GAO: Obama Broke The Law In Bergdahl Release Deal
The General Accounting Office confirmed what seems clear to anyone who can read a statute.
It’s been nearly three months since Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was freed from Taliban captivity in a deal that resulted in the release of five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. Nearly from the moment that the release happened, Republicans were critical of the deal largely because of the questions regarding the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance from his post and the fact that the Obama Administration decided to trade five Taliban leaders to get him back. Perhaps the most potent criticism though, was the argument that the Administration had failed to comply with the law because it failed to notify Congress of the trade of Bergdahl for the Guantanamo prisoners beforehand. The White House justified the failure to comply with the notice requirement by saying that it was necessary to complete the trade in a short period of time due to concerns about Bergdahl’s health. However, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, including Dianne Feinstein and Tom Coburn were skeptical about that justification to say the very least.
Now, the General Accounting Office has come out with a report determining that the Administration did in fact violate the law when it failed to notify Congress about the impending prisoner swap as required by law:
WASHINGTON—The Obama administration violated the law when it failed to give Congress adequate notice about the transfer of five detainees from Guantanamo Bay as part of a swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the investigative arm of Congress said Thursday.
Sgt. Bergdahl was released after nearly five years of captivity in Afghanistan as part of a May 31 exchange for five Taliban detainees held at a U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“The Department of Defense violated section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014 when it transferred five individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the nation of Qatar without providing at least 30-days notice to certain congressional committees,” the Government Accountability Office said in response to a letter from Republican lawmakers, including Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, and Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby.
That provision prohibits the Defense Department from using government funds to transfer individuals from Guantanamo unless it notifies Congress at least 30 days in advance.
The department also violated another law that prohibits federal employees from spending money not authorized by Congress. “DOD should report its Antideficiency Act violation as required by law,” the GAO said.
At the time of the swap, President Barack Obama defended the move, saying the U.S. has a “sacred rule” not to leave men and women in uniform behind.
“We saw an opportunity,” Mr. Obama said on June 3. “We were concerned about Sgt. Bergdahl’s health. We had the cooperation of the Qataris to execute an exchange, and we seized that opportunity.”
But lawmakers from both sides of the aisle questioned the decision, saying the administration disregarded the 30-day notice provision of the law.
The Defense Department notified Congress of the transfer in writing on May 31.
According to the GAO letter, the department said its actions complied with the law and, in any event, the relevant portion of the law is unconstitutional as applied to the Bergdahl transfer.
Providing notice “would have interfered with the executive’s performance of two related functions that the Constitution assigns to the president: protecting the lives of Americans abroad and protecting U.S. service members,” the department said in reply to a GAO inquiry.
The watchdog didn’t weigh in on the constitutionality of the law but noted that it had been signed by the president.
George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley comments:
In this case, the duty to inform Congress could have been easily satisfied and it was not even necessary to violate the law in order to carry out the exchange. It seems more likely that this was done for political purposes to avoid opposition in Congress.
The GAO found the obvious violation and added that the Pentagon broke another law by using funds that were not technically available. The GAO also concluded that the Obama Administration violated the Antideficiency Act, barring spending by agencies above the amount of money that Congress has obligated.
The appropriations dimension is another example of how the Administration has circumvented the “power of the purse” which is often cited as the core congressional check on presidential power. Indeed, as I have discussed in recent testimony, the Administration has repeatedly shown that this power is becoming something of a constitutional myth (despite the fact that it is often cited as a reason not to recognize standing by members in challenging unlawful acts of a president). The law in this case was part of a Defense spending bill states that no money can be used to transfer Guantanamo prisoners to another country “except in accordance” with a law requiring that the secretary of Defense to notify key congressional committees at least 30 days before such a transfer.
In this case, the swap occurred May 31 but the committees were only notified between May 31 and June 2. The finding also puts to rest the spin put out by advocates that Congress was notified by the White House.
When some of use raised the violation of federal law as obvious at the time, many supporters of the White House insisted that there was no violation and that this was another partisan attack. However, the GAO found the violation “clear and unambiguous” and said that the Administration was dismissive of “the significance of the express language” in the law.
As I noted just days after the swap was announced, it seems fairly clear that the Administration did in fact fair to comply with the law in this case. The language of Section 1035 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 seems fairly clear in its requirement that the Preident, through the Secretary of Defense, must notify the appropriate Congressional committees of any proposed prisoner swap no less than thirty days prior to the transfer of any prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay. When he signed the NDAA into law, the President did issue a Signing Statement in which he purported to make the determination that this provision of the law was potentially an unconstitutional restriction on Executive Powers. However, as President Obama himself noted several times when he was a Senator and Candidate for President, Presidential Signing Statements are of dubious legal and constitutional legitimacy to begin with. Additionally, the President himself noted just under a year before the Bergdahl deal became public, that he would be required to consult with Congress before making a deal to free Bergdahl that included the release of Guantanamo prisoners. That, combined with the fact that the medical arguments that were made after the fact in order to justify making the end run around Congress haven’t stood the test of time, makes the Constitutional argument that the White House is making dubious at best.
