Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

December 28, 2007

AN UNEXPECTED VETO....The president went nearly six years in office without vetoing a single bill, but has now had seven -- including funding the war in Iraq, stem-cell research (twice), and healthcare for low-income kids (twice). In each instance, lawmakers were well aware of the White House's opposition, but passed the bills anyway, hoping Bush would either change his mind or they could override the veto.

Which is what makes veto #8 so odd.

At the behest of the Iraqi government, President Bush will veto the annual defense authorization bill, saying an obscure provision in the legislation could make Iraqi assets held in U.S. banks vulnerable to lawsuits.

The veto threat startled Democratic congressional leaders, who believe Bush is bowing to pressure from the Iraqi government over a technical provision in the bill. The veto is unexpected because there was no veto threat and the legislation passed both chambers of Congress overwhelmingly.

Democratic leaders say the provision in question could easily be worked out, but in vetoing the massive defense policy bill, military pay raises may be on hold, as well as dozens of other programs.

This is just bizarre. If the provision of the bill was so offensive, why didn't the White House, which was aware of the legislation's progress as it passed, say something sooner?

As the AP noted, "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."

So, what's the problem here?

Keep in mind, the veto of the defense authorization bill puts a variety of key spending measures in limbo, including a pay raise for the troops, VA care for wounded veterans, a new "Truman Commission" to fight fraud and waste by military contractors, and expanded job protections for family members of severely wounded troops.

What a mess.

Steve Benen 2:17 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (45)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Since pretty much everything this administration says or admits to is a lie, this sounds like a dodge. There's really another reason.

Posted by: jrw on December 28, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe those lawsuits against the Iraqi government would reveal morally sloppy American military/corporate complicity in the gruesomest aspects of Saddam's reign?

Duh!

Posted by: bdr on December 28, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, there you have it, the Truman Commission, that could not be allowed to come to be, lest Cheney and Bush's malfeasance come to light.

Posted by: Carol on December 28, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Steve assumes that the White House knew about this provision before the bill was passed. But, did they? I imagine the bill is hundreds or thousands of pages long. And, we've seen in the earmarks issue how Congress sneaks thousands of provisions into bills.

The provision causing the veto was a reversal of policy that had applied since 2003. Congress might well have explicitly pointed out to the White House that they were changing a long-standing policy.

Of course, the beneficiaries of this change would have been the lawyers, who more-or-less own the Democratic Party. They could have made millions in legal fees. I wish the Dems would focus more on what's good for the country and the world, and less on what's good for lawyers.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 28, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

hoping Bush would either change his mind or they could override the veto.

This is, of course innacurate. Some of the legislation is passed knowing that when it's vetoed that Republican incumbents can be beaten over the head with it.

I'm looking forward to the day when Republicans in the Senate are actually forced to filibuster rather than simply announce their intention to do so. The public could certainly use some education about obstructionism.

I would have hoped that a blog entry on vetos would have included some of that education.

Posted by: Paul Dirks on December 28, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

"why didn't the White House, which was aware of the legislation's progress as it passed, say something sooner?"

Because this is the most grossly incompetent administration ever. Really, is anyone surprised?

Posted by: jharp on December 28, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Oh I see Carol jumped on it before I could. A new commission to investigate corruption and fraud by military contractors, you say? Hmmmmm..... nah, that couldn't be it, could it?

Either that, or it's something even more nefarious. Remember, even taking into account that it's always worse than you think it is, it's always worse.


Posted by: gypsy howell on December 28, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe this?

The Iraqi government, as well as the White House, believe it would be unfair to strip lawsuit immunity from the Iraqi government while U.S. civilians and contractors have been given protection from liability while operating in the war zone.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on December 28, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

More likely Bush wanted a reason to bash Democrats over the head for sending him an "unreasonable" bill that was starving the troops for money, but the Congress ultimately passed the bill that Bush wanted. When this happened, the White House was sent scrambling for a reason to veto the bill until they came up with something.

Posted by: Tyro on December 28, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

As others have already noted, the provision of a new 'Truman Commission' to fight fraud and waste jumps out as likely the real reason for the veto. We already know of a billions of dollars which have disappeared in Iraq, and hundreds of millions, if not billions, in Afghanistan. Not to mention the Blackwater contractors who will likely --- literally --- get away with murder.

And these are just the things which have come out with little or no oversight in place. I can imagine the Bush Administration is in a near-panic contemplating what would likely be discovered in Iraq if a non-partisan commission were to take a clear-eyed look at it.

Posted by: David Bailey on December 28, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

I can imagine the Bush Administration is in a near-panic contemplating what would likely be discovered in Iraq if a non-partisan commission were to take a clear-eyed look at it.

