I must say,
I am tickled at their efforts. I supported impeaching the perjury-prone
President Clinton, but preferred censure to removing him from
office. I also saw the damage to Republicans who pushed to chase
Clinton out of office.
Bush-haters won't heed history, not when they see an opportunity
to relive the glory days of Watergate: Republicans evil; Democrats
uncorrupted; reporters respected. As Alter wrote after the story
broke that President Bush authorized the National Security Agency
to eavesdrop on international calls in efforts to uncover possible
agents of al Qaeda, "Similar abuse of power was part of the
impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974."
are so hysterical that they cannot distinguish between government
agents eavesdropping on a president's political enemies, and the
data mining of international phone calls in an earnest effort
to thwart another Sept. 11 terrorist attack. They don't see that
Bush, rather then trying to hide his role in the effort, signed
off on the program more than 30 times.
wiretaps? Victoria Toensing, a former deputy assistant attorney
general in the Reagan administration, called CNN recently to note
that the Clinton administration authorized the warrantless search
of the house of CIA employee Aldrich Ames.
Dems didn't talk of impeachment then.
University law professor Jonathan Turley offers the best argument
for impeachment -- not because he is persuasive, but because he
is consistent. Turley said he supported the impeachment, conviction
and removal of Clinton, and is advocating likewise for Bush, as
the Bush wiretaps constitute "a clear and undeniable crime."
(He ignores lawyers and judges who see the issue either as far
from settled, or come down in Bush's favor.)
that what the Bushies did "wasn't necessary." The administration
could have won warrants from the Federal Intelligence Surveillance
Act court. Out of tens of thousands of eavesdropping requests
since 1979, Alter reported, FISA rejected only four.
countered that it was necessary. FISA's turndown rate is low because
government lawyers don't push for warrants unless they know they'll
that the feds wouldn't even ask for a warrant to tap the laptop
computer of Zacarias Moussaoui, the French citizen who later pleaded
guilty to conspiring with the Sept. 11 hijackers. Turley says
they should have sought a warrant. Toensing says officials knew
they would lose because they could not establish Moussaoui was
an "agent of a foreign power."
argues that if Bush had problems with the FISA law, then he should
have gone to Congress to change it. But to do so, Toensing noted,
officials would have had to reveal their surveillance methods.
best argument: If the president can circumvent FISA, then "he
can circumvent any federal law."
Are we at
war? I asked him. "That's a good question." Then, after
deriding Congress for passing war resolutions -- not declarations
of war -- Turley said, "As a constitutional matter, no."
As a practical
matter, though, the answer is yes -- as any soldier in Iraq or
Afghanistan can tell you. I respect Turley, but in the real world,
it makes sense to monitor international communications to prevent
another attack -- in America or against Americans abroad.
Washington delivers lowball partisan politics. Too many Democrats
support Bush when polls support Bush -- the war, the Patriot Act
-- then turn on his policies when they think they can get away
with it. They don't think about the impact on U.S. soldiers on
NSA story reinforces the fact that Bush is willing to be unpopular,
risk the White House even, to get the job done, while too many
of his Democratic critics will walk over anyone to stand up for
their lack of principles.