Back in November, immediately following the Democrats retaining control of Congress, soon-to-be House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi stated: "Impeachment was off the table," as it related to the president.
Impeachment of a president is serious business that has sent shockwaves through the republic whenever it has been implemented. It is never a high moment for the nation when a president has been impeached.
As a result, I have been leery of those who call for the president's impeachment. Without due process such calls are premature and callous. But Pelosi's statement may have also been guilty of constitutional insensitivity.
If impeachment is not an option available to Congress what can be done to restrain a presidential administration that with each passing day ventures closer to irrevocable recklessness?
One need only read the portion of Article 6 of the Constitution where it reads: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby."
The Geneva Conventions of 1949, which the United States signed, promoted, and ratified relating to the treatment of prisoners of war, certainly fall into this category.
The well-documented torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay has already rendered Pelosi's statements ridiculous. But recent events remind us of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers when implementing the checks and balances system.
Last year, the Bush administration slipped a provision into the USA Patriot Act that Congress renewed allowing the attorney general to appoint interim U.S. attorneys for indefinite periods without congressional approval. Prior, such appointments could last for only 120 days. Congress may have assumed such latitude necessary, but it is hardly consistent with the spirit of the Constitution that they took an oath to defend.
There is a reason that the axiom about assuming holds true. The Justice Department has used its congressional latitude to remove eight U.S. attorneys who may have been too independent in their thinking, even though the current president appointed them. The administration appears to be replacing them with those of a less autonomous nature.
Among those dismissed was Carol Lam, who led efforts to convict Rep. Randy Cunningham, a California Republican, for accepting bribes from defense contractors. David Iglesias of New Mexico thinks he was dismissed because he refused to heed requests from a congresswoman and a senator, both Republicans, to rush an indictment of a Democratic officeholder in advance of November elections.
Are not the Justice Department's actions reminiscent of the infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" in 1973, when Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox?
Moreover, the conviction of former vice president chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, may ultimately prove to be the most egregious example why Pelosi overreached in her November comments.
Make no mistake; this case has always been about whether or not the administration deliberately misled the American people about WMD intelligence before the war. Why else would a smart, powerful insider, like Libby risk jail and being disbarred by lying about something that was so easily discredited if he were not protecting a larger secret?
We already know that secret goes at least as high as the vice president's office. It seems past the point of reason to further ask: what did the president know and when did he know it?
It is time for Congress to take action. There is no need for the Democratic-led Congress to continue wasting the people's time on nonbinding resolutions.
Tens of thousands have died, the Constitution has been compromised, and a key member of the administration has been convicted on perjury and obstructing justice all relating to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
I don't see how the Speaker can maintain that impeachment of off the table. In doing so, she unwittingly abets the cause of the administration. Nothing can be off the table until we have the truth.