In the end, the best "impeachment" is the next election.
ROBERT BRUCE, my U.S. History professor at Boston
University, during lecture re: the Impeachment of President
Andrew Johnson-- academic year 1976/77
I don't know if Professor Bruce's comment was original with him, or if he happened to be quoting someone else, but I do recall writing what he said down in my notebook at the time and thereafter thinking much about it (especially as the potential impeachment of President Richard Nixon, pretty much rendered unnecessary by his resignation, had been an issue only a few years before). I, all these years later, still honestly believe Professor Bruce's comment (whatever its source) is rather salient advice--
which is why I have never much been all that in favor of impeaching President George W. Bush and/or Vice President Richard B. Cheney for the reasons usually given by those within what might be fairly termed the "progressive Left".
The argument for impeaching the current President by them is largely based on their opposition to the war in Iraq. Impeachment being as much a legal- as it is a political- process, the best legal argument for it is principally based on the notion that President Bush misled the American People about the existence, in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, of Weapons of Mass Destruction as a justification for the invasion of that country now some four years ago, whether such a misstatement be based merely on blind acceptance of faulty (where not also false) intelligence or an outright fabrication on the part of the President and his Administration.
The problem here is that one runs headlong into that legal concept known as Estoppel.
Estoppel is, to give the term a dictionary-style definition, "a legal impediment through which a party is prevented from alleging a claim which is inconsistent with a previous claim made by that same party [a statement as fact that which was earlier denied or denying something that was once stated as being the truth (whether it was or not)], particularly when another party has relied on the original representation". Put another way: if person A makes a representation upon which person B relies, A can be "estopped" (via B taking action in a court of law) from later reneging on A's original representation. Generally, estoppel only comes into play where B is not expected to do anything in return for A's original representation (if B is expected to fulfill conditions attached to A's original representation, then that creates a contract- a binding agreement between A and B which belongs to a whole other realm of Law).
Allow me to here give an (admittedly oversimplified) example to- or so I hope!- better illustrate this principle:
Let's say a friend of mine desperately needs $3000 and I agree to help him or her out; there are two ways, in the legal scheme of things, he or she can get the money from me-
1. I can loan him or her the $3000: that is, I can say to my friend "I'm handing you $3000; in return, you agree to pay me back at some point in the future" (I might- or might not- charge [non-usurious, of course!] interest; I might- or might not- set specific terms of repayment [for instance, my friend might have to pay me at least $500 a month and, regardless of how much he/she pays each month, have completely repaid the $3000 at the end of six months]). Such an arrangement creates a legal contract: I have made an offer which, once my friend has accepted it (my friend is always free to turn down my offer, of course!) and has also promised to do things for me in return (in this case, paying me back my $3000 at some point), becomes a binding agreement between us (though, hopefully, said agreement- or contract- would have been written down!-- what's that old adage?: "a verbal contract is not even worth the paper it's not printed on" [;-)])
2. I can simply give my friend the $3000, free and clear: that is, I can say to him or her- "Here's $3000: you don't ever have to pay me back. If you might want to pay me part or all of this money in the future when you're able to do so, don't necessarily expect me to say 'no', but please know that *I* will never ask you to pay me back"... in other words, the money can be a gift and not at all a loan, if I should so choose.
Estoppel only is an issue re: the latter case (in the former [that is: 1. above], if my friend fails to honor the terms of the agreement to repay the loan, I would have legal recourse to collect under the broad umbrella of legal remedies related to Breach of Contract). Say my friend goes along for several years, more than a decade even, not ever expecting me to ask him or her to repay the $3000 (since I specifically told him or her I would never ask him or her for the money back [again, we are here dealing with 2. above]): at times he or she might well have been able to afford to pay me at least a healthy chunk of the money (but, since I told him or her there was no need to do so, he or she spent it on something else at the time instead of paying me back) while, at other times during this same period, he or she would not have been able to pay me back at all; generally speaking- throughout the entire time in question, through all his or her "up"s and "down"s (and regardless of just how far up or down)- let's assume his or her financial condition might best be described by the term "thousandaire" (though it wouldn't much matter if my friend might, by now, be a millionaire or even a billionaire!)
