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Democrats Need to Advocate for Impeachment Proceedings in the House, Before Bush/Cheney Leave Office
Democrats need to advocate for impeachment proceedings in the House, before Bush/Cheney leave office
By Karen Rubin
Countless editorials and op-ed pieces have described the flurry of activity in the Bush Administration to cement into law and entangle the incoming Obama Administration with regulations that continues the pattern of pro-Corporation, anti-environment, anti-civil rights rule-making that the electorate effectively rejected in 2006 and 2008.
That is why even in these waning days of the Bush/Cheney Administration, to save the Republic, the House must act to impeach Bush & Cheney now, even in these final days, even in what is called the lame duck presidency.
In the first place, even as a lame duck, Bush is still abusing his powers by signing regulations that will entangle the next Administration, effectively canceling out the will of the people as expressed in this tidal wave election.
Through the use of Presidential pardons, he is also likely to prevent any future accountability of underlings who outed CIA agent Valerie Plame, eavesdropped on Americans, illegally incarcerated without charges and tortured people including legal residents in violation of federal and international laws, waged politically motivated prosecutions, and committed war crimes. A partial list would include Rumsfeld, Cheney, Libby, Gonzales, and Rove - all of whom would receive sweeping "indulgences" against any prosecution.
The only prevention against this is impeachment.
But most importantly, if Bush is not impeached, his violation of his oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution - deceiving Congress and the American people in order to launch a preemptive invasion of an unarmed sovereign nation which did not act against the U.S., for example, spying on Americans without warrant, incarcerating people in violation of habeas corpus, inflicting torture; and possibly most significantly, his assertion that a President can use signing statements to reverse or change the intent of legislation passed by Congress and his assertion of a right of a Unitary Executive expressly negating the checks-and-balances so carefully framed by our Founders - will be allowed to stand as precedent. No future Congress will be able to challenge these powers.
President Obama may or may not choose to follow Bush's mold, but there is no guarantee that a future President will not exert these powers and take them even further. In fact, there is a likelihood that a future president will press the boundaries even further.
Cheney absolutely must be impeached for abuse of power, essentially re-inventing the office of the Vice President in contradiction of the Constitution. The Constitution's core principle is to insure no one branch and certainly no one person would have unchecked power. As it stands, a future Vice President will have no accountability to any branch of government, not even the President and especially not the Congress and not the people.
Despite Rep. Kucinich's well articulated 35 articles of impeachment, Democrats who regained the Majority between 2006 and 2008 refused to pursue impeachment, arguing that this would be seen as "unseemly" partisanship, and would prevent any positive work on the part of the Democratically-controlled Congress, and secondly, that resentment might impact adversely the outcome of the 2008 Presidential and Congressional elections. These characterizations were certainly true of the 1998 Clinton Impeachment, which was singularly partisan and designed to stop any positive action by the Clinton Administration.
But even after Democrats became the Majority in 2006, the Republicans were able to effectively shut down most of the "positive work", using the filibuster in record numbers to stop cold Congress' action in the Senate, and what did sneak through was vetoed by Bush, but more nefariously, subjected to a "signing statement" which negated or completely reversed the intent of the will of the people.
Moreover, in these waning days of a failed presidency, with his numbers probably as low as they could go, Bush seems to be pulling out the stops to complete the transformation he set out to do when he first started - unraveling environmental protections, strengthening corporate interests, negating civil rights, and more.
Now, there is little to be achieved by this Lame Duck Congress that can be more important than regaining the rule of law for our Republic by moving to impeach Bush and Cheney, even if it never gets voted on by the Senate. This doesn't have to be long and drawn out - Andrew Johnson was impeached after just three days of argument in the House.
This must be done in the House before Jan. 20.
What is important is that a future President and Vice President know they will be held accountable.