Y'know, after the last 7 years, I'd be surprised if they were actually worried about a non-partisan commission investigating ANYTHING they've done. I'd LIKE to think they were worried, but given the spinelessness and corruption of our congresscritters, and the general apathy of the American public, why shouldn't they think they're just going to get away with all of it?

And then, even if someone were to make a fuss about it, there's always El Rancho Dinero in Paraguay...

Posted by: gypsy howell on December 28, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib: Steve assumes that the White House knew about this provision before the bill was passed. But, did they? I imagine the bill is hundreds or thousands of pages long.

That is certainly a good point. George can't read more than seven pages without jumping up and running around the room in circles. If only the White House had a legislative liaison office...

I wish the Dems would focus more on what's good for the country and the world, and less on what's good for lawyers.

I imagine that during your career in insurance you often heard this phrase, with "Republicans" replacing "Dems" and "corrupt, customer-screwing insurance companies" replacing "lawyers."

Posted by: shortstop on December 28, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see. The Iraqi government cannot do anything at all to meet surge requirements, in fact it barely functions, but it has the wherewithal to find obsure sentences in Congressional bills? And all of our pressure cannot get them off their duffs, yet a small whine by them seems to have scotched this bill.

I find this to be very fishy.

Posted by: Mudge on December 28, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Is Bush is afraid of Americans, Iraqis, or whomever suing over corruption and misbehavior issues connected to the Iraq War II?

Posted by: Neil B. on December 28, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Bush issued a decree".....

I just love how far we've come.

Posted by: mario on December 28, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Cool. I see 2 options: (i) override the veto or (ii) accept W's veto and elect not to send the President another Department of Defense spending bill until after January 20, 2009.

Posted by: po on December 28, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Delaying funding for VA and troop raises:

Its not a bug, its a feature.

Posted by: do on December 28, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

A new "Truman Commission" to fight fraud and waste by military contractors was probably the real reason this bill was vetoed, or W. Bush's friends have already emptied those Iraqi accounts.

Posted by: Brojo on December 28, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't the FY08 DoD appropriations act. That was passed and signed in November. This is an act that authorizes some of the already approved appropriations. If that seems backwards, it is. Normally, the authorization precedes the appropriation. Sometimes the appropriation never happens.

Posted by: md 20/400 on December 28, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Bush is up to no good again. He has a lot to hide. This administration is not just dangerously incompetent. It may be the dirtiest on record.

Posted by: allie on December 28, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Watch the headlines from now until a fixed bill passes: "Democrats delay pay raises for troops, endanger VA funding". And of course going through this rigamarole again cuts into time that could be used to pass (instead of re-pass) other substantive legislation. It's just more republican obstructionism.

Posted by: paul on December 28, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

What's funny to me is, if there was a Democratic administration and a Republican congress, most of the commentators here would be talking about how the sneaky Republicans put a terrible provision in the bill, totally disrespectful of a foreign government, but the sharp-eyed Democratic administration spotted it in time. Really, the people here are like greyhounds: start the rabbit moving and they run after it without thinking.

Posted by: y81 on December 28, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Really, the people here are like greyhounds: start the rabbit moving and they run after it without thinking."

I like that analogy. Pithy and accurate.

Posted by: Billy Bob on December 28, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

You pegged it y81 - look at shortstop's post above and notice how the actual issue is avoided by saying, "but the Republicans would be corrupterer..."

Typical posts - Bush can't read, they are all inept, Cheney is completely evil, everyone in the administration is a liar (except of course when Richard Armitage was there. He was the one shining star who exposed the CIA... oops he outed Valerie Plame by leaking her name to Novack. The old right wing conspiracy didn't seem to work that well in that instance.)

Oh well, I can only hope that progressives unleashing all this pent up rage against President Bush means they will be nicer after the 2008 election when President Bush is no longer in office.

Yeah right.

Posted by: Orwell on December 28, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Even you trolls must find it odd that W's "administration" didn't bring up any objections to the bill earlier. He gets whatever he wants with the spineless D's in the end anyway. If he wanted it changed all he had to do was make them change it. Either the objection is a smokescreen or somebody in that contemptable "administration" dropped the ball for the managing scumbags.

Posted by: TK on December 28, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, good lord. y81/Billy Bob/Orwell thinks ex-liberal was making a comment in good faith that should be seriously addressed. That's the most precious thing I've heard all month.

Posted by: shortstop on December 28, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

"What's funny to me is, if there was a Democratic administration and a Republican congress, most of the commentators here would be talking about how the sneaky Republicans put a terrible provision in the bill, totally disrespectful of a foreign government, but the sharp-eyed Democratic administration spotted it in time."


Seems to me this bill was passed by overwhelming BIPARTISAN majorities in both houses. You are the one chasing partisan rabbits. Run, dog, run.

