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July 06, 2007

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If the rule of law were important, this president and vice would be on trial by now, and due to the crimes committed, the proscribed end would be execution for treason. since the rule of law is now a joke, history should be interesting in relation to what happens to that grand experiment of democracy. we saw it perverted before by these same people.
will we allow it again?

I agree with you that impeachment is the most appropriate path (actually, I think both Bush and Cheney and few others should be impeached, removed from office, and then shipped off to the Hague), but why do you think it has to/or would stop with censure? Is there some reason why an investigation has to be closed once a censure vote passes, or do you just think it puts an emotional period at the end of a statement and will be used to say our poor officials have suffered enough?

I have heard people argue that censure is a first step to impeachment, but I think it is fundamentally a waste of time. Even if the censure gets a majority behind it, nothing will change. The administration stays in place, with the realization that they can continue to break the law with impugnity. Meanwhile, the Rethugs in Congress can point out that they have publicly chastised the President and that is punishment enough (I like your analogy to it being the equivalent of 400 hours of community service EW).

Bush has just obstructed justice. Congress needs to stop shuffling their feet and come down like a ton of bricks on Bush and Cheney. The time for impeachment is NOW.

Thanks EW for this post and for posting it over at FDL as well. This message has to reach as broad an audience as possible. I truly believe the Libby commutation will be a tipping point, we just need to help tip it over the edge...

Republic congresscritter enablers are the first to say Censure is meaningless political theatre. Then they'll vote 'present' or 'in opposition' of cloture on the resolution. Unfortunetly, the gambit works. They get to sound like they're in opposition of Bush's malfeasence but they keep the fundraising benefits and other reelection support from the Republic party.

Their game is to speak prevarication to power - bluff, and then fold in silent complicity.

Nonetheless, if Censure would be an effective trial balloon for impeachment (and not create political support in opposition of articles of impeachment) then give it a go. I just dont see how. It's a half measure and I doubt it would increase support for impeachment.

>>when a President uses his pardon authority to cover up his own crimes.<< that says it all.. how does the country want to respond to that is the question..

I love Swopa. But I am astounded that he misses this fact: in a post arguing against getting lost in the minutiae, he presents the issue as one of Bush "coddling criminals," and not as one of Bush using his pardon power to hide his own (and Cheney's) involvement in a crime. It was not Libby who came up with the idea of leaking Valerie Wilson's identity to Judy Miller, it was Cheney, and he did so with the authorization of Bush.

That is exactly the point. Bush's use of his clemency powers to commute Libby's sentence BUT NOT PARDON HIM is a clear circumstantial case of OBSTRCUTION OF JUSTICE. I think we have probable cause.

It's too bad Congress and not Judge Walton or a jury of peers would be making the determination.

I'm a little tired of the cries of treason from various people.
I'm told that it requires more than just outing a covert agent: there has to be material aid and comfort.
If Shrub and Cheney are sending money to people who buy stuff for Al Qaeda or the Taliban, and they know it will be used that way, that's treason.
If they're revealing classified information, knowing it will be used against us in some way, that's treason.
Let's go for 'high crimes and misdemeanors' instead.

Ms. Wheel - This is unfairly off-thread - it actually aims at something which has occurred to me of relevance to your post 070704 titled: July 04, 2007 "Is this the Evidence that Libby Knew Plame Was Covert?" I wasn't sure what to make of those parts of your post which report on the relevant Q&A BTW Good Sir Fitz & the Dragon Addington. It occurred that it might be possible you reported strictly off your FDL live blog or that plus notes you & the other pups made while there, so I reviewed the trial record Waas & Jeff published - but found NO PART OF THIS Q & A reported there - of which I make nothing more than that they both missed it & you nailed it, which as news is just like dog bites man [both of them are limited by gender, which of course they can't help]. But now I have this problem - I wish to comment on that Q & A - particularly the "A" part & to a lesser extent the "Q" part as well - but I don't know to what extent it is safe to treat what you've reported as coming out of their mouths as verbatim. It might very well be so & on this point I would accept your assurance as sufficient - but if what is there simply reports1 on the GIST then that doesn't assist my quest as my approach necessitates it be verbatim. FWIW what I'm thinking of addresses the question which the theme of your post, albeit AOT. If you think this too obscure for publication in reader commentary here I could send you more on my thinking via email. I've got a window of about 5 or so hours right now so whatever you think please let me know soon if able & so choose [I you aren't or choose otherwise no problem - like all others here of pure heart - therefore excepting the resident trolls - I serve at your pleasure].

