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New York Times to release Bush/Blair memo.
March 26, 2006 11:04 PM   Subscribe

New York Times to release Bush/Blair memo tomorrow. The memo, which was mentioned previously, but never publically disclosed, confirms that George W. Bush and Tony Blair were determined to invade Iraq, regardless of UN approval, and despite what both leaders told their citizens. More troubling, the memo also indicates that Bush may have conspired to assassinate Saddam Hussein, which appears to violate Sec. 5g of Executive Order 11905, which states that "No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination." This executive order was considered the law of the land even after 9/11, when Bob Barr proposed legislation H.R. 19, which was never enacted into law.
posted by insomnia_lj (74 comments total)

 
Executive orders are written by President of the US. Any President can at will terminate or rewrite any prior executive order any time he wants to.

It is not "the law of the land" in the sense that you're thinking of. It's the law of the executive branch, and applies to everyone who works for the President. But the President doesn't work for himself. (And it does not apply to Congress, or the courts, or to private citizens like you and me.)

President Bush vacated that particular executive order, and it no longer is in force.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:13 PM on March 26, 2006


Am I a bad person for wanting this memo to be something which will destroy Bush?

I don't much care what happens to Blair though. Or Tootie or Natalie for that matter.

But Bush/Cheney, they's bad folk.
posted by newfers at 11:17 PM on March 26, 2006


"Any President can at will terminate or rewrite any prior executive order any time he wants to."

That said, the President would have to have done so beforehand. It has never been argued that such a thing could be done ex post facto.

If he vacated that order -- which there is no public evidence of -- then he should present that evidence.
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:24 PM on March 26, 2006


(Couldn't you have waited until the memo was published?)
posted by cillit bang at 11:24 PM on March 26, 2006


The NYT article (by Don Von Natta Jr... I like to give credit) is already up.

For me, the most jaw-dropping part is the following anecdote:

At one point, the leaders swapped ideas for a postwar Iraqi government. "As for the future government of Iraq, people would find it very odd if we handed it over to another dictator," the prime minister is quoted as saying.

"Bush agreed," Mr. Manning wrote.

posted by gsteff at 11:27 PM on March 26, 2006


A little earlier might have helped...
posted by Artw at 11:30 PM on March 26, 2006


The Times article is already out but doesn't actually contain the full text of the memo. Grr!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:34 PM on March 26, 2006


Am I a bad person for wanting this memo to be something which will destroy Bush?

No, no you are not.

I remember the runup to shockandawe as clearly as if it were yesterday (which is unusual for me), and it was so blatantly obvious at the time to anyone paying attention that this was what was happening.

Documentary evidence that this war was a war by choice is good and necessary, though. God damn it, I hope this is that little push that's needed to start the collapse. It all depends on the media, of course. Maybe this will be the camel's-back straw that does it for the just plain folks out in the heartland.

We'll see.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:38 PM on March 26, 2006


Surely this will be the thing that will do Bush in.
posted by keswick at 11:40 PM on March 26, 2006


Is this some sort of perverted attempt to avoid being tagged "newsfilter" by somehow pretending to beat the news?

If this memo turns out to be anything, it'll be all over the media tomorrow and we'll see it there. We really do not need a "heads up" warning. Sheezus.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:41 PM on March 26, 2006


On the Offensive: Assassination Policy Under International Law : this article, from Harvard International Review ( excerpt below ), provides some context although it avoids the international law tie in to US Constitutional Law - US presidents are Constitutionally bound to uphold laws to which the US is a signatory. So, if the US has signed international agreements against assasination, then George W. Bush might have been in violation of US law for planning or ordering the assasination of a head of state of a foreign nation.

"In addition to the international law governance of assassinations, US policy—not law—has prohibited their use since 1976 when US President Gerald Ford signed Executive Order 11905, which states, "No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination." US Presidents Carter and Reagan renewed the prohibition in Executive Orders 12036 and 12333 respectively. In Executive Order 12333, Reagan even expanded the prohibition slightly: "No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination." The prohibition remains in effect because no subsequent president has revoked it. However, just as Executive Orders are signed as policy by the president, the president may also circumvent or nullify them, which is the course current US President George Bush has chosen."
posted by troutfishing at 12:00 AM on March 27, 2006



Surely this will be the thing that will do Bush in.


