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What does this guy have to do to get impeached?

Greg Sagan, Amarillo Globe-News

February 8, 2006

The impeachment trial of President Clinton in January 1999 on two articles voted on the month before by the House of Representatives set an important standard for America, what might be called the "lowball threshold" for impeachment and a standard that ought to be repudiated right after it serves a more useful purpose.

. . . The two articles of impeachment voted by the House alleged that (1) Clinton provided "perjurious, false and misleading testimony" to the grand jury investigating the Paula Jones matter (he had denied allegations of sexual relations with Jones and Lewinsky); and (2) that he had obstructed justice in his machinations to conceal evidence of his hanky-panky.

Say what you like about Clinton's behavior in office, his impeachment trial by the Republican Congress was received by people like me as a loud message; an assertion that Republicans would not tolerate dishonesty, deception, manipulation or violation of any of our laws by the president.

We are now deluged with evidence that President Bush has violated federal law in authorizing the National Security Agency to tap the telephone and Internet communications of Americans without a warrant, that he has violated international law by launching an unprovoked invasion of another country, that he has violated the Geneva Conventions by abusing prisoners of this war, and that he manipulated Congress by offering sanitized versions of National Intelligence Estimates about Iraq's weapons programs - versions that did not contain the disclaimers and rebuttals in the original documents he received from the CIA.

The latest cannonade comes from a television station in Great Britain claiming to hold written minutes of a Jan. 31, 2003 meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, in which our president outlined a plan for provoking Iraq by flying a U-2 reconnaissance plane and its fighter escorts in the markings of the United Nations in hopes the Iraqis would shoot at them in violation of U.N. resolutions.

Disguising one's own forces in the colors and markings of another country to trigger a war is, I understand, a rather egregious violation of international law. When individual soldiers are caught in uniforms other than their own in wartime, they can, quite legally, be summarily executed as spies.

So people like me are wondering: Which side of the Clinton line does this
president's behavior fall on?

In my view all Americans - right or left, red or blue - must take a large step back and disavow the current political trend of accumulating power no matter what. It does not serve America in the long run to have any party resorting to the kinds of tactics this pattern reveals - a pattern of impeaching one's opponent on grounds we, ourselves, are not willing to enforce on ourselves; a pattern of constant attack over every stance or statement with which we do not agree; a pattern of spinning and parsing and qualifying the truth so that we look good no matter how bad we're being; a pattern of breaking laws and violating constitutional safeguards in the name of expediency.

This must be stopped before it stops us.

I call on Congress to act. Now. I call on Congress to reclaim at least some of the power its members have ceded so meekly to this president, to denounce his violations of federal and international law, to cease funding his ambitions, and to call him to account for what he has done.

Impeaching our president is repugnant. But even worse is the alternative.

The only other choice available to us now is to assert that the way to avoid
being impeached is to commit lots of crimes, and big ones, so that the American people cower at the magnitude of what must be cleaned up.


Greg Sagan, an Amarillo resident, can be contacted in care of the Amarillo
Globe-News, P.O. Box 2091, Amarillo TX 79166, or letters@amarillo.com. His
column appears Tuesday.

:: Article nr. 20445 sent on 09-feb-2006 02:13 ECT


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