Moreover, as Turley notes in his post, even if you accept the argument that Section 1035 is an unconstitutional restriction on Presidential authority, that cannot justify the misappropriation of money for a purpose specifically forbidden by Congress. In addition to the notice requirement, the law also states that the Defense Department could not use appropriate funds for a purpose not specifically authorized by Congress. This is an excellent example of the very “power of the purse” that, traditionally, has always been seen as something well within the authority of Congress. Indeed, a President who spends money in a way that Congress didn’t authorize would clearly be violating the law. That’s what the Boland Amendment was about in the 1980s, for example, and it was the efforts of certain members of the Reagan Administration to get around that law that led to the Iran/Contra Scandal. Here, we have something far more direct, a decision by the Executive Branch to ignore a Federal Law and spend money in a way that Congress didn’t authorize. Whatever side of the political aisle you fall on, that’s not something that should simply be dismissed. Presidents should not be permitted to ignore the law with impunity and get away with it unscathed and, while it’s unclear just what the penalty for violating Section 1035 ought to be, it seems pretty clear that is should be something more than just a dismissal of the matter as another Washington partisan battle. The Administration broke the law, there’s really no other way to put it.
Tell us something we DON’T know.
Not that any price will ever be paid for that illegality.
Ya know….if the penalty is unclear, then it’s less a command and more of a suggestion.
Also, Bergdahl has still not been charged with desertion. The investigation is complete. The report is expected next month.
@Eric Florack: Do you have a particular price in mind?
Impeach! Absolutely Mr. Obama should be impeached for failing to obey a pointless law whose sole purpose was to allow Lindsay Graham a chance to rush over to Meet The Press and prove his manliness. I don’t see any other alternative.
Mr. Chairman, I move that we begin impeachment proceedings immediately. Before the mid-terms.
Easier to pass a law and give the president plenary power as commander-in-chief. If the president does it, it is not illegal.
Congress needs to decide whether it is part of the government of the United States or just 535 guys with their hands out for corrupting money and their eyes on the next election. For decades now the Congress has increasingly pushed responsibility off onto the executive. With responsibility goes power. And the reverse. If Congress wants power they have to take responsibility.
Of course taking responsibility makes it harder to collect every last dollar of campaign contributions, so aside from special pleadings and malicious meddling like this law, Congress refuses to perform its constitutionally mandated function.
Government is a three-legged stool. One leg is broken. The result is power flowing to the executive and the courts. If Congress wants its power back it can take it back tomorrow. But it will also have to accept responsibility and that they will not do.
So it would have been better if the President had duly informed Congress, the Congressional Republicans bollixed the deal, and Bergdahl been left to rot ( and maybe) die in captivity. He would have dead , but hey, Turley ( and Doug) would have been happy that the Law had been Followed. Other than patient dying, the operation would have been a success.
@michael reynolds: pointless?
who gets to decide that?
Do you se the issue, yet?
@Stonetools: And giving ISIS $1 billion might have saved James Foley’s life. At what point do you cease caring about the law?
its not broken, its working correctly and as designed.
A billion? They only asked for a hundred million. (It’s a ridiculous comparison anyway. The US doesn’t have a “No journalist left behind” policy.)
And sorry….I just do not give a rat’s ass about Section 1035 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. And I have a hard time thinking anyone else does either.
Whaaaaaat? The messiah, Barry Obama broke the law? This must be a typo.
Indeed . The Foley case is a prime example of the Administration following the law barring us from negotiating with terrorists. Strangely, neither Professor Turley nor Doug are praising the Administration’s scrupulous observance of the law in that case, possibly because the results are there for all to see on YouTube.
Hard to spin that result as an example of the wonderful benefits flowing from the Administration always complying with law.
Who is “Barry Obama”” Is he related to the president?
Now, I’ve heard of “Barry Soetoro” I think he’s the guy who falsified citizenship documents and ran for president. In fact, I believe that he’s the president, but not the messiah? Do I have that right?
Have a happy Fox News day, Jack, and may Donald Trump’s hairpiece be with you.
@al-Ameda: As far as childhoods go, Barack Obama’s was far from ordinary. Born to a teenage mother and an absent Kenyan father, Barry Obama, as he was known then, spent much of his youth in Indonesia before living with his grandparents to attend prep school in Hawaii.
Oh I understand the fact that many conservatives still do not realize that Hawaii was a state when Barack was born.
@al-Ameda: I said nothing about his birth or where he was born. I simply called him Barry Obama. Do you have reading comprehension problems or are you projecting?
I thought it was Barry Soetoro, not Barry Obama, sorry, my bad …
If it quacks like a duck…..
And seriously, dude, if you want to be disrespectful, don’t get all butt hurt when you get called on it.
Young Obama may have been called “Barry” as a child, but he abandoned that nickname in adulthood by choice and has been identified ever since by the name he prefers, Barack. You can call him “Barry,” and then justify it by claiming that’s what he was called when he was 12, but don’t complain about other people’s “reading comprehension problems.”
We knew exactly what you meant.
It decided a long time ago. Not hard to tell which it chose.
@Jack: “Barry Obama” is one of those tribal markers, that typically reveals the person using it to be a complete buffoon. It reveals not just contempt for Barack Hussein Obama, but a complete lack of imagination in expressing that contempt.
See also: Obummer, Obambi, Democrat Party, etc.
I figured it had back when the transfer happened. As I said then:
Many, if not most, (if not all? hard to say) Presidents have broken the law this way before. There’s simply no way a President will accept the kinds of checks on his power Congress wants to impose. Congress, for its part, will make a lot of noise, but will always defer to Presidential power in reality.
A law with no penalty is a non-binding resolution, is it not?
