In less than an hour, the document traversed a West Wing circuit that gave its words the power of command. It changed hands four times, according to witnesses, with emphatic instructions to bypass staff review. When it returned to the Oval Office, in a blue portfolio embossed with the presidential seal, Bush pulled a felt-tip pen from his pocket and signed without sitting down. Almost no one else had seen the text.
Cheney's proposal had become a military order from the commander in chief. Foreign terrorism suspects held by the United States were stripped of access to any court -- civilian or military, domestic or foreign. They could be confined indefinitely without charges and would be tried, if at all, in closed "military commissions."
"What the hell just happened?" Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded, a witness said, when CNN announced the order that evening, Nov. 13, 2001. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, incensed, sent an aide to find out. Even witnesses to the Oval Office signing said they did not know the vice president had played any part.
Here's the money quote from Andrew Sullivan's take on all this:
The drum beat coming from his office about Iran's direct involvement in the Iraq war is obviously a preamble to claiming that the 2003 war authorization gives him and Bush the right to bomb Iran without going back to the Congress for approval. He's a man ready and willing to pull a Cambodia.
Things really have reached a breaking point. Cheney's now-public refusal to submit to security regulations, and his patently ridiculous excuse for not doing so have drawn a line where he has stated the law does not apply to him. If he is allowed to continue, there will be no stopping him because every time one of his outrages is just allowed to pass, it only makes him bolder. I believe we've already passed the point where we have valid impeachment charges against him. It's just a case of whether or not the Democrats have the nerve to pursue it.
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