To not impeach implies consent

To not impeach implies consent

I was among the packed house at SOU privileged to hear Constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein, speak passionately on the need to impeach Bush and Cheney. The endeavor to most people seems to be quixotic &

idealistic and well intentioned, but doomed to failure and therefore foolish. Like Mr. Fein, I emphatically disagree. The crimes of this administration are so clearly unconstitutional that our failure to at least attempt impeachment makes us accomplices to the dismantling of our democracy and sets a horrible precedent for future abuses of presidential power.

Bush and Cheney's crimes against the Constitution are both numerous and grievous. The question is not whether there is enough evidence to impeach; the issue is rather which of this administration's crimes should go at the top of the list. My top three would be: deliberate deceit and manipulation of intelligence to initiate the war in Iraq; illegal spying on our citizens in violation of FISA statutes and the Fourth Amendment; and the condoning of prisoner tortures such waterboarding and the Abu Ghraib nightmares. If these acts do not justify impeachment, we might as well relinquish this supposedly invaluable protection the Founding Fathers gave us against the abuse of executive power.

In his Ashland lecture Mr. Fein heaped undisguised scorn upon Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, for announcing that impeachment is "off the table." It's hard to condone such blanket immunity in the face of heinous crimes. Pelosi's sworn allegiance, Fein reminds us, is to the Constitution, not her perception of political expediency or advantage.

How many more violations against the principles of checks and balances, the supposedly sacred separation of powers among the three branches of government, would it take for Ms. Pelosi to consider impeaching this president and vice-president?

To have impeached Bill Clinton for his "I did not have sex with that woman" semantic evasions about a private affair and fail to impeach this administration for its infinitely bloodier offenses seems like expelling one student for putting gum under his desk and then ignoring the fact that another boy in his class happens to be a mass murderer.

We need to be sensible in determining what constitutes a serious violation of the Constitution. Mr. Fein reminds us that our failure to indict the Bush administration for its crimes reveals a tragic ignorance of their transgressions, non-comprehension of our responsibility as citizens, or more likely, both. If our Congressional leaders, our representatives in this republic, do not proceed with impeachment, their non-action implies our consent to probably the most serious unconstitutional executive acts in our history.

If we care about our future, we cannot ignore what has happened.

Ron Hertz

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