Via TPM Election Central:
It's official: President Bush will veto any and all measures put forth by Congressional Dems to halt the Iraq War, according to a little-noticed letter from the White House to Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The letter also says that the White House will veto any measure that would tie its hands on Iran -- including on military action inside that country.
That Bush will veto any such measures was expected, and isn't surprising. Nonetheless, the letter makes it official that Congressional Dems face the daunting prospect of having to muster a veto-proof majority on any Iraq or Iran measures. The little-noticed letter can be read right here.
Is this a "no s#*t" moment because, as TPM notes, it was expected? Well, sure. But I wanted to take a moment to remind you of this:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the Democratic-controlled U.S. Congress not to interfere in the conduct of the Iraq war and suggested President George W. Bush would defy troop withdrawal legislation.
I've shown it to you before, but let me highlight that again:
President George W. Bush would defy troop withdrawal legislation.
Not just veto. Defy.
Now, what call did the "administration" have in February to use that kind of language? Veto? Sure. But defy? Really?
Let's be honest. In all likelihood, most Washington players probably didn't take notice of that language, or didn't give it any real credence if they did. After all, that's insane, right? To just defy legislation?
But what do you think the Washington Wise Men would have told you about the prospects of pardoning Scooter Libby? What do you think they would have told you about the prospects of the "administration" defying Congressional subpoenas?
"That'd be crazy," they'd have said, right? "No president would risk that kind of affront to Congress and the American people."
And yet, here we are.
So here's a question: Now that we have been told the president is willing to trample the Constitution and defy legislation that pro-actively withdraws troops from Iraq, what theoretical hurdle stands in the way of his trampling it and defying even passive defunding?
Dick Cheney, whom we now know to have his hands on the actual levers of power in the White House, counts presidential budgetary impoundmentpowers among those he believes were wrongly usurped by Congress, and therefore still quite operative:
By refusing to issue contracts, Cheney revived a Nixon-era tactic of "impounding" funds -- refusing to spend money for programs that he didn't like. Congress had passed a law in 1974 to ban impoundment. Cheney, who later said he believes the anti-impoundment law unconstitutionally infringes on executive power, ignored it.
Now, granted, we're talking about an enormous amount of money. And it also should be said that Cheney hasn't yet said he believes impounded funds can be spent elsewhere. So this still lives in the realm of speculation.
But given this "administration's" penchant for inventing new legal and constitutional theories as the need arises, can anybody say with confidence that this isn't exactly how they intend to defy any legislative effort -- whether active or passive -- to end the occupation?
This is not an argument against attempting to defund the occupation of Iraq, or any other such operation. But you might consider it a thought exercise for those who insist that defunding answers the question definitively.
With this gang, you always have to ask, "What if it just... doesn't?"
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