Sunday :: Jan 15, 2006

Laying Out The Plank

by pessimist

Despite all the gloom of the poor prevent ScAlito defense strategy of the Democrats, there is - as a commenter on another thread put it - a silver lining over the rainbow.

The political regicide (impeachment) of King George could actually become a possibility, assuming that we aren't being lied to once again by a prominent Republican:

Today on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) — who plans to hold hearings on Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program — upped the ante. He said that if it is determined that Bush broke the law, both impeachment and criminal prosecution are legitimate remedies ...

There is some merit to this position:

The non-partisan Congressional Research Service concluded “that the administration’s justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments.”

Zogby has just released a poll reporting that a majority of Americans would support impeaching Owwer Leedur over his sticking his nose into their private communication business:

The poll found that 52% agreed with the statement: "If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment." 43% disagreed, and 6% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a +/- 2.9% margin of error.

There is, however, the numerous examples of Republicans renegging on agreements that they have made, not the least of which was the one they made with John McCain concerning torture, so why should we trust Specter?

Let's take a trip down Fantasy Lane for a moment.

What if an angry and vengeful McCain grew some balls and took Bu$hCo down over the illegality? He could coast into a 2008 electoral victory as the hero from a family of heroes who saved the nation once again. [McCain's grandfather commanded the highly-effective US Naval Aviation in the Pacific War against the Japanese. McCain's father was a submarine commander of some success in a command credited with being the largest single factor in Japan's defeat.]

Don't worry, wrong-wingers! McCain isn't about to grow balls! This scenario isn't going to happen!

Time to turn off Fantasy Lane and get back onto Reality Highway.

Eight Democrats in the House are looking into impeachment - reportedly without the support of House Minority Leader Pelosi. "I think we should solve this electorally," she said.

Ms. Pelosi - ever hear of Diebold? ES&S? There is no 'electoral solution' to the coming crisis facing America if we can't hold fair elections with reliable results! We as a nation are demonstrating in Iraq that we don't seem to know how - or don't care to - hold fair elections.

But I digress.

John Dean, a man who certainly is no liberal and who knows something about presidential abuse of power from the inside, had this to say on June 6, 2003:

It's important to recall that when Richard Nixon resigned, he was about to be impeached by the House of Representatives for misusing the CIA and FBI. After Watergate, all presidents are on notice that manipulating or misusing any agency of the executive branch improperly is a serious abuse of presidential power.

Nixon claimed that his misuses of the federal agencies for his political purposes were in the interest of national security. The same kind of thinking might lead a President to manipulate and misuse national security agencies or their intelligence to create a phony reason to lead the nation into a politically desirable war.

If the Bush Administration intentionally manipulated or misrepresented intelligence to get Congress to authorize, and the public to support, military action to take control of Iraq, then that would be a monstrous misdeed.

To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."

Later, on April 2, 2004, Dean had this to say:

BILL MOYERS: Let me go right to page 155 of your book [Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush - ed.]. You write, quote, "The evidence is overwhelming that George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have engaged in deceit and deception over going to war in Iraq. This is an impeachable offense."

JOHN DEAN: Absolutely is. The founders in the debates in the states-- I cite one. I cite one that I found -- I tracked down after reading the Nixon impeachment proceedings when-- Congressman Castenmeyer had gone back to look to see what the founders said about misrepresentations and lying to the Congress. Clearly, it is an impeachable offense. And I think the case is overwhelming that these people presented false information to the Congress and to the American people.

That is worse than Watergate. No one died for Nixon's so-called Watergate abuses.

And on 30 December 2005, John Dean wrote this:

There can be no serious question that warrantless wiretapping, in violation of the law, is impeachable. After all, Nixon was charged in Article II of his bill of impeachment with illegal wiretapping for what he, too, claimed were national security reasons. These parallel violations underscore the continuing, disturbing parallels between this Administration and the Nixon Administration ....

Bush may have outdone Nixon: Nixon's illegal surveillance was limited; Bush's, it is developing, may be extraordinarily broad in scope. [R]eports have suggested that NSA is "data mining" literally millions of calls - and has been given access by the telecommunications companies to "switching" stations through which foreign communications traffic flows.