Mostly unrelated yet vital breaking news: The resident herd boss where I bunk turns a magical age tomorrow - in consequence of which is to receive a gift of a gorgeous black lab youngster the breeder named - no kidding - "Marcie" - tho it appears more likely that came about from being one of a brood sired by a certain "Marki Mark". Spelling errors in pets' names are subject to correction on re-registration, of course.

PJ--

"Treason" is catchier.

I am with you on impeachment, the censure seems a true waste of time and money. I am glad to see discussion, but saddened that the amercican people are so passively waiting for congress to tell us what it's going to do. I do wish the american people would tell congress. I know most of us here have done just that.

There must have 15 different pundits saying "we don't like what Bush has done but there is nothing that can be done about it." It made me sick. Yes, just take your whips america.

We need an investigation. We need controversy. We need the discussion and we need to see people arguing and fighting it out.

Okay...now back to writing letters. We just need to keep pushing for the honest discussion about this behavior of lawlessness. Lawlessness. Lawlessness. Our president lawless.

Section 9 of Article One, against Nixon:

9. endeavoring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favored treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony.

Good enough to impeach then, good enough now.

President Bush and VP Cheney Lawless.

If the Dems have so much Hollywood support, why not get just one good screenwriter to help prepare the "through-line," the catchy narrative to tell the story to the public--put it up like Whitehouse's chart with the boxes, something so simple even the MSM can understand it.

Censure is a waste of time only if it is the end game. As a step towards impeachment it offers some advantages. It forces Republicans to take a stand (something most of them in Congress are avoiding). It keeps the issue front and center in the news. It keeps the pressure on the Administration, putting them on the defensive.

There is no reason that a censure resolution takes anything away from beginning impeachment proceedings.

So the crew cut guy on CNN is talking about "eliminating" the "radical elements" in Pakistan. How can we talk about impeachment when genocide seems to be what CNN is pushing.

I wrote Rep Lynch, Sen Kerry, Sen Kennedy, House Speaker Pelosi and Rep Wexler and made the case for Impeachment not Censure.

Wexler dosen't accept email from out of district constituents but you can email him from his re-elction web site. Pelosi publishes her email address for ALL to contact her: sf.nancy@mail.house.gov

This may be off topic for this post but something has been bothering me from the beginning about this case and, although I've seen a couple of others ask similar questions, I've never seen an answer. So here goes .....

Why are we all assuming that the objective was to get back at Wilson by outing his wife? What if his wife was actually the target all along? Wilson writes his op-ed, Cheney learns about the relationship between Wilson and Plame, her job (and Brewster Jennings) and they can't believe their good luck. The cronies can get rid of a future pain in the arse (Plame and Brewster Jennings) while making it look like they are attacking the husband because of the op-ed.

What exactly was Brewster Jennings working on and what did Mrs. Wilson know? I remember reading back when this all started that Mrs. Wilson had been spotted in Turkey, apparently looking into the possibility that Israeli and Pakistani operatives were selling nuclear parts to the Iranians. Is it possible the Iranians were being set up and Mrs. Wilson (through Brewster Jennings) was beginning to suspect something? Where are the Iranians procuring the parts for their nuclear program? How is it that the Israelis (and the cronies) supposedly know so much about the Iranian program? If the parts are being smuggled into Iran why not stop the smuggling? It's not exactly as if centrifuges and other nuclear parts are made in every garage.

I simply fail to understand why an op-ed from an obscure ex-Iraqi ambassador would have been sufficient cause to get top officials to commit these types of crimes. Why would they take that kind of a chance over an op-ed?

