I'm going to try something a wee bit different here. Today, I'm going to feature a "speech" by President Bush, in which he makes an effort- finally- to explain things to the American people, which is unfortunately, a novel act for him. Things like the Constitution, and how it actually works to govern the Nation, as well as certain actions and attitudes that he has, or at least should have, in my opinion. And that is all this is. My opinion of what Bush should say. All the ideas are mine, based upon my observations and readings. And my readings have convinced me also, by the way, that this is copyrighted. If anyone should wish to reprint this, please ask for permission.
So let's have a shot at it, shall we?
My fellow Americans,
I come to you today in order to clarify several issues regarding our great country. There seem to be actions afoot to undermine our Constitution and to undo the work of our Founding Fathers. I have been remiss in explaining these things, and this has allowed others, both within the Government and outside of it, to make untrue statements and to put forth ideas which violate our laws and our traditions. Tonight, I'll be announcing some clarifications, and some new policies of my administration.
The first issue which we will address is the role of Islam in America. Let me begin by stating the obvious: Muslims have every right to their beliefs, and the right to free exercise of their religion, in whatever way they see fit.
However, there are those Muslims who exceed their First Amendment rights. Some Islamic teachers, and persons that adhere to the Faith, have advocated the institution of Sharia, or Islamic Law, in this country. This is unacceptable. Islamic Law has many ideas which are hostile to human rights as we in the United States see them. Furthermore Sharia, when instituted, places Islam in a position of authority, as it is all-inclusive. By this, I mean that Sharia encompasses civil, religious, and criminal law. When a country is ruled by Sharia, it explicitly places Islam as the official religion- indeed, it specifically states that non-Muslims are second-rate citizens, and limits their right to free exercise of their religion. Sharia is incompatible with the US Constitution. There is no other way to state it. I encourage all Americans to carefully read the Koran and other Islamic writings, in order to judge whether this is a belief system which is relevant to the lives of the American people, and is one which should be allowed a dominant position in our Country.
I am therefore announcing a change in the policy of my administration. A policy which is more in accordance with the Constitution and with basic American freedoms. From this point on, if a Muslim makes statements suggesting that the Constitution should be cast aside- even if they encourage doing so by means of a popular vote, they will be punished accordingly. By this, I mean the following: If the speaker is a foreign national, he will be arrested and immediately deported. His visa will be revoked, and he will not be allowed back into the United States under any circumstances. Foreign interference in the internal affairs of this country cannot be tolerated, and will not be tolerated. It is unconscionable for a citizen of a foreign country to come into this country and take advantage of our Constitution in order to advocate it's overthrow.
In the event that the speaker is a citizen- either American born or naturalized- then he or she will be considered to have committed treason, and will be prosecuted in accordance with the US Constitution, which requires two witnesses to the overt act, or a confession in court. I will have the Attorney General, in consultation with Congress and the Supreme Court, research the matter, in order to find if it is sufficient to have videotaped evidence of such a statement. The purpose of this decision, which is not taken lightly, is not to curtail freedom of speech, but rather to enforce the rulings previously made, which make exceptions to the First Amendment when the speaker is advocating overthrow of the US Government.
There are several groups within the US which have taken upon themselves the responsibility of monitoring "hate speech" against Muslims. In the first place, by any objective measure, this is not a serious problem. Americans are tolerant of other creeds, and will not overtly say things to offend other Americans. However, there is no right of non-offense. By this, I mean that there must be a balance between free speech and freedom from harassment. It is not a crime to criticise any religion. However, Muslims believe that insulting the prophet Mohammad is a sin. While they have the right to such beliefs, it is one which is in direct opposition to our First Amendment right to free speech. In this circumstance, the Constitution must be superior. Therefore, if any person, religious group or religious advocacy group attempts to harass, bully or intimidate another person or institution into silence, by claiming that their exercise of free speech is "harassment" or a "hate crime", the former will be considered to be violating the first amendment rights of the latter.
Of course, this in not an attempt to silence discussion of any issue. Everyone has the right to speak openly about any topic. However, if an American makes a statement which is critical of Islam, then no person, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist or Hindu or atheist, has the right to demand he be silenced. Open discussion of all topics is to be encouraged. However, attempting to silence another person, on the grounds that their speech is "offensive" to you or your religion cannot be tolerated in an open society.
