Censure Is a Start. But It Does Not Go Far Enough
Senator Feingold's motion to censure George W. Bush does not go far enough. For the sake of the country, for the sake of the constitution, for the sake of the rule of law, Congress needs to do more. Congress needs to impeach George W. Bush, for plain and egregious violations of his duty to faithfully execute the laws.
Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings has details:
Obsidian Wings: Cheat Sheet: The current debates over the Feingold resolution and the NSA surveillance program & the ongoing debate over the torture scandals involve a lot of convoluted legal arguments about executive power. It can get really difficult and frustrating for non-lawyers to sort them all out. (Actually it can be that way for lawyers too, but lawyers get three years of instruction in legalese & then get paid to read and write it for a living, It's a lot worse for everyone else.)
To make this a little easier, I've prepared a handy-dandy little guide for decoding the administration's arguments and reassurances on these topics:
Understanding the Bush Administration's Statements About Executive Power And Treatment of Prisoners in Nine Easy Steps
- Cross out the word "battlefield" wherever it occurs and replace it with the word "earth."
- Cross out the phrase "length of the war", "duration of the conflict", or similar, and replace it with the phrase "indefinite future."
- In front of the terms "enemy combatant", "terrorist", "member of Al Qaeda", "trained killer", "enemy of the United States," "illegal combatant," "member of the enemy" etc., insert the words "anyone the President claims, with or without evidence, is a[n]".
- After all reassurances that the President's conduct is "lawful" or "legal" or "complies with the law", add an asterisk. At the bottom of the page, insert this disclaimer: It is legal for the President to secretly violate any treaty, statute, or regulation that limits his commander-in-chief power in any way.
- Whenever the word "torture" appears, add two asterisks. At the bottom of the page, insert this disclaimer: Simulated drowning is not torture. Mock burial is not torture. Stripping a detainee naked, and chaining him to the floor of a fifty-degree-Fahrenheit cell, and pouring cold water on him for extended periods is not torture. Prisoners being "forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours" is not torture. Threatening detainees with military dogs is not torture. Prolonged sleep deprivation is not torture. Prolonged isolation is not torture. Repeating these techniques again and again, and combining them in creative ways, is not torture.
- Whenever a promise to treat detainees "humanely" appears, add three asterisks. At the bottom of the page insert this disclaimer: It is fine to abuse and degrade prisoners as long as you do so humanely. Here are some specific examples of humane treatment.
- Whenever a claim that Congress has authorized a presidential action appears, insert four asterisks. At the bottom of the page insert this disclaimer: When Congress authorizes the use of military force, it authorizes the President to secretly violate any other law if he decides it interferes with the war effort. This is true even if Congress has no idea it's authorizing the President to do this, no desire to authorize the President to do this, and would vote down the use of force resolution if they understood that it meant giving the President this power.
- Whenever you read any reference to the "U.S. Constitution", remember that they are referring to this U.S. Constitution, not the quaint, outdated one you studied in seventh grade social studies.
- Read all restrictions on the President's power as narrowly as it's possible to read them. Read all grants of power to the President as broadly as it's possible to read them. That's "possible", not "plausible". An easier way to remember this one is to ask yourself "W.W.J.Y.D.?"--"What would John Yoo do?". (Or David Addington, but his initials don't work as well).
Anybody who ever has, or ever wishes, to make arguments for the "rule of law" or "limited government" or "checks and balances," be now on notice: get out in front calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush now, or forever hold your peace.