Sunday, April 6, 2008

Has the Time for Impeachment Passed?

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. - United States Constitution

The time is always right to do what is right. - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some of my good friends will look at this heading and say that I’ve gone off the deep end now. Other good friends will look at my question and say “Duh! So why has it taken you so long to see what has been so obvious for so long?” If you think the question I have asked is irrelevant, you may not want to read further. But if you think it is still relevant or if you’re not sure, read the rest.

I’m not sure just what it was in the last two or three days that triggered the question in my head with a force I could not ignore. Please be patient with me and hear me out.

Maybe it was the news Friday that a New York Times/CBS poll
has documented that Americans are more dissatisfied with the country’s direction than at any time since the NYT/CBS poll began asking the question in the early 1990s.

In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002.

Although the public mood has been darkening since the early days of the war in Iraq, it has taken a new turn for the worse in the last few months, as the economy has seemed to slip into recession. There is now nearly a national consensus that the country faces significant problems.
Maybe it was the article I read Friday about the Bush administration’s corruption of yet another federal agency. Three F.A.A. inspectors testified that their agency had allowed Southwest Airlines to fly uninspected planes, and that the airline had continued to fly the planes even after it later found cracks in some of them.

The inspectors said that when they complained, their bosses threatened their jobs and discouraged them from pursuing safety problems.
Was it a reminder that another—in a long line of federal agencies—has fallen victim to the climate of disregard for law and incompetent cronyism that have become the defining legacy of the Bush administration?

Maybe it was the
news Friday about the deaths of women and children on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, killed by U.S. military pursing Taliban who had crossed over into Pakistan. The Americans said they were attacking a place where Taliban leaders were meeting, while Pakistani Major General Athar Abbas gave a different account: “Two women and two children got killed, so whatever was assessed was not correct." I don’t know who was right or wrong in their assessment, but I think I can conclude that two women and two children got killed.

What struck me about this incident is
my recent reading of Three Cups of Tea, the story of how Greg Mortenson has been building schools for children in this region. Was this one of the villages I had read about, one where there was now a school for some of the poorest kids in the world? “Hey, this is war,” I can hear some of my friends saying. “Expect civilian casualties.” The problem is that I can no longer hear news of that region or look at a map without thinking how the Bush administration squandered the advantage it had to defeat Al-Qaeda and the Taliban there, but chose to invade Iraq instead. Who, then, is responsible the deaths of these women and children now?

I can assure you it was not
the news that over 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen abandoned their posts in the recent fighting in Basra that got me going about impeachment. I was not at all surprised by that news and I expect many if not most of that 81% above weren’t surprised either.

The desertions in the heat of a major battle cast fresh doubt on the effectiveness of the American-trained Iraqi security forces.
In McJoan’s
discussion with Eric Lichtblau on his new book, Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice

Beyond the moral and constitutional arguments against torture, against illegal spying, against this assault on the rule of law, has any of this worked to keep us safer? Torture provides unreliable information. Wiretapping millions of communications makes sifting through the data to find real, actionable information that much more impossible. Subverting the Constitution damages the republic more deeply and permanently than any terrorist attack could.
So, maybe it was the words of Texanomaly in response to
my diary last Wednesday:

We have got to find the societal and political will to not only protect the Constitution, but to hold the sitting administration accountable, speak loudly and often, and call it what it is: Treason.
Maybe it was because Friday was a day to remember Martin Luther King Jr. and his death. Maybe it was these words of King that a friend sent me:

"The time is always right to do what is right."
Whatever it was, to calm the boiling in my head I knew I had to ask the question: Is it too late to impeach?

I thought about why the issue had not been officially before Congress. Before the 2006 elections, then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that if the Democrats obtained a majority in the house that the party would not seek to impeach President Bush, or as
it was reported,

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) told her caucus members during their weekly closed meeting Wednesday "that impeachment is off the table; she is not interested in pursuing it," spokesman Brendan Daly said.
That, despite the judgment of other members of the party:

Some House Democrats, including ranking Judiciary Committee member John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, have called for impeachment hearings into allegations that Bush misled the nation about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and that he violated federal law by approving warrantless wiretaps on Americans.
I thought I understood Pelosi’s reasoning and agreed with it. She didn’t want to give the Republicans an issue that might prevent the Democrats from gaining a majority. After the Democrats had the majority, I think she thought that impeachment proceedings would distract from legislating an end to the war. Again, I confess, I agreed. And, while many of you reading this did not agree her, even at this point I am not second-guessing her. In the her
effective maneuvering on FISA, in her visit to the Dalai Lama, and in what I have heard about her working behind the scenes to avert disaster at the convention, I have come to higher respect for her judgment. I’m beginning to think of her more as wile as Br’er Rabbit in the story of the Briar Patch. I wonder what she is thinking about impeachment now.

While I never for a moment doubted that President Bush was guilty of impeachable acts, I wondered if it wouldn’t further divide the country and put at risk Democratic victories in the fall.

I am not worrying now about whether my judgment (and the House and Senate leadership’s judgment) was faulty. What I really want to hear are answers—not sound bites—to the following questions.

1. With almost ten months left in office, should the Congress vote on articles of impeachment against President Bush?

2. At the same time, should they be voted against others in the Bush administration? Vice President Cheney?

3. What kind of legal action could be taken against now civilian Donald Rumsfeld?

4. What should the specific impeachment charges be?

5. In your best judgment, what would be the result of an attempt to bring impeachment proceedings at this point?

6. What would the impact of impeachment proceedings be on the 2008 presidential and congressional elections?

Your responses to any, some, or all of the above would be greatly appreciated.

Dr. King said, "The time is always right to do what is right." We can’t go back an undo what we did or didn’t do in the past. My question is what is the “right” thing for us to do now?

- Milo
Update: If you want to participate in the poll I put in the posting on Daily Kos or see the comments this article has prompted there, click here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes impeachment is warranted! It's never to late and also serves notice to future politicians that we as a country expect our elected leaders to abide by the same laws and values that the majority of the country believe in.