News Release

Signing Statements and Permanent Bases in Iraq


The Boston Globe reports today: “President Bush this week declared that he has the power to bypass four laws, including a prohibition against using federal funds to establish permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, that Congress passed as part of a new defense bill. Bush made the assertion in a signing statement that he issued late Monday after signing the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008.”

The following analysts are available for interviews:

Lowi is Professor of American Institutions at Cornell University and author of several books including The End of Liberalism. He said today: “Congress by its silence and acquiescence to signing statements has, in effect, legislated their approval. This puts President Bush above accountability through congressional advocation.”
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Van Bergen first broke stories about Bush’s signing statements in September of 2005. She has since written several articles on the underlying unitary executive doctrine, including “The Unitary Executive: Is the Doctrine Behind the Bush Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State?” She said today: “Bush’s signing statements are unlawful and unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has ruled against line item vetoes. Bush’s signing statements are just line item vetoes in disguise. As Sen. Carl Levin points out, ‘Congress has a right to expect that the administration will faithfully implement all of [the laws] — not just the ones the President happens to agree with.'” Van Bergen is author of The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America.
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Currently in Washington, D.C., Jarrar, who was born and raised in Iraq, is Iraq consultant for the American Friends Service Committee. He said today: “This most recent presidential signing statement helps reveal the administration’s plans for maintaining permanent military bases in Iraq. Polls conducted by World Public Opinion have found that a majority of both the Iraqi and U.S. publics are opposed to permanent bases, though a majority of Iraqis expected it would happen anyway. Now, a group of U.S. and Iraqi negotiators, appointed by the two executive branches, is drafting a bilateral agreement for bases and other indefinite U.S. intervention in Iraq’s domestic affairs.

“This will increase violence and further destabilize the country because it is against the will of the Iraqi public, and against the will of the Iraqi elected officials in the parliament. Iraqis want to get their country back from the foreign occupiers, and if they realize that there is no way to end the occupation through nonviolent and political resistance, more of them will turn to armed resistance.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167