''What the President Ordered in This Case Was a Crime"


V

Voter

''What the President Ordered in This Case Was a Crime"
by John Nichols

While Judge Sam Alito's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee has
confirmed that he is not one of their number, a dwindling cadre of public
servants still take seriously the dictates of the Constitution and the
intents of it authors. And there is no more serious dictate of the document
-- and no more solidly established intent -- than the one that requires the
Congress to serve as a check and a balance against the excesses of the
executive branch. Most particularly in a time of war, the founders intended
for the Congress to question, challenge and constrain the president and his
aides so that never again would Americans be subjected to the illegitimate,
unwarranted and illegal dictates of a King George.

This mandate, so well-established and so thoroughly grounded in history and
tradition, places a particularly high demand on the chairman of the House
Judiciary Committee. It is in the House, the Constitution tells us, that
the work of holding an out-of-control president to account, must begin --
and it is on the Judiciary Committee that the process is initiated.

The committee's current chair, Representative James Sensenbrenner,
R-Wisconsin, should understand this charge better than most. After all, he
was at the center of the effort in 1998 and 1999 to impeach former
President Bill Clinton.

No matter what one thought of the Clinton impeachment process, it should
now be beyond debate that if the misdeeds of the former president required
both examination and action by the Judiciary Committee -- as Sensenbrenner
so obvioualy believed-- then the misdeeds of the current president must
surely merit a similar response.

The memory of the Clinton impeachment has already inspired the most
delicious sloganeering, beginning with the t-shirt that declares:
"Impeachment: It's Not Just for Oral Sex Anymore." But this is about more
than t-shirts and fingerpointing. As the chair of the Judiciary Committee,
Sensenbrenner has a Constitutionally-mandated responsibility to take
seriously the charges of executive lawbreaking and impropriety that are
currently in play. If he cannot execute this responsibility in a reasoned
and bipartisan manner, then he has a duty to step aside.

That is a serious choice. But, surely, the issues that are at stake demand
such seriousness -- as the American people have clearly indicated. A new
Zogby Poll shows that 52 percent of Americas believe that, if George Bush
violated the law when he ordered security agencies to engage in warrantless
wiretaps on the communications of U.S. citizens who were accused of no
crimes, the president should be impeached. So widespread is this faith that
almost one quarter of those who identified themselves as "very
conservative" expressed support for impeachment as a response to the spying
scandal.

So far, however, Sensenbrenner has allowed his partisanship to prevent him
from even beginning to execute his Constitutional duties. When Democratic
members of the Judiciary Committee demanded that the body conduct an
inquiry into illegal spying by the Bush administration, Sensenbrenner
refused them.

Because of the consequence of the issues involved, Representative John
Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the committee, convened an extraordinary
session last week without the official sanction that only the committee
chairman can convey.

"Last month all 17 House Judiciary Democrats called on Chairman
Sensenbrenner to convene hearings to investigate the President's use of the
National Security Agency to conduct surveillance involving U.S. citizens on
U.S. soil, in apparent contravention of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act. As our request has since been ignored, it is our job, as
Members of Congress, to review the program and consider whether our
criminal laws have been violated and our citizen's constitutional rights
trampled upon," explained Conyers, who has played a critical role in
investigations of wrongdoing by Democratic and Republican presidents since
the days when Lyndon Johnson occupied the White House. "We simply cannot
tolerate a situation where the Administration is operating as prosecutor,
judge and jury and excluding Congress and the courts from providing any
meaningful check or balance to the process."

Members of Congress who attended the hearing -- Conyers and a half dozen
other Democrats -- heard George Washington University law professor
Jonathan Turley refer to the wiretapping ordered by Bush as ''an
intelligence operation in search of a legal rationale." Without a doubt,
Turley added, ''What the president ordered in this case was a crime," said
Turley, who bluntly told the gathering that Sensenbrenner and other House
Republicans have set a dangerous precedent by refusing to permit oversight
hearings.

Turley's comments on the troubling nature of the president's wiretapping
initiative -- and the failure of House Republicans to aggressively
investigate and challenge that initiative -- were echoed by Bruce Fein, who
served as a deputy Attorney General for the Reagan administration. In
addition to suggesting that the implausibility of Bush's claim that he was
acting within the law should be self evident, Fein warned presidential
powers must always be regulated in order to halt abuses of the moment and
to prevent the development over time of an imperial presidency that can no
longer be checked by Congress.