One day- eight, or ten, or twelve or even twenty-five, years later- I come to my friend and demand he or she pay me back the $3000. Theoretically, my friend could go to court and have me legally "estopped" from collecting it-- why? Because he or she had always acted on the assumption that I would never ask for that money back! I would have originally made a representation (re: which my friend promised me nothing- thus, it was not at all a loan [so, in addition, there was no binding agreement- no contractual arrangement- between us]) on which I am, all these years later, now reneging. I am now making a claim that my friend was supposed to pay me back the $3000 that conflicts with my original statement that he or she never would have to, against which claim my friend can legally seek an order of Estoppel.
Problem is: Estoppel generally only applies to a relationship between private persons.
Courts have generally, and consistently, held that Government cannot be estopped. And, as unfair as this might seem (and there has been no little controversy within legal circles over recent years and decades over whether or not such a broad legal brush as Government being able to "quash" Estoppel almost by very definition should apply in just about every case), it should be easy to see why the Law, as applied by the Judiciary to cases or controversies brought before the courts, has taken this position:
if the reader will allow me yet another admittedly oversimplified example-- let's take a Township in my own State of New Jersey: Party X controls the Township Committee and said Committee passes a resolution to the effect that "Property tax rates shall never again be increased in this Township". Put aside the issue of just how shortsighted such a resolution might, in fact, be (as well as any issues related to its legality or even constitutionality): let's now say that, over the following decade, it has becoming rather apparent that essential services- police and fire protection, street cleaning and paving and the like- will not long be able to continue as needed without an increase in property tax rates but the Committee, controlled by Party X, continues to operate under the original resolution (and continues to be re-elected, a majority of the voters of the Township not yet willing to see an increase in their local taxation rate).
Finally, however, the majority of the voters have become convinced that- as painful as a property tax rate increase might be- there is no way to get around it: said increase is now necessary and so Party Y defeats Party X at the very next election, takes office as the Township Committee and, as soon as is practicable, implements the first property tax rate increase in the Township in over a decade.
Now, if Government could be estopped, someone could- after the new Township Committee has so acted- go to court and gain an order of Estoppel against implementation of the new tax rate-- why? Because surely there were homeowners and other holders of real property in the Township who have gone about their daily lives for at least a decade on the assumption that property tax rates would never again be increased (put aside how naive such a view might, in the real world, actually be-- didn't the Township governing body specifically say "never"?). After all, it was the Township that actually made the representation "property tax rates would never again be increased" and here the Township is now increasing them! (Keep in mind that, while the governing body changed hands politically, the legal entity known as the Township did not at all ever cease to exist; therefore, whatever the Township might have stated under control of Party X would still be a representation made by the Township even after Party Y had taken control of the Township).
Simply put: if Government could be estopped, public policy could never ever be changed, because someone could then always legally claim that, as they relied upon the continued existence of the previous policy, that earlier policy should still apply to them! Thus, Government- at any level- being (except, perhaps, in very extraordinary circumstances) exempt from Estoppel; and this would apply even where (continuing to use the hypothetical scenario I just posed above) Party X retained control of the Township Committee and members of said body (even, perhaps, those who had supported the original "Tax Rates Never to Increase" resolution) realized it had to, however reluctantly, increase the property tax rate. Government can change policy (even when run by the same people who had adopted a quite different policy earlier), and even the reasons for a given policy, at any time without fear of ever being estopped: else, Government could not ever be fully responsive to the needs (and, in a Democracy, the expressed wishes) of its constituents!