I hope you've got a script for that.
posted by pompomtom at 12:07 AM on March 27, 2006


This will just get spun into Bush being the maverick cowboy.

Dammit.
posted by grimcity at 12:07 AM on March 27, 2006


Look, I'm sorry folks, but this won't "do Bush in". At this point in the game, the only thing that will "do Bush in" is the next election. People simply don't care what the war was about. I suspect they never really did. They just wanted some vengeful blood spilt, preferably the blood of them godless Allah worshipping jerks with the swarthy looks and the veiled wimmin folk. They didn't care then if we were invading because the Iraqi regime posed an imminent threat to our interests, or because the Iraqi regime was conspiring with terrorists, or because the Iraqi regime had "weapons of mass destruction", or because Saddam was just generally not a very nice guy.

People just wanted the reassurance of good ol' video warfare playing out nightly on their cable news channel. The feeling that something was being done to balance out "that day".

Now, these few years later, do you really think any of that has changed? Does anyone really think a fucking memo telling us what we all knew years ago is going to somehow bring down the president?
posted by Jimbob at 12:25 AM on March 27, 2006


It is not "the law of the land" in the sense that you're thinking of.

Way to reframe the question, ace. The point isn't that this was some secret law or other such nonsense. The point is only to show his intention.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:14 AM on March 27, 2006


Argh, my apologies, it appears that the OP did try and frame this as a "law of the land" issue.

Double dumbass on me.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:15 AM on March 27, 2006


Maybe we can pretend that we're all adults for a few posts here, remember that people are dying over this as we sit here comfortably, and not use this thread primarily to post our sophomoric Photoshop projects and criticize the form of the FPP. History is watching, even if you're not.

Some interesting points in the article:
posted by digaman at 4:49 AM on March 27, 2006


gsteff wrote:
For me, the most jaw-dropping part is the following anecdote:

At one point, the leaders swapped ideas for a postwar Iraqi government. "As for the future government of Iraq, people would find it very odd if we handed it over to another dictator," the prime minister is quoted as saying.

"Bush agreed," Mr. Manning wrote.
For me, the most jaw-dropping part is the use of "internecine":
Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.
Well, not really. I always kinda knew the aw-shucks good-ol-boy thing was an act.
posted by blendor at 4:52 AM on March 27, 2006


And this: posted by digaman at 4:53 AM on March 27, 2006


Helen Thomas:
Q I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that -- I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --
Laura Bush:
No American President ever wants to go to war. Abraham Lincoln didn't want to go to war, but he knew saving the Union required it. Franklin Roosevelt didn't want to go to war -- but he knew defeating tyranny demanded it. And my husband didn't want to go to war, but he knew the safety and security of America and the world depended on it. (Applause.)
(Vomit.)
posted by blendor at 5:13 AM on March 27, 2006


Nine days after the meeting with Blair, Scott McClellan said this:

In addition to the President talking about his faith-based and community initiative today in his remarks, I do expect him to also talk about Iraq. Specifically, I want to draw your attention to some remarks he's expected to make. You know, the President will talk about how if war is forced upon us by Saddam Hussein's choice not to disarm, he will remind people that the American troops will act in the most honorable traditions of our military and the highest moral traditions of our country; that we will do everything we can to spare innocent lives.

That stands in stark contrast to what we're now seeing from Saddam Hussein. He'll talk about how Saddam Hussein is the true enemy of the Iraqi people, that he regards the Iraqi people as expendable when it comes to serving his own purposes. And, specifically, I'm talking about using the Iraqi people as human shields. We know that Saddam Hussein is already pre-positioning his military within civilian populations in order to shield his military forces and then blame coalition forces for casualties that he will end up causing. And this is in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. So I think that you should pay particular attention to those remarks when the President speaks today to the National Religious Broadcasters.

posted by digaman at 5:24 AM on March 27, 2006


It seems to me that the average middle class American is so far in debt, with noses pressed tightly to the grindstone, that they will probably never look up and see the fraud that is our current government. That would leave the rich and the poor to do the overthrowing. The first is probably not going to happen. Do the poor have the power, the information , and the desire to start a revolution?
posted by haikuku at 5:29 AM on March 27, 2006


The problem: we know.