In sum, this is big-time, Big Brother electronic surveillance.

Bush's unauthorized surveillance, in particular, seems very likely to be ineffective. According to experts with whom I have spoken, Bush's approach is like hunting for the proverbial needle in the haystack. As sophisticated as NSA's data mining equipment may be, it cannot, for example, crack codes it does not recognize. So the terrorist communicating in code may escape detection, even if data mining does reach him. In short, Bush is hoping to get lucky.

Such a gamble seems a slim pretext for acting in such blatant violation of Congress' law. In acting here without Congressional approval, Bush has underlined that his Presidency is unchecked - in his and his attorneys' view, utterly beyond the law. Now that he has turned the truly awesome powers of the NSA on Americans, what asserted powers will Bush use next? And when - if ever - will we - and Congress -- discover that he is using them?

Senator Boxer believes that John Dean is correct - enough to request the advice of legal scholars. In addition, others who know something about impeachment for abuse of power are chiming in:

The Impeachment of George W. Bush

People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush--not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I [former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman - ed.] believe they are right to do so.

As awful as Watergate was, after the vote on impeachment and the resignation of President Nixon, the nation felt a huge sense of relief. Impeachment is a tortuous process, but now that President Bush has thrown down the gauntlet and virtually dared Congress to stop him from violating the law, nothing less is necessary to protect our constitutional system and preserve our democracy.

On December 17 President Bush acknowledged that he repeatedly authorized wiretaps, without obtaining a warrant, of American citizens engaged in international calls. On the face of it, these warrantless wiretaps violate FISA, which requires court approval for national security wiretaps and sets up a special procedure for obtaining it. Violation of the law is a felony.

As a matter of constitutional law, these and other misdeeds constitute grounds for the impeachment of President Bush. A President, any President, who maintains that he is above the law--and repeatedly violates the law--thereby commits high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional standard for impeachment and removal from office. A high crime or misdemeanor is an archaic term that means a serious abuse of power, whether or not it is also a crime, that endangers our constitutional system of government.

But once again, foreign observation hits closer to the truth than one hears domestically:

With poetic justice, the biggest loser of 2005 has turned out to be the previous year’s most undeserving winner — Mr Bush. Largely because of the sheer astonishing incompetence of the US occupation of Iraq, confirmed by the even greater incompetence displayed after Hurricane Katrina, Mr Bush’s incomprehensible popularity and mysterious power over American voters have vanished in a puff of smoke, like the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.

The unravelling of the Bush Administration, which started immediately after the President’s re-election, came as no surprise to those of us who found Mr Bush an absurdly implausible leader and were expecting open warfare to break out within the Republican Party’s strange coalition of economic liberals, social conservatives and trigger-happy militarists. This early in-fighting in Washington is not necessarily bad news for the American Right or good news for the Democrats.

This might help to explain why the Democrats can't seem to gain any traction, for it was similar infighting that broke apart the Democratic Party just after Watergate. They have yet to recover from that, while the Republicans are still headed down that same path - especially now that it looks like Tom DeLay is headed to the Big House instead of the House of Representatives. Such a situation provides the possibility of changing the political gridlock in this nation as the powers-that-be break apart. But there has to be another power structure ready to take over when this happens lest total chaos ensue.

It really is up to We, The People to decide just what sort of nation we want to be. We talk about 'returning to traditional values'. But under Bu$hCo, I fail to see where lying and evasion of the consequences of the disdained law qualify as 'traditional', where 'anything goes' is frowned upon for the people - unless large sums of corporate money are involved.

If anything, we have been radicalized by the wrong-wing of this nation, proving that radicalization is not only the characteristic of the Left. The other side is rife with it.

So We, The People have to make a choice. Is being an immoral hypocritical nation of 'Might Makes Right' and 'End Justifies The Means' morality how we want to present ourselves to the world? Or can we do better?

In the past, we have done better. The period beginning with the Marshall Plan and ending with John Kennedy's Peace Corps may have been our finest hours as a nation. We did it once, and there is no good reason why we couldn't do it again. We just need to make better choices for leadership.

It may have to begin with removing the ones we have now.

Impeach Bu$h and save your nation. Your grandchildren will thank you.

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