Thursday, January 12, 2006

It's Time To Consider It

Impeachment, that is. Elizabeth Holtzman, a former member of Congress who was on the House Judiciary Committee when President Nixon was impeached, wrote a very thorough piece for The Nation on the case for impeaching President Bush. It's hard to ignore someone with her background who makes such a compelling case. The article is a long one, as it should be when considering an issue as serious as impeachment, but it is well worth the read. Here are a few highlights:

On the wiretapping issue:
What then was the reason for avoiding the FISA court? President Bush suggested that there was no time to get the warrants. But this cannot be true, because FISA permits wiretaps without warrants in emergencies as long as court approval is obtained within three days. Moreover, there is evidence that the President knew the warrantless wiretapping was illegal. In 2004, when the violations had been going on for some time, President Bush told a Buffalo, New York, audience that "a wiretap requires a court order." He went on to say that "when we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.
On the reasons for going to war with Iraq:
A President can commit no more serious crime against our democracy than lying to Congress and the American people to get them to support a military action or war...That both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were guilty of misleading the nation into military action and neither was impeached for it makes it more, not less, important to hold Bush accountable.
On the sanctioning of torture:
President Bush recently proclaimed, "We do not torture." In view of the revelations of the CIA's secret jails and practice of rendition, not to mention the Abu Ghraib scandal, the statement borders on the absurd, recalling Nixon's famous claim, "I am not a crook."

Under the War Crimes Act of 1996 it is a crime for any US national to order or engage in the murder, torture or inhuman treatment of a detainee. (When a detainee death results, the act imposes the death penalty.) In addition, anyone in the chain of command who condones the abuse rather than stopping it could also be in violation of the act.

...The evidence before us now suggests that the President himself may have authorized detainee abuse.
I encourage anyone reading this to check out the article quoted above. It is critical, in my opinion, that we hold those in power accountable when they have clearly abused the law.


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