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Executive orders go too far?
Posted By David M. Bresnahan On 10/07/1999 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
President Bill Clinton has gone too far, according to one senator. He writes law whenever he wants, circumventing Congress in the process.
In a personal interview with WorldNetDaily, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, expressed his belief that the extensive number of executive orders issued by President Clinton are unconstitutional.
Although he agreed that many presidents have issued a large number of executive orders, Sen. Hatch complained that the ones issued by President Clinton create law, while circumventing the legislative process. He said a legal challenge should be made to stop the practice and reverse some of the orders.
“Well, a huge number of his executive orders are excessive and unwise,” Sen. Hatch explained to WorldNetDaily.
“Under the Constitution, the president has the right to issue executive orders, but they have to be tested in court if you want to prove that they are excessive or unwise. You know, Reagan issued a lot of executive orders too, but they were not like these. In other words, they didn’t make laws all the time. I think many of his (Clinton’s) could be found unconstitutional,” said Hatch, himself a presidential candidate.
“Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kind of cool,” was the statement made by White House communications counsel Paul Begala in July 1998. He was talking about the ease with which President Clinton was able to create law virtually unchallenged using executive orders and presidential directives.
The ability to make law as a dictator without the normal checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution is what Sen. Hatch was complaining about. Congress has the exclusive function of lawmaking, but presidents have taken some of that power, and Congress has not done anything to prevent it.
Presidential executive orders and directives were initially intended to be a means for the efficient operation of the executive branch, according to Sen. Hatch. Now, through craftiness and political intimidation, Clinton has avoided the Congress and creates law with the “stroke of the pen.”
Presidents have always been granted broad discretion when it comes to matters of national security. Along with that comes secrecy. The courts and Congress have not objected. Secrecy is considered to be a vital part of national security. For a president who is abusive of his power and authority, this provides the perfect excuse to classify as secret any executive order or directive that he does not wish to have scrutinized.
The Congress has no idea what is actually contained in classified documents, and therefore there is absolutely no oversight or accountability. The potential for abuse is enormous, and it could be undetected for many years. Each presidential abuse of power leads to more when a president discovers he can create any law he wants with the “stroke of the pen.”
The topics of national security, national emergency, and top-secret classification all came into play when President Clinton signed Presidential Decision Directive 25 in 1994. That document has been requested by numerous members of Congress, and all have been turned down.
All that is available is an executive summary. Excluded from the summary is the portion which sources claim describes the use of the U.S. military as a domestic police force during a national emergency. More than one source familiar with the actual document has independently confirmed the claims.
The executive summary also makes clear that the U.S. can place military forces under the command of a foreign commander as part of a United Nations peace force. PDD 25 is said to specifically permit a foreign commander to rule over U.S. troops, even on U.S. soil, “when doing so serves American security interests,” according to one military source.
It appears that President Clinton took a major step in his grab for power on Dec. 10, 1998, when he enacted Executive Order 13107 at a time when Congress was out of town and unlikely to take action or even notice. That order gives the president the ability to enact treaties without the constitutional requirement of Senate ratification with a two-thirds majority vote.
EO 13107 could be argued as justification for the president to implement U.N. treaties without approval of the Senate, which literally dissolves the sovereignty of the U.S. It sets up the Interagency Working Group to oversee legislation proposed by the president to make sure it is in conformity with U.N. initiatives, handle public relations to educate the public about such issues, and evaluate future needs in order to comply with U.N. human rights initiatives.
President Clinton laughed when he learned the nation’s governors and mayors objected to Executive Order 13083 on federalism. States’ rights were being attacked, and they rallied to the cause. President Clinton appeared to back down when he agreed to suspend the order, but he knew that all he had to do to reactivate it would be to sign another piece of paper. The apparent capitulation by the president caused the governors to ease pressure on him, but according to Sen. Hatch, the president recently reissued the order in a reworded form that is just as dangerous.
Asked if there is still a problem with federal vs. states’ rights Sen. Hatch said, “Yes we do, but they’ve been making headway.”
President Clinton does not hesitate to write law wherever he sees fit. When Congress did not take the action the president wanted on the tobacco issue, he quickly signed an executive order in 1995 which declared nicotine to be an addictive drug and authorized the Food and Drug Administration to establish regulations.
In the same year he signed an executive order to financially bail out the country of Mexico. Congress saw fit to make a few speeches in opposition to the move, but no effort was made to stop him.
The actions illustrate Clinton’s willingness to circumvent Congress and the legislative process whenever he wishes. “Stroke of the pen. …”
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