Ben Johnson, FloydReports.com
“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands…may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny” — James Madison, The Federalist Papers, #47.
The New York Times has a pair of chilling stories indicating Barack Obama is considering ignoring provisions of a new law that forbid him from transferring Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainees to the United States or to countries that may not be equipped to prevent their escape. “Several” anonymous White House officials revealed the president may issue a signing statement ignoring these provisions of the law, treating them as though they did not exist. Times reporter Charlie Savage indicated this would represent “a more aggressive use of unilateral executive powers than what he exerted in his first two years in office.”
The West Wing debate appears to be another example of the president’s determination to rule by executive fiat in 2011.
Congress used the power of the purse to prevent civilian trials for terrorists in U.S. courts. The language, attached to the defense authorization bill, forbids the Defense Department from spending any money to transfer detainees or to enhance U.S. sites to house Gitmo transferees. Another provision requires foreign countries to meet high standards of security before releasing detainees within their borders.
Since the bill authorizes funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the president will not veto it. However, the Times indicates he may ignore these provisions, bypass Congress, and bring accused terrorists to U.S. soil before trying them in civilian courts.