December 20, 2005

A Bridge Too Far

Wow. Forget about stopping the blog, folks! The events of the past few days are simply astounding.

Suddenly we are talking impeachment. But this time it's for real:
U.S. Rep. John Lewis said Monday in a radio interview that President Bush should be impeached if he broke the law in authorizing spying on Americans.

The Democratic senator from Georgia told WAOK-AM he would sign a bill of impeachment if one was drawn up and that the House of Representatives should consider such a move.

Lewis is among several Democrats who have voiced discontent with Sunday night's television speech, where Bush asked Americans to continue to support the Iraq War. Lewis is the first major House figure to suggest impeaching Bush.

"Its a very serious charge, but he violated the law," said Lewis, a former civil rights leader. "The president should abide by the law. He deliberately, systematically violated the law. He is not King, he is president."
Bush and Co are panicked and bullshitting for all they are worth right now.

The key issue here is why the Bush administration did not pursue their illegal eavesdropping program through the normal channels. Bush says they needed to act faster than FISA would allow them (even though FISA has been a virtual rubber stamp for years). So why didn't they improve FISA, or work out another solution? Bush and Gonzales say they didn't need to, because the authority to bypass the court derived from the Constitution and Congress' vote authorizing the use of military force after the 2001 terror attacks. That's pure bullshit, as many commentators have shown. And US Senators who voted to allow that use of force are astonished that such a vote could be considered carte blanche for dictatorial powers!

After five speeches in three weeks failed to bump up his dismal poll numbers, Bush has even resorted to a press conference! (full text here). That's a sign of real panic from the Bushies.

Bush told the press that the US Constitution also gave him powers to subvert FISA (although he sounded a little confused about exactly whose idea that was):
We looked at the possible scenarios. And the people responsible for helping us protect and defend came forth with the current program, because it enables us to move faster and quicker, and that‘s important. We‘ve got to be fast on our feet, quick to detect and prevent.

We use FISA still. You‘re referring to the FISA accord in your question. Of course we use FISAs.

But FISAs is for long-term monitoring. What is needed in order to protect the American people is the ability to move quickly to detect.

And having suggested this idea, I then, obviously, went to the question, is it legal to do so? I swore to uphold the laws. Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is, absolutely.

As I mentioned in my remarks, the legal authority is derived from the Constitution, as well as the authorization of force by the United States Congress.
As usual, the press conference questions were more illuminating than the "answers". Here's one good question that had Bush stumbling for the right cliché:
QUESTION: You‘ve talked about your decision to go to war and the bad intelligence. And you‘ve carefully separated the intelligence from the decision, saying that it was the right decision to go to war despite the problems with the intelligence, sir.

But, with respect, the intelligence helped you build public support for the war. And so, I wonder if now, as you look back, if you look at that intelligence and feel that the intelligence and your use of it might bear some responsibility for the current divisions in the country over the war.

And what can you do about it?

BUSH: Yeah. No, I appreciate that.

First of all, I can understand why people were — you say, Well, wait a minute: Everybody thought there was weapons of mass destruction; there weren‘t any. I felt the same way...
And here's another example of a good question that didn't get a straight answer:
Thank you, Mr. President. I wonder if you can tell us today, sir, what, if any, limits you believe there are or should be on the powers of a President during a war, at wartime? And if the global war on terror is going to last for decades, as has been forecast, does that mean that we're going to see, therefore, a more or less permanent expansion of the unchecked power of the executive in American society?
Things are so desperate that Alberto Gonzales has held a press conference too! Kos wraps up his convoluted logic like this:
Gonzales says it was okay to spy on Americans without authorization because the war resolution gave them that power. But when asked why they didn't ask for specific congressional authorization, he says, well, Congress wouldn't have given them that power.

Eschaton is all over the latest news, including other laughable defences from Alberto Gonzales (a man who should have his law licence revoked before he is sent to jail).

Strange days indeed... Michael Moore's website captures the latest idiocy very well:
George Blames
First Amendment
September 11th attacks may have been stopped if not for free press

Dick Blames
Fourth Amendment
September 11th attacks may have been stopped if not for right to privacy
And lest you think that Bush's latest pleas for "understanding" (he used the word "understand" 25 times in yesterday's speech) signal a change in attitude, it's worth noting that Bush is now threatening legal action against those who spilled the beans on his illegal eavesdropping program:
My personal opinion is it was a shameful act, for someone to disclose this very important program in time of war. The fact that we‘re discussing this program is helping the enemy...
Not surprisingly, wingnuts like Michael Ledeen are all for chasing down these cursed un-American evil-doers!

Meanwhile, Condi Rice pleads "I'm not a lawyer" and says "what happens today can affect what happens tomorrow, but not what happened yesterday." OK? History is bunk, as someone once said.

And a few readers comments from TPM Cafe should help give a feel for the zeitgesit:
Our basic freedoms are being threatened by a President who has run amok because he is scared.

That's right, there is no other possible explanation. His job, the terrorists and his opponents have all scared him, and he is reacting like a gambler, doubling and re-doubling his bet that he can scare enough people so that the country will more or less support his abridgement of our freedoms...

Of course he's scared. Wouldn't you be scared if you were in so far over your head. Paul Begala once said Bush is in so far over his head that he's like Mini-me at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. This guy is so uncomfortable with himself that he can't even walk down a hallway without his bogus John Wayne strut. What he needs is therapy, not another three plus years in the White House.
Visit for more on the impeachment moves.

UPDATE: Former White House Counsel John Dean, who was President Nixon’s counsel at the time of Watergate, said that President Bush is “the first President to admit to an impeachable offense.” Senator Barbara Boxer is asking Constitutional scholars their opinion...

And just for the record, here's that old W quote:
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."


ChrisWoznitza said...

Hi I´m Chriswab. Greatings from Germany Bottrop !!

olivia said...

What were you saying below ... something along the lines of, if this doesn't get the people off their asses what will? :) There is a lot of potential momentum with this story. It's a "Who cares about the foreigners, but damn if they'll spy on us" mentality, but if it gets them to start questioning their elected reps then so be it. Let's hope this is what finally wakes them up Gandhi.

gandhi said...

IT could all boil down to whether Democrats have anough balls to push for impeachment, and whether individuals in the GOP have enough common human decency left to support it.

Other than that, it would be up to the US public to demand impeachment with such vigour that GOP post-holders were afraid to defy them and lose their seats...


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