More seriously, congress has three options — impeach, grumble, or shrug. They can also convene hearings and attempt to do oversight, but I think the Benghazi! hearings have shown there is no interest in oversight, just grumbling.
@Gustopher: I do in fact have contempt for this president. But none of that had anything to do with his place of birth. al Amema said “my bad” and I have accepted his mea culpa.
As for lack of imagination, would you prefer I call him President Stompy Feet?
How about “the president.”?
I know, too simple, so prosaic ….
What is that supposed to mean? Intelligence and military officials have publicly stated that the dire medical assessment was real and heavily motivated the action. Just because he seemed to be doing better when he was actually transferred and that he didn’t seem to have major health issues afterward is irrelevant to what the intelligence community’s assessment was when the decision to get him out was made.
You’re not alone, Jack. Millions of people share in your contempt.
Not all of them resort to childish nicknames to express it though.
If you ever meet the President, will you have the balls to call him this to his face? No? I did not think so.
I have contempt for George W. Bush. I refer to him either as President Bush or Mr. Bush. If it’s a long piece and I’m feeling lazy I will, in later paragraphs, simply use “Bush.”
I’ve never found this minimal respect for the office and basic standards of politeness to hamper my ability to express myself.
@anjin-san: Yes, and double yes. I would have no problem calling him President Stompy Feet to his face. He has no more authority to keep me from calling that than he does to stop my freedom of speech. He is not a king, and these days, he doesn’t even act like a president. He has more time on the links this year than some pro golfers. If that’s what he wants to do, then he should resign and do that, because he has to be better at golf than he is at the job of chief executive.
@michael reynolds: Goody, goody. You get a gold star for politeness.
Can you explain why this law is malicious meddling and how in making this law Congress is not performing a constitutionally mandated function?
Gee, and he takes lass vacation time than your messiah, George W Bush.
@al-Ameda: Ahhhh, yes….the ubiquitous liberal bleating of “but, but’ Bush”. I didn’t like everything he did either. Your savior, Obama, campaigned on being BETTER that little Bushy. And yet…all you Obamabots can do is point fingers, instead of holding your candidate accountable. Absolutely pathetic..
@James Pearce: Very true. Or are you one of that thinks Obama is above the laws that are written for us mere plebes?
Instituting a “give me 30 day notice” rule with no penalties in an appropriations bill may not rise to the level of “malicious meddling” but it’s a less than perfect example of “performing a constitutionally mandated function.”
It’s a pretty good example of a Congress that’s not quite ready for primetime. Maybe Boehner should sue.
Jeez Jack, don’t let facts bother you, and I’m sure you won’t.
Also, I find it interesting that all these people who once supported Bush now claim that they didn’t like him much after all. Now THAT’S pathetic.
Hold Obama accountable? Absolutely. But the problem you guys have is that you’ve turned every situation where you want the President to be held accountable into repeated open ended investigations – you know, like Benghazi, and IRS non-profit status, etc. You’re the ones with a credibility problem.
No, I just think that if congress really wants to write a law, they should write one. If they want to put some weak ass provision in the fine print of an appropriations bill, then they should expect for it to be ignored.
If you’re interested in curbing the president’s executive authority, then support meaningful efforts to do so and stop being impressed by congressional stunts that result in nothing.
The purpose of the law was to force Mr. Obama to keep Guantanamo open. It’s a law passed to stymie any rational action as regards prisoners we have held – without trial and yet without status as POWs – for over a decade in many cases. Did Congress suggest how we might rationalize this? Did they offer a solution to the problem? No. They passed a law to cut the President off at the knees without taking upon themselves any responsibility for the ongoing problem.
We are so used to a useless Congress that I think we forget they have a positive duty to actually solve the country’s problems. Had they said, “Here’s how we’re going to deal with this ongoing human rights violation in the following three steps,” I would have sung hosanna and insisted that the law be followed. But that would require them to take responsibility and to actually do something useful.
There may be innocent people locked up at Guantanamo. That’s a violation of everything we stand for. At some point we need to try people or let them go. Congress chose none of the above, and ensured that the Executive could also not solve it.
What if we have turned one or more of the five we swapped for Bergdahl? What if we’ve cleverly arranged to maintain surveillance on them post-release? Or maybe we’re just taking seriously the notion that we don’t abandon captured American soldiers? The Republican Congress cares nothing for any of that, they passed a law to ensure that they’d have plenty of time to demagogue any such swap.
@Jack: “He has no more authority to keep me from calling that than he does to stop my freedom of speech”
Yes, we all understand he’s not the boss of you. And that’s a perfectly reasonable attitude to take, as long as you happy to be twelve years old.
Well, if this is lawbreaking of the kind Reagan committed — although without the whole selling arms to a sworn enemy of the US part — then I think Obama deserves either the same penalty as Reagan received or the penalty that the righties around here believe Reagan should have received.
So either nothing should happen or there should be a concerted national movement to name every single inch of the country after Obama.
I’ll abide by Doug’s decision on this one.
@James Pearce: when Obama does something that deserves respect, let us know. Meanwhile quit bleating.
@Stonetools: The president doesn’t earn praise for obeying the law. That’s expected. That’s like the old joke about saving someone’s life by not killing him. Do you really think the president has the right to ignore laws that are unfavorable to him? That he has no obligation to uphold and defend the Constitution?
I’m speechless. Please say that you’re just going for rhetoric here and you don’t actually believe that.
