Bush Dusts Off Veto Pen

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A handful of Republican senators would like to determine:

(i) What is the definition of an "enemy combatant" who may be detained by the military outside the ordinary civil justice system?; (ii) What procedural rules should be employed by military tribunals?; and (iii) Which interrogation techniques should be authorized, and which prohibited?

Since these are questions the Supreme Court declined to answer in its rulings on prisoner detention, it's nice to see that other branch of government assuming a slightly less supine position–almost as if the Constitution established it as a counterweight against the executive and the judiciary.

Without delay, we have a response in the form of a Statement of Administration Policy:

If legislation is presented that would restrict the President's authority to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack and bring terrorists to justice, the President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.

So while Bush might not (ever) be prepared to veto an omnibus spending bill, at least he's aware that he has a veto power. Let that be a lesson to anyone attempting to delineate (not even limit) the powers of the executive. Lots of analysis from Marty Lederman here; link via Andrew Sullivan.

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  1. Has Bush vetoed anything, ever?

  2. He’ll only veto a check on executive branch power.

  3. (i) Whatever I damn well feel like. (ii) Whatever I damn well feel like. (iii) You like questions, huh? I know a place where they ask people like you lots of questions.

  4. Has there ever been a president that never vetoed a bill? If so, were they only one-termers?

  5. at least he’s aware that he has a veto power.

    That’s even worse – if he responded by saying, “Veto? Wuzzat?” at least he might have an excuse for the last four years of spending.

  6. Has Bush vetoed anything, ever?

    No.

  7. You know, on the above questions I may or may not reach the same conclusions as the Senators asking them. But it would be good if extraordinary measures are, at the very least, constrained by the dictates of law.

    As to never vetoing an omnibus bill: Just remember that if Iowa farmers don’t get their corn subsidies then the terrorists have won!

  8. From bb’s link, it appears that FDR holds the record (with 3 full terms and a bit of a fourth that’s no surprise), followed by Grover “non-consecutive” Cleveland.

  9. Thanks bb for the link. You’ve gotta love good old Grover. 414 vetoes in 8 years as president – Certainly the most vetoes per year of presidency. There’s a lot of debate about what makes for a good president. I’d offer the objective standard of vetoes/bills signed. The higher the percentage the greater the president. πŸ™‚ Anyone know if that statistic is available anywhere?

  10. Brian-

    Garfield served non-consecutive terms. Add up the vetoes from his second term and you get 584.

  11. Wow, not counting Garfield (who only had 6 months in office) Bush is the only post Lincoln president to never veto the bill.

    thoreau,
    You meant Cleveland.

  12. “As to never vetoing an omnibus bill”

    Heh. I read that as “an ominous bill”

  13. thoreau,

    Thanks! I knew Cleveland served non-consecutive terms but I don’t know why I assumed they had totaled his vetoes. Of course this just deepens my respect for the guy! πŸ™‚

  14. why are all you lot quibbling? the emperor has spoken. go about your business.

  15. “What is the definition of an “enemy combatant”

    Someone without any rights to whom we have no responsibilities.

    “Who may be detained by the military outside the ordinary civil justice system?”

    Anyone who didn’t sign the Conventions. …personally, that is.

    “What procedural rules should be employed by military tribunals?”

    All the tribunes should agree to sentence the terrorists. If they don’t, then the tribunes should be court-martialed.

    “Which interrogation techniques should be authorized, and which prohibited?”

    Neither the Constitution nor the institutions to which it refers were designed to answer this question. …So this question should be decided by the Office of Legal Council. …And once he makes his decision, everyone should just support that.

    P.S. I listen to a lot of echo chamber radio. I use the term “4GW” a lot. Someday, my parents may hire Rick Ross to help me; ’til then, I’ll just walk around the airport soliciting donations for the RNC.

  16. There were seven presidents (excluding Bush) who never vetoed a bill, three of which, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor and James Garfield died in their first two years in office, another, Fillmore, succeeded Taylor. The others are the two Adamses and Jefferson. Taylor opposed the Compromise of 1850 and would have vetoed some of the bills that were part of it if he had survived.

  17. Why do U.S. Senators Graham, McCain, Warner and Levin hate America?

  18. The Bush administration can’t in one instance claim that they get their power to detain from Congress and at the same time that Congress cannot limit that power. Of course they do anyway. πŸ™‚

  19. sigh…again with the enemy combatant-lovers. yep, let’s hire lawyers for ’em all and grant foreign combatants killing americans more rights than i get from the dmv or the irs.

    i don’t seem to remember the congress and the courts overstepping their authority and dictating how would war ii was fought. and this is a war, all the bush-bashing notwithstanding. of course maybe there were quasi-libertartians back then who thought we deserved pearl harbor too.

  20. “sigh…again with the enemy combatant-lovers. yep, let’s hire lawyers for ’em all and grant foreign combatants killing americans more rights than i get from the dmv or the irs.”

    The next time I have to go to the DMV, I hope their policies haven’t been re-written in line with the Gonzales Torture Memo.

    …I really don’t follow this kind of equivalency, but you brought up suggestions of America hating, so I guess you must be right.

    “i don’t seem to remember the congress and the courts overstepping their authority and dictating how would war ii was fought. and this is a war, all the bush-bashing notwithstanding.”

    I know a guy whose parents, as children, did time in an internment camp, but never mind the facts. …This is war, and it’s about Bush bashing.

    “of course maybe there were quasi-libertartians back then who thought we deserved pearl harbor too.”

    Again, I’m not sure I follow the equivalency. …and I don’t know of any quasi-libertarians who think we deserved 9/11, but you brought enemy-combatant lovers and Bush-bashing before so, again, you must be right.

  21. This is war? I must have missed something. War has not been declared since WW II has it?

  22. jimmy,

    I seriously doubt you know much how WWII was fought or what happened in the American courts during the war. Needless to say that on a number of occassions the American courts and the Congress committed actions that ticked off FDR during WWII.

    Now, I’d like you to show me in the text of the Constitution where the President gets authority for what he claims are his constitutionally granted powers. It doesn’t exist; its not there. The Congress is the chief warmaking power in our government, not the President.

  23. Tom Crick,

    I wouldn’t worry too much; Bush worshippers/sheeple simply can’t imagine a world where the President isn’t treated or acts like a divine right king.

  24. The Bush administration can’t in one instance claim that they get their power to detain from Congress and at the same time that Congress cannot limit that power. Of course they do anyway. πŸ™‚

    To be fair, I don’t think they’re claiming that Congress can’t limit that power; rather, they’re saying they will use a constitutional means (the veto) to prevent Congress from doing so. If Congress was able to override his veto, presumably (hopefully?) the prez would go along.

  25. Why do U.S. Senators Graham, McCain, Warner and Levin hate America?

    Its not that they hate America. Its just that they don’t love anything but themselves.

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