Saturday, June 23

One thing we shouldn't do - is Impeach Too Soon

Crossposted from Dailykos.

People, I know you're pissed.

I know that this pack of rabid criminals running the White House and the Government have got you hopping mad with ignoring Richard Clark, ignoring the Cole, ignoring the PDB, ignoring the attempted invervention on Rice and the Crawford One-on-One with Tenet on Osama, Yellowcake, no al-Qaeda in Iraq, trumped up links between Saddam and 9-11, ignoring the insurgency, ignoring the Iraqi People, ignoring Afghanistan, Body Armor, Abu Ghraib, Tora Bora, Gitmo, revoking Habeaus Corpus, the Katrina aftermath, ignoring both Fact and Science on climate change and stem cells, the Voter Caging, Freedom Fries, the midnight ride to Terry Schiavo's hospice, the Domestic Spying, The NSL's, outing Valerie Plame-Wilson, Diebold, Abramov, Safavian, Guckert, the "fucking faith-based thing", the midnight ride to Ashcroft's bedside, the Partisan Purging of DOJ and Civic Rights Division, Walter Reed, the Cheney Branch of Government and most of all -- the endless lies and bullcrap about all the above.

But take deep breath say these words with me.

"It's not time to Impeach, not yet."

This diary is directly squarely at the Impeach First, Ask questions later crowd.

And I'm sure "Ok, smart-guy - why not?" is what many of you are saying right now.

Unfortunately the answer isn't simple, so bear with me - but the main problem is the fact that Bush hasn't been caught red-handed yet.

Just yesterday I posted a rec'd Dkos diary on the Contempt of Congress motion being brought forward by John Conyers judiciary committee. That news was met here, at the Impeachment Captial of the Web, with a great deal of skeptism and frustration. It was too weak, too timid. Yet I think that objectively Conyers is doing exactly what he needs to do and shouldn't jump the gun all the way to drawing up articles of Impeachment against Bush because of one simple fact.

He'd lose.

I don't come to this view easily, I spent the better part of a week last year writing not one (Intelligence Fraud), not two (Domestic Espionage), not three (War Crimes), but four (Criminal Negligence) full length diaries giving a detailed litany of why Bush (and others) should be impeached.

There was even a Defense Argument by Major Danby posted against my many and various charges to which I submitted a Rebuttal and then rested my case.

Back then we didn't have majority control of congress. Impeachment was an abstraction. A wishful dream. Now Dems do have control and many of us are getting quite upset at the "lack of progress" so far - many of us are ready to throw up our hands in frustration at the inaction of the Congress Critters.

Congress's approval rating is even lower than the President's and that's saying something - but what it says isn't good.

I understand this frustration, really I do, but the fact is that things are going exactly as they should.

Back then I was speaking generally, and including the idea of Impeaching Rumsfeld (who was still in office) as well as Gonzales and Cheney, but now I'm just focusing on Bush himself and in my view it simply isn't his time yet.

Oh, we thought we had him with the Downing Street Minutes, but not quite because you see - "fixing the facts around the policy" were the words of various British ministers who were quoting (apparently) the words of Tenet and Rice, but not Bush.

We thought we had him with Downing Street II, when it was revealed that Bush had admitted to Blair that it didn't matter whether Saddam had WMD's or not, he was invading anyway.

Unfortunately, being an F-inking Liar to the press and the American people isn't a criminal offense and so far isn't Impeachable.

And I don't care what Arlen Specter says about there being a law against "False Official Statements" (something he's mentioned several times in relation to Alberto Gonzales) - there isn't one. That term refers to a set of Military Regs, and could lead to a court-martial for members of the military who lie on official documentation, but it doesn't exist in criminal law.

So yes, he lied about not planning to fire Rumsfeld - annoying - but not Impeachable.

Going Count by Count...

  • Intelligence Fraud : Much of the real mischief took place far downstream from Bush. It happened with Douglas Feith who stovepiped and cooked intelligence while the DIA kept vital info such as the real facts about al-Libby and Curveball hidden and Cheney kept pressing the Niger-Yellowcake story alive despite 14 different skeptical rebuttals. That's a hit on the "Rumsfeld and Cheney Cabal" as Lawrence Wilkerson has described it - but not Bush.
  • Domestic Espionage: This issue remains on appeal after Judge Anne Diggs-Taylor's viciously pointed ruling on the NSA wire-tapping programs. She did declare that It was a crime one which we know has been specifically authorized and implemented by Bush personally - but we don't yet know what the appeals courts will say and whether they Supremes will back Diggs-Taylor or not.

There is also the fact that a FISA Judge has since signed off on the program, which again makes the issue largely moot - for now.

