Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chertoff to be Latest Bush Recess Appointment?


BY FRANK J RANELLI

Claiming “exigent circumstances”, Bush is likely to recess appoint Michael Chertoff as Attorney General, breaking a deal with Senate leader Harry Reid.

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Michael Chertoff, the co-author of the USA PATRIOT ACT and the man behind the massive failure of FEMA during hurricane Katrina, could be recess appointed without the consent of the 110th Senate.

Shortly before the Senate broke for recess in August, Bush and Senate leader Harry Reid struck a bargain concerning Bush’s dubious recess appointing practices. Reid promised not to block some of Bush’s judicial nominees during the next session, and in return, Bush would not install any recess appointees to vacant positions while Congress was in recess. That may all change now with the resignation of current AG Alberto Gonzales.

President Bush, it has strongly been suggested, is going to claim "exigent circumstances", breaking his deal with Reid not to recess appoint anyone, and install Michael Chertoff as Attorney General, sans any vetting by the Senate.

Given Bush’s long record of disdain for the law, and even basic statesman-like decorum, this is not out of the realm of possibility. Bush has long claimed that as Commander-in-Chief he has additional powers not expressly granted by the Constitution. He may likely transmit that his suspect assertion of being a “unitary executive” affords him the right to break his deal with Reid, especially during a time of war.

Finally, with the new FISA provisions about to take effect over warrantless wiretapping, which requires an Attorney General to oversee the new Protect America Act of 2007, Bush may feel more than justified in moving immediately to recess appoint Michael Chertoff to the post of Attorney General.

Even though Gonzales’ resignation does not officially take effect until September 17, 2007, after Congress returns from recess, Bush could see to it that Gonzales’ resignation takes effective immediately in order to facilitate the end-around on Reid and the installation of Chertoff.

Reid would have been wise to heed the advice of the old adage “caveat emptor”, "let the buyer beware", as the Attorney General, does “serve at the pleasure of the President.” The pleasure of this president, as has been the case for over six years now, is to break treaties, deals, and good-faith agreements whenever it suits his expedient political agenda or thwarts his Democratic rivals.

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