Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 29, 2007

A Dubious Veto

Bush is suddenly vetoing the $696 billion military authorization bill he had already agreed to:

[O]n Friday, with no warning, a vacationing Mr. Bush announced that he was vetoing a sweeping military policy bill because of an obscure provision that could expose Iraq’s new government to billions of dollars in legal claims dating to Saddam Hussein’s rule.

The pocket veto Bush is using here is legally dubious as it requires that Congress has adjourned. The Senate has not adjourned and is formally kept in session by the Democrats.

Officially the president is reasoning that a part of the bill would allow legal claims from victims of Saddam against money Iraq has parked in the U.S. Such, he says, would hurt Iraq's reconstruction. (Iraq has $20-30 billion cash parked in the U.S., but is halving peoples food rations for lack of money?).

The NYT quotes someone who should know and who claims Bush's reasoning is nonsense:

Meanwhile, a Washington lawyer who has represented Americans who were abducted by Iraqi forces after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait said that he doubted the official explanation for President Bush’s rejection of the bill.

This very late and unusual action against a bill which has wide majority support smells of panic. But panic about what?

A reader at Hullabaloo suggests:

I suspect that the key to the pocket veto has nothing to do with Iraqi assets. Rather, it is contained a little line buried in the last paragraph of the Memorandum of Disapproval: "... I continue to have serious objections to other provisions of this bill, including section 1079 relating to intelligence matters . . ."

That passage of the law (search for HR 1585) says:


(a) Requests of Committees- The Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the Director of a national intelligence center, or the head of any element of the intelligence community shall, not later than 45 days after receiving a written request from the Chair or ranking minority member of the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate or the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives for any existing intelligence assessment, report, estimate, or legal opinion relating to matters within the jurisdiction of such Committee, make available to such committee such assessment, report, estimate, or legal opinion, as the case may be.

Possible requests from Congress would include full National Intelligence Estimates, like the one on Iran, and legal opinions on torture or phone tapping, i.e. the FISA circumventions.

Congress has inherent authority to request such reports and opinions, but the administration has often blocked these anyway. The law would give Congress explicit statutory authority to obtain them, i.e. a much firmer legal case.

Dave Addington, Cheney's lawyer, certainly didn't like that prospect.

Posted by b on December 29, 2007 at 09:12 AM | Permalink


ah ha, I was wondering what the rest of the story was, it seemed unlikely that even the avarice republicans would kill a 700 billion spending orgie for a couple of millions in pending lawsuits.

wait for this to grab the headlines on faux news /snark

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 29, 2007 11:16:12 AM | 1

good catch

Posted by: annie | Dec 29, 2007 11:44:59 AM | 2

A couple of billion here, a couple of billion there, pretty soon your talking about real geez...

This Dave Addington is nothing more than the head mafia family lawyer on 24/7 retainer...

Murder Inc.

Problem with mafia is...

Mafia Godfather finds out that his bookkeeper has stolen ten million bucks. This bookkeeper is deaf. It was considered an occupational benefit, and why he got the job in the first place, since it was assumed that a deaf bookkeeper would not be able to hear anything he'd ever have to testify about in court.

When the Godfather goes to shakedown the bookkeeper about his missing $10 million bucks, he brings along his attorney, who knows sign language.

The Godfather asks the bookkeeper: "Where is the 10 million bucks you embezzled from me?"

The attorney, using sign language, asks the bookkeeper where the 10 million dollars is hidden.

The bookkeeper signs back: "I don't know what you are talking about."

The attorney tells the Godfather: "He says he doesn't know what you're talking about."

The Godfather pulls out a 9 mm pistol, puts it to the bookkeeper's temple, cocks it, and says: "Ask him again!"

The attorney signs to the underling: "He'll kill you for sure if you don't tell him!"

The bookkeeper signs back: "OK! You win! The money is in a brown briefcase, buried behind the shed in my cousin Enzo's backyard in Queens!"

The Godfather asks the attorney: "Well, what'd he say?"

The attorney replies: "He says you don't have the balls to pull the trigger."

They may be thick as thieves, but when and if the heat comes down they rat each other out like gangbusters...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 29, 2007 12:11:32 PM | 3

here's a permanent link to the bill text:

Posted by: selise | Dec 29, 2007 12:34:33 PM | 4

@selise - Thanks - I never manage to get clean links to ...

@Uncle - nice story :-)

Posted by: b | Dec 29, 2007 1:00:24 PM | 5

sounds like a good explanation to me. at the same time, could be a good op to broaden the focus on the govt's ostensible concern about iraqi funds remaining in the u.s. -- since they brought it up -- to a wider discussion on how the u.s. stole & spent the hundreds of millions that the 3rd infantry division & others took from sadaam's & bathist party vaults in baghdad. can iraq sue the u.s. (or bremer) to recover that money? probably not likely from a legal standpoint, given that the u.s. worked to CYA on that aspect, but certainly open to the larger (and more important) questions of ethics & morals.

Posted by: b real | Dec 29, 2007 4:29:05 PM | 6

The comments to this entry are closed.