Wednesday, October 22, 2008

FCNL - "President Bush Asserts Right to Control Iraqi Oil"

In an Oct. 16 press release the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) wrote:

"President George W. Bush this week rejected a Congressional effort to bar the U. S. military from controlling Iraq’s oil resources.

Before signing a bill authorizing military funding earlier this week, the president issued a 'signing statement', saying that he would not be bound by a provision in the bill prohibiting expenditure of funds “to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq" (see http://www.fcnl.org/press/releases/oilcontrol101608.htm).

The FCNL's online aforementioned press release provided a link to said signing statement (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/10/20081014-8.html), as well as the language of the the legislation (http://www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=3431&issue_id=35).

I was struck, in reading the signing statement, how oblique it was (you'll have to read it for yourself to see what I mean), and yet, the import of it seems to be that even though Congress' defense spending bill, in terms of military spending in Iraq, prohibits using the funds for the purposes of exercising "United States control of the oil resources of Iraq" this is understood by those who know about these things (such as the FCNL) to in fact mean something like: "Though you, Congress, have passed this legislation, and have made specific requirements about the use of the military funding it authorizes", I, as President of the United States, don't have to be bound by this or that requirement that appears in the spending authorization, if I believe it could inhibit my doing what I need to do, as President."

The statement is, as I've said, not nearly so straightforward, though. Rather, it's as if the President is afraid to come right out and say, in terms anyone could understand: "I'm not going to obey Congress in this", but in fact, he won't obey, and says so, but does it in a way reminiscent of Bilbo Baggins' farewell speech, in which he tells his well-wishers: "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."

I have heard from many that President Bush has done many, many "signing statements" (upwards of 1000?), and indeed I only learned what the import of a "signing statement" by a President is, during the Bush administration.

As someone living in west-central Wisconsin; the part of these United States which Sarah Palin probably considers part of the "real America", the part of this country in which Palin would likely say that "they grow good people", I am baffled by the whole concept of "signing statements". Really. I mean, isn't the whole purpose of Congress to do things like pass stuff like spending authorizations for the military?

How can it be that the President will just say: "I'm not going to follow the will of the American people as expressed by legislation passed by people Americans have elected to do things exactly like pass legislation about military funding and HOW that funding is to be used?

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