The Conyers hearing had an impact on the members who bothered to attend it.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, the senior Democrat on the
Judiciary Committee's panel on the Constitution, responded to the testimony
by announcing that the Judiciary Committee needs to explore whether
President Bush should be the subject of an impeachment inquiry for high
crimes and misdemeanors stemming from his authorization of illegal spying.

Sensenbrenner might well disagree with that assessment. He has every right
to such a sentiment. But he does not have a right to prevent the Judiciary
Committee as a whole from entertaining these most fundamental questions
about the abuse of presidential power. If Sensenbrenner does not recognize
this standard, then he has no place chairing the committee that is charged
with taking the lead in the application of Congressional checks and
balances -- up to and including impeachment -- as an antidote to executive
excess.

John Nichols, The Nation's Washington correspondent, has covered
progressive politics and activism in the United States and abroad for more
than a decade. He is currently the editor of the editorial page of Madison,
Wisconsin's Capital Times. Nichols is the author of two books: It's the
Media, Stupid and Jews for Buchanan.
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0124-26.htm
? 2006 The Nation
 
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V

Voter

''What the President Ordered in This Case Was a Crime"
by John Nichols

While Judge Sam Alito's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee has
confirmed that he is not one of their number, a dwindling cadre of public
servants still take seriously the dictates of the Constitution and the
intents of it authors. And there is no more serious dictate of the document
-- and no more solidly established intent -- than the one that requires the
Congress to serve as a check and a balance against the excesses of the
executive branch. Most particularly in a time of war, the founders intended
for the Congress to question, challenge and constrain the president and his
aides so that never again would Americans be subjected to the illegitimate,
unwarranted and illegal dictates of a King George.

This mandate, so well-established and so thoroughly grounded in history and
tradition, places a particularly high demand on the chairman of the House
Judiciary Committee. It is in the House, the Constitution tells us, that
the work of holding an out-of-control president to account, must begin --
and it is on the Judiciary Committee that the process is initiated.

The committee's current chair, Representative James Sensenbrenner,
R-Wisconsin, should understand this charge better than most. After all, he
was at the center of the effort in 1998 and 1999 to impeach former
President Bill Clinton.

No matter what one thought of the Clinton impeachment process, it should
now be beyond debate that if the misdeeds of the former president required
both examination and action by the Judiciary Committee -- as Sensenbrenner
so obvioualy believed-- then the misdeeds of the current president must
surely merit a similar response.

The memory of the Clinton impeachment has already inspired the most
delicious sloganeering, beginning with the t-shirt that declares:
"Impeachment: It's Not Just for Oral Sex Anymore." But this is about more
than t-shirts and fingerpointing. As the chair of the Judiciary Committee,
Sensenbrenner has a Constitutionally-mandated responsibility to take
seriously the charges of executive lawbreaking and impropriety that are
currently in play. If he cannot execute this responsibility in a reasoned
and bipartisan manner, then he has a duty to step aside.

That is a serious choice. But, surely, the issues that are at stake demand
such seriousness -- as the American people have clearly indicated. A new
Zogby Poll shows that 52 percent of Americas believe that, if George Bush
violated the law when he ordered security agencies to engage in warrantless
wiretaps on the communications of U.S. citizens who were accused of no
crimes, the president should be impeached. So widespread is this faith that
almost one quarter of those who identified themselves as "very
conservative" expressed support for impeachment as a response to the spying
scandal.

So far, however, Sensenbrenner has allowed his partisanship to prevent him
from even beginning to execute his Constitutional duties. When Democratic
members of the Judiciary Committee demanded that the body conduct an
inquiry into illegal spying by the Bush administration, Sensenbrenner
refused them.

Because of the consequence of the issues involved, Representative John
Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the committee, convened an extraordinary
session last week without the official sanction that only the committee
chairman can convey.

