Two blockbuster revelations on April 6 provide ample additional grounds for censuring or impeaching George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
The first is the disclosure by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that I. Lewis Libby has testified that Bush and Cheney authorized him to reveal information from an otherwise-classified National Intelligence Estimate in order to discredit former Ambassador Joe Wilson.
“The Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE,” Fitzgerald’s court filing of April 5 states. “Defendant testified that the circumstances of his conversation with Judith Miller—getting approval from the President through the Vice President to discuss material that would be classified but for that approval—were unique in his recollection.”
Here is evidence that the President and the Vice President were using the intelligence agencies of the U.S. government to discredit a political opponent. This is precisely one of the reasons why the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Richard Nixon.
The second bombshell was delivered by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales himself when he testified on April 6 to the House Judiciary Committee that the Administration may engage in warrantless wiretapping of purely domestic calls in the United State (as opposed to calls where one party is abroad).
“I’m not going to rule it out,” Gonzales testified.
This amounts to a potentially huge expansion of the Bush Administration’s lawless spying that violates both the FISA Act and the Fourth Amendment.
The Imperial Presidency is back, and more power-crazed than ever.
These revelations should spur the efforts for censure and impeachment. And it’s time for Democrats and Republicans to stop cowering and hiding and to show some respect for the Constitution and some institutional self-respect for the Congress.
Thirty-four Democrats have signed on to a bill that John Conyers of Detroit has introduced to explore grounds of impeachment.
And it’s been three weeks now since Russ Feingold introduced his bill to censure President Bush, and one week since he demonstrated the legitimacy of censure at a Senate hearing.
But still most Democratic Senators act like he’s got bird flu.
Only Barbara Boxer and Tom Harkin have signed on as co-sponsors, with Patrick Leahy leaning in favor.
The rest are hiding under their desks.
Which is weird since 29 Democratic Senators are actually on record as favoring the censure of the President: Bill Clinton, that is.
And when you compare what Clinton did to what Bush did it’s a joke.
Clinton dishonored his own name.
Bush dishonored the Constitution.
Back in 1999, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced the censure bill. Where is she today?
And here are some of her Democratic co-sponsors still in the Senate:
Daniel AkakaByron DorganRichard DurbinDaniel InouyeJoe LiebermanTed KennedyJohn KerryHerb KohlMary LandrieuCarl LevinBarbara MikulskiJay RockefellerCharles Schumer
And yes, even Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Where are they now?
They’re nowhere to be seen.
One footnote on the Clinton censure: even 9 Republicans were in favor, including Pete Domenici, Mitch McConnell, and Olympia Snowe.
So don’t let them say that censure is somehow unthinkable or unconstitutional.
What’s unconstitutional is Bush’s NSA spying, Bush’s leaking of intelligence to discredit Joe Wilson, Bush’s Iraq War, Bush’s illegal detentions at home and abroad, and Bush’s violations of the Geneva Conventions.
What’s unthinkable is to let him and Cheney get away with it all.