Posted by: chaboard on December 28, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

It figures that the Bush veto that comes by surprise and is completely mishandled politically is the one veto of his that actually makes a lick of sense--albeit despite the fact that the reasoning for the veto doesn't quite manage to reach "lick of sense" status.

The provision in question in pernicious. Allowing individual lawsuits against foreign governments that support terrorism in place of having a comprehensive foreign policy in place to deal with such governments is mind-bogglingly stupid. It gives governments labeled as terrorist or terrorist supporters incentive to pull all assets out of the U.S. and to cut off negotiations that could lead to change until the law is revoked. It's the kind of thing our government does to look like it's doing something while papering over a complete lack of sensible policy.

Posted by: R Johnston on December 28, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Seems like this was another attempt by Frank Lautenberg and the democrats to insure the failure of the Iraqi government. I can can only assume that the democrats did this without thinking or that they were actually trying once more to undermine our victory in Iraq.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on December 28, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

A most obvious reason for the veto: Bush needs to start the new year reminding the congress--both Democrats and Republicans--who is the master and who is the dog. He has a history of that sort of move going back to his college days. You pick a little fight, catch the other guy off balance, he gives in because he wants to seem reasonable and/or wants to get something done, then you pick another issue and slap him around again.

The tactic turns up in diplomatic negotiations from time to time and was standard procedure for the old communist governments. Good examples are the Chinese during the Korean truce talks, the North Vietnamese in the Paris talks, and the Soviets in almost every negotiation before they got weak and desperate. Every other move they made in every negotiation was a jab just to push our guys around.

On the other hand, his people might have just screwed up and Cheney's cronies in Iraq read the law and suddenly jerked his chain.

Posted by: Berken on December 28, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

I heard on NPR that Bush would 'pocket veto' the bill, that is just not sign it.

Harry Reid says the bill will become law since the Senate is gaveled into session every couple of days.

This is just a way for the administration to test the waters for recess appointments. Depending on what the courts decide.

Posted by: MikeKC on December 28, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the King of Spenders got the message of irate conservatives. Maybe he just likes to have fun with Democrats and their bills.

Posted by: Luther on December 28, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

MikeKC @5:53PM got it exactly right! This is just another attempt to provide a precedent that supports the "unitary" presidency. The fact that the Constitution specifically states that both Houses of Congress are the ones to decide their own rules, including whether or not they are in session, apparently is of no consequence to the cowardly thugs in the Oval Office and the OVP.
The administration undoubtedly believes it has the Democrats boxed in; if we refuse to bow down to this unconstitutional usurpation, the VSP, MSM and Republican party (I could have saved some space there, couldn't I?) will begin howling about how Democrats don't support the troops. If we go along with it, one more knife has been stabbed into the Constitution. The question now is whether the Democratic leadership has the guts to let 'em howl? From past performances, I don't have much hope.
Gerald Ford may have been a "nice" guy, but the damage he did to our country by pardoning RMN may end up destroying it. Had Nixon been convicted and sentenced for his crimes, I firmly believe none of this could have occurred.

Posted by: Doug on December 28, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

I live in a very military town and hang around many military people. Prior to the 2006 election, there was a whispering campaign going around saying that if Democrats were elected, soldiers wouldn't get their pay raises. I expect selfsame rumors will be revived and this delay will be blamed on Democrats. There really is nothing too low for this administration.

Posted by: Albert on December 28, 2007 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Doug I'm sure sure the burden is on the Dems. All the Dems have to say if Bush signs a vetoed bill is that Bush vetoed troop pay, or the bill is now LAW if Bush did not sign a vetoed bill.. period.

Posted by: fls on December 28, 2007 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

This is just a way for the administration to test the waters for recess appointments. Depending on what the courts decide.

Bingo. This has nothing to do with the bill, and everything to do with GWB trying to grab more power for the exec branch.

Posted by: Disputo on December 28, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Steve assumes that the White House knew about this provision before the bill was passed. But, did they?"

Yes. Next question, moron?

Posted by: PaulB on December 28, 2007 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Seems like this was another attempt by Frank Lautenberg and the democrats to insure the failure of the Iraqi government"

Well, sure, if you're a partisan moron incapable of independent thought.

Can we get some smarter monkeys, please?

Posted by: PaulB on December 28, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

Bad link?

I can't find the section about sovereign immunity for Iraq, that you quoted, in the link that you provided. At that link, they did note:

The disputed section of the bill would reshape Iraq's immunity to lawsuits, exposing the new government to litigation in U.S. courts stemming from treatment of Americans in Iraq during Saddam's reign. Even cases that had once been rejected could be refiled.

