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Cherry Pickin'

While many are choosing to address the rekindled RNC email scandal and new revelations involving the Abu Ghraib prison investigation, I've decided to return to a old haunt of mine: signing statements.

When the issue of what effect these statements will have on how the law is enforced, the argument, usually issued by White House mouthpiece Tony Snow, was that they were merely the President's way of laying down his interpretation of the law in question. Well now it seems these interpretations may in fact have had an effect on how those laws were applied.

The Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress and an ironically named department given the current crop of Sgt. Schultz's running our executive branch, has some intriguing data. A sample set was taken from the 1,100 laws challenged by these statements. Of the 19, only ten were applied as written. The other nine were either not enforced or were not triggered and didn't count. If one were to assume this ratio reflects the whole assortment, you're looking at a striking number of laws that the Bush administration may be failing to enforce.

The GAO reports does add a caveat that the noncompliance of the provisions weren't necessarily the direct result of the statements. But as Carpetbagger says "we only know that the president issued a signing statement questioning certain provisions of the law and then, lo and behold, the administration ignored those provisions."

And while this GAO report is a good start, as I've said on numerous occasions to seemingly deaf ears, the issue of these statements needs to be fully addressed with subpoena backing if necessary. For until then, all this fighting over bills in Congress matters very little if Bush is allowed to append an "only if I feel like it" note after the cameras are off.

Update: More from Charlie Savage, the preeminent goto guy for this.

(Filed at State of the Day)

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