Right. The guy who is afraid to go out for an ice cream cone without a weapon has that level of nerve.
Do you own anything? Stocks? Real estate? If the answer is yes, how are you doing as opposed to the day before Obama took office?
That posits a world in which you are capable of granting respect to someone outside your bubble. I mean, I don’t care if you use cutesy nicknames to describe someone you don’t like.
It is a hallmark of the unsophisticated and crude and if that’s how you wish to portray yourself, have fun.
Quite a bit less, in fact.
@anjin-san: Again, you are projecting. I carry because I choose to carry, not due to fear.
Can anyone point me to the firestorm of right wing rage over this contempt for the law?
@Jack: “Whaaaaaat? The messiah,
Barry Obama broke the law?”
Wouldn’t be the first messiah to do that for a good cause, eh?
I find myself heartened by how pretty much everyone agrees that Obama broke the law. It’s rare to find that kind of concord around here.
I am discouraged, though, by the Obama supporters who are using the “bully defense” — “yeah, I did it. What you gonna do about it?”
it’s not so much that he got one of our soldiers back, it’s the price he paid.
he would be “matt millen” in football speak. not that matt millen is a bad guy, just had a really bad streak.
now, how’s that investigation into bergdahls disappearance going anyways?
Really? I’m pushing 60, and I have gotten though life without carrying a weapon. I tended bar for a long time, and that is actually a dangerous job. I’ve spent my share of time in dives, and when I have occasion to go to a rough neighborhood, i just do it.
PS, I own guns, and I know how to use them.
So tell me exactly how I am the fearful guy in this conversation.
You, on the other hand, are constantly chattering about “threats.” You are either scared, or you have some psychological issues going. The guns and your constant use of cheap macho putdown lines suggests overcompensation of some sort.
Jack repeatedly says to himself in the mirror, finally believing it when he gets up to 9.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
Are you sure this doesn’t just confirm every awful thing you ever believed about Obama supporters?
At any rate, you’ve got it wrong. It’s not “Yeah, I did it. What you gonna do about it?” It’s more like, “Oh, that was supposed to stop me? Really?”
It’s too cute to say, “Obama broke the law when he did this thing I totally disliked.” Lucky that, in this case, the GAO agrees. The Pentagon doesn’t, though. The DOD doesn’t. The White House doesn’t. Congress can hem and haw all they want, but they’re the ones who made the “law” a gentleman’s agreement.
As my Mom would say, “Well, what’d you think was going to happen?”
Congress required the president to notify it 30 days before transferring Guantanamo prisoners. That was a rational law and congress exercised its constitutional power in making this law.
If a prisoner was captured in Iraq, then he should have been released when that war ended. If he was captured in Afghanistan, then he should be released when that war ends. If it makes sense, the prisoners can be released anytime. It is congress’s decision. If congress does not raise an objection, then the president can do as he pleases.
@Another Mike: My, but you are casual with the lives of people you don’t know and never will. “Hey, he’s a prisoner, if Congress wants to free him, that’s cool, otherwise he can chill until whenever.”
And if it were your father or brother or sister — or you — in the cave? “Hey, whatever, dude.”
Game, set, & match.
@ Florack & Jack
Being able to show a little respect for the other team, even if you are not really feeling it, is one of the signs of being an adult. Hell, it’s one of the signs of being a high school kid who was raised right.
I think everyone knows how I feel about Bush. But, if I ever meet him, you can bet “It’s an honor to meet you, Mr. President” is what I will have to say.
If you guys want to be the flip side of the “Chimpy McHitler” crowd, well that is your privilege. Most of the folks on OTB have somewhat higher standards.
You’re kidding, right?
So, you’re with the “Chimpy McHitler” approach?
You’re breaking my heart, dude.
I am impressed by your cojones. It’s almost as impressive as the way you decided, in a thread on presidential authority in the present-day, to post things about Obama’s “far from ordinary” childhood in which he “spent much of his youth in Indonesia” (actually four years, all before his 11th birthday), then acting like it’s other people’s fault for thinking you just might be insinuating something with this digression.
Did you know that “Jack” also happens to be the moniker of the most famous serial killer in history? I’m not implying anything. No sirree. Getting touchy, aren’t we?
Hint: you could take some lessons in gumption from a certain Ms. Orly Taitz, who at least will state outright what she believes about the president, instead of pretending she’s talking about something else.
Ah, the usual response whenever the President is found to have broken a law or statute or restriction on his power: “well, Republicans are being useless twerps”. The Republicans are being useless twerps, agreed. But the law does not have a “Congress being jackasses” out clause. Maybe Republicans would have bollixed the deal (although I’m dubious). In that case, they take the blame. It’s also possible the entire controversy would have been muted because Republicans wouldn’t have opposed it until afterward. I’ve often told Republicans that if they don’t like what Obama is doing, they should try winning an election. If the Democrats don’t like what Congress is doing, they should try winning it back (and no, gerrymandering does not make that impossible.
(Also, agree with above discussion about name-calling. Anytime someone refers to the President as “Barry” or “Hussein” or anything other than Obama, Barack Obama or the President, I just ignore whatever comes after that. I think he’s a lousy President; but he’s still the President. I’ve heard a saying in the military that you salute the rank, not the man. The same goes with the White House. Treat the inhabitant with at least some respect even if he’s a complete idiot (which Obama isn’t, but that’s beside the point.))
