By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
As Bush&Co. isolate themselves even further in the White House Bunker with their lies, scandals, coverups and unending wars, they’re becoming even more reckless and dangerous to America and its citizens. That behavior shouldn’t be all that surprising: That’s what happens when vicious animals are cornered.
Domestically, they’re no longer even trying to hide their aversion to democracy and the Constitution. With his new Executive Order on “executive privilege,” for example, Bush openly proclaims that he is untouchable by the rule of law; now there are only two branches of government– the Legislative Branch is ignored as irrelevant — and CheneyBush more or less control them both. More on this issue below.
Abroad, the CheneyBush Administration is preparing in the Fall to escalate the Iraq War yet again, at the same time the propaganda machine is being revved-up in preparation for a coming attack on Iran. Both actions will help jihadi-recruiting and thus put at risk even more U.S. troops abroad and citizens at home. Plus, an attack on Iran will have far-reaching consequences with regard to Russia, China, the availability of oil, the rise of the Euro in international trade and the concomitant fall of the dollar, the impact on the U.S. economy, etc. etc.; has Bush&Co. given serious thought to any of these, and other, ramifications?
So, once again, I pose the question to previous Bush voters, to centrists and Independents and traditionally conservative Republicans: Do you finally get it? Do you understand now why the HardRight CheneyBush Administration has sunk so low in the polls and has little hope of ever getting out, thus taking the Republican Party (and, if you’re an elected official, you) down the drain with them in 2008? Do you understand why, since CheneyBush will not resign, impeachment is the only constitutional way to pry their corrupt, itchy fingers from the levers of power?
Some examples here of why we’re near the impeachment tipping-point, and why more and true conservative Republicans (among them many elite movers and shakers) are abandoning this sinking ship in record numbers and coming to understand that it’s too risky to permit Cheney and Bush to stay in power through January 2009.
FOUNDING FATHERS & IMPEACHMENT
Though they tried for the longest time to hide it, the Bush Administration is operating on the discredited claim that the President is above the law — nay, IS the law. (Nixon tried the same assertion when he was President — “If the President does it, it is not illegal” — and the Supreme Court shot him down quickly.) Cheney and Alberto Gonzales devised a theory of governance that claims the President can do whatever he wants, violate whatever laws he wants, when he’s acting as “Commander-in-Chief” during “wartime.”
Since the self-proclaimed “war” is an open-ended, permanent “war on terror,” this theory effectively turns the presidency into a 17th-century monarchy. (Further evidence of how far into the cult of personality we’ve come: According to former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, his press releases had to mention Bush “three times per page.”)
The Founding Fathers came to this country because they’d been maltreated by despotic rulers and then, as colonists, fought a war to establish their independence from a tyrannical king. There was no way to legitimately overthrow a dictatorial monarch, but they noted six times in the Constitution the one way it could be done in the new United States of America: impeachment. If an elected leader went way beyond the constitutional limits and thus was endangering the country — in short, wa involved in high crimes and misdemeanors — he could be, he should be, impeached before the House and tried in the Senate.
Impeachment of the president has happened only three times in our nation’s history, most recently when the Republicans went after Bill Clinton for sexual behavior that most Americans agreed did not rise to the level of a high crime affecting the state.
But the alleged high crimes and misdemeanors of Cheney and Bush are directly tied to authoritarian behavior that led to, and continues to result in, death and destruction of our soldiers abroad and the mangling and shredding of our Constitutional protections and the rule of law.
EVIDENCE OF CRIMES IS SECRET
This week, persuant to Congressional committee subpoenas for documents with which to investigate various White House scandals, Bush upped the Constitutional crisis. He is preparing to assert in an Executive Order that the Legislative Branch could pass all the contempt citations it wants, but U.S. Attorneys would be instructed not to pursue these criminal charges when the President says that documents are off-limits because of “executive privilege.” In short, the Legislative Branch would be receiving no documents, nada, zilch.
Cheney, several weeks earlier, refused to produce documents demanded under law by the National Archives since, he claimed, he was not part of the Executive Branch. Former White House Counsel Harriet Miers likewise refused for the second time to abide by a subpoena to appear before a House investigatory panel examining the politicized firing of U.S. Attorneys. Yep, “executive privilege” again.
What Bush and Cheney are saying, clearly and arrogantly, is: You’ll never get the evidentiary documents or testimony you’re looking for. If you want ’em, you’ll have to take us to court, and we can stall and appeal forever until one of our hand-picked courts backs our position. Or you can put impeachment back “on the table” and try to get us in front of your House panel, and that ain’t gonna happen either. Just lie back and enjoy it.
