Thursday, March 30, 2006

Censure Preview

BY NTODD

The Nation:
Congressional Democrats have pretty much abandoned their Constitutionally-mandated responsibility to check and balance the excesses to the executive branch – so much so that the one Democrat who seeks to hold President Bush to account for ordering the warrantless wiretapping of American's telephone conversations accuses for party's leaders of "cowering."

So where is Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold finding support?

Among Republicans. Or, more precisely, among prominent alumni of past Republican administrations.
...
Making arguments about the extreme seriousness of the warrantless wiretapping issue -- and the need for a Congressional response -- will be noted constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein, who served in President Ronald Reagan's Department of Justice as Deputy Attorney General, and author and legal commentator John Dean, who served at Richard Nixon's White House counsel before breaking with the president to reveal the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Watergate era.
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According to the Senate Library, the man who before joining the Nixon administration served as Chief Minority Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, has not testified before Congress since 1974, the year that his former boss resigned in order to avoid impeachment.
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Dean [explains] that: "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."

Dean does make a distinction between the misdeeds of the Nixon and Bush administration, however. He has argued for some time that the current administration's reckless disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law is "worse than Watergate."

Worse than Watergate. Absolutely. There is a distinct pattern of abuse that goes beyond merely clinging to power. Bush has usurped powers vested in Congress by the Constitution, trampled on civil liberties at home and violated international law. Oh, and he's led us down the path to ruin with his disastrous wars draining our blood and treasure.

Dean has said before that Bush's crimes are worse than Watergate. In fact, I have a copy of his book with that title, wherein he lays out a compelling argument. Of course, we in the leftysphere all know the case against Bush at this point. Wouldn't it be nice if he spells it out on record? I hope to hear "worse than Watergate" echoing in the halls of Congress tomorrow. Then maybe Feingold will get some support from the spineless Dems.

PS--I don't view Censure and Impeachment as mutually exclusive. Censure is the only thing the Senate can do at this point, and while not technically a "first step" toward expelling the President, it does set the stage. Not only that, it keeps the discussion out in the open and allows the debate to be about Bush's failures without necessarily getting rid of "the Commander-in-Chief at a time of war." And keep in mind that it only addresses one star in the criminal constellation known as BushCo.

I look at it as merely the stage of first alleging there is a crime. That will ideally be followed in 2007 by the indictment phase, and then a trial resulting in conviction. But it all depends on just how willing the Dems are to stand for what's right rather than fleeing because of misguided political calculations.


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2 comments:

BeingHuman said...

I hope that people will take a serious look at this issue . . . now.

I have no doubt that 20 years from now few will be supporting the current position that the President can merely dictate when the Constitution does and does not apply.

There is too much willingness to accept and tolerate abuses of power, simply because we don't feel like opposing it.

lucretia said...

Good post NTODD. John Dean appears with Democrats now on panels. He's obviously no friend of the Bush far-right admin. I've read his book too, sometime ago. Dean is very knowledgeable and sharp about constitutional issues and should be listened to by progressives.