While the actual term "separation of church and state" is not found in the Constitution, the basic premise is valid. No institution which is part of government at any level should favor one religion over another. In recent years, there have been multiple attacks on Christian beliefs and values. In our schools especially, Christian students are not being permitted to pray or exercise their personal beliefs. On the other hand, Islamic students are not subject to the same restrictions. In many cases, under the guise of "multiculturalism" non-Muslim students are being required to study Islam, and encouraged to behave in accordance with Islamic beliefs during the period of study. This is unacceptable. Doing so gives Islam a preferred status, which is a violation of the First Amendment. We cannot give any religion this kind of superior status. I therefore encourage you, the American People, to enforce this "separation" on behalf of all of us. I encourage local school teachers, administrators, parents, and students to make an effort to grant all religions the same status. Either all are permitted free exercise in our schools, or none.
Now I would like to address another issue. Recently, members of Congress, including the Speaker of the House and the House Majority Leader have taken trips to the Middle East. It is well known that members of Congress are in opposition to many of my policies regarding Iraq and other countries. This is a sign of a vibrant democracy. However, there is a grey area here. In 1799, Congress passed the Logan Act, forbidding anybody from conducting foreign policy without the permission of the US government.
It is important to note here that, under the Constitution, the President is given the authority to conduct foreign policy. This is both a political matter and a matter of convenience. The Country should speak with one voice, and the voice should be that of the president. It's also simply more expedient. One man, with advice from others can make decisions and implement them more effectively. Furthermore, the president, being the one person who represents the entire country, is better suited to make decisions that affect everyone, while ignoring strictly political concerns.
President Roosevelt, for instance, committed United States forces to combat operations against Nazi Germany without the approval of Congress. He did so because he saw a danger to the Country, and understood that the Country was still divided on the issue of war. Many people, both within Congress and within the Country as a whole, criticised him. History however has shown that his actions were correct and necessary.
Speaker Pelosi and the other members of Congress- both Republican and Democrat- visited Syria and spoke to Mr. Assad, the President of Syria, despite my long-standing policy stating that the United States will not engage the government of Syria. Remember that whatever one thinks of my policy, it is the official policy of the United States. Going on a "fact-finding" mission to Syria is permissible, but any member of Congress, especially one as high ranking as the Speaker of the House, must be extremely careful not to give a foreign leader the impression that anything being said is actual US policy. I cannot stress this enough.
After their visit to the Middle East, I was concerned to see comments in the press there about a "shadow presidency", or a "Democratic party policy". This would seem to suggest that Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid exceeded the bounds of what is permissible. I was even more concerned to see Mr. Reid suggest that a visit to Iran would perhaps be appropriate. This is completely false, and I was happy to hear that the Speaker's office denied any interest in making such a trip.
I would like to state right now that if any member of Congress goes to Iran for discussions with the Iranian government, without my approval, they will be prosecuted under the Logan Act upon their return. The government of Iran has, merely within the last few months, kidnapped British service members from Iraqi waters, supplied sniper rifles to terrorists in Iraq for use against our military, threatened war with the US and Israel, and has made strides towards nuclear weapons. These are, with the exception of the last, acts of hostility to the US, in accordance with the long-standing policies of Iran. I will not tolerate discussions with a country which is killing members of our military, except as required by the foreign policy I have laid out. Any such actions could also be considered giving "aid and comfort" to an enemy, which would bring up the possibility of treason charges.
Such actions are intolerable when we are in a fight against an enemy who wishes to destroy our country and kill massive numbers of innocent people in the streets of American cities.
So I must warn the Speaker and others: You are treading in a grey area. At this point, your actions have not crossed the line, but if you continue, I fear that they will. Dialogue with terrorist nations is a threat to both the safety of our country and to the Constitution which I have sworn to "preserve, protect and defend", and I will act accordingly.
Now, I would like to turn to another war-related matter. As I said before, there is nothing wrong with an open discussion of any topic. I welcome dialogue with members of Congress. However, I think that it's time for Congress to recognise a few things. First off, the Constitution gives the president-that would be me- the title of "Commander in Chief". After the attack of September 11, I asked for permission to engage terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda wherever our forces find them. I was also given permission to invade Iraq, if I deemed it necessary. I did make that decision. This vote was, in effect, a declaration of war.