Presidential Oath of Office, from The US Constitution, Article II, Section 1:
US Constitution, Article II, Section 3:
It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
The law is about risks and. Consequences, far more than right and wrong. The realistic maximum consequence here is Republicans complaining, but since the Republicans manufacture an outrage du jour whatever the president does, that’s effectively no consequence at all.
With so many preposterous, meaningless, dishonest complaints coming on a regular basis, why wouldn’t he slip in a few legitimate things? He pays the price whether he does or doesn’t.
You know, I try to resist the conclusion that conservative = dumb. Then they show up here. . .
What kind of law is written with no punishment for breaking it?
Congress didn’t write a law that actually meant anything, or else it would have had some sort of penalty for actually breaking it.
@Jack: So you ARE only 5-years-old! Good to know. Maybe your mommie will tell you how to be polite to people some day, but somehow, I doubt it.
@Jenos Idanian #13: It’s not a defense, it’s an example of realpolitik at work. Without a prescribed penalty, the “law” is just “blah, blah, blah.”
And to think you will soon have another president to have even more contempt for…I’m sure you will think of some creative names for her…
@Stonetools: What happened to “We don’t negotiate with terrorists”? Isn’t it true that Bergdahl was responsible for the position he was in BECAUSE he
abandoned his post and walked off the base?
Michael, who gets to choose which laws are OK for a President to ignore?
Secondly, if Congress doesn’t act on an issue I care about, is it OK for me to advocate for and justify Presidential action to get the result I want, even if it means breaking a few laws?
Personally I couldn’t disagree more with that line of reasoning – the process of legislation, as ugly as it is, is better than executives making determinations by fiat. Promoting the idea that Presidents need to make the trains run on time in the absence of Congressional action is a dangerous ends-justify-the-means precedent that will be abused. Policy end are important, but IMO how one achieves those ends matter much more than the ends themselves.
What you may not realize is that this law changed a much more restrictive one that was passed by the 111th Congress….
Guantanamo may be a “violation of everything we stand for” (that is a statement I agree with, BTW), but a majority of Americans don’t share our view which is why these laws on Guantanamo pass with large bipartisan majorities. In other words, the problem isn’t Congress, it’s us.
@Gustopher: The law is about risks and. Consequences, far more than right and wrong. The realistic maximum consequence here is Republicans complaining, but since the Republicans manufacture an outrage du jour whatever the president does, that’s effectively no consequence at all.
That’s just fine and dandy, as long as you forget about that gosh-darned inconvenient oath Obama swore.
To bring back an old theme, it seems that his oath of office — like so many of his promises — had an expiration date, too…
Of course, the constitution also makes the President commander in chief of the armed forces. So now you have a split in duties, and he picked one over the other. Sometimes “to the best of your ability” involves choices that can’t be all good either way.
@Mu: Bogus argument. Congress writes the UCMJ, and also has to give approval to promotions above a certain level. By your argument, those also conflict with Obama’s role as Commander In Chief.
Plus, this was part of Congress’ Constitutional power of the purse strings. So that doesn’t work, either.
@Andy: Andy, Hal, and others:
I saw this same line of reasoning on a thread about the illegal NLRB appointments. At first it seemed to be, Congress isn’t giving him a choice. Then pressed on it, it became more like, the president can do what he wants.
I see three possibilities. One, this is a conditional position that’ll change at the beginning of the next Republican administration. Two, they believe the president should have some wiggle room (as do I, but not when he’s treading on other branches’ ground). Three, these commenters genuinely don’t support our Constitutional system. But if you take that last position, on what grounds do you argue anything political?
@Jenos Idanian #13:
You’re getting warmer, Jenos. Congress thought they’d “pass a law” in an appropriations bill. But what they really did was implement a “requirement” that can be easily and safely ignored.
The solution is for Congress to make these statutory requirements, rather than loading funding bills that must pass with provisions that couldn’t pass any other way.
My position is “the President WILL do what he wants, any time he interprets a legislative action as infringing the executive power.”
This includes, sometimes, breaking laws. No doubt about it.
The issue really boils down to who will hold the President accountable and how they will do so. Who can? Congress. But they don’t, and they rarely (if ever) have. Sure, they grumble, and a few in districts held by the opposition party might toss the word “impeachment” around, but they never actually DO anything. It’s a de facto deference to the executive.
And I believe when it comes down to actions like the Bergdahl prisoner swap, or anything related to the projection of military force abroad, they will continue to defer to the executive.
Does that make it “right?” We’d have to say “no,” because the President is really breaking laws. But until we elect a Congress that will put actual teeth into maintenance of separation of powers and checks and balances, we’ll keep seeing Presidents act this way.
@Mikey: Actually, the Republican House has attempted to hold the president accountable by conducting numerous sham investigations, ostensibly for the not so hidden purpose of finding something obviously impeachable. The current Republican Congress has no credibility in this or any other issue related to holding the president accountable.
When folks say there are no penalties for violating the law of no transfers / expenditures w/o consulting Congress – if this amounts to an ADA violation – which it does – the ADA provides for penalties: Federal employees who violate the Antideficiency Act are subject to two types of sanctions: administrative and penal. Employees may be subject to appropriate administrative discipline including, when circumstances warrant, suspension from duty without pay or removal from office. In addition, employees may also be subject to fines, imprisonment, or both
Now will anyone pursue these penalties for willful violations – doubtful.