A bibliographical note the Mason-Madison exchange is recorded in original in the third volume of Elliot, pages 496-498.

The whole of the Constitutional debates are online: J. Elliot, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution

Gulf coast pirate,

My gut has said and I think Marcy has certainly discussed this possibility that outting valerie may have been more about stopping her than stopping him. She certainly would have been in a position to dispute the President's claims about wmd.

There was an interesting story on Dkos yesterday about the anthrax scare. Again, there is growing evidence that our government planned to strip us of our constitution rights throught he use of fear, from the very beginning. I have long said that the anthrax scare and the attempt to pin it on the cia guy who clearly wasn't having it, was very fishy. If the anthrax scare was indeed government sponsored, then we get even closer to the notion that 9/ll was allowed, and that the current plan was the plan to begin with.

There is enough evidence to have the serious discussion and for the american people to take interest.

There needs to be public hearings so that the case can be made and so that the republican party retains not one shred of credibility.

"What if his wife was actually the target all along?"

Then, why wait until Wilson's op-ed to destroy Brewster Jennings? If Brewster Jennings was the original target, Cheney of all people didn't need an op-ed in the New York Times for cover.

OUTSTANDING STATEMENT EW! As you can probably guess, I agree wholeheartedly. Failure to take the initiative on impeachment is literally tantamount to failing to protect America from attack. I would make a "that's so pre-9/11" joke but this is no laughing matter. The damage done, and continuing to be done, by the Bush administration is light years more damaging to this country's health as the nation it was formed to be than any series of terrorist attacks could ever hope to be. If you are on the other side of the political spectrum from the general bent of most here, you should similarly demand an impeachment investigation. It will either exonerate the Bushies, or it will convict and damn them; in either case you will accomplish the best for your party and country. And "Strict Constructionists" take note, as EW ably notes this is EXACTLY what the founding fathers explicitly intended. Want more proof? Read the Federalist Papers and other historical background contemporaneous with the drafting and adoption of the Constitution. This is our duty as a Constitutional government of laws and men; to continue to shirk it is dereliction of everything we are supposed to stand for.

William Ockham - The only way a censure will fly is if it IS the endgame; and that is a big no go as far as I am concerned. Wexler needs to be geared up on real accountability, not a spitball to punish and elephant.

bmaz,

I agree completely with your comment from 12:14, but I don't understand your response to me at 12:23. Are you making a political assessment? If so, I disagree, but I'm interested in your thinking on the subject. Are you arguing that the only way the Republicans (and some of the more cowardly Democrats) would agree to vote on or for censure is to keep impeachment off the table?

Maybe it's both. Maybe the Kristoff article and CNN appearance caused Cheney to put 2 and 2 together--Valerie Plame, the thorn in his side at the CIA, who was studying WMD in Iraq as well as Iran, and Joe Wilson, the guy who had been to Niger and then talked to Kristoff.

Adding 2 and 2, Cheney might have been afraid they had shared what they knew with each other, and that through his contacts in the media and his credibility as a former ambassador, Joe would be able to expose the lies about WMD that the Admin had used to sell the war by stifling the CIA. Wilson's op-ed thus would have compounded Chenehy's fears, and is why he went ballistic.

But not just the lies about the WMD--we couldn't have anyone getting too close to those Niger "documents" and investigating where they came from and how they kept being fed to the CIA . . . .

So Cheney did what he did. He got people to smear Wilson, rolled up Valerie's operation and deflected everyone's attention onto Joe and Valerie and off of himself and the lies. Almost worked, too.

LabDancer

That passage does appear in Jeff and Murray's book--starting on page 192. I ended up taking it from the transcript, so there may be a line or two that's not in the book, but it's from the transcript.

GulfCoastPirate

Because there's no evidence to support it. I think it may also have been an attempt to get back at CIA for badmouthing Cheney and Libby--that appears in Pincus articles twice, and certainly forms the background for ignoring CIA's efforts to respond more moderately.

