Why the Sudden Veto of Military Pay Raises?

Digby and Steve Benen are right. Bush’s impending veto of the military spending bill is just weird. Here’s how Pelosi and Reid describe the veto:

Despite the Administration’s earlier support for the Department of Defense authorization bill, it appears that President Bush plans to veto this legislation, which is crucial to our armed forces and their families.

The Defense bill passed both houses of Congress by overwhelming bipartisan margins and addresses urgent national security priorities, including a 3.5 percent pay raise for our troops and Wounded Warriors legislation to remedy our veterans’ health care system. It is unfortunate that the President will not sign this critical legislation.

Instead, we understand that the President is bowing to the demands of the Iraqi government, which is threatening to withdraw billions of dollars invested in U.S. banks if this bill is signed.

The Administration should have raised its objections earlier, when this issue could have been addressed without a veto. The American people will have every right to be disappointed if the President vetoes this legislation, needlessly delaying implementation of the troops’ pay raise, the Wounded Warriors Act and other critical measures.

It’s weird in that Bush has had months to push a very compliant Congress to write the bill precisely as he wants. And it’s weird because the stated reason for the impending veto doesn’t make any sense. Steve points to this Yahoo article explaining why. Bush says he’s going to veto the bill because the Iraqis are worried about getting sued, but the Iraqis are already protected by law.

Sovereign nations are normally immune from lawsuits in U.S. courts. An exception is made for state sponsors of terrorism and Iraq was designated such a nation in 1990. After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, however, Congress passed a law and Bush issued a decree stating that Iraq was exempt from such lawsuits.

After that exemption was passed, the administration challenged and successfully overturned a $959 million court ruling for members of the U.S. military who said they were tortured as prisoners of war during the first Persian Gulf War.

The Justice Department also sought to defeat a lawsuit brought by U.S. citizens held hostage during Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. That case has been taken over by lawyers for the new Iraqi government and is ongoing in a Washington federal court.

The provision that is causing problems would have allowed the victims of the executed Iraqi dictator Saddam to seek compensation in court, Democrats said. The Iraqi government has warned that former U.S. prisoners of war from the first Gulf War might cite this legislation in an attempt to get money from the Iraqi government’s reported $25 billion in assets now held in U.S. banks, they say.

Unless Bush vetoes the legislation, the Iraqis have threatened to withdraw all of their money from the U.S. financial system to protect it from the lawsuits, Democrats said. The White House contends the legislation subject to the Bush veto would imperil Iraqi assets held in the United States, including reconstruction and central bank funds.

And here’s the provision in question.

`Sec. 1605A. Terrorism exception to the jurisdictional immunity of a foreign state

`(a) In General-

`(1) NO IMMUNITY- A foreign state shall not be immune from the jurisdiction of courts of the United States or of the States in any case not otherwise covered by this chapter in which money damages are sought against a foreign state for personal injury or death that was caused by an act of torture, extrajudicial killing, aircraft sabotage, hostage taking, or the provision of material support or resources for such an act if such act or provision of material support or resources is engaged in by an official, employee, or agent of such foreign state while acting within the scope of his or her office, employment, or agency.

`(2) CLAIM HEARD- The court shall hear a claim under this section if–

`(A)(i)(I) the foreign state was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism at the time the act described in paragraph (1) occurred, or was so designated as a result of such act, and, subject to subclause (II), either remains so designated when the claim is filed under this section or was so designated within the 6-month period before the claim is filed under this section; or

`(II) in the case of an action that is refiled under this section by reason of section 1083(c)(2)(A) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 or is filed under this section by reason of section 1083(c)(3) of that Act, the foreign state was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism when the original action or the related action under section 1605(a)(7) (as in effect before the enactment of this section) or section 589 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1997 (as contained in section 101(c) of division A of Public Law 104-208) was filed;

`(ii) the claimant or the victim was, at the time the act described in paragraph (1) occurred–

`(I) a national of the United States;