Everyone has already heard numerous permutations of this scenario and it's pretty common knowledge. Those who'd believe it, already do so. I'd be surprised if this makes front page anywhere else.

(and Pontifex, wow. You played right into his hands. Big.)
posted by fungible at 5:57 AM on March 27, 2006


Still, love him or hate him (hahaha), Bush may have been right on the WMDs at least according to George Sada during his interview on The Daily Show last week. And he should know - does he have an axe to grind?
posted by NailsTheCat at 7:25 AM on March 27, 2006


I agree with others, this won't really make an immediate difference. This man and this administration have done and said so many things that are jaw droppingly astounding that this is merely another bullet point. When Bush does maverick things, we have floods of people who justify it because of "terrorism" or the U.S. is "at war." Lying, helping to pad associate's pocketbooks, illegal activity, etc., simply doesn't seem to matter at present in the States. Tragic really.

His popularity has decreased dramatically, but he won't be the one up for election next so we may just get a replacement...

Great post by the way.
posted by juiceCake at 7:27 AM on March 27, 2006


Watch this. Ahem.

GAY ADOPTION.

Like magic, the issue just went away. Fun, eh?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:35 AM on March 27, 2006


A week from now, this won't be an issue. How dare Feingold attempt to censure the President?! <--- toldja.
posted by Atreides at 7:51 AM on March 27, 2006


It's nice to be King.

"Now watch this drive."
posted by nofundy at 7:53 AM on March 27, 2006


An executive order is "the law of the land?"

Ha!
posted by dios at 7:55 AM on March 27, 2006


I find the "everyone knows this won't make any difference" attitude to be utterly childish and symptomatic of some kind of society-wide ADD. Yes, Bush has gotten away with murder. Yes, it's unbelevable that a country that whipped itself into a lather about semen-staining dresses hasn't dragged this guy bodily out of the White House yet.

But surely Bush's poll numbers, which are in the proverbial toilet, indicate that the steady drip-drip-drip of evidence is having an effect. I don't know what you guys realistically expect -- Ohmygawd! Another memo! Impeach the motherfucker! -- but it's unrealistic, and, frankly, dangerous, because a chorus of erstwhile hipsters shouting "WHO CARES?!" every time another journalist does their job only reinforces the problem that everyone claims to be complaining about.

Surely when things as important as war, human life, and the Consitution are at stake, it's worth being patient and diligent.
posted by digaman at 8:07 AM on March 27, 2006


*stained
posted by digaman at 8:10 AM on March 27, 2006


digaman, it's clear that low poll numbers actually don't mean anything. Being outraged isn't going to solve America's woes, clearly. People need to actually do something. What that something is, I don't know. Americans are known for owning a lot of guns though...
posted by chunking express at 8:12 AM on March 27, 2006


Bush may have been right on the WMDs at least according to George Sada during his interview on The Daily Show last week. And he should know - does he have an axe to grind?

Only one thing's for sure, he certainly has some books to sell. I thought his presence on this issue (as well as the entire interview) was incredibly weak and I saw it as little more than a sensationalist ploy. Stewarts' ineptitude as an interviewer only added to the allusion of credibility.
posted by prostyle at 8:13 AM on March 27, 2006


One of the problems with that digaman is that most of the people who are saying "Who cares" are the people who knew this would all happen about 4 years ago and therefore they are a bit ticked off that the media in their country is only now beginning to grow a pair. I can forgive them their outrage fatigue because they've been shouting from the rooftops for so long that they are absolutely knackered by the effort of drawing attention to what they see to be horrendous offences by the current administration.