"Last month all 17 House Judiciary Democrats called on Chairman
Sensenbrenner to convene hearings to investigate the President's use of the
National Security Agency to conduct surveillance involving U.S. citizens on
U.S. soil, in apparent contravention of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act. As our request has since been ignored, it is our job, as
Members of Congress, to review the program and consider whether our
criminal laws have been violated and our citizen's constitutional rights
trampled upon," explained Conyers, who has played a critical role in
investigations of wrongdoing by Democratic and Republican presidents since
the days when Lyndon Johnson occupied the White House. "We simply cannot
tolerate a situation where the Administration is operating as prosecutor,
judge and jury and excluding Congress and the courts from providing any
meaningful check or balance to the process."

Members of Congress who attended the hearing -- Conyers and a half dozen
other Democrats -- heard George Washington University law professor
Jonathan Turley refer to the wiretapping ordered by Bush as ''an
intelligence operation in search of a legal rationale." Without a doubt,
Turley added, ''What the president ordered in this case was a crime," said
Turley, who bluntly told the gathering that Sensenbrenner and other House
Republicans have set a dangerous precedent by refusing to permit oversight
hearings.

Turley's comments on the troubling nature of the president's wiretapping
initiative -- and the failure of House Republicans to aggressively
investigate and challenge that initiative -- were echoed by Bruce Fein, who
served as a deputy Attorney General for the Reagan administration. In
addition to suggesting that the implausibility of Bush's claim that he was
acting within the law should be self evident, Fein warned presidential
powers must always be regulated in order to halt abuses of the moment and
to prevent the development over time of an imperial presidency that can no
longer be checked by Congress.

The Conyers hearing had an impact on the members who bothered to attend it.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, the senior Democrat on the
Judiciary Committee's panel on the Constitution, responded to the testimony
by announcing that the Judiciary Committee needs to explore whether
President Bush should be the subject of an impeachment inquiry for high
crimes and misdemeanors stemming from his authorization of illegal spying.

Sensenbrenner might well disagree with that assessment. He has every right
to such a sentiment. But he does not have a right to prevent the Judiciary
Committee as a whole from entertaining these most fundamental questions
about the abuse of presidential power. If Sensenbrenner does not recognize
this standard, then he has no place chairing the committee that is charged
with taking the lead in the application of Congressional checks and
balances -- up to and including impeachment -- as an antidote to executive
excess.

John Nichols, The Nation's Washington correspondent, has covered
progressive politics and activism in the United States and abroad for more
than a decade. He is currently the editor of the editorial page of Madison,
Wisconsin's Capital Times. Nichols is the author of two books: It's the
Media, Stupid and Jews for Buchanan.
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0124-26.htm
? 2006 The Nation

My apologies.

Sent to wrong group
 
H

Helen

[The Nation:
News and analysis on politics and culture from the LEFT!]

The poster should have indicated the source at the beginning
of his/her post - that would have explained it ALL and would
have save time, bandwidth and keystrokes!


The only problem with the Clinton Impeachment is the lack of
intestinal fortitude on the part of the Republicans to stick to
their guns and carry it through as it should have been for
that criminal. The permanent damage he did to this nation
far exceeds sexual improprieties and the utter contempt for
the office of the President of the United States.

As for wire taps and privacy - if you think that's new, then you
have either had your head in the sand or are totally without any
knowledge whatsoever of YOUR gobment since 1960!

Warrantless wiretaps have been common place for most of
my life. The hoopla today is mere political hay and nothing more.
It is a mere power struggle. If the Dems (and I once bought
their crap hook-line-and-sinker too....then I grew up) were
serious about the real meaning of the Constitution and their
responsibility they would have imprisoned Kennedy long ago.
Any time he opens his mouth about any thing, I recall not only
HOW he got to be a senator, but also HOW HE KEEPS it!
He is the epitome of what a US senator should NOT BE!
 
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H

Helen

I can send ABUSE reports too. FYI
I did not commit an abuse. You obviously
disliked the post and that is your prerogative -
the precise thing my co-workers died to give
you the right to do! Press on brother! Just
remember that YOUR freedom is due to
somebody else's death!
 
E

elaich

<snip>

Thanks for reminding me why I originally killfiled you, Helen, and why you
now get the death sentence instead of 100 days in the pokey. You are
incapable of sentient thought.
 