`(II) a member of the armed forces; or

`(III) otherwise an employee of the Government of the United States, or of an individual performing a contract awarded by the United States Government, acting within the scope of the employee’s employment; and

`(iii) in a case in which the act occurred in the foreign state against which the claim has been brought, the claimant has afforded the foreign state a reasonable opportunity to arbitrate the claim in accordance with the accepted international rules of arbitration; or

`(B) the act described in paragraph (1) is related to Case Number 1:00CV03110 (EGS) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Now, obviously, the law does not name Iraq specially. So there’s got to be something funky going on here–if the Iraqis are exempt, then presumably they’re exempt. Though maybe that’s just for things that happened under Saddam. While Iraq is not now a sponsor of terrorism, they could easily become one, if we got cranky with them. Or perhaps their objection is more indirect. For example, I can see why the Saudis wouldn’t want us to pass this bill (though they haven’t been named a sponsor of terrorism either), but that doesn’t mean the Iraqis would object.

One interesting, probably unrelated (but then who knows) detail is category "B," which allows suits from 1:00CV03110 to go forward. That’s Roeder v. Iran, a suit taken by Iranian hostages (not Iraqi hostages), which the Administration got thrown out in 2003 because (among other things) Iran was not a legal sponsor of terrorists when it took the Americans hostage. Under this provision, it appears, the Americans taken hostage by Iran might get to try again. Just as the Saudis and the Iranians are getting in bed together. Given the close ties between the Shiites running Iraq and the Iranian government, is that why the Iraqis obejcted?

I have no idea, but something doesn’t make sense…

As an added bonus from dakine, here’s a nice little twist, courtesy of Senator Webb, who shows up to work every other day to keep the Senate in session for approximately 9 seconds.

President Bush on Friday headed toward a constitutional confrontation with Congress over his effort to reject a sweeping defense bill.

Bush announced he would scuttle the bill with a "pocket veto" — essentially, letting the bill die without his signature 10 days after he received it, or the end of Dec. 31.

But that can happen only when Congress is not in session; otherwise, the bill becomes law without a formal veto in 10 days. And the Senate maintains it is in session because it has held brief — sometimes only seconds long — meetings every two or three days with only one senator present. The White House’s view is that Congress has adjourned.

Bush obviously doesn’t want to veto pay raises for our men and women (or, presumably, Bush’s party members don’t want him to). But this fight is one the courts might agree with Congress on. Is his desire to prevent whatever the stated threat is stronger than his desire to look like a friend of the military?

Update: The NYT finds someone who knows more about this than I–and who also doubts Bush’s reasoning.

Meanwhile, a Washington lawyer who has represented Americans who were abducted by Iraqi forces after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait said that he doubted the official explanation for President Bush’s rejection of the bill.

The lawyer, Dan Wolf, said he believed some people in the State Department resented him and his clients for suing Iraq in United States District Court and, in the view of diplomats, “stepping on their turf.”

As for the assertion that the suits could threaten the stability of the new Iraqi government, Mr. Wolf said the money that could go to his clients is “a very, very small fraction” of Iraqi assets in the United States.

Also note, but the NYT and the WaPo seem to take the White House at its word that Congress is not in session. Somebody better tell Jim Webb.

45 replies
  1. Hmmm says:

    Well… Needlessly precipitating an early January crisis? Timing all sorta aligns: Iowa, delayed consideration of FISA/PAA fixes, new Congressional sessions, Pakistani election. With this pocket veto, W roils the American people and makes the American military mad — all happening at the same time.

    Chaos = opportunity per Milton Friedman at alia, and chaos also = mass distraction. Let’s be alert for buried events.


  2. PJEvans says:

    After reading about this at dKos (thanks, KagroX) I hit the Speaker’s site and expressed my opinion of the maybe-it’s-a-veto-maybe-it-isn’t maneuver Shrub is trying to pull.

    It seems liek every time we turn around, he has some new way of f*cking us again.

