Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bush to "pocket veto" military spending bill

Apparently, both aisles in Congress felt the need to insert the ability to support trial lawyers in lawsuits against Saddam's Iraq, making today's struggling Iraq pay dearly...

Pork and trial lawyers. Why can't they just construct a bill that simply funds the military needs, sans other issues?

Congress has surely lost any moral claim to investigating other branches of government's "corruption".

It was unclear how the provision had been overlooked by White House lawyers. A senior administration official told reporters in a hastily arranged conference call that the bill’s consequences for Iraq came into “acute focus” only a week to 10 days ago — after Iraqi officials complained to the American ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan C. Crocker. The White House said President Bush had recently spoken with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq about the consequences of the provision.

It was also an embarrassment for some in Congress, including Republican senators who sponsored the provision, like John Cornyn of Texas and Ted Stevens of Alaska. Republicans joined Democrats in overwhelmingly approving the broader military bill, but they backed the White House on Friday. Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, who led Republicans in drafting the military policy bill, said that he was now swayed by the administration’s arguments that it could endanger Iraq’s new government.


At a minimum, the veto will provoke a fight over an issue that was put into the legislation after no public debate. The Senate sponsor, Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, expressed strong support for the provision on Friday, saying it would help plaintiffs in lawsuits against Iran and Libya, including relatives of Americans killed in the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and in the bombing of a Berlin disco in 1986.

“My language allows American victims of terror to hold perpetrators accountable — plain and simple,” said Mr. Lautenberg, who has long championed expanding legislation to let victims sue foreign governments.

In a “statement of disapproval,” or pocket veto that lets the bill expire on Dec. 31, Mr. Bush said that the provision could result in preliminary injunctions freezing Iraqi assets in American banks — $20 billion to $30 billion, according to a senior administration official — and even affect commercial ventures with American businesses.

He also warned that it was written to revive dormant legal claims, including a $959 million judgment won by American pilots who were prisoners of war during the Persian Gulf war in 1991. The administration had declared the new government exempt from claims dating to Mr. Hussein’s government, which the United States overthrew in 2003.

“Exposing Iraq to such significant financial burdens would weaken the close partnership between the United States and Iraq during this critical period in Iraq’s history,” Mr. Bush said in his statement.

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