Tuesday, December 20, 2005

To expand on my last post, let me say that I agree with Nicholas Boudrot in the general spirit of his comment. If what we've heard about the wiretaps is relatively complete and accurate, then Bush didn't use the existing procedures to get approval for ordering wiretaps on American citizens when a perfectly good system for getting that approval exists. The conclusion to which some have jumped in the absence of any apparent legal motive for the wiretaps is that they are being placed on non-terrorist opponents of Bush - specifically, Democratic Congressmen or activists or whatever. And since we don't know who they are being placed on - the single biggest effect of this program was to avoid oversight and accountability - that guess is as good as any. Since then, many people are suggesting that it's not that sinister: the program is a massive data-mining operation, so it would be impractical if not impossible to get a warrant for every person who would be affected by it. Of course, that's no less a crime - if the law is inconvenient, then you're supposed to either adapt to it or change it, not ignore it as Bush seems to have done.

So, with the obvious caveat that we don't quite have all the facts yet, I'd say that this rises to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors." But given that there is no conceivable way that a motion to impeach Bush could be successful while Republicans control both houses of Congress, the question becomes, is it a good idea to move to impeach even if it will fail? Should we do it because it's the right thing to do and damn the consequences, or did Clinton's impeachment lower the bar for impeachment proceedings, or did it raise the bar or what, or does one of those details I'm ignorant of actually completely vindicate Bush, and will impeachment look like standing on principle or just look like pettiness...

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