I personally am glad we got him back. I think some members of C could have been consulted – they are consulted on closely held secrets all the time. Either way, I am glad we got him back. If the 5 guys we traded associate with known terrorists down the road, well, send in a drone. Its not like we are leaving the ME anytime soon.
Its got electrolytes!
Send the f ‘er back. Impeach Obama.
Then…while we are obeying all the laws…send Bush and Cheney to The Hague to be prosecuted as war criminals.
See how simple that is?
It’s amazing. It’s like we elected a president who’s never faced any serious opposition from another party, who’d never held any kind of leadership position, who’d never held any kind of executive responsibility, who’d never really held a real job in the private sector where he was accountable for producing something and achieving something…
Oh, wait, we did.
@James Pearce: You’re getting warmer, Jenos. Congress thought they’d “pass a law” in an appropriations bill. But what they really did was implement a “requirement” that can be easily and safely ignored.
Congress has been doing this for years. I seem to remember the Democrats pulling this kind of stunt on Reagan.
Oddly enough, the idea of saying “that’s a bad move, so we can just ignore it” didn’t get tried before now…
What they actually said was “We are bringing one of our own home. Period.” That’s what happens when “support the troops” is more than a slogan on a bumper sticker.
I’m sure being an associate at a significant law firm just pales compared to your own accomplishments.
@anjin-san: I’m sure you didn’t intend it as a compliment to compare me to Obama, but that’s how it comes across, annie.
And I’ve heard this question for years, and never seen a good answer: can you give any of Obama’s accomplishments, as opposed to credentials? Law firm associate, Harvard Law School, Harvard Law Review Editor, “community organizer,” Constitutional Law lecturer — just what did he do while he did those things? What sorts of things could he list on a resume as things he achieved?
Here’s an example: Mitt Romney — founder of Bain Capital, which helped companies like Staples, Calumet Coach, and Gartner Group grow into very successful companies. Governor of Massachusetts that finally brought the Big Dig under control and completion; got Senate President William Bulger off the public payroll.
The difference is, Romney got the credentials and did things that can be measured and discussed and debated. Obama? Just another box to be checked.
Likewise, Michelle Obama’s bogus job at University of Chicago Hospital, where she raked in six figures a year for, essentially, being a Senator’s wife, and her contributions were so critical that after she resigned, they didn’t bother to hire anyone to replace her — I guess no big-name pols had relatives that needed a cushy job in exchange for earmarks.
Whatever you say dickweed. I have to admit refusal to call people by the names they choose is annoying. I guess when you are only good at one thing, you have to stick with it. How does it feel to be a 13 year old in a man’s shoes?
The real founder of Bain Capital was Bill Bain. There’s a reason the company is called Bain Capital and not Romney Capital.
The difference is Mitt was born rich.
@Jenos Idanian #13: No, Jenos, as much as you’d like to believe this, you are not Obama’s equal. Really, instead of spending so much time tearing down anyone who’s ever accomplished anything, you should really go out and try to have some accomplishments of your own. You’ll be much happier.
It’s always interesting to watch “conservatives” denigrate the accomplishments of self made folks like the Obamas, and slobber over the Romneys, Trumps, and Ryans, who were born on third base.
@jukeboxgrad: Quite right. I should have said “co-founded and led” Bain Capital.
@anjin-san: And why, when challenged, can’t Obama defenders actually give details of his accomplishments?
Yes, Romney was born rich. But he did things anyway. He could have coasted through life as a wealthy dilettante. (see Jay Rockefeller for a prime example, or John Kerry as a wannabe.) But he went out and did things.
Then there’s Obama. Why can’t you fill in the blanks?
Obama graduated from Harvard Law, and served as president of Harvard Law Review. During that time, he __________. Obama was an associate in a law firm, where he ______________. He also served as a lecturer in Constitutional Law, where he __________. During his tenure as an Illinois state senator, he ___________. And during his four years in the Senate, he _________.
As far as I’ve heard, even wr could have done what Obama did: showed up and cashed the paychecks.
@al-Ameda: Neither party has any credibility in this area. Congresses of both parties have been content to allow the executive wide latitude–and allow the consequent arrogation of more power–when it comes to such actions.
It’s indisputable that the current Republican House does distinguish itself by being especially inane, though.
Yeah they started out calling him Bobby Clemente too when he was getting started. Yes white people sure are uncomfortable with “foreign” sounding names aren’t they.
Because it’s your job to prove your argument, not my job to disprove it. You are saying he accomplished nothing, feel free to prove it. Is this confusing for you somehow?
You mean what you’ve picked up from Fox and ODS websitse? Well, that is certainly compelling.
English translation: Bill Bain led him around by the nose. The management excellence of Project Orca demonstrates what Mitt can achieve when the one in charge is really him and not someone else.
Notice these words from Jim Lindgren (link):
I realize you don’t know who Lindgren is but maybe you should find out.
“During that time,” he “did better in school than any president in the last 40 years.”
The University of Chicago described his “12 years as a professor in the Law School” (link).
Where “he was a successful teacher,” according to Richard Epstein. Link. I realize you don’t know who Epstein is but maybe you should find out.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
Wow…still repeating the same debunked bull$hit…ad nauseum?
All those extremist sites you read…and you can’t find one new thing to
cut and pastethink?
If your opinion is based on old dis-proven crap…then your opinion is old and dis-proven crap.
