Welcome To Our Police State

by James Glaser
January 5, 2007

With a power hungry man like George Bush as President, you knew it had to happen eventually.

It seems like almost every time Congress passes a bill, George Bush attaches a new "signing statement" to it. With these signing statements, the President can change the law passed by Congress so that it says whatever he wants it to.

This last fall Congress passed a bill that made it illegal for the United States to torture. The President attached a signing statement to that bill which said he could order torture when ever he thought it was necessary.

This past month Congress passed a Postal Reform Bill. The President signed the bill, but attached another signing statement to the bill that allows the federal government to open your mail and my mail with out a judge's warrant.

The New York Daily News reports, the signing statement "is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he just signed."

Now George Bush did this back on December 20th and we are just finding out about it now. It has been reported that Bush has used signing statements over 800 times since he was first elected. The White House doesn't tell anyone when the President does this, and we only hear about ones that are leaked to the press, so we don't really know what George has done to our freedoms and laws.

Here are a few that the Boston Globe has reported on:

    March 9: Justice Department officials must give reports to Congress by certain dates on how the FBI is using the USA Patriot Act to search homes and secretly seize papers.
    Bush's signing statement: The president can order Justice Department officials to withhold any information from Congress if he decides it could impair national security or executive branch operations.
    Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.
    Bush's signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.
    Dec. 30: When requested, scientific information ''prepared by government researchers and scientists shall be transmitted [to Congress] uncensored and without delay."
    Bush's signing statement: The president can tell researchers to withhold any information from Congress if he decides its disclosure could impair foreign relations, national security, or the workings of the executive branch.
    Aug. 8: The Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and its contractors may not fire or otherwise punish an employee whistle-blower who tells Congress about possible wrongdoing.
    Bush's signing statement: The president or his appointees will determine whether employees of the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can give information to Congress.
    Dec. 23, 2004: Forbids US troops in Colombia from participating in any combat against rebels, except in cases of self-defense. Caps the number of US troops allowed in Colombia at 800.
    Bush's signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can place restrictions on the use of US armed forces, so the executive branch will construe the law ''as advisory in nature."
    Dec. 17: The new national intelligence director shall recruit and train women and minorities to be spies, analysts, and translators in order to ensure diversity in the intelligence community.
    Bush's signing statement: The executive branch shall construe the law in a manner consistent with a constitutional clause guaranteeing ''equal protection" for all. (In 2003, the Bush administration argued against race-conscious affirmative-action programs in a Supreme Court case. The court rejected Bush's view.)
    Oct. 29: Defense Department personnel are prohibited from interfering with the ability of military lawyers to give independent legal advice to their commanders.
    Bush's signing statement: All military attorneys are bound to follow legal conclusions reached by the administration's lawyers in the Justice Department and the Pentagon when giving advice to their commanders.
    Aug. 5: The military cannot add to its files any illegally gathered intelligence, including information obtained about Americans in violation of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches.
    Bush's signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can tell the military whether or not it can use any specific piece of intelligence.
    Nov. 6, 2003: US officials in Iraq cannot prevent an inspector general for the Coalition Provisional Authority from carrying out any investigation. The inspector general must tell Congress if officials refuse to cooperate with his inquiries.
    Bush's signing statement: The inspector general ''shall refrain" from investigating anything involving sensitive plans, intelligence, national security, or anything already being investigated by the Pentagon. The inspector cannot tell Congress anything if the president decides that disclosing the information would impair foreign relations, national security, or executive branch operations.
    Nov. 5, 2002: Creates an Institute of Education Sciences whose director may conduct and publish research ''without the approval of the secretary [of education] or any other office of the department."
    Bush's signing statement: The president has the power to control the actions of all executive branch officials, so ''the director of the Institute of Education Sciences shall [be] subject to the supervision and direction of the secretary of education."

Now if the President doesn't like any of these bills, he can veto them, but George Bush goes around that process, and just changes the bill to the way he wants it to read. I don't think this is the way our country was set up. George Bush has become not only the "decider" he has now become the dictator.

George Bush and his administration will tell you that everything the President does is to make America safer. Like it or not, America is becoming a police state, where individual freedom is becoming a thing of the past. Does that make you feel safer?

Free JavaScripts provided
by The JavaScript Source

BACK to the 2007 Politics Columns.