Stem Cell Policy: What’s the delay?

February 19, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Posted in Executive Orders, health, House of Representatives, senate | Leave a comment
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Dr. Alexander Fleming, seated in laboratory, holding petri dish, some time between 1941 and 1945.

Dr. Alexander Fleming, seated in laboratory, holding petri dish, some time between 1941 and 1945.


Steve Benen has a post up asking what’s the delay in changing federal stem cell policy. I left this comment in the thread:

i certainly understand there are a lot of people who want federally-funded stem cell research yesterday but i think it very smart of the president to not get involved in a tiding-over executive order.

if he did that, the bill would become a much lower priority. the onus is now on congress to get this done, and the public has been clearly told who to speak to — congress, not the president.

if by 2012 congress had not acted and an executive order was still in place, republicans would use it as a blunt object decrying the president for going over congress’ head and all kinds of other nonsense.

even in the more likely scenario, that congress does pass legislation before 2012, if he were to make an executive order first, the republicans could argue that he forced congress’ hand somehow, or some other idiotic argument.

doing it this way, there can be no accusation of muddying the waters. congress had a bill, bush vetoed it. repass it, obama will sign. end of story. will of the people and all that. no taint of “white house interference.”

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Ethics — The White House Now Has Them.

January 22, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Posted in Executive Orders | Leave a comment
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The office lobby in the White House (some time between 1889 and 1906)

The office lobby in the White House (some time between 1889 and 1906)


This is a good start.

Executive Order — Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and sections 3301 and 7301 of title 5, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Ethics Pledge. Every appointee in every executive agency appointed on or after January 20, 2009, shall sign, and upon signing shall be contractually committed to, the following pledge upon becoming an appointee:

“As a condition, and in consideration, of my employment in the United States Government in a position invested with the public trust, I commit myself to the following obligations, which I understand are binding on me and are enforceable under law:

“1. Lobbyist Gift Ban. I will not accept gifts from registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations for the duration of my service as an appointee.

“2. Revolving Door Ban All Appointees Entering Government. I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.

“3. Revolving Door Ban Lobbyists Entering Government. If I was a registered lobbyist within the 2 years before the date of my appointment, in addition to abiding by the limitations of paragraph 2, I will not for a period of 2 years after the date of my appointment:

(a) participate in any particular matter on which I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment;

(b) participate in the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls; or

(c) seek or accept employment with any executive agency that I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment.

“4. Revolving Door Ban Appointees Leaving Government. If, upon my departure from the Government, I am covered by the post employment restrictions on communicating with employees of my former executive agency set forth in section 207(c) of title 18, United States Code, I agree that I will abide by those restrictions for a period of 2 years following the end of my appointment.

“5. Revolving Door Ban Appointees Leaving Government to Lobby. In addition to abiding by the limitations of paragraph 4, I also agree, upon leaving Government service, not to lobby any covered executive branch official or non career Senior Executive Service appointee for the remainder of the Administration.

“6. Employment Qualification Commitment. I agree that any hiring or other employment decisions I make will be based on the candidate’s qualifications, competence, and experience.

“7. Assent to Enforcement. I acknowledge that the Executive Order entitled ‘Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel,’ issued by the President on January 21, 2009, which I have read before signing this document, defines certain of the terms applicable to the foregoing obligations and sets forth the methods for enforcing them. I expressly accept the provisions of that Executive Order as a part of this agreement and as binding on me. I understand that the terms of this pledge are in addition to any statutory or other legal restrictions applicable to me by virtue of Federal Government service.”

The End of American Torture.

January 22, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Executive Orders, torture | Leave a comment
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Abu Ghraib prison photo released February 15, 2006 by Australias Special Broadcasting Service TV.

Abu Ghraib prison photo released February 15, 2006 by Australia's Special Broadcasting Service TV.


The full Executive Order is not yet posted at WhiteHouse.gov but when it is, you will find it here.

Executive Order revokes Executive Order 13440 that interpreted Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It requires that all interrogations of detainees in armed conflict, by any government agency, follow the Army Field Manual interrogation guidelines. The Order also prohibits reliance on any Department of Justice or other legal advice concerning interrogation that was issued between September 11, 2001 and January 20, 2009. The Order requires all departments and agencies to provide the ICRC access to detainees in a manner consistent with Department of Defense regulations and practice. It also orders the CIA to close all existing detention facilities and prohibits it from operating detention facilities in the future. Finally, the Order creates a Special Task Force with two missions. The Task Force will conduct a review of the Army Field Manual interrogation guidelines to determine whether different or additional guidance is necessary for the CIA. It will also look at rendition and other policies for transferring individuals to third countries to be sure that our policies and practices comply with all obligations and are sufficient to ensure that individuals do not face torture and cruel treatment if transferred. This Task Force will be led by the Attorney General with the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence as co-Vice Chairs.

h/t Dependable Renegade and Attackerman

“Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset.”

January 21, 2009 at 9:23 pm | Posted in Executive Orders | Leave a comment
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Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama (Photo: Pete Souza)

It’s true! It’s true!

Executive Order — Presidential Records

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to establish policies and procedures governing the assertion of executive privilege by incumbent and former Presidents in connection with the release of Presidential records by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) pursuant to the Presidential Records Act of 1978, it is hereby ordered as follows:

[blah blah blah]

Sec. 4. Claim of Executive Privilege by Former President.

(a) Upon receipt of a claim of executive privilege by a living former President, the Archivist shall consult with the Attorney General (through the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel), the Counsel to the President, and such other executive agencies as the Archivist deems appropriate concerning the Archivist’s determination as to whether to honor the former President’s claim of privilege or instead to disclose the Presidential records notwithstanding the claim of privilege. Any determination under section 3 of this order that executive privilege shall not be invoked by the incumbent President shall not prejudice the Archivist’s determination with respect to the former President’s claim of privilege.

[blah blah blah]

Sec. 6. Revocation. Executive Order 13233 of November 1, 2001, is revoked.

The Wikipedia entry for Executive Order 13233 is more enlightening perhaps than reading the Order itself.

I literally spit my coffee when I first saw the bit of today’s Executive Order from President Obama posted up at Dependable Renegade.  Given, however, that a Judge ruled that Cheney was on the honor system as far as turning over all appropriate documents on the way out the door, it will not be surprising if most of what anyone wants to see is gone.

Cheney didn’t pull a muscle in his back while “moving boxes,” he pulled it trying to unjam the paper shredder.

I don’t know whether this Memorandum or the Executive Order came first but they are all of a piece and bode well for the way the federal government will be operating during the Obama administration.

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