Our wonderful president seems to have gotten a strike again. How many strikes does it take to get out? I seem to forget, because I can’t keep track of how many President George W. Bush has. Fine, let’s just count how many times he has tapped into our privacy and gotten away with it.
As if listening to our phone conversations wasn’t enough, this time he was at it during the winter congressional recess. Bush signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20 and quietly included a ‘signing statement’ that allows him to open anyone’s mail in an ’emergency.’ A signing statement is like a ‘P.S.’ that anyone in the executive branch can add on to a bill before the president signs it into law. Historically, no one but the president has used it in meaningful ways. Every president since Monroe has used signing statements, but none as frequently as Bush.
The funniest thing to me was that this Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, along with making regular reforms, specifically gives the government the right to search first-class mail without a court’s approval.
Bush said he’d open our mail only in emergencies. What’s his definition of an emergency? Bush cited as examples the need to ‘protect human life and safety against hazardous materials and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection.’ According to the New York Daily News, in such a case, Bush could easily get a quick warrant from a criminal court to search a certain piece of mail while the Post Office holds it from being delivered.
How far will this president be able to go before he is stopped? The only ones who can raise their voices over what Bush is doing are us, the American public. But no! We just re-elected the guy because we figured his head was in the right place (or he was at least the lesser of two evils). Boy, were we wrong!
Take the McCain Anti-Torture Bill Bush claimed to endorse in 2005. He made over 500 constitutional objections, the most frequent being when he disputed the bill’s constitutionality because Article II of the Constitution does not permit any interference with his ‘power to supervise the unitary executive.’ That’s not an objection to some act of Congress. That’s an objection to Congressional authority itself.
On Dec. 30 of that year, he added one of his postscripts to the bill before signing it. The statement clearly announced that the president will only follow the new law ‘in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the president to supervise the unitary executive branch … and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power.’ In other words, the president