I was discouraged to read intoday's NYTimesa comment by the NSC's Ben Rhodes that the sanctions against certain Venezuelan officials were based on a lie,
“The United States does not believe that Venezuela poses some threat to our national security,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, during a telephone call with reporters to discuss the president’s trip. ...
American officials had previously sought to play down the language in the order, saying that the administration was required by law to make the security threat designation to carry out the sanctions.
But Mr. Rhodes went further on Tuesday, explicitly stating that Venezuela did not pose a threat, adding that the language was “completely pro forma.”
He's technically right, of course. The law used for the sanctions, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1978 [IEEPA] precribes a format, a declaration of national emergency, in order to be invoked. But by arguing that the words don't really matter he is disparaging and undercutting the law and raising doubts in the legislative branch that the administration feels bound by the words of its laws.