“People Don’t Know What the Constitution Means”

TNR’s Paul Jay interviews Republican lawyer Bruce Fein, who worked in Reagan’s Justice Dept and is currently a Ron Paul advisor, on why he supports the impeachment of Cheney.

The problem with Fein’s choice of impeachment criteria is that he hasn’t noticed that 2 of his 3 articles have the same problem as the articles Kucinich proposed and that Fein criticizes: the MCA and the passing of the FISA bill in August make Congress just as complicit in those areas as they are in the areas Fein cites. Maybe Congress won’t consider impeaching either Cheney or Bush because to do so, they’d have to impeach themselves as well.

I’m not just being snarky.  I’ve said before that there is a real legal question about impeaching a president for breaking laws the Congress retroactively endorses. Yes, as lawyer-bloggers like Greenwald, Jeralyn, Christy and Horton have pointed out, the unilateral violation of the law by the Bush Administration’s wiretapping program is irrefutable. But it could easily be argued that the Democratic Congress legalized that activity when they passed the FISA bill. They have made themselves terribly vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy at the very least and complicity in Bush’s crimes at most, so asking it to impeach is a little like asking the judge who handed the burglar his tools to put the burglar in jail.

And the even bigger problem that raises is that Bush has broken few impeachable laws the Congress hasn’t been complicit in by either its silence or its approval. They have pretty consistently backed the Bush/Cheney agenda whether Pubs or Dems were in charge, so at this point they are – not individually but as a group – just as guilty of these things as he is. How can they try him for crimes they sanctioned and even helped him commit?

More important, perhaps, is Fein’s contention that the Democrats won’t impeach because they actually want the powers they’d be impeaching the president for usurping. They fully expect to take over, and when they do their want their guy/gal to be able to “protect the country” by snooping into files, listening to private phone conversations, and being able to arrest whoever they want without the inconvenience of warrants and judicial oversight. Bush and Cheney have already done the heavy lifting and will take all the blame. All the Donkeys have to do is win and they inherent the Bush Imperial Monarchy.


Most people don’t seem prepared to believe even the possibility that the Dems aren’t so much weak and frightened as greedy for power. My ex-wife used to say (and she was only half joking) that what the Democrats ought to concentrate on was developing a species of “benevolent dictatorship” appropriate for the US. I’m beginning to suspect that there are a lot more like her in the Democratic party than I was willing to believe at the time.

6 Responses to ““People Don’t Know What the Constitution Means””

  1. xranger says:

    Not only that, but the next president, Dem or Rep, may not be that much different than Bush, as he is right now.

    The surge is working, troop drawdown plans are in place, and FISA is settled. The only difference you may see in ’09 with a Dem prez is domestic issues.

  2. mick says:

    Unfortunately, you may be right about the lack of difference. Which is truly, truly depressing. But come on, x. By what possible realistic measurement is the surge “working”? October was one of the deadliest months of the occupation and November has already started off badly. Where do you get this stuff? (And please, don’t start citing WorldNutDaily again. Zero credibility.)

  3. xranger says:

    “All across Baghdad, which has seen the worst of the violence, streets are springing back to life. Shops and restaurants which closed down are back in business.

    People walk in crowded streets in the evening, when just a few months ago they would have been huddled behind locked doors in their homes.

    Everybody agrees that things are much better.”


  4. xranger says:

    You gotta stop reading Kookville Times. October was the best month, in terms of violence, since Feb ’06.

    “Major-General Joseph Fil, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, said al Qaeda in Iraq no longer had a foothold in any part of the city of 7 million people. The group is blamed for most big car bombings that have killed thousands.”


    US and Iraqi officials say violence across the war-ravaged country has been falling in the past few months since the full deployment of the extra 28,500 troops in a “surge” ordered by President George W. Bush in February.


    You libs claim you support the troops, yet you undermine everything they are fighting for.

    When good things happen, and they are, trumpet it. Show the troops you do care for them.

  5. mick says:

    I appreciate the links, x, and I’m willing to reconsider BUT –

    First, I’m having trouble reconciling the BBC report with bombings in Baghdad just this weekend.

    Second, if there is a downturn in violence, Muir attributes it not to the surge but to Muqtada al-Sadr’s freeze on militia activity – which came after much importuning by ali-Sistani and elements of the Iraqi govt. Until Sadr called a halt to fighting, the surge had made zero noticeable difference. Are you sure you’re not assigning credit to a minor military uptick that actually belongs to aggressive domestic diplomacy?

    Third, accusing me or any prog/lib I know of “undermining the troops” is both absurd and offensive. I never said – and no one here has ever said – the troops were doing a bad job. Quite the reverse. What we’re saying is that they do as well as they can and better than anyone has a right to expect in a situation made impossible by a US leadership that ignores reality and considers Iraq a US satrap. They’re caught in the middle of a civil war because a) the Admin is full of oilmen with their eyes only on the prize – the rich Iraqi oil fields – and b) full of neocon hawks who want to use a “footprint in the Middle East” to establish an American Empire. I don’t think either is a reasonable goal or a goal that justifies putting our men and women at risk. I didn’t “undermine” what they’re fighting for. The Admin did that when it chose to send them off to die for oil imperialism. The core mission is bogus. Has been from Day One. To me, “supporting the troops” means ending this insanity and bringing them home before they get killed for the Great Purpose of improving Halliburton’s and Chevron’s profits and making the world safe for corporate plunder. That’s all this is about.

  6. xranger says:

    Well, the bombings are all that gets reported. We’ll be hearing about Iraq bombings for as long as we’re there. The theme here is that the number of bombings is falling rapidly. With the MSM, the only good news is bad news.

    Interesting bit on Al-Sadr. Strong feelings that he called a cease-fire to save his hide – he was getting beaten too badly in field. Now his followers have re-joined the national political process.

    The final paragraph, well, I just don’t have anything to say about that. The fact that you on the extreme left think this is about oil profits, and only oilprofits, is truly sad. Think what you wish.

    Precisely why this undermines the soldiers in the field. They know this is not about US imperialism. Rather, the iraq war has morphed into one of presenting stability into the region. There are too many instances and examples of why we must stay engaged in the middle east, why it is in our best interests. Allowing Iraq to develop into a non-aggressive player in regional politics, keeping the free flow of oil to the entire world, is tantamount right now.

    Do not delude yourself to think that you are so much smarter than those who have chosen to take up arms and fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. That infers they are simpletons blindly following an imperialist leader.

    Liberal elite, indeed.

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