From the August 2006 Idaho Observer:


Bush administration moves to consolidate executive power finding broadbased opposition

President Bushís job approval rating is experiencing another downturn, falling to the lowest rating ever seen by a comprehensive poll taken regularly by CBS. Thirty-seven percent now approve of the job he is doing as president, while 58 percent disapprove. Those in his own party are still overwhelmingly positive about his performance (only 22 percent disapprove), but the president receives little support from either Democrats or Independents. And while views of President Bush have lately not changed much among Republicans or Democrats, his approval rating among Independents has dropped 11 points since just last month, from 40 percent to 29 percent now.

The reasons for the presidentís diminishing approval are likely a combination of the following: The war in Iraq, his administrationís support of Israel as it targets civilians to accomplish a military objective, the rising price of gasoline and the rising prices of almost everything, exponentially-rising levels of public debt, increasing concern that his administration was responsible for 9/11, the warrantless wiretapping of phone calls and monitoring of emails and facilitating the flood of illegals from Mexico.

 

Governors reject Bush bid to federalize the national guard

Itís blatant nonconstitutionality notwithstanding, the Bush administration is asking Congress to pass a bill that would place the national guards of the several states under direct authority of the Pentagon. We can be heartened that the National Governorís Association forwarded a letter to the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee strongly rejecting the notion and in opposition to National Defense Authorization Act HR 5122.

August 1, 2006

The Honorable Duncan Hunter

Chairman

Committee on Armed Services

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Ike Skelton

Ranking Member

Committee on Armed Services

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman and Representative Skelton:

We write in opposition to a provision in the House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization (DoD) Act (H.R. 5122), which is about to be conferenced with the Senate-passed version, S. 2766. A provision in section 511 of the House-passed DoD Act would allow the President to federalize the National Guard of the states without the consent of the governor. Specifically, this clause amends Title 10 of the United States Code to give the President the authority to take control of the Guard in case of "a serious natural or manmade disaster, accident, or catastrophe that occurs in the United States, its territories and possessions, or Puerto Rico." This provision is very open-ended without a definition of what constitutes a "serious" natural or manmade disaster. We understand that in case of a National Security incident where the state may have been incapacitated by an event, the President may need this power. However, he is granted this authority under the "insurrection act." The possibility of the federal government pre-empting the authority of the state or governor in natural and manmade disasters is opposed by the nationís governors. We are responsible for the safety and welfare of our citizens and are in the best position to coordinate all resources to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. When federal aid is needed it should be coordinated by the governors.

The nationís governors feel very strongly about protecting our constitutional responsibility to take care of our citizens, and do not want that responsibility shifted to federal officials, as defined by a "serious" emergency. The current process works quite well where we use our National Guard in emergencies and ask for federal assistance as the need arises. We urge you to drop this provision that would usurp governorís authority over the National Guard during emergencies from the conference agreement on the National Defense Authorization.

Sincerely,

Governor Mike Huckabee

Governor Janet Napolitano

National Governors Association, 444 N. Capitol St., Suite 267,

Washington, D.C. 20001-1512 | (202) 624-5300

 

Bush trying to amend the War Crimes Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.óOn August 9 the Associated Press reported that Bush administration drafted amendments to the War Crimes Act that would retroactively protect policymakers from possible criminal charges for authorizing any humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees, according to lawyers who have seen the proposal.

The move is seen as a sign that ranking members of the Bush administration and those marching to its inhumane orders are becoming concerned that they may be charged criminally for their actions and believe amending the law will protect them.

Still at issue are the atrocities that graphically made international news headlines in April, 2004, when photos of prisoner abuse in Abu Grhaib surfaced.

According to the AP, one section of the draft would prohibit torture and cruel and unusual treatment, "but it does not contain prohibitions from Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions against "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."

Though the U.S. signed the Geneva Conventions, it no longer desires to observe them. Another section of the draft reportedly intends to enforce the new provision retroactively.

"I think what this bill can do is in effect immunize past crimes. Thatís why itís so dangerous," said attorney, Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice.

Fidell said the draft provisions are not just for the protection of those carrying out orders, but also CIA personnel who led interrogations.

Attorney Scott Horton observed that interrogation practices "follow from policies that were formed at the highest levels of the administration" and that "The administration is trying to insulate policymakers under the War Crimes Act."

Congress is faced with a dilemma: How to uphold the War Crimes Act and the humane treatment of prisoners while not unfairly prosecuting interrogators who are just following orders. Congress "is aware of the dilemma we face, said Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Amnesty International USA Executive Director Larry Cox said that "President Bush is looking to limit the War Crimes Act through legislation" since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last June that Bushís plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violates Article 3 of the Constitution.

 

Lawyers condemn Bush use of signing statements to alter bills

HONOLULU, HAWAIIóThe American Bar Association approved a resolution August 8, 2006, condemning President Bushís practice of writing exceptions to legislation he signs into law.

Delegates, representing 410,000 members at the ABAís annual meeting, approved the resolution objecting to any president using bill-signing statements as a way of diluting or changing laws rather than using an outright veto.

Bush has vetoed only one bill, on stem cell research, but written exceptions to some 800 legislative provisions, more than all previous presidents combined.

The Bush statements say the president reserves the right to revise, interpret or disregard measures on national security and constitutional grounds.

The bar delegates urged Congress to require the president to promptly submit copies of any signing statements, along with a report giving the legal basis for his objections.

 

Lieberman the "Independent"

The primary election defeat of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont is a huge blow to the Bush administration. The defeat of Lieberman, a staunch supporter of the Bush administrationís aggressive post-9/11 "national security strategies , is seen as a "referendum on the Iraq war." It is estimated that 87 percent of Democrats nationwide would approve the impeachment of President Bush. Lieberman has stated he will run in the November general election as an independent.



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