But you did call someone Annie…so you got that going for you.
And he said that you have man’s shoes…which seriously I doubt…but was nice of him anyway.
@jukeboxgrad: Gosh, I’m so overwhelmed by all those inferences that I don’t need any actual facts.
Let’s take another example. George W. Bush has an MBA from Harvard Business School, and mastered flying a one-man plane that had a reputation as a widowmaker. That means that he is exceptionally intelligent, and has a mastery of aeronautics, math, and physics that borders on the instinctive. He also has superb judgment and has (or, had) exceptional reflexes (he was a lot younger then).
What articles did Editor/Senior Lecturer Obama publish? What scholarly works did he author?
What bills did he write and champion during his legislative days? What deals did he work?
It wouldn’t take much at all to crush my arguments — I’ve even shown exactly what would do that. Instead, all you (collective) have to offer are ad hominem attacks and inferences — neither of which are terribly impressive.
Obama described himself as a “blank slate” upon which people could project whatever they wanted. It was one of his most honest statements.
@Jeremy R: “What is that supposed to mean? Intelligence and military officials have publicly stated that the dire medical assessment was real and heavily motivated the action. ”
Given the NSA, Drones and Jack Bauer, it’s obviously a conspiracy if the Men in Black can’t accurately diagnose a prisoner’s condition from cell phone videos.
Obama’s HLS magna cum laude is in the category of “actual facts.” Your routine practice of dismissing any “actual facts” you find inconvenient is also in the category of “actual facts.”
HLR has about 90 editors, and one president. When you repeatedly describe Obama as the former, you are reminding us of your relationship with inconvenient facts. Likewise for your inability to utter the word “professor.”
University of Chicago Law School is part of “the private sector,” and Obama was successful there, for 12 years.
Maybe you should tell us your definition for “private sector” and “real job.”
Always nice to see Juke smoke Jenos. Makes a Monday better.
I apologize if you answered this already; I’ve stopped reading the comments section: Is there anything that can actually be done? I suppose this might be a “High Misdemeanor”, but clearly impeachment is out of the question. Lawsuits are of dubious value at best in this type of case.
What can be done?
Of what value is a law that cannot be enforced? (Zero, IIRC).
@Jenos Idanian #13:
In a related matter: Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, was a predatory LBO operation. By way of leveraging debt they bought companies, stripped away operating assets, laid off workers, then sold the stripped down company to other companies at great profit to Romney and the other partners at Bain. It’s a deeply moving story, it brings tears to my eyes.
If I’m The Admin the response to this report is twofold:
1. Our legal opinions at the time (and now) say that the action was legal, though we obviously respect the difference of opinion.
2. Notwithstanding, it was felt that action was needed because any other route (i.e. Congressional approval) was going to be met with obstruction and delay and ultimately would have resulted in the Republicans frustrating the effort.
@pylon: What report? We’re all here to rip on Jenos, right? If we rip on him enough, and click our heels together three times, there won’t be a report.
Exactly. As Perry said, “there’s a real difference between venture capitalism and vulture capitalism.” Mitt made money mostly by taking companies apart, not putting them together.
What will happen though is that we will be validating the general conservative feeling that conservatives are the single most victimized people in America today.
Or more importantly…leaking the story and thus flummoxing the effort altogether.
What about Staples?
Correct. This is a pattern. Link:
And from the party that outed Plame, this is no surprise.
Tell me how many jobs Staples created, but make sure you take into account all the jobs lost at the stationery stores they put out of business.
Bain made a small investment in Staples…then got out when Staples went public…before Satples got as big as it has.
His claims about starting Staples is a lie…he only invested in an existing company and in fact he thought it was a bad investment…others at Bain had pushed it.
I hold quite a bit of Alcoa stock. Does that mean that I invented aluminum? It would if I was Mitt Romney.
Mitt routinely lied about the number of jobs he supposedly created at Staples and elsewhere. Link.
I’m not clear on what any of this has to do with getting prisoners back no matter what? Or leaving them with terrorists while the most ineffective Congress in history decides what not to do?
The Republican idea for helping the poor is to slash programs that actually help the poor. Their idea for health care reform is to go back to the pre-Obamacare status quo…with pre-existing condition denials and life-time limits, etc. So all we can infer from that history is that the way Republicans in Congress would want to deal with Bergdahl would be to simply leave him in captivity…but out a covert operative or CIA operation along the way.
@Jenos Idanian #13: “Let’s take another example. George W. Bush has an MBA from Harvard Business School, and mastered flying a one-man plane that had a reputation as a widowmaker. That means that he is exceptionally intelligent, and has a mastery of aeronautics, math, and physics that borders on the instinctive. He also has superb judgment and has (or, had) exceptional reflexes (he was a lot younger then).”
@Jenos Idanian #13: “It’s amazing. It’s like we elected a president who’s never faced any serious opposition from another party, who’d never held any kind of leadership position, who’d never held any kind of executive responsibility, who’d never really held a real job in the private sector where he was accountable for producing something and achieving something…”
Oh, wait, we did.”
Yes, George W. Bush. He governed in Texas, a weak governor state, as a Republican, which means no opposition. His job in the private sector was running companies into the ground and being bailed out.
@John D’Geek: “What can be done?
Of what value is a law that cannot be enforced? (Zero, IIRC).”
As has been pointed out, the law carries no penalties, so even if courts were willing to go there, there’s no there there.
