A Democratic Congress Fails America and Shares Responsibility for the War

July 20 David Dienstag

At this point, It is impossible to avoid the constitutional responsibility of the Congress to impeach this administration in the White House. They have lied to the American people repeatedly beginning with a false casus belli as a justification for the invasion of Iraq. They have asserted preposterous claims of executive privilege to ward off congressional investigations into domestic misdeeds. (That privilege was designed to be used for grave national security threats.) They have arbitrarily defined the office of the Vice President as NOT a part of the executive branch to bury correspondence from the VP's office from archivists and investigators. They have decided that they can spy on American citizens, set up an extralegal international system of kidnapping, torture and dungeons at a whim. They have pardoned Scooter Libby for a conviction for a crime that leads right up to the Vice President's office. They continually overreach for powers they do not have. Worse, they plan to continue this pattern indefinitely.

Central to Jezail's argument is the urgency of the issue of impeachment and the Congress' wrong path in historic and contemporary perspective. If one only looks at events today in Pakistan, where a captive civilian government summoned up the courage to reinstate a judge, directly challenging a dictator, one can easily see a stark contrast in character with the U.S. Congress. On the one hand, a captive civilian government, in the face of routine extralegal arrests and imprisonment, defies a dictator. On the other, a free Congress deliberately chooses a path that they know will fail in the face of an executive branch that is continually grasping at more power than any previous administration. In fact, this administration has reached beyond the transgressions of the Nixon administration which had the good sense to back down and resign before the legal hammer dropped. Key players in the Bush White House are retreads from the Nixon White House and have evidently decided to embark on the same dark journey. If a previous Congress saw fit to impeach a criminal Executive for lesser transgressions, why can't this Congress do so today?

The White House resists timelines and waypoints on an obviously failed war policy. The state of war is the trigger to unleash extraordinary powers to the executive branch. The longer the war lasts, the longer they can claim these powers. White House behavior has done nothing to dispell and everything to reinforce the notion that it wants to prolong and expand a state of war for the purpose of expanding its power in Washington. They cannot even abide by the FISA laws which are widely regarded as being too permissive a path to domestic wiretapping approval. The Bush administration has advised White House council Harriet Miers to refuse to answer questions from a Congressional hearing by preposterously citing Presidential privilege. Nixon didn't even attempt this and that's how White House Council John Dean found himself answering questions in a hearing room. All of this centers around very real questions of White House attempts to purge the entire Justice Department of appointees who were deemed not loyal enough to the White House. As the war rages, this White House busies itself with grabbing and consolididating power by extralegal and undemocratic means. It is no longer time to debate policies and nuances. It is time to impeach the whole "GANG". This is not a right of Congress; this is a responsibility. That is how the framers intended it.

The framers had intended that the office of the President not become a monarchy. They had a rather bad experience with a monarchy in their own time. It led to protracted bloodshed, the American Revolution. War, to them, was not a good thing. It was to be avoided. This administration deliberately steered right into one and continue to use this state of war as a reason to reach for ever more power. The framers set up the system of checks and balances to keep one or the other branch of government from becoming too powerful but they were more concerned about the executive branch and wrote extensively about it.

Benjamin Franklin was particularly clear. He identified the act of a President leading the nation to war on a false casus belli as a prime reason for Congress to step up to their constitutional responsibility and impeach the president or the whole "gang". This is important. Franklin foresaw a situation where an executive would use the state of war as a cover for reaching to grasp more power, in particular, police power, and stripping rights from citizens, as a means to create a monarchy. (Dictators had not been created by then.)

Yet impeachment is the "I word" on the hill. Instead, Congress argues endlessly over whether we should or should not get out of Iraq, have a schedule to get out or give it more time. They talk in sweeping military generalities that they have little understanding of themselves. They have become armchair generals while missing vital and obvious diplomatic issues. No one has asked, "What about the neighbors? Don't they have a stake in this?" Kay Bailey Hutchison has resorted to good old Republican talking points calling Democratic strategy "cut and run". If only it were that simple! The Democrats offer a strategy of a timeline and float the idea of cutting funding. The Congress is looking foolish because they are trying to cut policy which is not what they were designed to do. They have a role, advice and consent, not cutting foreign policy. If they were serious about changing direction, they would impeach the gang in the White House. The crimes of this White House are well established and the evidence is all there. But the entire Congressional conversation is a cover story, a noise storm deliberately calculated to avoid seeing the more important issue to Congress - politics.

The coming presidential election is already ramping up. Presidential elections are getting like Christmas. They are beginning earlier and earlier. Both Democrats and Republicans are terrified of the prospect of having an impeachment suck the wind out of their long election show. It's no longer a show; it's a mini-series. They have bobbled the war issue and deliberately allowed this very incompetent administration to continue to do what it does best, stink out loud. That's why Speaker Pelosi took the "I word" off the table. It was not an act of kindness or wisdom. It was pure politics, just like Bush claiming the invasion was not about oil. Remember how many in Congress agreed with that?

Jezail takes notice that this White House has been changing generals frantically for some time now. As each new general comes in, and apparently fails to live up to administration expectations, a new one is selected. Others have retired rather than serve this administration or implement its policies. The White House has been very unambiguous about how they want things to be handled. If you don't get what you want from a general, get rid of him. If only the American people could do the same kind of thing!

It's a puppet show and everybody knows it. It's not an accident that Congress' approval rating is wallowing with the White House numbers. They deserve it. American kids are dying in ever greater numbers. Many more are going down a post trauma stress hallway that will devastate them for the rest of their lives. 10 billion dollars, we are told, goes down the drain every month. For its part, the White House has crouched inside a bubble and gone crackers, especially the Vice President's office—where foreign policy is generated in this administration. Let's call it Strangelove Syndrome. At the same time, the planet is spinning toward pretty serious climate consequences which are being ignored by this White House. One may wonder if, in the near term, Pakistan will display a more vital democracy than Washington. It's time for action, not theater. The Congress needs to do its constitutional duty and impeach this gang now.