Except for the Midnight Ride to Ashcroft's bed which is a new revelation and may open up direct links both to breaking the law, since that version of the NSA program was found to be illegal by the DOJ - and was temporarily implemented by the White House anyway over the objections and threats to resign by Ashcroft and Comey. Gonzo is looking at perjury for his false Congressional testimony - but, we still don't yet have any direct links to Bush other than his making the phone call to Ashcroft's wife indicating that Card and Gonzo were "heading over". Who exactly made the decision to override the DOJ has not yet been revealed.

  • War Crimes: This mostly leads back to Gonzales' advice and attempts to circumvent Geneva by trumping up this "Enemy Combatants" pseudo status nonesense - and to Rumsfeld for authorizing interrogation techniques outside the Army Field Manual guidelines. Bush has been an accessory after the fact, but it's largely their crime.
  • Criminal Negligence: Last year I argued for Impeachment in the wake of Katrina, the failure to respond to 9-11 warnings, the deteriorating situation in Iraq and Bush's abuse of Signing Statements. Unfortunately Bush was far from the only one who totally fucked-up in these situations. Ample blame can and will be thrown at Ray Nagin, Kathleen Blanco, Rumseld, Tommy Franks, Colin Powell, George Tenet and others. The legal basis for Bush's use of signing statements has not been challenged or verified either way. Again annoying, probably extra-constitutional - but not illegal, yet.

All the above is very different from what actually occured in either Nixon's case or Clinton's impeachment - they were both busted cold.

The Paula Jones Story and suit broke while Clinton was running for President in 1992, it didn't metastisize into a full-blown disaster until six years later in 1998 when Clinton was caught in carefully crafted perjury trap during his deposition and further pummelled during in his Grand Jury testimony. It was his own words under oath that got him into trouble, not the actions of anyone else.

Nixon's near impeachment was a different story, but it was still his own words that did the trick. It also took quite a long while find out what those words actually were.

The Watergate Break-In took place in June of 1972, all five burglars were tried and convicted by January of 1973 for breaking and entering. It was a minor little case, until one of the burglars wrote a letter to the presiding judge.

In March 1973, James McCord, one of the convicted burglars, wrote a letter to Sirica charging a massive coverup of the burglary. His letter transformed the affair into a political scandal of unprecedented magnitude.

With the help of Mark Felt (Deep Throat) Woodward and Bernstein at the WaPo as well as Senate investigators began to slowly unravel exactly what McCord's letter was really talking about.

All the witnesses rallied around the president, until in June of 1973 John Dean testified - and gasp - told the truth!

But that didn't break open the floodgates, it just made Nixon circle that wagons even tighter. Dean was written off as a kook.

The story was over.

A month later in July the existence of the White House taping system was revealed during congressional testimony by Alexander Butterfield. Congress subpoened the tapes which led to Nixon trying to fight those subpoenas with the Saturday Night Massacre on October 20, 1973 having Robert Bork fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox when Attorney General Elliot Richardson refused to drop the axe himself.

This move is what turned the Republicans against Nixon - before they or anyone else even knew what was really on the tapes. Eventually Nixon complied with the subpoena and after people heard the tapes and their transcripts in April of 1974 it was all over but the shouting.

But here's the kicker...

Impeachment proceedings against Nixon didn't begin until May 9th of 1974 almost one year after Dean's initial testimony and almost two years after the initial break-in.

As I said in a comment yesterday.

We haven't yet had anyone stand up and truly spill the beans the way John Dean did in 1973 or Fawn Hall and Ollie North did in 1986. We haven't yet found the smoking gun tape, a piece of evidence which specifically points to crimes by Bush himself. We haven't had a Saturday Night Massacre - all because many people in the current administration were there during Watergate [as well as] Iran-Contra and they are specifically trying to avoid getting caught in the same way.

When it does happen, it probably going to be from something we haven't anticipated yet.

So with all this in mind, what I have to say to the IMPEACH NOW people is ... calm down and have a bit more patience.

We're going the right direction, and we're right on schedule - at this point we're looking at a constitutional showdown on the contempt of congress charges by late summer/early winter. Either Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton are going to court (and prison) or we're going to get the the truth in detail early next year - possibly both - just in time for fabulous mid 2008 Summer Impeachment and Removal Trial Extravoganza! .

Don't forget to bring the hot-dogs and the charcoal.

In the meantime, rather than obsessing over Bush - let's focus on Gonzo, 1) he's already in major criminal jeopardy and 2) he's the gatekeeper on access to yummy Special Counsel goodness.

Once we get a real dogged SC on the case, all bets are off the table.

One step at a time people, one step at a time.


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