Maybe the AP story's been updated since your post? Or you pasted the wrong link?

I'm just trying to understand what this provision of the bill would really do. That aside, it seems clear that if Bush tries a "pocket veto" rather than simply returning a veto (from the link, "When adjourning before Christmas, the House instructed the House clerk to accept any communications — such as veto messages_ from the White House during the monthlong break.") - then this is about testing the meaning of adjournment, with intent to increase executive power, rather than simply fixing a bad provision in a bill.

Posted by: mh on December 29, 2007 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

It strikes me that this is a perfect opportunity for the Democrats to make political hay by doing nothing. After waiting a while for Bush to notice that he doesn't have money, Bush will ask them to come back into session, and then the Democrats can pass exactly the same bill.

How can the Republicans possibly benefit if Bush vetoes a bill that the Senate and House have supported just because the Iraqi government doesn't like one of the provisions? Especially one that asserts American rights?

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on December 29, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

y81: if there was a Democratic administration and a Republican congress, most of the commentators here would be talking about how the sneaky Republicans put a terrible provision in the bill, totally disrespectful of a foreign government, but the sharp-eyed Democratic administration spotted it in time.

Oh, sure, it's all politics. The name of the blog is "Political Animal". That conceded,

Isn't this a pretty bad move by Bush? Do you think that the Iraqi Liaison to the American Congress actually noticed this item at the last minute? Don't you think that the Truman Commission is a necessary start to correcting the spending excesses in Iraq? Can the money already "appropriated" be spent without the "authorization"? Regardless of Bush's stated motive, wouldn't the Democrats be doing the right thing to pass the same bill and dare a second veto? Those legislators serve their constituents, not the Iraqi government.

Right now, this looks like a Bush mistake.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on December 29, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

"""Seems like this was another attempt by Frank Lautenberg and the democrats to insure the failure of the Iraqi government"

Well, sure, if you're a partisan moron incapable of independent thought.

Can we get some smarter monkeys, please?
Posted by: PaulB on December 28, 2007 at 11:15 PM ""

Typical liberal Response PaulB, The section in question is non-germane and should have been brought up separately or in a more germane bill not to mention that it does place the present Iraqi government at risk. Think about it...

Posted by: TruthPolitik on December 29, 2007 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

The provision causing the veto was a reversal of policy that had applied since 2003.

The new Democratic majority corrected a mistake that was made by the then Republican majority.

... it does place the present Iraqi government at risk.

Only to the degree that the present Iraqi government supports people and actions of the government then in power. It was the previous Iraqi government that was declared agents of international terrorism; the current government is already protected.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on December 29, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK
Typical liberal Response PaulB, The section in question is non-germane... Posted by: TruthPolitik at 11:33 AM
Actually, you need to understand the situation prior to spouting off. According to an article in the LA Times, Bush wants to stymie ex-POWs' suit

…because the legislation could revive a lawsuit brought by American prisoners of war during the 1991 Persian Gulf War who say they were tortured by the Iraqis.
Their suit sought to establish the principle that war prisoners who were tortured in violation of the Geneva Convention were entitled to sue the country that tortured them…...
In 1996, Congress partly waived the rule that shields foreign countries from being sued. And after hearing evidence of how the former POWs had been beaten and starved, a judge awarded them a total judgment of $959 million.
But the verdict came shortly after the United States had invaded Iraq and toppled Hussein. Bush administration lawyers then intervened in the case and said the judgment should be thrown out. ….
"What message do we send for the future" if war prisoners can be tortured with impunity, asked Lt. Col. Clifford Acree at the time. A pilot in 1991, he was shot down by a surface-to-air missile on the first day of the Persian Gulf War and was blindfolded and beaten after he was taken captive. He later served as the lead plaintiff in the suit.
But this fall, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) won an amendment to the Defense Department bill making clear that individuals who were victims of state-sponsored torture or other human rights violations could sue for damages. The measure, broadly supported by Republicans and Democrats, would also allow such claims to be revived if they were dismissed earlier.
"My bill would provide victims of state-sponsored terrorism the justice they deserve," he said….

On review, I would say that the section is germane and that your li'l buddy Bush is once again screwing over American troop. Points to PaulB, boos and hisses to Bush and his defenders. Think about it, chum. Seriously.

Posted by: Mike on December 30, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry. I don't like composers who think. It gets in the way of their plagiarism. Help me! It has to find sites on the: Bloodletting and finasteride. I found only this - finasteride in women. Finasteride, they noticed that merck ranked to name narcissistic notices to medicaid and recipient ulcer number girls and provided perfect finasteride to amount maturity attacks. Finasteride, well, this cycling your action affects by test benefit. Best regards :o, Mervyn from South.

Posted by: Mervyn on February 20, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly