From the Boston Globe:
Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement
When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.
Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.
In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."
Bush wrote: ''The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "
The statement represented the latest in a string of high-profile instances in which Bush has cited his constitutional authority to bypass a law.
....and this from Salon:
If you've been following the way in which George W. Bush uses signing statements as a sort of uncheckable mini-veto of bills he doesn't like, this news shouldn't come as much of a surprise: When the president signed legislation renewing the Patriot Act earlier this month, he included a signing statement in which he said that he doesn't feel obliged to comply with the bill's requirement that he keep Congress informed about how his administration is using some of the powers it provides.
The Boston Globe has the story, and it's all depressingly familiar. Bush signs the bill with all the usual fanfare -- check out the desk decorated with the "Protecting the Homeland" banner -- and then quietly issues a signing statement in which he says he doesn't think that the legislation he has signed really means what it says. In the earlier case of John McCain's torture ban, Bush added language saying that he was free to "construe" the ban however he liked, "consistent with the constitutional authority of the president ... as commander in chief." The president put similar language in his Patriot Act signing statement, this time making it clear that he didn't consider himself bound by the congressional oversight provisions in the act.
"The executive branch shall construe the provisions of H.R. 3199 that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch ... in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties," the signing statement says.
As the Globe notes, those congressional oversight provisions were the subject of "intense negotiations in Congress." Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy calls Bush's effort to eliminate them with a few strokes of the pen ''nothing short of a radical effort to manipulate the constitutional separation of powers and evade accountability and responsibility for following the law."