Thus, the Bush Administration cannot be legally estopped from changing its policy in Iraq (which, by the way, those who most fervently wish to somehow force the President to withdraw American forces from Iraq completely would actually like to see!); likewise, it also cannot be estopped from changing the very representation made by the Administration as to the actual reasons for the war. Unfair or unethical, or even immoral, as it might- or might not- be, the Administration can say "we're doing X for reason A" and then, later, say "whoops! we meant to say that we're doing X for reason B" in a manner which might not be at all legal (per the concept of Estoppel) were a similar thing done by a private person in relation to another private person relying on such a representation by the first party.
What, then, is the recourse- if any- available to the ordinary American voter in such a case?
Well-- a year ago at this time, an obvious recourse would have been to elect a Congress more unfriendly to the Administration's policies: perhaps, even, a Congress controlled by the very Party in opposition to the President's own...
wait a minute!--
last November, that's what actually happened!! ;-)
As for Vice President Cheney: aside from his possible complicity re: any misrepresentations made to justify the original invasion of Iraq back in March 2003, there is also the additional issue of the leaking- to the press and to the public- of the fact that Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joe Wilson (who came to criticize many of the Administration's claims as regards Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq prior to the invasion), was an operative of the Central Intelligence Agency: such a public "outing" of a CIA official being in direct violation of Federal law. The Vice President's former Chief of Staff, "Scooter" Libby, has so recently been convicted of perjuring himself in relation to this "outing" but, under any reasonable application of Executive Privilege, it is quite difficult to prove Cheney himself did anything legally wrong (so long as we have no clear evidence that the Vice President- as part of, perhaps, a rather bizarre White House game of "Telephone"- whispered in Libby's ear "Mrs. Wilson's CIA- pass it on!" [;-)]).
A government official certainly has the right to tell his own Chief of Staff whatever he or she might feel said Chief of Staff might need to know in order to better serve that government official (so long as it stays within the walls of the offices legitimately utilized by said government official [the crime in question is public disclosure of a CIA operative's identity, after all]) . The problem here is: did Cheney at all smirk, wink and/or nod as he told Libby about Mrs. Wilson and, if so, when did he do it? ;-)
Thus, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's recent statement to the effect that "Impeachment is now off the table" is well taken. First of all, there is the issue that- were both President Bush and Vice President Cheney to be removed from office upon Impeachment at the same time (however unlikely this scenario)- the new President would be... Speaker Nancy Pelosi! Thus, it would not be at all advisable for the Democrats, now that they control both chambers of Congress, to then so gleefully be seeking the White House on behalf of the very person who heads at least one of those chambers.
Secondly, Impeachment would be a distraction for the Democrats. As a free-thinking political commentator who is not at all above so willingly dispensing unsolicited advice to (when I am not heaping well-deserved words of denigration upon) both Major Parties (as well as Third Parties and Independents), I would- therefore- strongly suggest to the Democrats that, under ordinary circumstances, Professor Bruce's words of now over three decades ago be so well heeded.
We Americans have already entered the "denouement" of the George W. Bush Presidency and, absent a very good reason for Impeachment, it would- in my opinion- best serve the interests of both Major Parties as well as their rather quixotic competitors Left, Right and Center to face the future and battle over who the next President might be and, in addition, which Party will control the 111th Congress and not at all become bogged down in an Impeachment inquiry that would only serve to keep the average American voter from fairly considering all the other issues of the day, issues that have nothing at all to do with the war in Iraq or who might have first publicly whispered the name of Valerie Plame- issues that have to do with the quality of life, the education of youth, the mitigation of the threat of Terrorism, etc. etc.
And this is precisely why I have been against impeaching either President Bush or Vice President Cheney on the grounds outlined in this piece so far. Democrats in Congress are, right now, far better off governing as much as their control of the Legislative branch of the Federal Government might allow and, by so governing, illustrating just why (or, for that matter, why not) their Party should be not only entrusted with control of the next Congress but also have its next presidential nominee (whoever that may turn out to be) sleeping in the White House living quarters come the evening of 20 January 2009.
