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McClellan Testimony Highlights Bush's Crimes -- It's Time for Genuine Accountability
By Rep. Robert Wexler, Huffington Post
The testimony of Scott McClellan this past Friday in the House Judiciary Committee marked an important step forward for Congress in the battle to fully expose the crimes of the Bush/Cheney Administration and finally hold this White House accountable for its appalling actions that have weakened our constitution and our government. I am only sorry that we are taking this step so late in President Bush's term in office. However, I am pleased that history will at the very least document the shocking revelations that Mr. McClellan testified to on Friday. Scott McClellan under oath last week agreed with me that it is a likely possibility that Vice President Dick Cheney was the individual who authorized the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's covert status. Mr. McClellan also said that he believes more White House officials should come before Congress and reveal the truth about this Administration's actions. McClellan's testimony underscores a simple reality: We must dig deeper.
The fact that much of what McClellan testified to on Friday is already known and reported on in the press should not diminish its import. We have a formerly loyal top official in the Bush White House stating under oath that the Bush Administration carried out a campaign of lying and misstatements to trick Congress and the American people into war in Iraq. This former White House Press Secretary states that Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby and Karl Rove likely engaged in behavior that amounts to obstruction of justice regarding the leaking of the identity of covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson.
McClellan's testimony only touched the tip of the iceberg regarding the corrupt actions of the Bush Administration. As I have written about in my new book Fire-Breathing Liberal - How I learned to Survive (and Thrive) in the Contact Sport of Congress, this Administration has done more to weaken the balance of powers established by the Founding Fathers than any previous White House. In both domestic and foreign policy this cabal of right-wing true believers have violated our laws and our Constitution. Just this year it was revealed that the highest levels of the Administration including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Colon Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld approved and ordered the torture of prisoners and thereby violated US law, our commitments to international treaties, and vanquished whatever remaining moral authority our nation held in the eyes of the global community. The list goes on and on and includes hiding and censoring scientific findings on global warming and the blatantly political firing of US attorneys.
Earlier this year I began a nationwide campaign to hold impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney (and I have recently expanded my efforts to push for hearings for Bush as well.) Although the national media completely ignored these efforts, over a quarter of a million Americans did not and signed a petition of support on my site Wexlerwantshearings.com in order to advocate for accountability for this rouge Administration.
Just imagine, ten short years ago our media was obsessed with details of Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp and Republicans in Congress actually impeached a popular President of the United States because he had an affair and lied about it. Today we have a President and a Vice President that went to war on false pretenses, illegally ordered the torture of prisoners, obstructed justice by lying about the outing of a covert CIA agent, fired US Attorneys for political reasons, and authorized warrantless spying on American citizens. This president and vice-president took countless despicable actions that surely amount to high crimes and yet the media yawns and even the vast majority of Democrats in Congress are simply uninterested. This arrogant Administration simply does not respect the constitutional powers of Congress and by their actions -- and by our reluctance to respond -- we threaten to forever weaken the power of Congress. As you know, current and former Bush Administration officials have simply refused to testify before Congress even when subpoenaed.
This has never happened before in the history of our nation. Never before have high level executive officials refused to even appear before Congress when properly summoned by the Legislative Branch. The House of Representatives has held former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten in contempt of Congress for their failure to appear and a lawsuit is ongoing in order to force their appearance. I think we must do more. I have called for Karl Rove -- who has also refused to testify -- to be held in inherent contempt and for the other renegade officials such as Miers and Bolten to appear as required by their subpoenas or be forced to do so by the House Sergeant of Arms. The power of inherent contempt is lawful whereas the refusal of Miers and Bolten is not. Congress must stand up for itself against this executive abuse of power.
It is now the time for Democrats to be breathing more fire. We need to show the American people that they chose correctly when they returned our party to majority status in Congress. As I argue in my book, when we give Americans a stark choice -- progressive values and policies will carry the day against the defeated ideas and old politics of the Bush Administration and the vanquished GOP Congressional majority.
I hope that the McClellan hearing will only be the beginning of an effort for genuine accountability rather than a culmination of the effort. We owe it to the American people and history to pursue the wrongdoing of this Administration whether or not it helps us politically or in the next election. Our actions will properly define the Bush Administration in the eyes of history and that is the true test.