From the Boston Globe comes news that after approving a bill outlawing the torture and inhuman treatment of detainees, George W. Bush issued a “signing statement,” a document which contains his interpretation of the bill. Not surprisingly, that interpretation is a declaration that he intends to view the torture ban within the context of his “broader powers” to protect national security.
In other words, the ban on torture on cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees means about as much as the law forbidding electronic surveillance without warrants of persons suspected of engaging in terrorism. Bush’s signing statement was posted on the White House website; it is not a secret document, merely one–another one–that is floating by unnoticed.
A senior White House official is quoted as saying: “Of course the president has the obligation to follow this law, [but] he also has the obligation to defend and protect the country as the commander in chief, and he will have to square those two responsibilities in each case. ‘We are not expecting that those two responsibilities will come into conflict, but it’s possible that they will.”