As I myself wrote in response to a 'vox Populi' now nearly five years ago:
Impeachment (as the Republicans of the U.S. House of Representatives 105th Congress [1997-1999], stupidly believing in the efficacy of their own press clippings, found out the hard way when they engaged in the altogether silly exercise of attempting to themselves help remove Bill Clinton from the Presidency through such a means) has always been intended to be, for the most part, something of a last resort: it is quite interesting that the only two times a President of the United States has been impeached by the House- though, in each case, he was not removed from office in the ensuing trial in the Senate- the failure to remove him from office was largely due to those bringing the charges of impeachment (overfilled with "political adrenalin", as it were) forgetting this very salient fact; indeed, the only President who clearly deserved Removal from Office via Impeachment on "High Crimes and Misdemeanors"- that being Richard Nixon- resigned before Impeachment was even voted on by the full House. The simple fact is that Presidents know how to well read the polls (despite their constant claims to the contrary) as well as count the votes they have in Congress- or, at the very least, those who can do so (where a President might be lacking in such a skill) can rather easily find employment in any Administration! Nixon resigned the Presidency because, as he himself said in his final televised speech as President, "I might not have the support of the Congress..."-- code for 'I have already done a head count (or have had one done) of the Senate re: removal on impeachment and I lose'; likewise, Clinton did NOT resign precisely because he had done a head count of the Senate that (as the votes of that body on the Articles of Impeachment in early 1999 would themselves prove) had told him otherwise.
Again, absent a very good reason, Impeachment of the President or Vice President should not even be seriously considered.
But note my words "a very good reason"...
for the Bush Administration may now have stupidly (where not also arrogantly) provided one.
First of all, let me here state that I myself am perfectly happy with what happened to President William J. Clinton now nearly a decade ago: I am quite glad that he was impeached by the House of Representatives (though he was impeached for the wrong reason and, in addition, on the wrong Articles of Impeachment!) and I am equally happy that he was not removed from office upon the ensuing Trial by the Senate... and I often joke that I and all those who share my views on this matter would likely comfortably fit inside a phone booth!--
for the majority of Americans who lived through the Clinton Impeachment of 1998/99 tended to fall into one of two categories: Clinton supporters (most of whom have since become 'Dub-ya'-bashers) who don't think, to this day, Clinton should have been impeached in the first place and Clinton-bashers (bashing both Bill and Hil: most of these have since become the current President's biggest boosters over the course of his time in the White House) who are still frustrated that Bill Clinton "got away with something"...
but I myself am perfectly fine with exactly what happened... why?
Well, as I wrote in response to another 'vox Populi' around the same time as the first from which I have already quoted myself:
I, too, consider perjury committed by a President of the United States a "high Crime"in terms of Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.
Though I then went on to note that
[t]he problem is that the best of the four Articles of Impeachment brought against Bill Clinton in the House of Representatives back in 1998- that which charged him with just such a "high Crime" in his first Grand Jury testimony (that in the then-still active Paula Jones case)- was one of the two Articles voted down by the full House! The Republican managers/prosecutors then had to go into the Impeachment (really a Removal) Trial in the Senate with a much weaker case against Clinton than they might otherwise have had.
Not that it would have made all that much difference anyway, for the political winds were against the Republicans in the first place: as I myself wrote in my 22 May 2002 Commentary " STUPID ADMINISTRATION TRICKS":
Bill Clinton was such an easy target for Republicans re: the Monica Lewinsky and the other scandals plaguing that Administration because, as a Democrat, he was really no better than the chief minister of a quite large bureaucratic State- at least in that Party's own political theology; the reason the Republicans then failed so utterly in really laying a glove on Clinton is that they were so hung up on their own political theology of an "elected King" as President that they plumb forgot that, during most of the 1990s, the vast majority of Americans DIDN'T want such a "King" and didn't all that much mind such a somewhat rumpled "Prime Minister" in the White House: it was a classic case of "not seeing the Forest for the Trees" which transformed a major victory by the GOP in the 1994 Midterm Congressional Elections into the ignominy of that Party no longer having functional control of an essentially still-tied Senate while "jes' barely hangin' on" in the House as we approach the Midterm Congressional Elections 8 years later!
