What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 26, 2006

John Dean on Impeachment

Here at Findlaw. First off, let's start with what Dean doesn't think can happen:
There Is No Chance Either Bush or Cheney Will Be Removed From Office

The Republican Congress shamed itself when it impeached and tried President William Jefferson Clinton. It was a repeat of what an earlier Republican Congress had done to President Andrew Johnson, following the Civil War. Both proceedings were politics at their ugliest.

Democrats, when they undertook to impeach Richard Nixon, moved very slowly, building bipartisan support for the undertaking. Nixon, of course, resigned, when it became apparent that the House had the votes to impeach and the Senate had the votes to convict, with his removal supported by Democrats and Republicans, and conservatives and liberals alike.

Getting the necessary two-thirds supermajority in support of impeachment in today's Senate, which is virtually evenly-divided politically, is simply not possible. With forty-nine senators of the 110th Congress members in good standing with the Republican Party, and most of them rock-ribbed conservatives, even if the House produced evidence of Cheney personally water-boarding "Gitmo" detainees in the basement of his home at the Naval Observatory, with Bush looking on approvingly, there are more than thirty-three GOP Senators who still would not vote to convict. (Senate Republicans who have no problem with torture, or with removing the right to habeas corpus, and who refused to exercise any oversight whatsoever of Bush or Cheney, are hardly going to remove these men for actions in which they too are complicit.)
Personally I'd say, fine - let them go on record voting in favor of the Administration's high crimes and misdemeanors - even if the attempt fails. But hey that's just me.

Dean, however, has other targets.
The Constitution's Impeachment Clause applies to all "civil officers of the United States" - not to mention the president, vice president and federal judges. It is not clear who, precisely, is among those considered "civil officers," but the group certainly includes a president's cabinet and sub-cabinet, as well as the senior department officials and the White House staff (those who are issued commissions by the president and serve the President and Vice President).

Quite obviously, Bush and Cheney have not acted alone in committing "high crimes and misdemeanors." Take a hypothetical (and there are many): Strong arguments have been made that many members of the Bush Administration - not merely Bush and Cheney -- have engaged in war crimes. If war crimes are not "high crimes and misdemeanors," it is difficult to imagine what might be. Jordan Paust, a well-know expert on the laws of war and a professor at University of Houston Law Center, has written a number of scholarly essays that mince few words about the war crimes of Bush's subordinates. For example, many of their names are on the "torture memos."
Ok. There's another benefit of impeaching "civil officers":
Many of these men (and a few women) are young enough that it is very likely that they will return to other posts in future Republican Administrations, and based on their experience in the Bush/Cheney Administration, they can be expected to make the offensive conduct of this presidency the baseline for the next president they serve. Impeachment, however, would prevent that from happening.

It will be recalled that Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution states: "Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States." (Emphasis added.) After any civil officer has been impeached, under the rules of the Senate, it requires only a simple majority vote to add the disqualification from holding future office.
Makes complete sense. For the sake of the system itself, something needs to be done.

Dean ends with:
While this is all possible in theory, it will only happen in practice if the Democrats have recovered from what CNN's Candy Crowley called their "wuss" phase, meaning, of course, their lack of backbone. The Republican Congress let Bush, Cheney & Company literally get away with murder and torture. We must all hope that the Democrats have recovered from their spinal problems, and that they will bring the invisible Congress back into play as what it is, and ought to act like: a constitutional co-equal. There would be no better way to do it than to commence impeachment proceedings against any on a potentially very long list of civil officers of the Bush Administration who should be removed from government, and disqualified from future opportunities to misuse government powers.
I could not agree more.

I'll say it again - IMPEACH

1 comment:

Schmuck Shitrock said...

Dave, we just finished what I thought was an excellent debate on this subject over at TPM Cafe. I'm thinking that 2PJers will enjoy reading it.

See if you can figure out which of the participants is your humble servant.