On April 9, ABC News reported that in 2002, President Bush’s most senior advisers approved the use of harsh interrogation tactics. Days later, Bush confirmed to ABC he “approved” of the tactics. Since the ABC report, the media have largely ignored the story. Morever, it took 14 days for a reporter to raise the issue in a White House press briefing.
During an interview this morning on NPR, former Vice President Al Gore criticized Bush for approving the techniques, calling it “obscene,” adding that his use of signing statements is “a raw assertion of authority outside the boundaries of the law”:
GORE: Ultimately the guarantor of our freedoms are the people. And these kinds of outrages, a president saying that he has the right turn George Washington’s 200-plus year prohibition against torture and torture anyone he wants with his assistants gathering in the basement of the White House — according to recent revelations — personally reviewing the kinds of torture techniques being used prisoner by prisoner, its obscene.
Highlighting Bush’s “arrogation of authority,” Gore also noted that the Bush administration has “refused to comply with the Supreme Court decision” requiring it to regulate “global warming pollution” under the Clean Air Act.
While Gore called Bush’s abuses of power “outrages,” the media does not seem to be as concerned. However, the House Judiciary Committee provided a bright spot today, voting to subpoena David Addington, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, to compel him to testify about the administration’s interrogation programs.
TERRY GROSS: So say John McCain was elected president. What would his options be in terms of dealing with President Bush’s signing statement?
GORE: the reason you’re having trouble with it is that it’s contrary to the American system. In my view, not only would that signing statement not bind the next president, it is not legal as a statement of law where the current president is concerned. It is a raw assertion of authority outside the boundaries of the law.
GROSS: But who would decide if it’s officially legal or illegal? Nobody’s officially thrown it out saying “this is illegal.”
GORE: Well that’s correct, and in our system the ultimate arbiter of what is constitutional, since Marbury versus Madison in the first decades of our republic, has been the Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court does not take all cases, and has been often timid where this president’s arrogation of authority to himself is concerned.
But even where they have not been timid, where for example they ruled that the Clean Air Act requires President Bush and his EPA administrator to regulate global warming pollution as pollution under the Clean Air Act. And the executive branch has nonetheless refused to comply with the Supreme Court decision. And ultimately the guarantor of our freedoms are the people.
And these kinds of outrages — a president saying that he has the right to overturn George Washington’s 200-plus year prohibition against torture and torture anyone he wants, with his assistants gathered in the basement of the White House, according to recent revelations, personally reviewing the kinds of torture techniques being used prisoner by prisoner — it’s obscene!