--- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"When President Bush signed the new law, sponsored by Senator McCain, restricting the use of torture when interrogating detainees, he also issued a Presidential signing statement. That statement asserted that his power as Commander-in-Chief gives him the authority to bypass the very law he had just signed.
This news came fast on the heels of Bush's shocking admission that, since 2002, he has repeatedly authorized the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant, in flagrant violation of applicable federal law.
And before that, Bush declared he had the unilateral authority to ignore the Geneva Conventions and to indefinitely detain without due process both immigrants and citizens as enemy combatants, " writes Jennifer Van Bergen, a legal journalist, at FindLaw.com.
During his five years in office, President Bush has never once vetoed a legislative bill...and now we understand why: to more than 100 bills, he simply affixed his signature to a "signing statement" which indicates that he will interpret the law in question "in a manner consistent with his constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch."
Translation: Bush will follow the law how and when he sees fit, according to his own personal interpretation. Thus, George Bush can essentially ignore most Congressional legislation, despite federal "checks and balances" mandated by the US Constitution. In common lingo, this is referred to as the "imperial presidency."
In his brilliant speech earlier this week, Al Gore observed, "This legal theory, which its proponents call the theory of the unitary executive...threatens to expand the president's powers until the contours of the constitution that the Framers actually gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition.... "
The major objection by Senate Democrats, as well as conservative libertarians, to the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito, Jr. to the Supreme Court is that Alito is an avid supporter of the "unitary executive" doctrine.
In fact, according to Senator Patrick Leahy's speech yesterday, the Bush Administration nominated Alito to the court precisely FOR his view on this matter, which greatly expands presidential power, while reducing the influence of the legislative and judicial branches of government.
Jennifer Van Bergen's quick-reading article, The Unitary Executive: Is The Doctrine Behind the Bush Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State? , is one of the best I've seen on this topic.
To understand the "unitary executive" doctrine used by President Bush to circumvent Congress, and held in high regard by Judge Alito, take a few minutes to read this excellent article.
-- Landmark Speech by Al Gore on US Constitutional Crisis Created by President George Bush
-- Pro-Corporate, Anti-Environment, Anti-Women and Minorities: Should Alito Be on the Supreme Court?
-- Bush Impeachment Buzz Gains Momentum
-- Bill Frist, Tom DeLay Speak Out About Impeachment: "No Man Is Above the Law"