Journalists Charlie Savage and Lawrence Wright, and linguist Geoff Nunberg are guests on this edition of Fresh Air.
Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe has been awarded a 2007 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his "revelations that President Bush often used 'signing statements' to assert his controversial right to bypass provisions of new laws." His article in the April 30, 2006, edition of the paper, "Bush Challenges Hundreds of Laws: President Cites Powers of His Office" prompted Republican Senator Arlen Specter to call for hearings to investigate the matter.
Instead of vetoing bills, Savage explains that the president has quietly used "signing statements" - official documents in which the president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill, which is to be followed when implementing a new law. Other presidents have also used this power, but Bush has used it far more: 750 times.
In his signing statements, Bush has asserted the right to ignore numerous sections of bills. These bills have to do with torture, domestic spying, affirmative-action, "whistle-blower" protections, and immigration problems. Legal scholars say that Bush's assertions "represent a concerted effort to expand his powers at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government." (Original Airdate: 5/9/06).
It's just been announced that staff writer for The New Yorker Lawrence Wright is a 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner (in the category of General Nonfiction) for his book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. The book is based on more than 500 interviews, some with friends and relatives of Osama bin Laden. It examines the circumstances that led to the formation of Al Qaeda. (Original Airdate: 8/15/06)
Finally, Geoff Nunberg considers the Imus controversy. [Broadcast Date: April 17, 2007
Then, hear The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright.
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