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How President Obama barely beat the deadline to sign the Patriot Act extension -- without picking up a pen

Declaration of Independence Signing John Trumbull painting who do you suppose got to keep the historic feather?

Because extending certain provisions of the Patriot Act before they expired at midnight last night was deemed so essential to national security, the extension legislation was, of course, left until the last minutes, thanks to the political paragons of Congress.

Republicans wanted a permanent extension. Democrats didn't.

They settled on June 1, 2015.

After a feud about guns, the four-year Patriot Act Sunset Extensions of 2011 passed in the Senate Thursday 72-23.

Then, with barely 300 minutes to spare, the House passed the same measure, 250-153. Our colleague Lisa Mascaro carefully chronicles some of the bill's provisions, what all the government spooks can peek into now still with secret federal court approval.

Phew, that was close! Law-abiding terrorists were just waiting for midnight (Eastern Daylight) to start plotting on the phone.Obama Signature

But, wait! The Patriot Act extension couldn't become law until it was signed by the president.

And if this is Friday, Obama must be off on another foreign trip somewhere. Sure enough, they found him 3,719 miles away toughing out a couple of days with other G-8 leaders in the French resort of Deauville.

According to aides, Obama had to be awakened early Friday, which was after the deadline by French beach resort time.

The commander-in-chief reportedly reviewed the provisions carefully and ordered his signature affixed to said bill.

Wait! What? The president of the United States didn't actually sign it himself??

Remember, back in 2009 when Obama was so excited about the economic stimulus bill that didn't really work as well as Joe Biden promised everybody? And so Obama flew Air Force One out to Denver with the legislation to personally sign it there, for some reason?

Well, here's one of the dirty not-so-little secrets of American politics. Yes, the....

...Declaration of Independence was actually signed in person by everyone using a feather. Perhaps 200 copies were printed that night and only 26 are known to survive. We'll leave it to Nicolas Cage to find the original original.

The modern truth, however, is that a very large number of the very large number of presidential signatures that leave any White House on photos, letters, mementoes, books, are actually fake. False. As phony as a Donald Trump presidential candidacy.Nicholas Cage in National Treasure

You might call them legal forgeries.

Those signatures are actually made by machines, robo-pens, that replicate Obama's leftish scrawl almost perfectly. If a president actually signed all the things he's supposed to sign, he wouldn't have any time for photo ops, working out or golf.

So, according to the White House, upon President Obama's direct specific orders from France, a machine put his name on the legislation back in the White House, where midnight had yet to arrive. The official White House notice of the signing arrived with just six minutes to spare.

Hopefully, the presidential machine knew the actual date better than the president did in London on Monday.

Thanks to the thorough folks at ABC News, we all now know that some years ago a government lawyer named Howard Nielson wrote a helpful memo opining that such a surrogate signing was legal.

“We examine the legal understanding of the word 'sign' at the time the Constitution was drafted and ratified and during the early years of the Republic," he wrote. "We find that, pursuant to this understanding ..... we conclude that the President need not personally perform the physical act of affixing his signature to a bill to sign it within the meaning of Article I, Section 7" of the Constitution.

Hopefully, the signature-signing machine is unplugged at night to avoid any embarrassing missile launches by janitors dusting the equipment.

But given recent conspiracy theories surrounding other Obama legal documents, we figure that the legality of his absentee, post-deadline ordering of the Patriot Act extension's signing before the deadline won't be challenged in any federal court much before lunch hour today.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Signing of the Declaration of Independence, painting by John Trumbull; Larry Downing / Reuters; "National Treasure" (Cage).

Comments () | Archives (11)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Andrew, congratulations!

You have deftly discovered, defined and reported those critical attributes of this President:

- Self service to enjoy life as royalty above and in place of public service is Obama rule !
- All ends justifies any means
- Even if the public discovers the truth, what can they do

Bill Nahay
Austin, TX

America is a joke.

Did Mr. Malcolm make the same sarcastic comments when President Bush robo-signed a document or does he only sarcastically mock Democrats?

The provisions of the Patriot Act and its extension is important. These petty patterings are about nothing. This is neither news nor opinion and is beneath the LA Times, or should be.

As our President campaigns in 2012 he will claim "I never signed it" and be cheered on by his lemming followers. Maybe he will go further and say it was the "Ghost of George Bush that did it". This man has no integrity. ABO. Anybody But Obama in 2012.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Patriot Act will expose the criminal element in United States Republic, which starts with army "Commander-in-Chief", as well as the corrupt war mongering bastards paid to perpetuate a greedy, sneaky, fraudulent government, which the rest of the world despises. Then you have this blank look on your face and wonder, "Gee, why oh why oh why is it the United States Republic who are now going to reap revenge from *terrorists*? Lead by example? In God We Trust is the belief of AMERICANS. Native Americans who trusted in me, Great Spirit, long before the rest of you immigrated here from wherever the hell, whatever the hell name of the country, you came from, trying to escape taxation and corruption, looking for something better. If you are NOW hearing GET OUT and STAY OUT, perhaps you will heed my words and take your paid whores, er, paid politicans with you. Perhaps, when they are imprisoned, they will learn real job skills, and leave governing as a hobby with no income to me, GOD.


Didn't Candidate Obama say that the Patriot Act was too much of an intrusion on civil liberties and he would strike it down as soon as he got in office?

Ooop!!! FORGOT! Obama's promises have an expiration date.

What a Charlatan.

This makes me wonder. This reminds me of a lawyer on a TV show who had a client write his signature on a peice of paper then using this he had the client TRACE his signature onto a check. The lawyer claimed that this would allow the signature to be legal OR illegal, at the clients whim.

So can Obama now, maybe during the coming campaign, claim on his own wim that he either did or did not sign the Patriot Act into law?

And were is the medial outrage, that Obama actually did sign this into law? Isn't this the evil Bush Patriot Act, a law that took away all of our civil rights? Wasn't this law the spawn of the devil himself, evil incarnate?

Obama signed it? Were is the ACLU? Were are the protesters in the street? Were are the liberal left calls for impeachment? Were are the screams about our civil rights and privacy rights?

Amazing spin...what's this one about - a chance to say plausible deniability once someone in the REAL media (anyone seen them?) calls him out on yet another broken campaign promise??? I can hear the pundits now..."Ohhh, he reallly didn't want to...but, they woke him up out of a sound sleep and yanno, after all that partying in Europe, well, poor thing didn't even know what he was signing." Have another pint, Barry.

this article is written with so much rhetoric and bias. how is this even presentable in a legitimate news source.

Malcolm once again scrapes the bottom of the barrel, desperate to find even the most obscure topics to blast away at Obama. So he didn't sign the bill with a feather quill, like the Founding Fathers? Oh, woe is America, look what we've come to... using 2oth century technology in the 21st century, when it's so clear that 18th century technology was good enough then... it MUST be good enough now. Any deviation from the 1776 norm is just another of "America's dirty little secrets?" This article, like so many of Malcolm's inane and mindless attacks on Obama, isn't worth the 3 or 4 feather quills he wasted writing it.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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