54% Say Impeach Cheney

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Recently Bill Moyers interviewed conservative constitutional scholar Bruce Fein who wrote the 1st article of impeachment against president Clinton "because he was setting a precedent which placed himself above the law." But Fein, who served under Regan and has been part of conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation says he thinks Bush's crimes are far more severe,

"Bush's crimes are more worrisome than Clinton's because he is seeking more institutionally to cripple checks and balances and the authority of congress and the judiciary to superintend his assertions of power, his claim to tell the Congress they don't have any right to know what he's doing with relation to spying on American citizens, using that information any way that he wants in contradiction to a federal statute called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He's claimed authority to say he can kidnap people, throw them into dungeons abroad... without any political or legal accountability. These are standards that are totally anathema to a democratic society devoted to the rule of law".

You can see a video clip of that interview here. According to a recent poll, a majority of American's agree that Cheney should be impeached (54%), and just under half (45%) favor impeaching Bush. The focus on Cheney is significant because he is seen as being in the driver's seat on international policy. There has been a long list of abuses of power and lawlessness one can point to: policies of illegal torture, holding people imprisoned indefinitely with no legal representation (many of which have turned out to be innocent), illegal wiretaps, defying Congressional subpoenas with "executive privilege". The list goes on and on, but it seems what has broken the camel's back in the minds of many American's is the President's commuting the jail sentence of Scooter Libby for his involvement in the Valerie Plame affair.

What is particularly striking is that the public reaction and call for impeachment appears to be going beyond party lines. It is not a red/blue thing, it is simply a moral thing, and American's are alarmed at how this administration consistently places themselves above checks and balances in every other branch of government and the Constitution. The issue is not about punishing a President for his misdeeds, it is about setting a shocking precedent of abuse of power and lawlessness. John Nichols, chief Washington correspondent for The Nation writes,

"The stakes are enormous: If Bush and Cheney are not held accountable, this administration will hand off to its successors a toolbox of powers greater than any executive has ever held... The Founders intended impeachment less as a punishment for officeholders than as a protection against the dangerous expansion of executive authority. If abuse of the system of checks and balances, lies about war, approval of illegal spying and torture, signing statements that improperly arrogate legislative powers to the executive branch, schemes to punish political foes and refusals to cooperate with congressional inquiries are not judged as high crimes, the next president, no matter from which party, will assume the authority to exercise some or all of these illegitimate powers".

I find the fact that the American people are saying no to abuse of power and lawlessness encouraging. What I am less hopeful about is whether the Democratic majority in Congress will have the backbone and moral courage to actually do something about it.

update: Dennis Kucinich has introduced a bill into the House to impeach Dick Cheney for high crimes and misdemeanors. House Resolution 333 currently has 16 co-sponsors:
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Rep. Al Wynn (D-MD).

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At 12:04 PM, Blogger Robert said...

I saw this Moyers Journal a couple of weeks ago (you can watch the whole thing here). Really puts the situation into sharp focus. But I share your pessimism about the Dems' willingness to effectively intervene (that pessimism was more or less confirmed last week by their giving legal cover to many of the President’s illegalities).

Here’s another program very much worth a listen.

Habeas Schmabeas (from This American Life)
Click on “full episode” on the left-hand side


At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah I listened to that a while back. I believe it was the first time that US media had interviewed former Guantanamo detainees. Fascinating stuff, thanks for the link to it.

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another thing that is quite alarming. According to this survey


Most of the Republican candidates are saying they are pro torture and wiretapping, and detention outside of the law (Guantanamo). Not to mention being pro-assault riffles.

The Democrats are almost all in favor of the death penalty and abortion.

Can we throw out these two parties and get new ones please?


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