To rail at them for tiring of their relentless four-year struggle for attention is not really fair. That and the fact that the electorate genuinely don't care, polls or not might mitigate in their favour. People who answer polls are the same people who want to be heard. It's always worth keeping in mind how few people actually bothered voting last time around. Apathy is a strong force in the Western world where your choices consist mostly of "Shit and Evil" or "Shit and Incompetent".
posted by longbaugh at 8:20 AM on March 27, 2006


Yes, Bush has gotten away with murder.

Really? Someone should tell the authorities. Who did he murder?

What that something is, I don't know.

It has to do with proposing an alternative vision that incorporates the very real concerns of people and tries to address them. But what it is most definitely not is being hyperbolic and shrill and saying things like the President is a murderer is not going to fix the country. If the Democrats run only on the platform of "We aren't Republicans; elect us and we will bring this country impeachment proceedings," they will miss a golden opportunity. If the instead ran on the policy of "Here is our plan on Iraq and why it is better; here is our plan on the economy and why we think we need to look at X, Y and Z. Here is our plan, etc," then they can take enough seats to get control. You want to know how people in this country can right the course? Support politicians that have polices instead of trying to polarize by being against whatever the other side is doing.
posted by dios at 8:30 AM on March 27, 2006


I'm one of those people who knew four years ago. I'm disgusted, but I ain't tired. And yelling "Who cares?!" to express disapproval of media that was slow to expose these crimes is a little like encouraging a desperately fat person in a new diet who has lost 20 pounds by saying, "You still look fat, Blimpo -- only 200 more to go!"
posted by digaman at 8:30 AM on March 27, 2006


Sorry, dios, I should have said "mass murder by proxy." Read the papers lately?
posted by digaman at 8:33 AM on March 27, 2006


I love how the usual coalition of chickenfascists is unable to do more than scream "ax-grinder" or "Ha!". they've enabled a fraudulent war to kill thousands of people, some of them even Americans (ie the only lives the chickenfascists care about, if ever), and their reaction is an uneasy, nervous laughter.

laugh about this, boys: it's all your work, and your President's, of course
posted by matteo at 8:40 AM on March 27, 2006


You want to know how people in this country can right the course? Support politicians that have polices instead of trying to polarize by being against whatever the other side is doing.

this needs to be repeated over and over again. i'd add that we also need politicians who don't play favorites with media outlets. we also need our media outlets to ask our politicians and officials hard questions about what they're doing and thinking on at least a weekly basis.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:42 AM on March 27, 2006


Read the papers lately?

maybe he doesn't, this is too much even for someone with his stomach
posted by matteo at 8:42 AM on March 27, 2006


"Here is our plan on Iraq and why it is better; here is our plan on the economy and why we think we need to look at X, Y and Z. Here is our plan, etc,"

Is it just me, or didn't John Kerry say something almost exactly like this in his nomination speech? Maybe "hyperbole" and "shrillness" are the way to go.
posted by fungible at 8:54 AM on March 27, 2006


Support politicians that have polices instead of trying to polarize by being against whatever the other side is doing.

Bullshit. Wrong is wrong, and I don't need a right policy to state that. Invading Iraq was wrong, and positing a policy of "Not Invading Iraq Ever Again" is of exactly zero useful help. Why the fuck should I have to posit a complete and thorough plan to stabilize Iraq to state this? They fucking broke it.

Proposing policies that will never be passed, or even considered, is stupid, both in reality or politically.Why give them an opportunity to attack your proposals? The argument to make here is "Why should we ever let you govern again, when you have done such a bad job?"

Maybe this is polarizing. Good. The fact that the Democratic members of Congress have tried so hard not to be polarizing is one of the reasons things have gone wrong.

This isn't "He Said/You Said." This is "You have screwed up this country" and why the fuck should I need a plan to try an fix it to run against the guy who fucked it up?

Or, to put it simply. "Are we better off than we were four years ago?"

On topic, the big point here is being avoided (of course) by the silly arguments about the legalities and procedures concerning Executive Orders. In fact, the big point is this.

From Day One, Bush knew that Iraq did not have WMD, and he lied, repeatedly, in order to invade the country for whatever reasons he had -- reasons he has refused to reveal.

