Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Age of Un-Accountabililty

An axiom of human relationships in a civilized, democratic society is that one should be held accountable for one’s actions. There are exceptions, of course, but being President of the United States is not, per se, one of them.

At our government level we do that by the elective process or by impeachment.
Throwing the "rascals" out is a time honored (if not timely) tradition. Impeachment is a more drastic and cumbersome tool, rarely used and occasionally vulnerable to petty politics and venal agendas.

Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution charts the grounds for impeachment: "the President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

Representative Nancy Palosi is quoted as saying "impeachment is not on the table" for the new democratic majority when it comes to dealing with the actions of President Bush over the past six years. Why not?? Look at the record!!

Abuse of Power -U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor declares Bush’s domestic spying program unconstitutional. In a stinging indictment of Constitutional abuse by the Bush Administration, she ruled the program violates the Administrative Procedures Act, the doctrine of separation of powers and the First and Fourth amendments of the Constitution.

"There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all ‘inherent powers’ must derive from the Constitution," Taylor wrote in her opinion.

Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University points out that if the judges ruling is upheld on appeal, the President will be guilty of violating federal law at least 30 times and that could provide grounds for impeachment.

High Crimes-- Bush has declared the Geneva Convention does not apply to his "war on terrorism" and therefore especially aggressive interrogation techniques are ok. The Geneva Convention standards have been followed for more than a half-century by almost 190 countries, including the United States.

The War Crimes Act of 1996, passed by a Republican Congress, makes it a felony to violate the Geneva Conventions. Bush has authorized techniques such as prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures long periods in stress positions, strapping prisoners to metal contraptions and force feeding to mention a few.

While Bush payed lip service to "we do not torture," he authorized a secret "rendition" program that transfers detainees to facilitate torture such as beatings with hands and sticks and being hung up for falaqa—beatings on the sole of the foot.

Former director the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, Vincent Cannistraro, told Newsday newspaper in February 2003, that a senior al-Quaeda detainee had been sent from Guantanamo Bay to Egypt because he was refusing to cooperate with his interrogators. In Egypt, Cannistraro said, "they promptly tore his fingernails out" to get him talking. Referring to the "franchising" out, he said Syria is a country , like Iraq, where they torture people. They use electrodes, and water torture. They take torture to the point of death, like the Egyptians.

Obstruction of Justice--Bush refused to provide testimony and evidence demanded by the Senate Intelligence Committee and by the 9-11 Commission. He refused to testify under an oath or with any record being made of his answers and had members of his administration lie to both bodies. His obstruction assured that we will never know exactly what went wrong before those attacks and adds an uncomfortable element of jeopardy to our prevention efforts

Abuse of Power--Bush declared that he has the power to detain and imprison anyone, indefinitely, by designating them as "enemy combatants" or "terrorists." He sponsored legislation to codify indefinite detention and denial of habeas corpus rights.

High Crimes and Misdemeanors--Serious misconduct in office comes under this umbrella. When Katrina roared into New Orleans, the president had a duty and obligation to protect its citizens by initiating drastic emergency action that only he was authorized to undertake in the face of a potential disaster. (President Eisenhower ordering the national guard to protect the integration process in Mississippi) Instead he flew to California to campaign and was three days behind the curve while more than a thousand Americans died and New Orleans was decimated.

The underlying question is where would we be today without the actions of President George Bush of diverting U.S. troops from Afghanistan and invading Iraq?

There are several no-brainer answers:
More than 2,900 American servicemen and women would be alive!
More than 22,000 American servicemen and women would not be wounded!
Roughly 600,000 Iraqis would not be dead as result of the invasion
Iraq would not be the rallying point of Islamic radicals!
Incidents of worldwide terrorist activity likely would not have doubled!
The U.S. would have had $400 billion for other purposes!
The Taliban would not be making a comeback in Afghanistan!
Osama Bin Laden might have been captured! (Speaking of accountability)
Our Constitutional rights would not be in jeopardy due to the hysteria engendered by Bush’s fear mongering!

So what are we to do with a President who has wrought such havoc abroad and at home—just watch him ride off to Texas and await the judgement of history? What lesson will future presidents learn from the way those with responsibility deal with Mr. Bush? Can anyone seriously suggest that Bush’s lies about Iraq do not rise to the level of impeachability as Clinton’s lie about having extramarital sex in the White House?

After 9-11, President Bush issued a stirring call to arms to right the wrongs of that attack. Patrick R. McCaffery, a Silicone Valley auto-body-shop manager with two children joined the National Guard to do his part for homeland security. Instead, he was sent to Iraq as Bush consistently linked the attack on the New York Trade Center with Saddam Hussein’s government. There, McCaffery died. His mother reported that her son "said we had no business in Iraq and should not be there."

Belatedly, Bush admitted that Iraq had "nothing" to do with 9-11, too late for Patrick McCaffery. And we can’t bring ourselves to hold Bush accountable? How sad for our country!

Bill Sanders

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