OK, let’s start by putting cards on the table. President Bush should be impeached. Given the revelations of the past week – the fact that he repeatedly authorized illegal, unconstitutional spying on American citizens – there’s really no valid argument against impeachment at this point. This is even without the abandonment of a major city in September and an illegal war in Iraq.
But I realize that not everyone agrees. “Oh, boo hoo hoo. It’ll be too traumatic because we trumped up charges against Clinton a few years ago!” Well, tough crap. You don’t justify letting someone kick you in the ribs on the basis of his brother slugging you in the jaw a week ago, saying that you want to stop the violence.
There are two important things to note right now. The first is the whole “American way of life” argument. We are fighting because, as Bush says, “the terrorists hate our freedoms.” Bin Laden, responsible for the murder of 3000 innocent Americans on 9/11, “hates our freedoms.” Well, what did Bush and his administration do? They hated our Fourth Amendment freedoms and took them away. The Bush administration hates our freedoms.
Second, let’s look at what Bin Laden said after 9/11. His stated goal was to draw us into a wider West vs. Islam struggle. Well well well. What do we have in Iraq that we didn’t have in 2001? A wider West vs. Islam struggle. Bin Laden 2, Bush 0.
Finally, and yes – I have more than two points - we have members of the administration, from Gonzales to Cheney, telling us that if ONLY we had the powers to wiretap without a warrant prior to 9/11, maybe we could’ve stopped Mohammed Atta and even the entire plot. Well, guess what? Prior to 9/11 we had FISA. And the law said that the administration COULD run warrantless searches for 72 hours, then apply for the nearly guaranteed warrant from the secret court.
I have never been in the “Bush could’ve stopped 9/11” camp. It was, for the most part, unexpected. The daily briefing laid out some potential plans as part of a flood of information Bush ignored every day. Condoleeza Rice did her “Oh, thaaaaaaaaat memo!” schtick in front of Congress later on, after denying its existence. But I don’t think it’s necessarily realistic to say that dropping everything when they got the PDB would’ve led to the break-up of the 9/11 plot.
But now I’m starting to wonder. If Cheney is claiming that we might’ve done it with this illegal wiretap plan in place, I can’t see any reason why simply using existing statutes couldn’t have gotten us to the same place. Since I always take our elected leaders at their word, Cheney has made a convincing argument that the administration was, in fact, negligent in the deaths in the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania that day.
Feingold for President in 2008.