The reason for the war authorization vote was those WMD. If he knew that there were none, and he invaded anyway, he has gone to war without the consent of Congress -- who, constitutionally, is granted the sole power to declare such a state.

That's the fucking point. It was a huge, intentional lie, from the very start, on direct orders from the president.

The fact that few care about this is why we've lost. The fact that people are more worried about being "polarizing" than this is why we've lost everything.
posted by eriko at 9:05 AM on March 27, 2006


Maybe fungible, but most important was his inability to recall Poland and also his "Frenchness". The downfall of many a political mastermind. If only I had access to photoshop at work so I could do a comparison pic of Bush with a satellite dish mounted on his back whilst Kerry stood there in a breton shirt and beret with a string of onions round his neck.

"haw-he-haw!"
posted by longbaugh at 9:08 AM on March 27, 2006


John Robb -- The Window of Controlled Chaos Slams Shut.
posted by digaman at 9:12 AM on March 27, 2006


There is only one rhetorical frame in which I hear the word "shrill" used with any notable frequency these days.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:14 AM on March 27, 2006


(Couldn't you have waited until the memo was published?)
posted by cillit bang


No. Someone else might have gotten credit. Insomnia_lj can't allow that to happen.
posted by justgary at 9:34 AM on March 27, 2006


No. Someone else might have gotten credit. Insomnia_lj can't allow that to happen.

I see that blurb above the post button was ignored. So I thought I should do the same. Why don't you say something about the content of the post rather than the person who posted it? Misdirection much?
posted by gsb at 9:41 AM on March 27, 2006


I see that blurb above the post button was ignored. So I thought I should do the same. Why don't you say something about the content of the post rather than the person who posted it? Misdirection much?
posted by gsb at 11:41 AM CST on March 27


Do you think he would have run afoul of that blurb above the post button if justgary would have just called him a chickenfascist?
posted by dios at 9:45 AM on March 27, 2006


"Apologists for war criminals and enemies of the US Constitution" would be more precise. This article from the New Yorker, about the failed efforts of Alberto Mora, former general counsel for the US Navy, to get Rumsfeld, Cheney, and company to reconsider their program of legalized torture of detainees, makes illuminating reading.
posted by digaman at 10:02 AM on March 27, 2006


hay guyz i just woke up!!!1! is bush out of office yet?
posted by keswick at 10:04 AM on March 27, 2006


From that article: "...This standard had been in effect for fifty years, and all members of the U.S. armed services were trained to follow it. One by one, the military officers argued for returning the U.S. to what they called the high ground. But two people opposed it. One was Stephen Cambone, the under-secretary of defense for intelligence; the other was Haynes. They argued that the articulated standard would limit America's 'flexibility.' It also might expose Administration officials to charges of war crimes: if Common Article Three became the standard for treatment, then it might become a crime to violate it. Their opposition was enough to scuttle the proposal.

In exasperation, according to another participant, Mora said that whether the Pentagon enshrined it as official policy or not, the Geneva conventions were already written into both U.S. and international law. Any grave breach of them, at home or abroad, was classified as a war crime. To emphasize his position, he took out a copy of the text of U.S. Code 18.2441, the War Crimes Act, which forbids the violation of Common Article Three, and read from it. The point, Mora told me, was that 'It’s a statute. It exists—we’re not free to disregard it. We’re bound by it. It’s been adopted by the Congress. And we’re not the only interpreters of it. Other nations could have U.S. officials arrested.'

Not long afterward, Waxman was summoned to a meeting at the White House with David Addington. Waxman declined to comment on the exchange, but, according to the Times, Addington berated him for arguing that the Geneva conventions should set the standard for detainee treatment. The U.S. needed maximum flexibility, Addington said."

posted by digaman at 10:06 AM on March 27, 2006


"George W. Bush and his most trusted advisers, Richard B. Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, entered office determined to restore the authority of the presidency. Five years and many decisions later, they've pushed the expansion of presidential power so far that we now confront a constitutional crisis."