  3. CTuttle says:

    If Shrub thinks he can pocket veto it because he thinks congress is adjourned, why wouldn’t he then make his controversial appointments… It’s not adding up…

    • Hmmm says:

      But it is adding up, if the aim is not to get something done, but instead simply to precipitate a crisis. A crisis would raise public and Congressional anxiety. Presumably in order to influence something — not that I know what, but the FISA/PAA debate and the primaries would be guesses.

  4. TheraP says:

    the Iraqi government, which is threatening to withdraw billions of dollars invested in U.S. banks if this bill is signed.

    Which banks? How many billions? How invested? Banks are in trouble already due to this loan crisis. Curious. And where would the money go if it leaves US banks and sells the dollars?

    Also, if the Iraqis are indeed “threatening” to take their balls and go home if the US prez doesn’t obey them, this is surely a switch. The puppet govt rattling the presidential cage? Also curious.

    On the other hand… does the situation in Pakistan have anything to do with precipitating this? Is Iran behind it?

    And what other nations might be affected by this law? Don’t forget bush’s upcoming trip to the middle east in January. Any connection?

    I have no answers, only questions.

    Emptywheel, I am impressed by your ability to home in on the curiosities!

  5. emptywheel says:

    Incidentally, another country that might get squeamish abotu this is Colombia, which is not a state sponsor of terrorism, but is, in fact, a state sponsor of terrorism.

  6. dday says:

    I think he doesn’t want to veto it because it would be overwhelmingly overridden. This was the m.o. behind signing statements. I think the reason he’s not doing that is that there’s actual standing on the part of claimants to Iraqi money, which would give an opening to litigate signing statements itself.

    That sound right to you?

  7. scribe says:

    I read this as one or more of a couple possibilities – not necessarily an exclusive list.

    These are:
    (1) trying to assert that the Presidency, not the Congress, determines when Congress is (or is not) in session. This would come into play in both the pocket veto and recess appointment cases, in the first place. In the second, it would be a continuation of the assertion by Bush that Congress’ job is to give him the bills he wants, nothing more and nothing less. In the third, it would continue his assertion (explicit or implicit) that the Executive is not subject to and indeed superior to the Legislative, by putting bitch-slapping Congress into practice again.

    FWIW – listening to German radio reporting on the formation of the new Russian Duma, they noted that the Communists were the only opposition party in the Duma, all the other parties having been coopted by Putin’s. One of the main objections the Communist leader referred to in the report had was that the Duma did not exist merely to present Putin with the laws in the text and form he decreed he needed. An interesting parallel between Putin and the man who looked into his eyes and saw a kindred soul.

    (2) It represents a continuation of the fight we saw averted at the end of the summer session, when it looked like the House and Senate versions of the so-called PAA were not going to be reconciled and the respective houses were not going to be able to agree on a time of adjournment and when to resume. If you recall, there was some discussion of the provisions of Article II which deal with when the President can call the Houses into session or send them home.

    We all looked at the text of Article II and noted the possibility of multiple interpretations because the text is unclear, one of which was he could send Congress home until he decided they could come back.

    (3) More Addington.

    (4) Trying to use Pakistan unrest to stir up trouble here.

    By the side, I note that a couple weeks ago, the case about whether the differing versions of the Appropriations Bill from a couple years ago were or were not law, came to the end of its appeals, with a S.Ct. denial of cert. IIRC, that case was dismissed because the members of congress suing were deemed to have no standing.

    My initial conclusion, subject to change, is that he is trying to create a situation in which he can invoke that portion of Article II and argue it allows him to send Congress home, then send them home for the rest of his term.

    That allows him to avoid inquiries, impeachment, and make as many recess appointments as he wants, without anyone beefing about it.

    In light of the recent decision in that case involving the Appropriations bill, it may be that he will claim (and have pliant judges he appointed back him up) that Congress has no standing to get a court order allowing it to come back into session.

  8. emptywheel says:

    dday and scribe

    First, if Congress treats this as a pocket veto, they’ll have to go back and override the veto anyway. Bush may be trying to avoid a pathetic looking veto, but everyone knows he’s still vetoing it, and the claim he thinks they’re still in session is just lipstick on a very ugly pig.

