph shall be authoritative except as to grave breaches under Common Article III," and so on. So that's the language.

Q So he does have to, then, publish an executive order, isn't that right?

MR. SNOW: Well, again -- well, we'll see. This says he's authorized to do so.

But there is more...do you agree or disagree with Senator Feingold that this day is a "stain" on the history of America?
Q On the signing, there have been a flurry of press releases from prominent Democrats who voted against this, including Senator Feingold who said, "We'll look back on this day as a stain on our nation's history." Would you like to respond to any of those?

MR. SNOW: Senator Feingold thinks it is a stain to detain people who have killed thousands of Americans, to question them, to put together -- on the basis of that questioning, to intervene in a number of terrorist plots that could have killed many more Americans, and now have a process that's not only consistent with international law, but with our statutes; to bring people to justice, to question them -- to detain them, to question them, and to try them? That hardly seems a stain on our national honor. As a matter of fact, it's an example of the way in which the United States does care for the rights of people who don't care for ours.

Q Senator Feingold, in his release, said, "This law allows the government to seize individuals on American soil, detain them indefinitely, with no opportunity to challenge their detention in court, and permits an individual to be convicted on the basis of coerced testimony -- convicted under these rules to be put to --

1 comment:

Kvatch said...

"A stain on our nation's history..." indeed, but reading Snow dissemble about it makes it worse. It's like he's admitting that the administration got everything it wanted, and yet he still feels the need to be evasive.

The man would have more cred it he'd just gloat a little.