It appears that Bush has been amending “signing statements,” over 700 in fact, to bills that he signs into law. These statements are not new phenomenons in American politics. In fact, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton all have their own collection of signing statements, some of which are archived at GPOaccess.gov

Besides signing hundreds more than any previous president, Bush also appears to be grossly reinterpreting laws passed by Congress to further his own agenda. Whereas previous presidents merely amended laws to indicate how they would be enforced, or to show vocal support for laws, Bush is claiming constitutional (it actually appears dictatorial) authority to completely invalidate the efforts of D.C. lawmakers. For example (from The Boston Globe):

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.
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We might as well send Congress home…what’s the use?

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