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Mark Schmitt: Constitutional Crisis

Mark Schmitt: Constitutional Crisis

I'm grateful to Steve for inviting me to fill in at The Washington Note. I've been encouraging Steve for a few weeks to make the leap across the thin barrier that separates the Bolton nomination from the Rove-Plame scandal. Being a very responsible, seasoned foreign policy professional, however, Steve hesitates to go further than the available information justifies. And while I admire that restraint, I'm glad Steve has allowed his blog to be temporarily held hostage by people like me with a little more penchant for speculation.

But rather than get into all the micro-details of the Plame scandal and the all-important question of just what Judy Miller is in jail for, let's pull the camera back for a minute and see where this is going:

A comment on my blog, The Decembrist, has left me with a real sense of foreboding:

I'm afraid that we are headed for a very serious constitutional crisis, in which the administration essentially tries to halt a legitimate inquiry into real crimes.
Let's think of it this way: None of us really know what's going on in the Plame investigation. We are all having fun piecing together known facts and strong probabilities to create some workable hypotheses (and no one is doing this better, by the way, than emptywheel writing at The Next Hurrah), but we are all working with only a fraction of the information that the prosecutor has.

So at some point this fall, the prosecutor will show his hand. And it could be largely anti-climactic. While it seems much less likely than it did a few months ago that he will conclude that no crime was committed and just issue a report, it's still quite possible that the indictments will be limited, tangential, and will not go to the heart of the administration. Ari Fleischer, for example, is expendable at this point, which is perhaps why there was some effort to shift attention to his role, if he even had one.

If that's the outcome, fine. No one can say that the investigation was less than thorough.

But there's also a good chance that it ends in multiple indictments of multiple people, not only for the actual disclosure in July 2003, but also for obstruction of justice, which could include destruction or falsification of documents during the 12 hour "Gonzales window" as well as perjury before the grand jury or lying to the FBI in the investigation itself.

Let's say there's a 50-50 chance that this is either less of a big deal than we expect, or more of a big deal.

If it's the latter, do we really expect that the administration will simply sit back and let the process play out? There's no indication so far that that's going to happen. They regard the entire enterprise as illegitimate, and have never hesitated to let their proxies say as much. They share the view recently expressed by Michael Barone that "Richard Nixon...unwittingly colluded in the successful attempt to besmirch his administration." Unlike Bill Clinton, who passively fumed but cooperated when subject to relentless investigations of non-crimes, they are not going to sit back and allow an investigation of real crimes, profound crimes, to take its toll. What will happen, I don't know. But the prediction of a real constitutional crisis seems to me not entirely outlandish.

I don't want to sound like one of those people who was predicting last year that Bush would cancel the election on specious homeland security grounds if he thought he was going to lose. They don't entirely disrespect the rule of law. But they don't respect this aspect of it, or this particular investigation, and if the second outcome is the end result of the Rove-Plame investigation, we could be in for a very serious showdown.

-- Mark Schmitt



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I’ve had it in my mind for quite some time that this group does not intend to surrender power. In a way they can’t because, once out of office, war crime trials are a real possibility. My scenario involved a “terrorist attack’ (the bloodier the better) followed by the declaration of marshal law. The Fitzgerald jury may short circuit this process and provoke the crisis earlier than the neocons had planned. The only way they could get away with a non-violent coup would be if everyone in the chain were corrupt, including the military and the judiciary.

According to CNN, BushCo is planning to do what it does best,
which is to cheat, on the Bolton nomination. Since they can't
get the nomination through congress, they wait until a recess
and abuse their power to put him in anyway.

According to this article, a recess appointment would put Bolton in the UN until at least January 2007.

From my understanding of his "patriarchal" dysfunctional style of
bullying management, he would be able to abuse his power on the
security council and effectly neutralize any interference from the
UN against BushCo and the PNAC NEO CON plans of conquest.

After all, with the USSR no longer an obstacle, the only things
standing in the way of these "New World Order Corporate Supermen"
is the United States Government (now compromised and in debt) and
the United Nations (which has been the target of NEO CON Fundamentalist propaganda . .. "The UN is the One World Government of the Anti-Christ!!" - typical Sunday morning rhetoric in the bible belt.)

So, CIA/MI5/Mossad detonates a nuke on US soil, BushCO exercises
the new FEMA powers of martial law, Bolton blocks every motion on the
UN floor, and the US starts dropping nukes on Iran.

Instead of "Seven Days in May", . . we have "Seven Days in August."
When are those FEMA region IV exercises starting this month?

How's that for a coup d'etat screen play? After all, all the world's a stage. ;-)

Good one. Douglas ‘n’ Lancaster.

Our real ace in the hole is the internet. I think we should spread this “terrorist event

to Bully Boy Bolton... could you see even one of Bush pro-life voters buying any of this diplothug by now? Bolton IS a "terrorist event"...Bush is sparing us all the trouble of blogging our brains out this time.

Your grandfathers and their sons fought for nothing. You are either with them or against them. Soon the trains will fill up with the poor headed to the gas chambers. Bush is giving the whole world the finger.

Freeze dry those bodies rather than burn them.

Why DO we need all those FEMA concentration camps???

I've been sitting on my urge to scream. We don't even have a militia that I know of in my town. The national guard is gone. In time of war there's always been home militia, just for emergencies. I think it's interesting how naked we are.

I think we can do this through more civil means. Awareness is a potent weapon.

I would like to think so too. The thing is, you have thugs to whom torture is a means to a justifiable end and who have no problem eating our children to accomplish that end.

the high road>>>we outnumber the thugs

The high road-> Boycott sponsors of the thugs and their mouthpieces (Oreilly, Scarborough, etc.)!


The New York Times had an editorial about the Saudi royal family. They own the oil and all the country's wealth. They stay in power by professing support for Islam and giving the poor masses a religion to believe in as a substitute for individual success.

George Bush and his royal family of loyalist and big business leaders have adopted this as their own model to achieve absolute power over our country.

if there was ever a question of the courts being corrupt, it should have been dispelled by the decision in Gore v. Bush in 2000.

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