Sunday, November 19, 2006

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

The issue front and center after the election isn't Iraq. It's the Democratic agenda and their convictions. In April I wrote a piece on this topic and have only altered what I wrote based upon the realities of the Democrats winning both the Congress and the Senate. What I stated then has merit today. I encourage you to not only read the offenses I claim that have been violated but also the evolution in definition of High Crimes and Misdemeanors. Here is the repost of the April 2006 argument. (Nothing really has changed):

"Let's examine if these offenses by our President and Vice President would warrant an impeachable offense:

1. Deliberately not enforcing Border Security with Mexico
2. Illegal wire-tapping of domestic telephone calls of Americans without authorization of the FISA Court and in deliberate evasiveness of the law imposed by Congress, even though Congress allowed for retroactive filing with the Court.
3. Review of the Torture Ban as agreed to in the Geneva Convention, looking for loopholes and authorizing the use of torture of prisoners and citizens of the United States held as "enemy combatants".
4. Authorization of the leaking of the name of a CIA operative for political reasons to stop dissent
5. Outsourcing Port Security to a Middle Eastern country
6. Failure to act with all the resources of the U.S. while being warned by the FEMA Director about a pending worse case scenario in the face hurricane Katrina and the levee breaches.
7. Cherry picking Intelligence to gain support for a planned war of choice in Iraq.
8. Giving massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while increasing the National Debt to Trillions of dollars and bankrupting this Nation.
9. Changing the Rules for Enlisted service people to rely on a small clause to keep them indefinitely in the service, while reducing benefits for their families at home. All this while not listening to the advice of the military as to number of troops needed and no planning for an insurgency and no exit strategy.
10. Windfall profits for the Oil companies and the executives that manage them ($400 Million dollar bonus packages for Exxon CEO)
11. No bid contracts in the 10's of Billions of dollars to the former company where you were CEO and still obtain financial gains based upon the company's financial performance.

The question that comes front and center after the November elections and Democrats win back both of the Houses of Congress will be whether the President and/or Vice President should be impeached. To understand this debate and before all the rhetoric begins, you will first need to understand what is an impeachable defense and what does the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" mean. Let's start by reading C-Span's historical answer regarding the definition of these terms as stated below:
Capitol Questions:
The Constitution says a President can be impeached for "high crimes and misdemeanors," but it doesn't define the term. Who decides what that means?

The Congress decides the definition: by majority vote in the House for impeachment, and by 2/3 vote in the Senate for conviction. The Framers of the Constitution deliberately put impeachment into the hands of the legislative branch rather than the judicial branch, thus transforming it from strictly a matter of legal definition to a matter of political judgment. Then Representative Gerald Ford put it into practical perspective in 1970, when he said an impeachable offense is "whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."

"High crimes and misdemeanors" entered the text of the Constitution due to George Mason and James Madison. Mason had argued that the reasons given for impeachment -- treason and bribery -- were not enough. He worried that other "great and dangerous offenses" might not be covered, and suggested adding the word "maladministration." Madison argued that term was too vague, so Mason then proposed "high crimes and misdemeanors," a phrase well known in English common law. In 18th century language, a "misdemeanor" meant "mis-demeanor,"or bad behavior (neglect of duty and corruption were given as examples), while "high crimes" was roughly equivalent to "great offenses."

Lawyers and historians are still arguing about the exact meaning of "high crimes and misdemeanors," dividing into three schools of thought about the appropriate definition: (1) serious criminality evidenced by breaking existing law; (2) an abuse of office, and (3) the Alexander Hamilton standard (Federalist 65) of "violation of public trust."

In (one of) our most recent experience(s) with presidential impeachment -- Watergate in 1974 -- the House Judiciary Committee strongly argued that the case for impeachment need not be limited to actual violations of criminal law. In its report, Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment, the Committee argued the definition should go beyond actual breach of law, citing Blackstone's phrase, "an injury to the state or system of government," Justice Joseph Story's phrase, "offenses of a political character," and Edmund Burke's statement at an impeachment trial that the official on trial should be judged "not upon the niceties of a narrow jurisprudence, but upon the enlarged and solid principles of morality." The Committee further stated that historically, Congress had issued Articles of Impeachment in three broad categories: (1) exceeding the constitutional bounds of the powers of the office; (2) behaving in a manner grossly incompatible with the proper function and purpose of the office; and (3) employing the power of the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain."

You can see by the above interpretations that our leaders violated all possible interpretations put forth. It takes courage to start the process of impeachment of both President Bush and VP Cheney knowing it might take 1 year of the 2 years remaining. Based upon recent writings, it doesn't look as though the President is going to change course in Iraq substantially. It will be smoke and mirrors under the cover of the Baker Commission. But I strongly believe in accountability. This President and VP need to be held accountable to the country and the families who lost a loved one.


Blogger EuroYank said...

Excellent post! Yes this administration is all smoke and mirrors. What amazes me is how the American people have bought all this for so long. They certainly are a good match for Goebbels and his propaganda machine Wars and Propaganda Machines

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Cheshta Buckley said...

I would like to think that the Democratic representatives would learn from this past election and take on real leadership. I believe that Pelosi will shirk from taking on that level of leadership, and unfortunately, there is no other in the wings who may step up and present a vision for change. Just as the President wasted an opportunity in the aftermath of Katrina to aleviate the disaster and build community amongst it's victims, so too will the current politicians waste their mandate for change, and reveal themselves as self serving and beholden to corporate interests only. Would I like to be wrong about this?, you bet. But meanwhile I will not be holding my breath

1:37 PM  

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