It’s time to put impeachment back on the table.
Write to Pelosi or call her: (202) 225-0100 and leave her a message.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken impeachment “off the table,” in line with Official Washington’s view that trying to oust George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would be an unpleasant waste of time. But there is emerging a compelling logic that an unprecedented dual impeachment might be vital to the future of the United States.
If some historic challenge is not made to the extraordinary assertions of power by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, the United States might lose its status as a democratic Republic based on a Constitution that adheres to the twin principles that no one is above the law and everyone is endowed with inalienable rights.
Over the past six-plus years, Bush has trampled on these traditional concepts of liberty and the rule of law time and again, even as he professes his love of freedom and democracy. Indeed, in Bush’s world, the word “freedom” has come to define almost its classical opposite.
Bush’s “freedom” means the right of the Executive to imprison enemies of the state indefinitely without charge and without even the centuries-old right of habeas corpus; Bush’s “freedom” tolerates coercion, torture or what the Founders called “cruel and unusual punishment” to extract confessions from detainees; it countenances surveillance of anyone – citizen and non-citizen alike – without a requirement for judicial review or evidence of probable cause that a crime is being committed; it sees no problem with the government and its private-sector allies teaming up to silence dissent.
Bush’s “freedom” also embraces the notion of a Commander in Chief acting as a quasi-dictator possessing “plenary” – or unlimited – powers in wartime, deciding which human beings on the planet get basic rights and which ones don’t.
Given the indefinite and boundless nature of the “war on terror,” which could last forever and extends to a global battlefield (including U.S. territory), Bush’s presidential powers also don’t represent just a temporary suspension of the Constitution in the face of a short-term emergency, but rather a permanent change in the American system of government.
After all, if one man possesses unlimited power, that means the rest of us hold our personal liberties at the leader’s forbearance, much as feudal subjects lived at the pleasure of the monarch, not as citizens who could stand up to the ruler with the firm knowledge that their basic rights of life and liberty were unshakeable.
As the so-called “unitary executive,” Bush asserts further his right to enforce the laws selectively, protecting friends and punishing enemies – and most of all, putting himself and his senior aides beyond the reach of the law.
Under these theories of presidential powers, Bush can ignore domestic laws, international treaty commitments and even the Constitution when he deems it necessary. Sometimes he just waives a law by issuing a “signing statement” declaring he won’t be bound by its restrictions. Other times, he makes ad hoc judgments as the mood suits him.
[For more on Bush’s assertions of power, see the new book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, co-authored by Robert Parry.]
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