I don't rule it out. But I try, very hard, only to speculate based on the evidence I've got at hand. And I've got none to support that.

William Ockham - I guess it is a political assessment. I dunno. What I am saying is that, for censure to be effective, there has to be substantive GOP involvement; especially if it is to clear Senate muster as well. The only reason the duplicitous Goopers will permit this, and abide it, is if they think that will effectively kill any real accountability. If it is a "ok we addressed that, there is nothing more to see, move along now" deal they may well go for it; but we cannot permit that result, so it is a bad idea altogether as far as I am concerned. I am personally not even willing to discuss censure until it is proven to me that, after every ounce of energy and creativity I can muster is totally expended, and that of everyone else that feels the same way, there is nothing better that can be obtained. We are a long way from that point.

I cannot plumb the depth of the details anywhere near the level of EW or Jeff and Waas, but I tend to agree with EW's reponse to GulfCoastPirate. I think it is in many ways a compelling argument and makes sense, but it is not past the speculativ/hypothetical category yet. Our strength is in sticking to the confirmed or, at a minmum, the prima facially founded. This is true even when we know something in our gut, but don't have it locked down. This effort should be treated like a trial with standards for admissiability to the discussion and argument. Not necessarily the same strict standards, but analogous thereto; that way we occupy the high ground and don't waste time and energy covering duplicity.

William Ockham --

The real threat with pursuing censure is the vote count. If in the end there are fewer than 67 votes in the Senate, everyone (Jane Hamsher, Digby, Swopa, included) will throw up there hands and say "See! There aren't enough votes to impeach." Go read the comments to EW's post over at FDL, its stunning.

Censure proceedings will not permit the presentation of evidence that impeachment proceedings will. Without front page coverage of the evidence in the MSM, the majority of the public will not fully understand what is at stake.

From this perspective, censure is not only a waste of time, but counterproductive to the point where impeachment becomes stillborn. That is a possiblity that I genuinely find frightening. If the precedent set by this administration is allowed to stand, we risk losing our democracy in my lifetime. Historical precedent suggests our democracy will fall, but I prefer it not happen on my watch.

I think it depends on what we mean by effective. If we mean that effective means we get rid of them, or that we somehow control their behavior, then impeachment will not be effective and agree with assessments that perhaps nothing can be done to control them.

However, to me effective means consequences and the possibility, the best chance that the american people will learn things they need to know to make choices about the future.

We cannot control them, but we can tell the truth and trust the american people and it's process. Our constitution requires impeachment. It's the law.

The only valid response to lawlessness is the law. Let's use it. They may get around it, they may turn it on it's head like the mob did for many years, but eventually, it works. The truth comes out. The process may be different, we don't know what it will bring for sure, but truth is the solution, and turning our backs on what is happening or ignoring it, or hoping they will just go away, or be voted off the planet...is not going to happen. They have too much invested. The only solution is to pick up the good fight, be willing to suffer the consequences, just like that battered woman who choses to go up against that which she cannot control. The solution is not submission. It is using the laws the way they stand. Unfortunately, many a woman lost her life and continues to lose her life in that battle. It doesn't mean that women should stop fighting domestic violence, it means that we all have to face the truth, that the cost is high, the risk is real. It's so damn american to think that democracy is risk free or easy. Sorry folks.

The path less traveled, is often the path of truth.

Katie Jensen @ 12:09
Interesting. Thanks for the heads up on the article at dKos. I'll look it up.


Boo Radley @ 12:11
True, but the way everything fell into place for Cheney to 'kill two birds with one stone', so to speak, just seems too convenient. Maybe even Cheney didn't feel comfortable outing an undercover agent in a straightforward fashion.

Mimikatz @ 12:50
That's basically what I'm thinking but doesn't this imply somewhat that Cheney already knew about Plame (but not her marriage) before the Wilson op-ed and only put 2 + 2 together after the op-ed was published?

