Executive Branch: U.S. Law Does Not Require Executive Branch to Execute or Obey U.S. Law

by Aug 6, 2013Foreign Policy0 comments

It is the official position of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government that it is not required under U.S. law to execute or obey U.S. laws.

President Barack Obama tours the Egypt's Great Sphinx of Giza (left) and the Pyramid of Khafre, June 4, 2009. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)  This official White House photograph is being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way or used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Last month, after the Egyptian military in a coup d’tat overthrew Mohamed Morsi, the New York Times reported:

By all accounts, the generals removed the democratically elected president, put him in detention, arrested his allies and suspended the Constitution. Army vehicles and soldiers in riot gear roamed the streets, while jet fighters roared overhead.

But was it a military coup d’état? For the White House and the new Egyptian government, that is the $1.5 billion question.

President Obama’s government on Thursday was reviewing the implications for American aid to Egypt after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, and under United States law it has no choice but to cut off financial assistance to the country if it determines that he was deposed in a military coup….

The Foreign Assistance Act says no aid other than that for democracy promotion can go to “any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’état,” or where “the military plays a decisive role” in a coup. The law allows no presidential waiver, and it says that aid cannot be restored until “a democratically elected government has taken office.”

More fully, the law states:

None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’etat or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d’etat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role: Provided, That assistance may be resumed to such government if the President determines and certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office….

On July 25, the Times followed up, reporting that:

The Obama administration has concluded it is not legally required to determine whether the Egyptian military engineered a coup d’état in ousting President Mohamed Morsi, a senior administration official said Thursday, a finding that will allow it to continue to funnel $1.5 billion in American aid to Egypt each year.

The legal opinion, submitted to the White House by lawyers from the State Department and other agencies, amounts to an escape hatch for President Obama and his advisers, who had concluded that cutting off financial assistance could destabilize Egypt at an already fragile moment and would pose a threat to neighbors like Israel.

The senior official did not describe the legal reasoning behind the finding, saying only, “The law does not require us to make a formal determination as to whether a coup took place, and it is not in our national interest to make such a determination.”

“We will not say it was a coup, we will not say it was not a coup, we will just not say,” the official said.

That is to say, it is the official position of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government that it is not required under U.S. law to execute or obey U.S. laws. The Times didn’t waste any time pointing out how ridiculous this Orwellian/Alice-In-Wonderland type of illogic is, but rather states, as though this was not complete nonsense:

Had the administration been forced to determine whether the tumultuous events of July 3 in Cairo were a coup d’etat, it is difficult to see how it could have avoided that conclusion.

The acting assumption of which statement, notice, is that the administration really didn’t need to make such a determination. This is just totally cool, the Times would have readers believe. Nowhere in the article did it even so much as hint that this might not be a reasonable interpretation of the Executive’s duties under U.S. law.

Never mind that the U.S. Constitution states:

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.

And that “executive” is defined in the sense of the Constitution as

That power in the government which causes the laws to be executed and obeyed….

Of course, for the Executive branch to refuse to execute the law in this case is also for it to directly violate it in letter and in spirit. Or, at least, it is engaging in actions that would violate the law if the Executive was actually bound by the law, which it is not, by virtue of the President having declared himself above the law and thus able to determine simply not to execute the law or to obey it himself, for that matter.

Returning to the Times article, the “State Department’s legal adviser” had the following to say:

“We believe that the continued provision of assistance to Egypt, consistent with our law, is important to our goal of advancing a responsible transition to democratic governance and is consistent with our national security interests.”

Apparently, the Times meant a legal adviser from the State Department of Israel, because it continued:

Among the potential dangers in the cut-off of aid is a reduction in the ability of the Egyptian military to halt smuggling of weapons to Hamas, which could use them against Israel. The aid program is also a pillar of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, and Israeli officials have urged the United States not to suspend it.

Aren’t you happy to know that the Executive branch of the United States government is willing and eager to violate U.S. law at the request of Israeli officials? Or, I mean, the President would be violating the law, if he hadn’t determined that he may hold himself above the law and simply ignore it at will. And, now, we mustn’t question his authority to do that. We are rather supposed to just follow the example of America’s “newspaper of record” and accept it matter-of-factly.


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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

My writings empower readers with the knowledge they need to see through state propaganda intended to manufacture their consent for criminal government policies.

By recognizing when we are being lied to and why, we can fight effectively for liberty, peace, and justice, in order to create a better world for ourselves, our children, and future generations of humanity.

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