-- The George Mason University's History News Network
posted by digaman at 10:10 AM on March 27, 2006


I dislike hearing people use the word assassination when they really mean targeted killing.

Assassination is a word with a legal meaning in international law. It means, basically, killing someone in a treacrous way. Shooting someone in uniform, via sniper or cruise missile does not count. Anyone associated with military or political leadership of a country you're in a conflict with is a legal target under most circumstances. Assissination refers to killing someon with poisen, or sending a spy (not wearing a proper uniform) to kill them.
Art. 23. In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden
(a) To employ poison or poisoned weapons;
(b) To kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army;
(c) To kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion;
(d) To declare that no quarter will be given;
(e) To employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering;
(f) To make improper use of a flag of truce, of the national flag or of the military insignia and uniform of the enemy, as well as the distinctive badges of the Geneva Convention;
(g) To destroy or seize the enemy's property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war;
(h) To declare abolished, suspended, or inadmissible in a court of law the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party. A belligerent is likewise forbidden to compel the nationals of the hostile party to take part in the operations of war directed against their own country, even if they were in the belligerent's service before the commencement of the war.
Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land.

See also this article on the Harvard International Law Review

This bit is very useful:
As with many areas of international law, the status of assassinations is relatively ambiguous. The clauses that traditionally have been construed as prohibiting "targeted killings" are far from clear prohibitions. In the Hague Convention (II) with Respect to the Laws and Customs of War on Land (29 July 1899), Article 23b states that it is prohibited "to kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army." Treachery is not explicitly defined, and it can be argued that using missiles to attack a car in which a target is traveling, while brutal and having a high probability of injuring bystanders, does not fall within the purview of treachery. Similarly, targeted killings can be argued to fall outside the Protocol I Article 37 prohibition on killing, injuring, or capturing "an adversary by resort to perfidy"—described as "acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence." Article 37 gives examples of perfidy including "the feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or surrender" and "the feigning of civilian, non-combatant status." The manner in which Israel and the United States have engaged in targeted killings does not meet this definition of perfidy because neither state leads targets to believe that they are protected by international law.
I hate to nit pick, but if we're going to attack the Bush administration for doing silly things, lets at least stick to the things we're 100% clear were silly, that's all I'm saying.
posted by tiamat at 10:12 AM on March 27, 2006


If you watch TDS, Colbert and, I'm sure, a number of other media, you will see that there are alternatives to electing the same old crooks to office.

Hell, just last week there was a Republican on Colbert who I'd have voted for. The man was honest.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:23 AM on March 27, 2006


Odd, how dios is all about the law when it suits his purposes, and well, ignores it elsewhere.
posted by Freen at 10:57 AM on March 27, 2006


Odd, how dios is all about the law when it suits his purposes, and well, ignores it elsewhere.
posted by Freen at 12:57 PM CST on March 27


Yes. I am all about the law (its what makes a democracy be able to function). Not sure how you are seeing an inconsistency when I point out only a abject moron or someone with no understanding of the law would actually think that an executive order is "law."
posted by dios at 11:14 AM on March 27, 2006


You're right, dios. And Bush knows the difference, as he demonstrated in his reply to a reporter who asked him a question about the federal response to Katrina and the legality of NSA spying on Americans:

THE PRESIDENT: You asked a multiple-part question.

Q Yes, I did.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for violating the multiple-part question rule.

Q I didn't know there was a law on that. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: There's not a law. It's an executive order. (Laughter.) In this case, not monitored by the Congress -- (laughter) -- nor is there any administrative oversight. (Laughter.)

---

Really, all these tiresome questions. Our Commander in Chief is a laff riot.
posted by digaman at 11:33 AM on March 27, 2006


note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand -- not at other members of the site.


only a abject moron or someone with no understanding of the law would actually think that an executive order is "law."
posted by dios at 2:14 PM EST


See, cognitive dissonance not only allows perpetual defense of all things Dubya but also allows one to ignore anything not consistent with one's warped view of the world. Not a knock, just an observation, as we all have some sort of coping mechanism.
posted by nofundy at 11:39 AM on March 27, 2006


Is it roughly correct to say that an Executive Order accurately reflects the law as the Executive interprets it and that employees of the Executive branch should construe any such Executive Orders as being within the law?