P

Peter Seiler

Helen - 25.01.2006 04:37 :
[The Nation:
News and analysis on politics and culture from the LEFT!]

1. OT

2. why do you respond to a OP who posted

"My apologies.

Sent to wrong group"

1 minute later?
 
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T

thunder7

Yeah well its "We the People" that voted him in!, and its "we the
People that can vote him out." How much is your privacy worth?

I am a true American, I Love the USA, and relize I must give up some
freedom's' to have freedom!. When they hit the Tower's yeah I was just
as mad, evil begets evil, where does it stop? We are the greatest
country in the world.

However when your having a "Private conversation" that has nothing to
do with Bush do you really want him knowing your dirty landury???

Personal I would say no!.
"I am but a small breeze alone, but together we are a roar."
Thunder7
 
F

FTR

thunder7 said:
Yeah well its "We the People" that voted him in!, and its "we the
People that can vote him out." How much is your privacy worth?

I am a true American, I Love the USA, and relize I must give up some
freedom's' to have freedom!. When they hit the Tower's yeah I was just
as mad, evil begets evil, where does it stop? We are the greatest
country in the world.

However when your having a "Private conversation" that has nothing to
do with Bush do you really want him knowing your dirty landury???

Personal I would say no!.
"I am but a small breeze alone, but together we are a roar."
Thunder7

Helen makes me think of those among the Germans who happily renounced
their liberty in 1933 and said yes, if it's necessary for the sake of
the country ...

Maybe today's Americans just miss the experience to have lived under a
little dictator ?
 
P

Peter Seiler

Willard - 25.01.2006 16:10 :
Oviously the 'Voter' is a regestered "Democrat' or 'Bush Hater'

what's the reason for your fullquoting (145! lines snipped)?
 
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C

Craig

Willard said:
Oviously the 'Voter' is a regestered "Democrat' or 'Bush Hater'
****warning way off-topic rant ahead!*****

/begin flame

Willard;

Some of us Republicans are pretty sick of this Administration's attacks
on -/not only free speech and habeas corpus/- but attacks on sovereign
nations, laws against torture...and any American who happens to disagree
with them.

9/11 may've changed the US but it sure has heck hasn't changed the
Republican party which, since 1980, has done more to increase the size
of government, the size of its deficit spending and the level of
domestic spying than any Demo has.

Personally, I'm not a Bush Hater. How can you hate someone who's simply
in over his head? Rather, I reserve my antipathy for his brain-trust
and disregard for the minions who returned them to office.

Oviously(sic) 'Willard' is a regestered(sic) Tru Mercuhn(tm).

/end flame

regards,
Craig
 
E

Elroy Jetson

Craig said:
****warning way off-topic rant ahead!*****

/begin flame

Willard;

Some of us Republicans are pretty sick of this Administration's attacks
on -/not only free speech and habeas corpus/- but attacks on sovereign
nations, laws against torture...and any American who happens to disagree
with them.

9/11 may've changed the US but it sure has heck hasn't changed the
Republican party which, since 1980, has done more to increase the size of
government, the size of its deficit spending and the level of domestic
spying than any Demo has.

Personally, I'm not a Bush Hater. How can you hate someone who's simply
in over his head? Rather, I reserve my antipathy for his brain-trust and
disregard for the minions who returned them to office.

Oviously(sic) 'Willard' is a regestered(sic) Tru Mercuhn(tm).

/end flame

regards,
Craig

Bravo, sir, bravo!

And as a democrat, I can just as easily say how disappointed I am in my
party. The 'do-nothing follow the leader' demo's. They never win because
a.) they always put up the worst candidates who pre-lose before even
running, and b.) they are career politicians just as the GOP are, and will
not rock their own self-interest boats anymore than they have to (i.e., when
caught).

While both parties surely have honest, dependable and true believers who
work hard to try and make the system work, as a whole both parties suck.
 
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P

*ProteanThread*

Elroy Jetson said:
While both parties surely have honest, dependable and true believers who
work hard to try and make the system work, as a whole both parties suck.

Which is why I quit voting along party lines a long long time ago (in a
galaxy far far away) just for that reason. Both parties suck. But I guess
its better than voting in the communists or the fascists ('cause they're
already in). :)
 

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