Congress has the right to debate the conduct of the War, and to criticise my actions. However, they recently voted on a "non-binding resolution" calling for a withdrawal by a certain date, arbitrarily chosen by them. This is, to be blunt, ridiculous. I warned in the beginning that this would be a long war, and it is unfortunate that people have tired of it, and some have lost the will to fight. But this is precisely what our enemies expected. They knew they could not defeat our military, but they gambled that they could outlast us. Now members of Congress are playing directly into their hands. Not only that, but they have chosen to do so in a manner that is almost laughable. A non-binding resolution is not worth the paper it's printed on. Let's look at it more closely. "Non-binding" means that the resolution has no real significance. It's not a law, and I'm not required to pay any heed to it. And I will not do so. Both Congress and I have more important things to do. As for a "resolution", I would point out that this is not the same as a law. It cannot be enforced upon the president, or anyone else. It's merely a statement from Congress as a whole that they feel a certain way. I thank them for their interest, but this is the last time I will pay any attention to any resolution of this type.
If Congress disagrees with me, they are welcome to either cut off funding for the War, in accordance with the powers granted to them, or they can pass a law mandating a withdrawal of our forces from Iraq by a certain date. Of course, the second of these options would, in my opinion, be an attempt to interfere with my duties as Commander in Chief, and I would immediately refer any such bill to the Supreme Court.
Knowing what I have just explained to you, Congress has been engaged in posturing against the War. The War in Iraq has been, as I explained above, legally carried out by me in accordance with a resolution by the Senate granting their approval. To then come out and demand that I withdraw our forces from an ongoing war by a certain date is to work against the policies of the United States, and to give hope to our enemies. Again, as I stated, these enemies have been waiting for this to happen. Once our troops are withdrawn, unless they come home after a decisive victory, it is a military and a political defeat for the United States. The consequences would be devastating for the Middle East and for the United States. I will not allow this to happen during my presidency. I will state uncategorically that our forces will not flee from Iraq. We will stay there until we achieve victory. If my successor wishes to change that policy, he or she is welcome to do so. I will not waver in my resolve to defeat terrorism and bring democracy and freedom to the people of Iraq.
Finally, I would like to turn to a domestic political matter. Recently, several US Attorneys were fired. This has turned into a political firestorm. And it is a complete waste of time and energy. The US attorneys are part of the Executive Branch, which is headed by the president. In school, we were all taught about things like "separation of powers" and "checks and balances". In simple terms, this means that it is the job of the president to run the US government as a whole. Congress has the responsibility of making laws. And the laws of the Country state that the Attorneys are subordinate to the Attorney General, who is in turn accountable to Me, the President. These positions are appointed, and serve at my pleasure. This means that I, as the President, can hire and fire US attorneys at any time, for any reason. Congress has no jurisdiction over them, or over my handling of them, as long as their basic rights as citizens are not infringed upon.
In this specific instance, the rights of these individuals were not infringed. They were fired , and that is that. There's no reason for the Congress to interfere, and yet they are doing so. These men and women were not deprived of Life, Liberty or the Pursuit of Happiness. They lost a job, like others before them.
This matter is now closed, except for one final point I will make. In 1993, my predecessor, Mr. Clinton, took office and chose to fire every single US Attorney in the country. All of them, without exception. While many presidents had fired attorneys upon taking office, for many reasons, including the desire to give their position to supporters, none had ever fired all of them. Did Congress investigate Mr. Clinton? They did not. In the legal profession, this is called a "precedent". In effect, he did it because he had the Constitutional right to do so. As I have the Constitutional right to fire 8 or 9 of them, any time I want.
This is the last time I will speak about the firings of the US attorneys. If Congress wishes to usurp the duties of the Presidency, they need to go about it another way. And I will fight them until my term in office ends in 2009.
I thank you for your time and attention. I hope that this speech opens up discussion of the topics I've covered, and at the same time clarifies my stance on these issues. I will not allow anyone to undermine my office, nor will I allow anyone to undermine the rights enjoyed by the American people for over 200 years. I wish everyone the best, and will conclude with these words: God Bless America. Thank you and goodnight.
Whew. Tiring, no? Glad to have gotten this out of the way, since it's been consuming my mind for a few days now. If you've stuck with me this long, I would appreciate any feedback you could provide. Thanks.