An honorable president would have the gumption to veto bills he found objectionable. But as Americans have learned by now, there is no room for honor in President Bush's Oval Office.
He prefers chicanery in the form of "signing statements."
Prior to delivering the State of the Union Address on Monday, Bush eviscerated four key provisions of the new defense bill by saying he will ignore parts of the law he doesn't like.
Bush finds objectionable provisions that:
- Forbid the United States from building a permanent military base in Iraq and controlling Iraq's oil reserves.
- Create a wartime commission to investigate waste, fraud and abuse by military contractors and finally hold them accountable.
- Offer protection for employees of government contractors who expose wrongdoing.
- Require intelligence officers within 45 days to either respond or state why they will not produce documents requested by the Armed Services committees of Congress.
The Bush administration repeatedly has denied concerns that it seeks to create a permanent base in Iraq. But this signing statement and the president's reluctance to bring before Congress a pact it is negotiating with Iraq regarding the presence of U.S. troops beyond 2008 indicate otherwise.
Bush must be stopped before he commits this country to obligations that endure long after he vacates Washington.
Congress must do what it can to hold Bush accountable. Virginia Sen. Jim Webb said he intends to move forward with the wartime commission that he sponsored. It is akin to one created by President Truman during World War II to bring oversight and accountability to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.
"We don't quite know what the administration intends with this sort of language," Webb said Wednesday on the Senate floor. "But I want all my colleagues to be aware of it and to be aware that it potentially is an impingement on the rights of this legislative body -- in effect saying the president has the authority to ignore a law that is now passed, a law that he has now signed."
No American should be able to ignore the law without consequence. Not even a president.
Copyright © 2008 The Roanoke Times