Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Abuse Instead of the Rule of Law

If you are in the country illegally, the federal government now allows you to be subjected to abuse. For many of you, I suppose the remarks you are about to make are along the line of "so what else is new"? Especially when we have detainees who get tortured for the crime of being wrongfully accused, the neglect of illeguls wouldn't seem to be a surprise - except that there are laws against it.

On January 5, 2006, President George W. Bush, seated in the Oval Office with wife Laura by his side, signed legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Authored by one of Congress’ more conservative members, Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner, the bill contained a provision protecting undocumented immigrant women, children, and men who are victims of domestic violence. The bill passed the House 415-4. Yet late last year, Bush’s own administration began to systematically ignore the law, according to immigration lawyers familiar with the process.
Immigration attorneys in California and Illinois report that immigration services sent an e-mail to its regional offices in August instructing adjudication officers to deny domestic violence cases where the applicant had entered the country illegally. A California attorney, Marien Sorensen, says two immigration officers read her an e-mail ordering them to hold all cases pending a policy memorandum from immigration services. Then they promptly denied three of her cases.

The worst administration is history is compiling a record of law breaking that would indicate to those of us who still believe in the rule of law that they do not think they are above it, or will ever be subject to it

The signing statements continue to be thrown out in defiance of congressional powers to pass legislation, and the oath of office a president takes that he will faithfully execute them.

One of the most underexplored aspects of Bush's unprecedented use of signing statements has been the practical consequences.

A year ago, the Government Accountability Office found that, indeed, federal officials had not complied with at least some of the provisions that Bush objected to in signing statements.

In testimony to a House committee yesterday, GAO general counsel Gary L. Kepplinger announced the results of another study, this one of provisions in the 2008 defense authorization, which found more of the same. The GAO examined how 21 agencies executed 29 different provisions of the law that Bush asserted his right not to follow -- and found that in nine cases "the agencies had not executed the provisions as written."

As with the earlier study, the specific examples are less than compelling -- the investigation, for instance, avoided "a close examination of provisions involving national security, intelligence, or foreign relations matters, because of our limited access to such information and the time constraints on our work."

Nevertheless, it does seem like there's some fire under the smoke. And Kepplinger recommended "careful" Congression oversight of the provisions to which Bush has objected.

What was the response from the Bush administration at yesterday's hearing? There wasn't any.

There is no intention of the part of this cabal in the White House to carry out its job, and it does not deserve to be in office, or to be remunerated for the office it has misused to the extreme detriment of the nation.

314 days.

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