    As to the desire to use this to set up a Constitutional confrontation–I just don’t believe that even the idiots in the WH would use this as their pissing match. First, because if it goes to teh Courts it will emphasize over and over and over and over that Bush vetoed a pay raise for our men and women in the services. But also because there is so much history behind the practice that the Senate sets its own rules, that I can’t imagine they’d win a confrontation. Besides, they’ll have to take on Webb, who packs heat in Congress.

    I just think at some point BushCo is going to have to admit they fucked up royally and suck it up. I actually wonder whether Congress can use reverse psychology on Bush, throw in some rules about withdrawing, in the same way he’s preparing to on all the OTHER appropriations bills.

    But that would take real leadership from the Dems. And that would take my guy, Sen Levin, voting for withdrawal, which he has apparently decided not to do anymore.

    • scribe says:

      I hope you’re right and I’m wrong. But, too many times with this administration I’ve taken the extreme-cynical position and have their conduct prove me a wuss for being less radical than they, to think otherwise.

      BTW, Speaker Pelosi, how’s that subpoena power doing, when you can’t get back into session?

      • emptywheel says:

        Granted. their radicalism knows no bounds. I’m just hoping their stupidity knows some, though that hope is just as likely to be disappointed as anything short of craven cynicism is.

    • Rayne says:

      But that would take real leadership from the Dems. And that would take my guy, Sen Levin, voting for withdrawal, which he has apparently decided not to do anymore.

      Yeah, about that…I seriously want to fax Levin’s office a very simple message:


      I swear somebody got to him. Talking to his reps is like talking to one of those toy dogs in the back window of a Buick; they nod their heads, but you know nothing is going on. Even their feeble protestations, “Senator Levin is very frustrated, too,” ring hollow.

  9. Hmmm says:

    I would assume that extraordinary interrogations have been conducted for the USG in Iraq, under official Iraqi government cover, since 2003. Could that possibly cause The New Iraq to fall within the definition of “state sponsor of terrorism”? If so, then allowing lawsuits to go forward in those cases might eventually enable discovery that W & Team Dick couldn’t withstand.

    Also I would think the Iraqi government woud have plenty of other motive to divest of US dollar assets just because the dollar is tanking. So that money should be walking anyway soon… which further chips away at the offered rationale.

  10. GroveGirl says:

    emptywheel –

    What happens if congress just ignores Bush’s statement about the pocket veto and says something to like – “we passed a bill. You didn’t sign it or veto it after 10 days so it law. We’re done with the defense bills for the year” and then let Bush explain to the military why they can’t be paid.

  11. MadDog says:

    Junya thought that if he just stuffed the bill in his pocket, that would make it a pocket veto.

    Just Joshin’ is gonna need the entire weekend to ’splain it to him properly.

    “But…but…but there ain’t nobody there! Theys must be that adjorned thingie.”

  12. CTuttle says:

    Ah-Ha! Here’s the poison pill…

    Combating Contractor Fraud and Overseeing Private Security Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

    * Requires that the Department of Defense, Department of State, and Agency for International Development clarify their roles and responsibilities in managing and overseeing contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, including tracking and overseeing contractor personnel.
    * Encourages the timely reporting of waste, fraud and abuse by contractors, including improving the protection of whistleblowers.
    * Requires the Department of Defense, working with the Department of State, to issue detailed regulations for private security contractors mandating the appropriate use of force and accountability.
    * Creates a new commission on wartime contracting to develop lessons learned from the contracting problems in Iraq and Afghanistan.


  13. sailmaker says:

    It isn’t a veto of the defense bill, it is a veto of the pro forma sessions that make the executive branch unable to make recess appointments. They WANT this to go to court, get pro forma secessions declared ex constitutional, so they can make those vital recess judicial appointments, the toxic legacy of the Bush Amin. Just think of it as another Addington FU.