It remains true that Impeachment, while- yes- a legal process, is also a political process! It is for this (political) reason that I hold that the Impeachment of Bill Clinton was one borne of "stupidly believing in the efficacy of their own press clippings" and was, in the main, an "altogether silly exercise". Again, to quote my "card-carrying" Republican father (a man who has never voted for a Democrat in his entire life, mind you!): "Nothing was more stupid and wasteful than the Impeachment of Bill Clinton"... admittedly anecdotal evidence from many Republicans across the country suggest that my Dad is not all that alone. In the nearly 3 years this website has been on the Internet, I have gotten just as many e-mails from Republicans agreeing with my father as I have from the rabid anti-Clintonites who feel they were cheated out of the political equivalent of a good public hanging back in early 1999; more to the point, I see no credible evidence that most Americans wanted Clinton removed from office via the vehicle of Impeachment. The Republicans in the 105th and 106th Congresses were, on this issue of ethics, woefully out of touch with many in their own Party- let alone most of the American People in general!
To briefly recap: the "high Crime" of which President Bill Clinton should have been accused was that of committing Perjury before a Federal court (as he did when he said, under oath, that he never had sex with Monica Lewinsky despite the judge in the case having already taken what is known as "Judicial Notice" that the term "sex" include-- well-- basically anyone touching another in places on their bodies one does not ordinarily see when that 'another' is wearing clothes ['The Green Papers' is a "family site" and I well know that schoolchildren regularly utilize this website, thus my having to here refrain from being any more graphic-- which is precisely why I have not here provided the actual definition of "sex" provided to Bill Clinton by Judge Susan Webber Wright before he was asked the question which elicited his denial of any such thing as regarded Ms. Lewinsky-- those who are mature enough know of what I am writing!]).
One of the jobs of the President of the United States is- as the only national consensus, plebiscitary, Federal officer (yes, the Vice President is also but that office is but a mere appendage to the National Ticket in pure electoral terms: nobody votes for Vice President!)- intended to be the bulwark of the Federal System as a whole. As I have often pointed out in my writings for this website, all Federal officials must take an oath to "defend the Constitution" (against all enemies, foreign and domestic) but only the President takes an oath to "preserve and protect", as well as defend, that same Constitution; one of the "high-falutin' " titles early on proposed for the President was "His Excellency, the President of the United States of America, and the Guarantor and Protector of the Liberties of the Same": while that title was (thankfully!) not ever adopted (how fortunate we can use the form of address "Mr. President"!! [;-)]), it does illustrate one of the many roles of Our Nation's Chief Executive, the one person who is charged with, on behalf of "We, the People", upholding the integrity of all the elements that make up what we call the Federal Government.
Thus, the reason Bill Clinton clearly deserved to be impeached: a President of the United States lying in the course of being questioned under oath during a proceeding before a U.S. District Court is a clear dereliction of his (or her) duty to so uphold the integrity of the entire Federal System (if a President can perjure him- or her-self, and in a Federal court to boot [!], then why can't the rest of us?) and, therefore, an impeachable offense (the crime of Perjury rising to the level of a "high Crime" precisely because it was a President who committed it!).
Clinton supporters will still, to this day, chortle that Paula Jones' lawsuit against Bill Clinton (which was what brought the then-President to court in the first place) was subsequently dismissed but, at the very time Bill Clinton was asked about "sex" with Monica Lewinsky, Ms. Jones' case was still a "live case or controversy" in the meaning of those words in the U.S. Constitution itself and, whatever the merits- or lack thereof- of what Ms. Jones alleged, she was still- at the time- entitled to her day in court. Bill Clinton's perjury was clearly an attempt to hide acts similar to those Ms. Jones herself was alleging had occurred earlier: what if Bill Clinton's lie were that which led to the case actually being dismissed? He would then be profiting from his perjury, something no one under the jurisdiction of American Law- whether President or pauper- should be permitted to do if there truly be "rule of Law" and "equal Justice under Law".
