Tuesday, January 03, 2006

McCain anti-torture act

The President signed the act into law, but he doesn't believe in it. In his notes on the subject, Bush published online a caveat to the act's actual wording. Still, his notes do not carry the weight of law, no matter what Alito says. From the President's notes:
The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.
In other words, as long as the President determines that it is in the interest of protecting the "American people from further terrorist attacks", then water boarding and worse will continue. Note that little section about "...consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power" which is the President's way of saying (or rather, his lawyer's way of saying) that he doesn't care what the courts have to say about this.

As far as my Alito link above, here's what the President's nominee says about Presidential notes:

In a Feb. 5, 1986, draft memo, Alito, then deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, outlined a strategy for changing that. It laid out a case for having the president routinely issue statements about the meaning of statutes when he signs them into law.

Such "interpretive signing statements" would be a significant departure from run-of-the-mill bill signing pronouncements, which are "often little more than a press release," Alito wrote. The idea was to flag constitutional concerns and get courts to pay as much attention to the president's take on a law as to "legislative intent."

"Since the president's approval is just as important as that of the House or Senate, it seems to follow that the president's understanding of the bill should be just as important as that of Congress," Alito wrote. He later added that "by forcing some rethinking by courts, scholars, and litigants, it may help to curb some of the prevalent abuses of legislative history."

A nominee who favors an extreme interpretation of executive powers - what a surprise?!!? Argue about abortion all you like, but there are equally large concerns about Alito when it comes to executive privilege and state versus individual rights in general.

No comments: