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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

 
Iraq 4-Ever

by dday

When Bush vetoed the Defense Authorization Bill because he was so concerned about this abstract issue of reparations for those who were tortured and killed at the hands of Saddam Hussein, I wondered if the real issue was a ban on permanent bases in Iraq, which was also in the bill. Well, it turns out that the Prez dusted off his signing statement pen to take care of that bit of unpleasantness:

Today, I have signed into law H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. The Act authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, for military construction, and for national security-related energy programs.

Provisions of the Act, including sections 841, 846, 1079, and 1222, purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President's ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as Commander in Chief. The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.


These provisions include: 1) the establishment of a "Truman Commission" to look into war profiteering, 2) protection for contractors who become whistleblowers by disclosing information about profiteering and contracting abuse, 3) the need to share information with Congress (in particular the Armed Services Committee) about intelligence assessments, and finally:

SEC. 1222. LIMITATION ON AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES RELATING TO IRAQ.

No funds appropriated pursuant to an authorization of appropriations in this Act may be obligated or expended for a purpose as follows:

(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq.

(2) To exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.


In the end, this relates to the setting of a long-term "status of forces agreement" between the United States and Iraq. Obviously there will be some permanent long-term installations for troops associated with that. But I'm trying to figure out how this works. The President is nullifying restrictions on funds for permanent bases and control of oil. But Congress provides the funding. So it would be illegal to use Iraq funds in the appropriations process toward these ends, as long as they are expressly given other functions in those bills. Otherwise, it's an illegal appropriation. However, I suspect that there are enough loopholes in those funding bills that voiding this ban is enough for the executive to impose his will on the process.

Of course, that's only true for another year. So the Democratic candidates need to make statements about whether they would uphold or repudiate this signing statement and commit to a total ban on permanent bases in Iraq and control of Iraqi oil. We know that George Bush is never going to change in his megalomania. But we deserve to know whether this will spill over into the next Administration.


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