    • Hmmm says:

      Maybe, but can they win? Which implies the question: How would it play out? W sez it’s a pocket veto, Pelosi & Reid say oh no it isn’t… whose move is it?

  14. GroveGirl says:

    Why would it have to be Bush’s or congress’ move? Why couldn’t a widow or wounded vet (someone not receiving the benefits passed by congress in the defense bill) sue the executive branch for failure to implement the law. Then it is Bush arguing to a court, against an American citizen why he’s not implementing a law. I image that there are a number of law firms or organizations out there willing to take on such a case.

    • scribe says:

      Thinking about this, and in response to your “how to go about pushing the issue”, here’s how I game it out.

      There are two possibilities: either (a) Bush generated an effective pocket veto of the bill, or (b) it became law by operation of the Constitution despite his not signing it.

      I’ve gamed this out and, rather than give the folks in the WH who read this blog any education, I’m not going to answer further in a public forum. Just suffice it to say it’s an attack on Congress’ in consonance with my prior comments, particularly at 10 above.

  15. mainsailset says:

    Ah the choices. Since Bush has never stepped up to the plate to protect the troops OR the Iraqi fledgling govt who else are the recurring players…Saudi Arabia? Bush has certainly chosen the Saudis over American lives before, and it’s always about their bank accounts…and gee our banks are having a bit of a rough go of it these days. Hate to have a run on them.
    One thing for certain, we can cross Bush’s explanation off the list of probabilities, that Pinocchio nose must stretch from Crawford to Pennsylvania Avenue.

  16. Phoenix Woman says:

    Actually, there’s no need to gavel the House into session for Congress to be “in session” (and to block Bush’s pocket-veto attempt):

    Wright v. United States (1938) explicitly states that if ONE house is in session, Congress is NOT, repeat, NOT in recess for the purposes of pocket veto:

    The first question is whether ‘the Congress by their adjournment’ prevented the return of the bill by the President within the period of ten days allowed for that purpose.

    ‘The Congress’ did not adjourn. The Senate alone was in recess. The Constitution creates and defines ‘the Congress.’ It consists ‘of a Senate and House of Representatives.’ Article 1, 1. The Senate is not ‘the Congress.’

    The context of the clause itself points the distinction. It speaks of the ‘House of Representatives’ and of the ‘Senate,’ respectively. It speaks of the return of the bill, if the President does not approve it, ‘to that House in which it shall have originated’; of reconsideration by ‘that House,’ and, in case two thirds of ‘that House’ agree to pass the bill, of sending it together with the President’s objections to the ‘other House’ and, if approved by two thirds of ‘that House,’ the bill is to become a law. Provision is made for the taking of the votes of ‘both Houses’ and for the recording of the names of those voting for and against the bill on the Journal ‘of each House respectively.’

    Then, after this precise use of terms and careful differentiation, the concluding clause describes not an adjournment of either House as a separate body, or an adjournment of the House in which the bill shall have originated, but the adjournment of ‘the Congress.’ It cannot be supposed that the framers of the Constitution did not use this expression with deliberation or failed to appre- [302 U.S. 583, 588] ciate its plain significance. The reference to the Congress is manifestly to the entire legislative body consisting of both Houses. Nowhere in the Constitution are the words ‘the Congress’ used to describe a single House.

    • Hmmm says:

      But this case is different, no? In this case the bill originated in the House, which is not currently in session. So yes, Congress may be in session, but how can the House receive the return of the bill?

      • freepatriot says:

        no, this case ain’t no different

        Congress IS IN SESSION

        the adjournment of one house or the other DOES NOT AFFECT THE STATE OF CONGRESS

        Congress is in session UNLESS BOTH HOUSES ADJOURN

        is that too hard to understand ???