Because it wouldn't make sense to knowingly issue an Executive Order that is in conflict with the law, right?
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:42 AM on March 27, 2006


"Bush may have been right on the WMDs at least according to George Sada during his interview on The Daily Show last week. And he should know - does he have an axe to grind?"

I don't know whether George Sada has an axe to grind, but he certainly has a book to plug. Published in English, and being marketed to an American audience, even. Motive is motive!

What is needed is independent verification. Between satellite recon and U2 flights, that whole country was under the microscope. Where's the evidence to support this claim? Witnesses? Truck drivers? Any kind of confirmation of written or verbal orders? Chemical traces from wherever they were being stored previously? You don't move that much stuff without there being proof.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:52 PM on March 27, 2006


"For me, the most jaw-dropping part is the use of "internecine"

Well, keep in mind that this is probably a lot like the Downing Street Memo, written up by someone who is British, basically summarizing the gist -- and a few direct quotes -- of what the president said.

British politicians have a rich and varied vocabulary. Bush?! Not so much.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:57 PM on March 27, 2006


so dios, then, is an executive order just as despicable as a motion of censure? It holds no power and is effectively a vanity proclamation. Last time I heard, you were against that sort of thing when it doesn't favor the president.
posted by Freen at 1:44 PM on March 27, 2006


only a abject moron or someone with no understanding of the law would actually think that an executive order is "law."

The president ... can issue executive orders, which have the force of law but do not have to be approved by congress. -- Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute

Because they carry the force of law, executive orders and proclamations are also essential sources for legal research. -- Congressional Information Service, Inc. Index to Presidential Proclamations

Administrative law originates in the executive branch of government.. It may be a decision, rule, or regulation issued by a department or an agency of the federal government, or it may be an Executive Order or a Proclamation issued by the President. -- University Library, University of Illinois at Chicago

The President of the United States issues Executive Orders from time to time. These Executive Orders have the force of law. -- KnowNet, published by the Department of Health and Human Services

The term "Executive order" means an order of the President of the United States or the chief executive officer of a State that has the force of law and that is promulgated in accordance with applicable law. -- P.L. 105-121

Congress has fostered presidential lawmaking by acquiescence.

Presidents, however, are lawmakers by fiat. They simply do it. And rarely are their efforts called in question or checked. Presidents issue directives that have the status of laws as a concomitant of their executive authority. It is one of the tools by which they govern.... Presidential directives started with George Washington, and ever since, presidents have simply assumed they have the power to issue such orders, which are tantamount to laws.

It is too early, with only 38 Executive Orders issued, to know how President George W. Bush perceives his powers. The elections in 2004 will determine how free he will be in pursuing his vision of those powers.
-- John Dean, Dec. 2001
posted by dhartung at 3:31 PM on March 27, 2006


Who knew?
posted by digaman at 6:16 PM on March 27, 2006


I dislike hearing people use the word assassination when they really mean targeted killing.

I dislike hearing people use the words ethnic cleansing when they really mean genocide.

Do we cancel each other out?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:22 PM on March 27, 2006


President Bush and Prime Minister Blair lied to the American people in a press conference immediately after the meeting. Scott McLellan did lots of tapdancing in today's press briefing.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:27 PM on March 27, 2006


[a few comments removed. please focus comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand -- not at other members of the site.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:48 AM on March 28, 2006


dhartung,

Those things you citied aren't refuting my point. And they are not addressing the issue that we are addressing here. They are not speaking on whether an executive order is law, the failure to comply with being an "illegal act" as we are discussing here. They are pointing out the fact that within the area of administrative law and within the president's zone of authority, the President can implement policy which is controlling on those within the executive branch or operating under the Executive branch's control. None of those sources is telling that that an Executive Order is law, and if you don't comply with it, you have committed an illegal act. The distinction may not be obvious to people who don't understand the law.

