It needs to be done. Here's enough for a rationale. A few tidbits:
BRUCE FEIN: More worrisome than Clinton's-- because he is seeking more institutionally to cripple checks and balances and the authority of Congress and the judiciary to superintend his assertions of power. He has claimed the authority to tell Congress they don't have any right to know what he's doing with relation to spying on American citizens, using that information in any way that he wants in contradiction to a federal statute called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He's claimed authority to say he can kidnap people, throw them into dungeons abroad, dump them out into Siberia without any political or legal accountability. These are standards that are totally anathema to a democratic society devoted to the rule of law.
BRUCE FEIN: In the past, presidents like Abe Lincoln, who confronted a far dire emergency in the Civil War than today, sought congressional ratification approval of his emergency measures. He didn't seek to hide them from the people and from Congress and to prevent there to be accountability. And, of course, Congress did ratify what he had done. Secondly, sure, times can be terrifying. But that also should alert us to the fact that we can make mistakes. The executive can make mistakes.
Take World War II. We locked up 120,000 Japanese Americans, said they were all disloyal. Well, we got 120,000 mistakes.
BILL MOYERS: This is the first time I've heard talk of impeaching both a president and a vice-president. I mean, this-- as you saw in that poll, more people want to impeach Dick Cheney than George Bush. What's going on?
BRUCE FEIN: Well, this is an unusual affair of president/vice-president, where the vice-president is de facto president most of the time. And that's why most of people recognize that these decisions, especially when it comes to overreaching with executive power, are the product of Dick Cheney and his aide, David Addington, not George Bush and Alberto Gonzalez or Harriet Miers, who don't have the cerebral capacity to think of these devilish ideas.
BILL MOYERS: I served a president who went to war on his own initiative, and it was a mess, Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson. There wasn't serious talk about impeaching Lyndon Johnson or Hubert Humphrey. Something is different today.
BRUCE FEIN: Yeah, of course, the-- difference is one thing to claim that, you know, Gulf of Tonkin resolution, was too broadly drafted. But we're talking about assertions of power that affect the individual liberties of every American citizen. Opening your mail, your e-mails, your phone calls. Breaking and entering your homes. Creating a pall of fear and intimidation if you say anything against the president you may find retaliation very quickly. We're claiming he's setting precedents that will lie around like loaded weapons anytime there's another 9/11.
Right now the victims are people whose names most Americans can't pronounce. And that's why they're not so concerned. They will start being Browns and Jones and Smiths. And that precedent is being set right now. And one of the dangers that I see is it's not just President Bush but the presidential candidates for 2008 aren't standing up and saying--
BRUCE FEIN: --"If I'm president, I won't imitate George Bush." That shows me that this is a far deeper problem than Mr. Bush and Cheney.
JOHN NICHOLS: Plotted out of the vice-president's office without question. Notations of the vice-president on news articles saying, "Let's go get this guy." Right? You know, you can't have that and not have a media going and saying to the president at press conferences, you know, "Aren't-- isn't what you're doing a violation of the Constitution?" Now, just imagine if the-- if the members of the White House Press Corps on a regular basis were saying to Tony Snow, "But hasn't what the president's done here violated the Constitution?" The whole national dialogue would shift. And Congress itself would suddenly become a better player. So I'm not absolving Congress. I'm certainly not absolving Bush and Cheney. But I am saying that we have a media problem here as well.
BRUCE FEIN: Let me underscore one of the things that you remember, Bill, 'cause I was there at the time of Watergate. And this relates to one political-- official in the White House, Sara Taylor's testimony. And claiming that George Bush could tell her to be silent.
BILL MOYERS: That was a great moment when Sara Taylor said, "I took an oath to uphold the president." Did you see that?
BRUCE FEIN: Yes. And that was like the military in Germany saying, "My oath is to the Fuhrer, not to the country." She took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I did, too, when I was in the government. There's no oath that says, "I'm loyal to a president even if he defiles the Constitution."
Now, go read the rest. Remember, Bruce Fein wrote the impeachment articles against Bill Clinton. Emphasis mine. I once shared a couple of beer with John Nichols up in Ashland, Wisco. Mrs. coldH2O invited him up to speak to the annual meeting of the local chapter of The League of Women Voters. He accepted, drove up in very cold, wintry conditions & gave a good speech. We then went, with another couple & Mr. Nichols, out for the drinks. He's a smart, regular guy. Now, my loyal four readers, go read the rest of the interview Bill Moyers did with Fein & Nichols.
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