        I know george has a peoblem with basic english, but the bulk of American voters can read

        is this a battle the repuglitards really want to have ???

        that supermajority for the Democrats is looking more like a sure thing every day

      • freepatriot says:

        and if george don’t return the bill, it becomes law without his signature

        once again, is this a battle the repuglitards want to have ???

        this is basically gonna be the repuglitards and george bush versus We The People Of the United States

        kinda hard to appeal to the voters when you’re sueing them at the same time

        • Hmmm says:

          Thanks, FP, but what I mean is, although Congress is in fact in session (per PW’s cite), the House is not there for the WH to return the bill to. I’m just wondering whether the WH found a true loophole here.

  17. marymccurnin says:

    Could it be that he is setting up a situation for the Iraqi’s to take their money out of the banks so when the dollar tanks even more they won’t loose so much dough.

  18. cinnamonape says:

    It seems pretty clear to me that if he wants to return the Bill with objections he can do so. That’s one way he can veto. Or he can accept it. What he cannot do, under our Constitution is return part of the Bill. The Presidential powers are fully protected.

    He could also call the House back in Session if he believed it was an emergency. But the Constitution does not give the President the right to suspend Congress, and he has the power to “schedule” the return of both Houses ONLY when the Houses of Congress are in disagreement as to when to return.

    “Article 1 Sec. 4
    Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.”

    It’s quite clear that it would have to be the Senate, not Bush, who could block the House from adjourning for more than three days. The Senate has not protested. Ergo there is no “disagreement”.

    “Article 2 Section 3

    [The President] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.”

    Thus Bush could insist that the House come back into Session to deal with his veto of the Defense Bill. But he can’t mandate that they deliberate faster or come to an agreement with regard to his disagreements, or compel the attendance of any members. That’s the Right of the House. But compelling a special session is within his powers…that ENABLES the review of legislation or review of special events like disasters or war.

    Furthermore it’s the Senate that confirms Presidential appointments. The Senate ARE in Session. The House and Senate were not in dispute about their times of adjournment. One didn’t object to the activities of the other. Thus Bush cannot “adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper”. The power of adjournment occurs only when there is a breach of amity between the two divisions of the Legislative branch, and where one may actually be blocking activity of the other by adjourning to prevent hearing legislation passed by the other body. The President can then direct and END to the period of adjournment. This is simply another way of stating his power to call Congress into Session.

    The Federalist Papers #69 stated that the President didn’t have the power of a King particularly in suspending Parliament at his whim.

    Fourthly. The President can only adjourn the national legislature in the single case of disagreement about the time of adjournment. The British monarch may prorogue or even dissolve the Parliament.

    “So Bush or his lawyers may think that they have discovered some sort of loophole…but it actually applies in a manner just the opposite to that which would allow him to suspend or prorogue either House of Congress. He can compel them to convene, but he cannot compel an adjournment unless there is an actual dispute. I see no way this can be used to shut down Congress so he can make recess appointments. That would be a “Prorogue”, and is not allowable under our Constitution.

    A Prorogue is a forced suspension of the Parliamentary body. The British Monarch would end the Parliamentary Session by giving a Prorogue Speech. Until recently in Britain this would also suspend any legislation in process or under discussion, which would have to be reintroduced the following session.

  19. jayackroyd says:

    Framing note.

    The NYT headline is “Bush Vetoes.” There’s no reason to describe this any other way. Let them explain how a veto really isn’t a veto.

  20. jayackroyd says:

    Let me phrase this more strongly. I think the pocket veto may simply be a shiny object. I imagine they’d like this turn into a process story.

    It didn’t distract the NYT. The story before the jump calls it a “veto” that it is “embarrassing” to the administration and to republicans in Congress.

    Kerry gets in before the jump with obvious they were for the troops before they were against the troops quote.

    In Surprise Step, Bush Is Vetoing a Military Bill

  21. BayStateLibrul says:

    “The White House prepared a very detailed legal memorandum, and I am convinced that they are correct,” Mr. Warner said in a telephone interview.

    Who wrote the argument?
    Detailed, but probably based on Martians landing in Texas and
    staying at Crawford, or better yet, Iraq being our 51st State.
    I would throw this back in the Commander’s face… a perfect

  22. TheraP says:

    Here’s a thought. The ostensible issue that the administration is claiming is “immunity” – for the Iraq govt – from this one part of the law.