The Republicans in Congress could try to impeach him for this, but they’d realize that (a) this what they cheered Bush for doing, and even with all of the shit that they’ve thrown, impeaching a President for bringing a POW home is still too odious.
@pylon: “Notwithstanding, it was felt that action was needed because any other route (i.e. Congressional approval) was going to be met with obstruction and delay and ultimately would have resulted in the Republicans frustrating the effort.”
The biggest problem is that the Republicans in Congress would have blown this wide open, quite deliberately.
@C. Clavin: “Or more importantly…leaking the story and thus flummoxing the effort altogether.”
Seconding this (and I’ve repeated it here and elsewhere). Given the frankly traitorous attitudes of the GOP, what would you have done in this situation? Notify Congress, and watch anonymous sources blow the deal, and Bergdahl murdered?
Thanks for demonstrating that there are details of Romney’s record that can be discussed, debated, spun, denigrated, and in general kicked around. It illustrates my point perfectly: you can’t do that with Obama’s record — he’s deliberately avoided leaving anything resembling a paper trail that can be used to actually discuss whether or not he’s ever accomplished anything.
But back to the topic at hand: so the defense is that Obama had to break the law because, if he’d obeyed it, some nameless Republicans would have broken the law requiring these discussions be kept secret. He was apparently protecting the Republicans from themselves.
What a load of crap.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
No…that’s just you making $hit up.
If your argument depends on making $hit up…then your argument is $hit.
@Jenos Idanian #13: Shorter Jenos: “W was trained to fly military jets at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars, then quit the national guard as soon as it was guaranteed he wouldn’t be sent to Viet Nam. So he really does have accomplisments!”
@Pinky: Gosh, if Jenos didn’t insist on showing up and hijacking every thread so that people would pay attention to him, maybe we’d still be talking about the report.
You have yet to make an argument, beyond that you know how to ____________ .
When you are ready to present an actual argument, step right up.
@Jenos Idanian #13: ” He was apparently protecting the Republicans from themselves.”
No, he was protecting an American soldier from sociopathic Republicans like Issa who would be happy to see him die if it brought them political advantage.
I have an idea. Go interview some of the students that took Obama’s classes. If a respectable sample says that his classes were a waste of time, and they did not contribute to their education, then you will have the beginnings of an argument.
Failing that, you are stipulating that Obama did indeed help to educate hundreds of college students, which is actually kind of important, more so, most would say than Bush’s using the National Guard to duck out of going to ‘Nam.
Do you begin to see why you are not taken seriously here?
More wingnut nonsense. Obama has released every document prior presidents have released. This many presidents pre-Obama released a birth certificate: zero. This many presidents pre-Obama released a college transcript: zero (GWB’s was not released, it was leaked).
You have this much evidence that Obama “deliberately avoided leaving anything resembling a paper trail:” none.
And your whining about “a paper trail” is pretty ironic, since in the last 34 years, there are only two candidates who released only two years of tax returns: McCain and Mitt.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
Speaking of illustrating a point: you and Orly Taitz are in agreement.
@jukeboxgrad: Nice “misunderstanding” of what I said. I’m sure it was accidental.
Obama was president of Harvard Law Review who never — before or during his tenure — wrote any papers for publication. He was a Constitutional Law professor who never published any papers. He was a state Senator who never crafted any major legislation, just stuck his name on a bunch of bills and voted “present” a lot. He was a part-term US Senator who never wrote any major bills or crafted any major deals.
On second thought, to have all that and still get elected president — even as a Democrat — does take a certain level of genius.
Seriously dude, do you get something out of endlessly posting warmed over Hannity? The attraction of this is lost on most sentient beings…
Let’s review. You said this:
All of the following are examples of Obama working “in the private sector:”
A) Teaching at University of Chicago
B) Working as an author
C) Working at Business International Corporation
D) Working as a lawyer at Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C.
He was also working “in the private sector” when he worked as a ‘community organizer’ at various places. He was also working “in the private sector” when he served as a director of various foundations. “Private sector” does not mean ‘for profit.’ It means the part of the economy not controlled by the government.
Explain why you lied.
By the way, a much better example of someone with an almost complete absence of private sector experience is Paul Ryan. But you voted for him, right? Someone else with very little private sector experience (certainly less than Obama) is Ted Cruz.
Link. When you repeat a lie after you’ve been shown that it’s a lie you succeed only in proving that you’re an incorrigible liar. But we already knew that about you.
It’s a defining element of his character. We have other trolls, but none come close to his level of blatant and repeated dishonesty.
Correct. It’s a remarkable achievement.
I would also add that there is nothing at all remotely dishonorable about working for the government, whether federal, state, or local. The notion that only private-sector experience counts as a “real job” is one of the more disgusting bits of right-wing snobbery. It’s also hypocritical: you almost never hear them make this claim about cops or military officers.
Excellent point, thank you.
Contempt for government is a core concept of Republicanism. PJ O’Rourke said it this way:
The GOP doesn’t want a government that works better. They want a government that doesn’t work, period. As many others have said, Republicans want less government for the same reason criminals want fewer cops.
Only fools think it’s a good idea to put the government in the hands of people who never miss a chance to show contempt for the concept of government.
GOP rhetoric has so many contradictions that even the contradictions have contradictions.
As jukeboxgrad scraps what’s left of Jenos off the bottom of his shoe…