My opinion Tom Teepen: Perhaps U.S. needs a revolution

My opinion Tom Teepen

Tucson, Arizona | Published: 01.11.2006

230 years after we told the English king, George III, where to get off, we would find ourselves in the hands of George IV? But here we are.

George W. Bush has governed from the first or should we say "ruled"? by dodges and feints, and increasingly his presidency is resorting to executive orders, recess appointments, artful legal opinions and other artifices to slip around constitutional imperatives and the checks and balances designed to restrain executive power.

After swearing he would veto the McCain anti-terrorism bill if Congress passed it, Bush in the end signed with apparent indifference, a flat denouement to what he had staged as high drama. Why? Because, as it turns out, Bush simply declared he doesn't have to follow the law if he doesn't want to. The Boston Globe found that Bush had used a recent holiday weekend, when no one was looking, to issue a "signing statement" asserting that he will "construe the law in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the president ... as commander in chief."

In other words, torture is in. Bush's Justice Department had earlier, and perniciously, ruled that as commander in chief, he could override international treaties the United States has signed and even ignore U.S. law.

Bush has used that unparalleled indulgence to approve prisoner abuses forbidden by the Geneva Conventions, set up secret prisons overseas, sign off on apparently unlawful domestic spying and claim a right to declare those he wishes "enemy combatants" and imprison them as long as he likes.

When his nominees face opposition or just sharp questioning, Bush is using recess appointments to void the Senate's constitutional duty to advise and consent (or not).

He resorted to that device recently see above: holidays to further crony-up the government with appointees whose ideological muscling or lack of relevant experience in previous posts had provoked doubts.

Julie Myers will now head Immigration and Customs Enforcement, qualified mainly, it appears, as wife of the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and niece of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Tracy Henke has become executive director of the Office of State and Local Government Coordination. While in the Justice Department she was accused of quashing a report on racial disparities in the way police handle traffic cases.

Ellen Sauerbrey, an anti-abortion activist, has become assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and immigration, a position ordinarily filled by experienced professionals. Sauerbrey's scant qualifications include being booed by the other delegates to a U.N. conference on women for insisting worldwide abstinence is the way to reduce HIV. A former Republican county chairman from Georgia, Hans von Sakovsky, has been slipped onto the Federal Elections Commission. In a Justice Department job, he is believed to have been instrumental in the approval of voting procedures that staff attorneys had concluded would violate the Voting Rights Act.

This is, additionally, the most secretive modern presidency. Bush has reversed the trend to classifying fewer documents, and he has frozen the scheduled release of records from recent presidencies. Requests made under the Freedom of Information Act are handled at turtle speed and sometimes produce documents so heavily redacted there's not much left but the prepositions.

Anyone for 1776, Part 2?

Contact Tom Teepen, a nationally syndicated columnist, at

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