    So is the issue immunity?

    The reason I ask that question is because before the “recess” (and I understand that’s an issue too), immunity for telecoms was to be the big legislation in the Congress in January (or Feb depending on Reid’s schedule for the bill)

    So the question is: Is this an effort to get immunity for one group, so you can then claim immunity for another?

    Either this is a distraction to prevent groups from organizing against immunity for telecoms or it is a prelude in the administration’s efforts to gain that immunity. IMHO

    I may be off the track here, but I offer this question for your collective consideration.

  23. TheraP says:

    Another thought with regard to the Iraq money. It’s 30 to 40 billion according to today’s NY Times. That may not sound like a lot, but regardless of why or how that money may be withdrawn, and I agree with the theory that the administration may be paving the way to blame that on the Dems, given the write-downs which the banks have already done and given the write-downs which are likely coming, based on news reports this past week, and given that banks must by law maintain a certain percentage of money “on hand” – this actually is a huge sum and could put a severe strain on the big banks… which already lost value just Friday.

    So while I think this is a red herring, when it comes to the bill itself, it is not an inconsequential issue, and certainly would play into the problems these banks are experiencing as well as how all of that plays out on the national and international stage.

    So a subtext, but an important one.

  24. MrWhy says:

    If Bush wants to veto this, he’ll have to veto it by returning it with objections. Since the WH has already prepared a legal opinion on their objections, that should be pro forma. And iirc Congress has made provisions for accepting a return with objections.

    Surely the WH can’t be spoiling for a fight over the validity of pocket vetoes at this point?

  25. MrWhy says:

    Which would be quicker, to veto and amend, or to sign and amend? Could Congress withdraw the legislation on their own? I bet that would be acceptable from the WH perspective, and maybe that’s what they’re hoping to provoke.

    I suspect there’s something else in the bill (see e.g. PW @ 25) which the WH objects to, but they don’t want to admit what it is.

  26. Hmmm says:

    So can we see this awesome legal opinion in order to analyze it ourselves, or is Warner the only one who gets to see it?

  27. Hmmm says:

    Some other folks are thinking about the Section 1079 angle. See Digby. Could the problem be that that could be used to force the release of stuff that the Administration can’t allow to come out? I’m thinking specifically of the other, secret, unrevoked OLC torture opinion, and whatever opinions enabled domestic surveillance to proceed (and that would be squarely within the DNI’s bailiwick, see below), but of course there may be any number of others.

    So that explanation would seem to make sense of the strange optical situation, as it would be worth the embarrassment cost of this silly dilatory nonsensical non sequitur inapplicable pocket-veto-that-isn’t.

    Quoth W:

    “… I continue to have serious objections to other provisions of this bill, including section 1079 relating to intelligence matters . . .”

    Quoth a Digby commenter:

    What is in 1079 you ask? A provision requiring the Director of National Intelligence to make available to the Congressional intelligence committees, upon the request of the chair or ranking minority member, “any existing intelligence assessment, report, estimate, or legal opinion,” within certain conditions.

    Has anybody here taken a look at those conditions?

  28. WilliamOckham says:

    Perhaps it’s because I’m in the middle of Charlie Savage’s new book (which, btw is indispensable even if you know everything that’s in it), but this looks like a classic Cheney-Addington move. Never mind what the policy goal is or that there is an existing means to accomplish it, these guys never miss a chance to expand presidential power.

  29. JohnLopresti says:

    There is a low pay scale in some ranks according to an article a few years ago. People in community service organizations have addressed that need for years; (source: personal communication). I agree with the allusions to OPEC solidarity re: denominating petrol raw products in USD instead of Euros; as well as the instant matter of the senator providing a barrier from recessAppt of a former clerk of a SupremeJ, Thomas’s Bradbury, who later worked in Goldsmith’s former post at olc, now nominated for 4thCourt; Ackerman wrote two months ago about that.

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