Executive orders are not law. Nor are they the "law of the land." Now, some may accuse me of being technical, but in the law, that is an absolute requirement. The "law of the land" is a defined concept. Article VI of the Constitution makes clear what the Supreme Law of the Land is. Article I of the Constitution vests the power to make laws in the Legislature.

So what is an executive order? Within in the executive branch, the President can establish policy. Furthermore, through Congressional mandate, the President can establish administrative policies. An executive order is like a by-law for the Executive branch and those operating with the executive branch. An executive order is like a Memo from the CEO saying that company policy now prohibits using Federal Express and requires all packages be sent by UPS, or that anyone doing business with the company must be citizens of the Country. Does it have force? Only to the extent one wants to work with the company. To the people in the Executive branch (like the people in the corporation), it must be followed---but again, not as a law must be followed by fear of criminal prosecution. That is why it can have "the force of law." Within his sphere of authority, the president can make administrative policies as he sees fit and change them whenever he feels like it. But with regards to what authority he has, the President cannot make Executive Orders unless a pre-existing law exists.

The president can only act in accordance with the Constitution or by some mandate of Congressional statutory authorization. The President cannot make the law himself by way of order. He can only control the executive branch's execution of the Congress-made law. We don't need to speculate on this topic further. The Supreme Court already resolved this question in the Youngstown Steel case. Youngstown Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952).

So, with these things in mind, it is fundamentally wrong to call an Executive Order "law." Yes, an Executive order controls the executive branch, but it is not law. The implication of the post by insomnia is that somehow an Executive Order by the President prohibiting his employees from engaging in assassination is law, and that the President acting inconsistent with that is "illegal." That shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the law. The President can choose to ignore Executive Orders whenever he wants because he has the Executive power to do so. Those in the Executive branch must follow the Order by virtue of their employment, but answer this: if the Order is "law," then what is the criminal punishment for failure to comply with it? Nothing. Because it is not law; it is the policy of the executive and is controlling only to that extent.

Those that are suggesting that the Presidential Order is law and that Bush talking about taking out Saddam is therefore a violation of the law don't have any understanding what they are talking about. It shows a complete lack of any knowledge of what constitutes law, what the term "illegal" means, what the powers of the different branches are, and what the authority of the President is.

It is sheer laughable ignorance to suggest that the President deciding to take out a foreign leader is "illegal" because of an Executive Order.
posted by dios at 7:36 AM on March 28, 2006


One quick contrast to make the distinction obvious. Suppose we have a memo and tape of the President conspiring to break what really is "the law of the land." Suppose we had proof the President was working with some bank robbers to steal money from some bank. That would be illegal. Because the law prohibiting theft is an actual law. The President would be subject to criminal prosecution because he broke the law.

The President choosing to act within his capacity in a manner inconsistent with some pre-existing Executive Order? Not an illegal act because it is not a law.
posted by dios at 7:42 AM on March 28, 2006


Or how about another contrast to make the distinction obvious:

Suppose we have a leak of information regarding an NSA program wherein the President has ordered warrantless wiretaps of calls where there's a good chance that at least one of the parties is a U.S. citizen. Suppose we had proof that the President was ordering these warrantless taps in contravention of a specific law that deals with these very issues, and in fact requires a warrant to be issued, even if it's after the fact. That would be illegal. Hell, they've pretty much admitted it is*, and basically add, "...and we don't give a shit if it is illegal."

* do actually read that post, at least. It ought to be right up your alley, since you're a "lawyer" and all.
posted by odinsdream at 7:59 AM on March 28, 2006


I'm sorry. Was that supposed to be relevant to this discussion in any way?
posted by dios at 8:08 AM on March 28, 2006


It is sheer laughable ignorance to suggest that the President deciding to take out a foreign leader is 'illegal' because of an Executive Order.

Would it be equally ignorant to suggest that taking out a foreign leader is legal because of an Executive Order?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:00 AM on March 28, 2006


Why haven't I seen anything about this today?
posted by thefreek at 11:09 AM on March 28, 2006


But, but... this was supposed to bring the whole house of cards down!
posted by keswick at 11:20 AM on March 28, 2006


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