BUSH: “L’ETAT C’EST MOI”
In the CheneyBush Administration, there will be no oversight of the Executive Branch. Ever. We are honest public servants in the White House; you must trust us when we say that we are not engaged in wrongdoing. L’Etat c’est moi. Just move along, nothing to see here.
Since there is no way to vote this corrupted crew out of power until the next general election 15 months from now, the only Constitutional method for some restoration of our representative democracy is, indeed, impeachment and removal upon conviction.
Only then might we return to the Founders’ brilliant checks-and-balances system, where no one branch of government would be able to exercise too much power over the others.
SHUTTING DOWN DISSENT
Bush also issued two other ambiguous, problematic executive orders this past week. Each seems to be one thing but the ramifications may make them something else again.
The first executive order deals with cracking down on those organizations and individuals that, in the Administration’s eyes, “threaten stablization efforts in Iraq”; but ##the wording is so vague as to leave open the possibility that legitimate dissenters and peace organizations might have their property seized and/or will be arrested for opposing the war. In other words, this executive order gives the Executive Branch yet another weapon with which to deal with its political enemies, should it choose to do so. It already has the power, approved by the Congress, to enter your computer and read your mail and spy on your phone calls, and also the power to declare a national emergency and rule by martial law. Can anyone spell the F-word?
The second executive order last week seemed to be bowing to public pressure to end the Administration’s fascination with torture and humiliation of “unlawful combatants” in its care. But a closer reading of this ambiguous document reveals that it never really goes into what forms of “enhanced interrogation techniques” are still permitted. “Waterboarding” (nearly drowning a prisoner), for example, may or may not be on the approved list. But without Congress insisting on carrying out its mandated oversight responsibilities, we may never find out.
ABUSING THE POWER TO MAKE WAR
Another compelling reason for moving quickly now to bring Cheney and Bush before an impeachment panel of the House is their reckless, dangerous behavior in having started one war and their movement towards starting another.
The first war, on Iraq, was based on lies and deceptions. CheneyBush’s continual escalation, and their current “do-over” war, demonstrate that no amount of “surging” and draconian occupation can bring peace to a land wracked by major civil/sectarian divisions.
The war they are planning, probably in coordination with Israel, is aimed at destroying Iran’s nuclear installations and scientific infrastructure, thus setting back by at least a decade or two Iran’s military ambitions and growing political influence in the Middle East.
The Bush Administration’s neo-conservatives — of which Cheney is the most ideological and bloodthirsty adherent — are working like crazy to foment that war against Iran.
IRAN WAR WOULD BE LUNATIC
These guys never learn. They gave up on the one war they might possibly have won — the one in Afghanistan against the Taliban and Al-Qaida — and moved their troops precipitately to Iraq, which was no danger to the U.S.; now the Afghanistan war has flared up again, with the Taliban re-energized. Based on lies and deceits, the CheneyBush Administration invaded and occupied Iraq with no real understanding of that society and with no Plan B in case they ran into trouble; now they’re in deep, deep trouble and won’t change course.
The CheneyBush desire to start a third war in Iran is absolutely nuts, and will further damage America’s military and political position in the region and around the world, and will lead to even more terrorist activity directed at the U.S.
This analysis does not even go into the likelihood that Turkey might well invade Iraq to keep the Kurds from gaining enough military and political strength to move on Kurdistan statehood. Or that the U.S. might unlilaterally attack the resurgent Al-Qaida forces in the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan, or force the Musharaff government to do so, in either instance leading to the fall of that government to Islamist extremists who would then have their hands on deliverable nuclear weaponry. Or that Russia, anxious to slow down the further deterioration of its old empire and influence, including in the Greater Middle East, is starting to take on Western Europe and the U.S.
CheneyBush policy is all of reckless piece. Stick an iron pipe into the Greater Middle East bees’ nest, move it around agitatingly, and see if you can extract the honey. Little or no thought about what horrific stinging and chaos might follow. Just keep sticking more pipes into more bees’ nests all around the region. Then, a year or two later, wonder about how this mess happened and whom to scapegoat for all the death and destruction.
Short summary: America, the world, can’t take much more of the CheneyBush Administration. It’s long since time to rein in their extreme assumption and exercise of power, and to bring them into accountability for the high crimes and misdemeanors they’ve committed. The only Constitutional way of doing that is to institute impeachment hearings in the House. The sooner the better.
Pelosi and Conyers have given some indication they might be willing to reconsider the “i” word, given the public acceptance of the idea, so one can expect that the public pressure on this issue will continue. As it should if we are to have any hope at all for America’s future.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, was a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for two decades, and currently is co-editor of The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). To comment: email@example.com .
First published by The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 7/24/07.
Copyright 2007 by Bernard Weiner.