Now, did President Clinton's "high Crime" merit his actual removal from office?
Because, in the end, the lie itself was only about Bill Clinton's sexual behavior; it did not at all touch upon actual political corruption (and whatever political corruption may- or may not- have occurred in the Clinton White House, it yet remains in the realm of allegation- at least as far as Bill Clinton himself is concerned).
What President Clinton got, in the end, was a well-deserved "rap on the knuckles": textbooks on American History will forever note that, of the first two Presidents to ever be tried upon Impeachment in the U.S. Senate, one of them was named Bill Clinton... and that's all fine and dandy with me... the fact that William Jefferson Clinton got to serve out his term until Noon Eastern Time on 20 January 2001 didn't (and still doesn't) bother me in the least!
Those who impeached him, meanwhile, seemed far more hell-bent on embarrassing him (through release of the more titillating details of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky) in order to then raise more money amongst the shocked choir for future political campaigns than on accomplishing anything along the lines of that for which the Framers of the Constitution actually intended Impeachment!
Now, I want to make it most clear that I am not rehashing all this aging History in order to once again embarrass the former President, nor to- in any way, shape or form- attempt to at all denigrate the presidential nomination campaign of his First Lady, now Senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton. My own views as regards Senator Clinton, as she pursues the nomination of her Party to run for the White House next year, will be stated- or so I am sure- on this very website in all due time. Rather, the reason I am discussing, at least at some length, my position as regards the now long-past Impeachment of Bill Clinton is to make sure the reader understands that, say what you might about me, at least I am trying my utmost to be most consistent!
Just as President Clinton was required, by very terms of his Oath of Office (and for the reasons I have already stated in this piece), to be that bulwark of the Federal System- that "Guarantor and Protector of... Liberties" (in part, through preserving, protecting and defending both the Federal courts as well as the Justice Department itself), President George W. Bush must be held to that same standard.
So what do we have?
Well, we already have had that whole "warrantless wiretapping" controversy of which I had already written last May (where I wrote the following:
[I]f the leadership of this Nation is going to violate the very document that is, in the end, the only thing that makes the United States of America a nation (for, what the Crown is to Great Britain, the Federal Constitution is to America: no British Crown? then no United Kingdom [for, at present, there is really naught else to make Englishmen or Scots or the Welsh part of the same internationally-recognized independent Nation-State, as there is no ethnicity that comprehends a 'Britisher']-- likewise, no U.S. Constitution? then no U.S. [for many of the same reasons]), it had better have darn good "beyond a reasonable doubt" reasons for doing so. Problem is: far too many "doubts" on the part of the citizenry are, indeed, "reasonable"-- which also implies that the government might very well be acting unreasonably-- and, again, such "unreasonableness", in turn, implies "abuse of power"... )
Now, less than a year after I wrote this, we have the recent firing of United States Attorneys for apparently political reasons (well, they certainly look political to me!-- after all, here you have U.S. Attorneys who were aggressively investigating corruption amongst Republicans prior to the most recent Midterm Elections summarily dismissed not all that long after said elections: what else am I supposed to think? If you're going to raid the cookie jar, don't leave crumbs around the jar's bottom!).
This is the very stupidity that, as I've said, may yet prove to be that "very good reason" to pursue Impeachment.