Almost worked? Maybe it still will. Lots of frustrated people like ourselves but no one in jail.


emptywheel @ 13:01
Understood about speculating. But I'm not a lawyer or an author, just an old guy trained in physics. To say that all this was about Wilson's op-ed is just too convenient when the greatest damage was to the intelligence assets. It's all too convenient and leaves me queasy. Too lucky and I don't really believe in 'luck'

Great blog. Thanks for the replies all. Off to the gym, it's hell getting old. :)


Katie, when you say "If we mean that effective means we get rid of them, or that we somehow control their behavior, then impeachment will not be effective and agree with assessments that perhaps nothing can be done to control them." This suggests we already know the outcome. We don't. Period.

Get the evidence before the public and I would bet quite a lot that Bush and Cheney WILL be removed from office. Even Republicans bow to to public pressure, when it builds sufficiently.

"The only valid response to lawlessness is the law." I think this point of Katie's bears repeating. Bush has repeatedly and willfully subverted the law and impeachment is the remedy provided us. We can't just cower around forever saying, "oh, we aren't going to have enough votes". If impeachment fails, we'll know who to replace in future elections. Anyone who condones what Bush has done should be shown the door.

I am astounded that he misses this fact: in a post arguing against getting lost in the minutiae, he presents the issue as one of Bush "coddling criminals," and not as one of Bush using his pardon power to hide his own (and Cheney's) involvement in a crime.

I think this is a perfect example of getting lost in the minutiae. The broad moral dividing line between right and wrong here is that if someone in the President's administration breaks the law, the President shouldn't intervene in the legal process to protect that person.

Yes, it's worse if reason for the intervention is to prevent the President or VP/shadow President from being implicated, but it's still wrong even if that isn't the reason. (Besides, if the President does intervene to prevent one of his top aides from going to jail, most people will intuit that the President is probably implicated even if that isn't spelled out explicitly.)

Swopa

With all due respect, I've had a Baptist Church worth full of testimonials in the last few days with people finally GETTING it on this--precisely because it's clear--and is easy to make clear--that Bush did this for self-protection. It gets conservatives involved and angry. A straight commutation doesn't do that.

Furthermore, I'm advocating process here. If Wexler succeeds with his censure, we'll be done with this by Tuesday. Goodbye lots of good evidence to use against the President.

Exactly right EW, especially the bit about conservatives getting on board and angry. I grew up in the rural Midwest, not exactly a liberal hotbed (with some notable exceptions like Madison, WI), and I can guarantee you that once they understand that this is Bush doing his best to keep himself and Cheney out of legal jeopardy they will be all in favor of impeachment. There is a deep and abiding streak in rural America about obeying the law and that everyone, including politicians are treated equally under the law. Even if this isn't actually true (i.e., the big rich lawyers, get the big rich people off the hook), they still believe it SHOULD be true and they are not gonna sit still for a President declaring the rules don't apply to him and his buddies.

bmaz,

I understand your point now. After some reflection, I think you are right. Now is not the time to go for half-measures. In fact, I'm now willing to accept as true all the stuff the right-wingers have said about Libby as a person. He is honest, loyal, and hard-working. Why would somebody like that lie to the FBI and a grand jury? Why would somebody like that obstruct justice when he didn't even commit the crime under investigation? Only one reason: To protect his bosses. Now his bosses are protecting him. We have only one recourse. As ew reminds us, the Founders intended for impeachment to to the remedy for this situation.

EW, you are absolutely correct to hammer on the obstruction of justice theme. It's what ties Bush's commutation of Libby to his father's pardon of Caspar Weinberger: they protected the people in their own administration who could testify about their own crimes.

It's what makes Bush 43's and Bush 41's actions on an entirely different and more corrupt plane than Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich (or anyone else).

And, pace Swopa, it's not at all a question of getting mired in detail. It's the big picture: obstruction of justice.

Someone is using my name above for a post I didn't make. This happened before, but then they spelled it Jody. Here the spelling appears to be correct.

I didn't say this (below)which is at July 6, 11:01:

>>when a President uses his pardon authority to cover up his own crimes.<< that says it all.. how does the country want to respond to that is the question..

The sock puppet Jodi is far more insightful.

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