The latest reports, as I type this, is that Karl Rove- the President's main "political rabbi" in the White House- honestly felt that the Republicans only lost control of Congress because of these Federal investigations into the activities of the likes of former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-California). Besides the fact that such a belief on his part only suggests to me that Mr. Rove has truly "lost it" as a political consultant (yes, indeed, his "shelf life" may well now be over-- the milk is going sour, Dub-ya; throw it out! [;-)]: I have spent quite a bit of time looking over the results of the 2006 Midterm Elections as posted on this very website and can't- for the life of me- see how any fair observer with even the slightest ability to discern "political tea leaves" within election returns could come up with that one! Many Republicans declaim that the Democrats spinning November 2006 as having been a referendum on the war in Iraq is more than a bit "over the top": if so, then just how much higher is Mr. Rove's own spin?), it is what has apparently resulted from just such a belief that is most disturbing and that is, of course, the very removal of said U.S. Attorneys.
And the damage caused to the Federal System by all this is virtually palpable!
For instance, the U.S. Attorney for my own Federal court District here in New Jersey is one Christopher J. Christie (with whom, by the way, I have long been familiar, as he once served on the governing body of my own County earlier in his career). Christie has been aggressively been pursuing political corruption amongst Democrats in my State: assuming that he is not doing so for political purposes in aid of his own Republican Party, doesn't it now more look as if he is investigating for mainly political, and not primarily juridical, reasons (if only because he wasn't one of those fired)?
There is even more at stake, though: New Jersey is part of the Metropolitan New York/Tri-State Region, clearly a locale of many potential targets for terrorists. U.S. Attorney Christie (or any other future U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey) would, by definition, have to be the lead Federal law enforcement officer in prosecutions resulting from the arrest of those suspected of terrorist activities in my State. Questions as to the integrity of the office of U.S. Attorney (in any District: I'm just using my own as an altogether obvious example) are potentially problematic re: future terrorism-related prosecutions!
And now we also have these two strands (the recent warrantless wiretap issue- in which the Bush Administration showed the most egregious disregard for the Federal Constitution- and the potential loss of integrity as regards the office of United States Attorney throughout the country as the result of a political basis for removing at least some of those officials) coming together in the recent release of what is being terms the "confession" of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad- seen as the mastermind of a number of terrorist attacks (including the original bombing at the World Trade Center in February 1993, as well as 9/11 itself) as well as the planner of attacks never carried out.
It certainly seems bloody convenient for an Administration that is under such fire as I have herein described to so suddenly trot out Sheikh Muhammad's litany of terrorism, both actual as well as imagined in his own mind, in such a public manner! Nothing in what has been released is at all new (I've been hearing- within various parts of the public domain- about a plot to take down the Sears Tower in Chicago, for instance, for quite some time now); there also does not appear to be any information within this "confession" that is at all the least bit useful to someone like myself, living here well within 50 miles of Manhattan, seeking to protect myself (or others, through my being vigilant and altogether watchful) from future terrorist attack.
In any event, while I myself am not yet ready to call for the impeachment of either President Bush and/or Vice President Cheney on these grounds (I, first, want to know more about the removal of these U.S. Attorneys; I want to know what role, if any, the Vice President might have played in any of this; I want to see what connection, if any, these firings might have had to a reluctance, let's say, on the part of those fired to aggressively seek covert wiretaps of alleged terrorism suspects, etc. etc.), this kind of stuff does well bear watching.
Put another way: impeachment of either of these men who made up the last two National GOP Tickets can no longer be considered at all unthinkable- even among many Republicans (unless the GOP is purposely trying to lose the White House in now less than 19 months! [;-)])- but, note well, not for the reasons usually advanced by their political opponents in the other Major Party (as I've said).
In the meantime, however, and no matter how much more viable Impeachment might become as we learn more and more about the U.S. Attorney firing scandal, I honestly think that the Democrats will more likely continue to heed the words of Professor Bruce and simply accentuate the issues on which they might be able to win again come 4 November 2008. Their next victory may well yet prove to be the "real" 'impeachment' of the current Administration and its wrong-headed policies.
In other words, at least at this point in time: