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17 January 2007

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Michael

I find it interesting how the Democrats are handling this situation. One the one hand the further GWB drags the country, the larger the landslide in the next election - and yet the more damage they will ultimately inherit (and it goes without saying, the additional lives lost). Colonel Lang, what sort of odds would you place on Bush going INTO Iran? The pieces seem in place, but I just can't see him actually pulling the trigger - that's a big step.

As always, thank you.

ExBrit

Col. Lang,
What would be the point of impeachment? Cheney is in the wings. Is there no recourse in the Constitution to removing a president due to incompetence, illness, insanity, whatever, other than impeachment?

Got A Watch

Another great post Col.
GWB's legacy will live on long after he is gone.

In America, the soldiers killed and wounded, and money and influence lost in fighting this pointless war will be what people remember.

In Iraq and the wider world, the legacy will be more conflicts, deaths and destruction. The blowback looks to be multi-generational - very sad and troubling article on Iraq's lost generation:
"The Next Jihadists: Iraq's Lost Children"
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16610767/site/newsweek/

Key quote "estimates that at least 1 million Iraqi kids have seen their lives damaged by the war...These children will come to believe in the principles of force and violence," says Ali. "There's no question that society as a whole is going to feel the effects in the future"—and not only Iraqi society. From the Middle East to Europe to America, violence may well beget violence around the world for years to come."

Impeachment won't fix this (though it sounds like a great idea) - Bushies, the gift that keeps on giving.

Sen. Clinton has completed a year of sniffing the wind, determined with able assistance from a thousand operatives, pollsters, strategists and flunkies which way it is blowing, and is now ready to make a nuanced stance totally aligned with the latest public opinion polls. It's probably pure coincidence that this time her position might accomplish something useful in the real world. What's the Obama Plan?

David E. Solomon

Colonel Lang,

I believe it is time to entertain the idea of amending the constitution so that no individual could become president without passing an I.Q. test (with the minimum result on the upper end of the spectrum).

Additionally, I think a basic test in U.S. history and civic awareness should be required of any presidential candidates.

That would, of course, have precluded the "decider" from every having attained power in this country.

PSD

If nothing else, Clinton's plan is one way to stop Bush and his friends from saying that the Dems have no plans to put forward re: the war in Iraq. Dems have plans for Iraq all right--George just doesn't like (or understand) them.

So, Col., what do you think are the chances of impeachment actually happening?

Charles

Ok, impeach Bush. President Cheney, or President Pelosi, inspire any confidence, anyone? Besides, isn't there a signing statement on the Constitution: "No force or effect until further. . ." ahhh "No force or Effect". Period. Wasn't it announced that notices to that effect are in the mail, and will be delivered after opening, just to be sure?

And re: more troops for Afghanistan, well as a Canadian, I'd be all for it, except that the rest of Nato won't fight, and there's no more U.S. troops to send, unless maybe there's more Peshmergas to surge through that pipedream , er, pipeline too. Not to mention the niggling detail that Afghanistan seems pretty well irredeemable, let alone penetrable, by outside forces. Or that Pakistan will always hedge its bets and protect its assets.

Then there's the "War on Drugs" (ffffphtt - derisive farting noise here). Fought to keep the drugs coming, the peasants rebelling, the armies fighting, and hundreds of billions annually washing through the underground and enforcement empires to flow through the global economy for SOMEBODY'S benefit. Pretty obvious that's not going to stop.

Why wasn't Bush impeached for the originally reported diversion of $700M of Afghan appropriations to the Iraq invasion fantasy? Or for the bungled(?) contracting out of the Bin Laden "hunt" in Tora Bora?

Now we hear Condi's helpful suggestion that a "temporary Palestinian state" be established on the bits left over outside the Israeli "security fence". Chief Wiggum comes and suggests that you camp out in the garage (oops, sorry, that was shelled by computer error), suggests that you camp out in your own yard behind the barricades that your home invaders have pitched, until we work things out permanently for you. Just so long as things don't work out according to international law, the U.N, or the 2002 Saudi offer.

We are so far through the looking glass that sometimes I wonder what the Mayans knew when they ended their calendar in 2112. Waiting to impeach Bush until after another go at Iraq and Iran will be as efficacious as "expressing strong disapproval" of the latest provocative Israeli crime without truly punitive action. Always a day late and billions short of stated intentions - but that's the intent isn't it?

And then there's a presidential election coming, and heaven knows that's a hardly a forum for sober second thoughts. Be a good time for an Operation Northwoods though. I don't think the United States has what it takes to restore itself to a constitutional democracy amidst war and elections. And those are pretty well permanent conditions for the foreseeable future, even if permanent GOP government is not.

lina

I'm not sure ignoring resolutions constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors. The only way they're going to stop him is in the appropriations process, and that will take a while. He could do his worst damage before that happens.

meletius

The constitution does not prohibit joint impeachments, so Bush and Cheney could be impeached simultaneously.

Don't get too concerned over what constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor---we've got a barge-load to choose from, and attacking and starting a war with Iran without prior Congressional approval (a violation of the constitution and the proposed joint resolution) would just get thrown onto the already enormous heap of existing lawbreaking, misrepresentation and malfeasance in office.

Bush's historical designation as worst president ever is already assured, whatever desperate measures he might elect to undertake from here on out.

Peter Principle

"If [Bush] does that [bomb Iran] after ignoring such proposed resolutions, it is arguable that a case for impeachment could be made."

But of course, at that point the United States would be in the middle of a hot war (very hot, probably) with Iran, Centcom would probably be fighting to keep the supply lines open to Baghdad, the Shi'a regions of Saudi Arabia (which is to say, the world's biggest oil patch)could be in flames -- you get the picture.

Not exactly the best time to depose a sitting president and put Dick Cheney -- who's even more out to lunch than Bush -- in the driver's seat.

You go to war with the president you have, not the president you would like to have.

ked

"I do not believe that GWB could possible accept this..."
Col Lang, you are correct in your observation, but perhaps not your conclusion - Bush is so dissociated from the reality-based community (by his handlers, sycophants & mostly, of course, by his own powers of self-delusion) that his public standing merely confirms for him that he is right(eous). His feedback loop is badly skewed - and the nation is greatly screwed.

robt willmann

Perhaps the above post should be entitled, ``Clinton Steps Forward . . . After
Everybody Else Does.''

Desperate to cover up her prior vociferous warmongering, yet maintain her and her
benefactors' goals in the gangster foreign policy, Hillary Clinton serves up
pablum for the masses and, as I have noted before, Iraqi ``Prime Minister'' al-Maliki
is given a fish wrapped in newspaper.

From the assertion that Sen. Clinton intends to ``lay down a marker'' on these issues, I respectfully dissent.

The distillation of her three points shows an internal contradiction and legal nonsense. Or nonlegal nonsense, it might be called.

Since ``the plan'' by the
unAmerican Enterprise Institute (AEI), retired Gen. Jack Keane, and now the White House requires more troops, along with Iraqi participation, then if the added troops aren't provided, it will be even harder for the ``sovereign'' Iraqi government to uphold its part of the plan.

If penalties in the form of withholding money are going to be set up if the ``sovereign'' Iraqi government does not hold up its end of the occupier's new plan for securing the Iraqi population, then the so-called Iraqi government will be less able to help with ``the plan,'' since its troops are supposed to take the lead in clearing and holding Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, and so forth, and that will take money.

And now a law is going to be proposed requiring Congressional approval before increasing the number of U.S. troops in Iraq?

Leaving the constitution to the side for a moment, by what legal authorization did the U.S. military invade the previously sovereign country of Iraq? It is Public Law 107-243, entitled ``Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.''

I am not saying that the text of the ``authorization for use of military force,'' as opposed to a ``declaration of war,'' is constitutional, but reading the whole thing is very useful.

Section 3(a) is the money quote, and for a few persons and companies, it was and is literally that:
``AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.''

Read that language again.

Section 3(a)(1) did not apply at the start, and still does not apply, because Iraq was not and is not a threat, much less a continuing threat, to the national security of the U.S.

Section 3(a)(2) lets the president use the U.S. military ``as he determines to be necessary'' to enforce all un-named and un-numbered, yet ``relevant,'' U.N. Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq, existing, we would think, on October 12, 2002.

That's all that was authorized, folks. Nada mas. Nothing more.

Thinking of all the unnecessary death, maiming, and grief of Americans and Iraqis, and waste of money, that the few words of the ``authorization'' have caused, can lead you to go to a private place and weep.

Mrs. Clinton, who happily voted for the so-called authorization to use force, is not calling for a withdrawal of any soldiers, or closing any bases, or prohibiting permanent military bases there, or withdrawing the proposed law in Iraq to allow U.S. (and probably British and Israeli) oil companies to control Iraq's oil, or using Congress' clear power of the purse to shut down funding for the war. Even though the terms of Public Law 107-243 were satisfied long ago.

And ``Prime Minister'' al-Maliki is getting the same treatment given to Slobodan Milosovic, Saddam, and Iran: you make them an offer they have to refuse. He is being told he has to help blast away at some of his own people in Baghdad, Ramadi, and Fallujah (again). Or else.

Hillary Clinton is fully on board with the gangster foreign policy being shoved on the Middle East. Any disagreement she has will be on the methodology, not the goals.

And are Mrs. Clinton and the Democrats working up a subtle, sophisticated plan to set up Bush jr. and Cheney for impeachment with these positions having the force and consistency of jello?

Think for a minute. Did the Democrats do something when the White House demanded that Congress NOT investigate the murder of over 2,500 people on September 11, 2001? Did they vote against the Anti-Patriot Act and its renewal and expansion? Did they vote against the Homeland Security Act of 2003, which established for the first time in the history of this country a secret, internal security apparatus? Did they oppose the authorization for use of force against Iraq? Did they vote for the massive amount of money feeding these wars? Did they vote for raising the federal debt ceiling, which helps fund the wars, and which now is near $9 trillion dollars?

There are legal reasons why the behavior of some persons in the executive branch on and not long after September 11, 2001 justified articles of impeachment back then. And the list of impeachable conduct keeps growing, about domestic and foreign matters.

This compromised and cowardly Congress will not impeach and remove Bush jr., Cheney, and others for their gangster foreign policy and domestic misconduct. After all, Congress voted for most of the problems which plague us. Impeachment will happen only if the policies are bungled so badly that the goals in the Middle East and here at home might be in jeopardy.

Peter Eggenberger

Berliners used to compare Hitler to a mad bus driver, and the Germans to passengers stuck in his bus. Nothing can stop the driver as he hurtles through the streets, bumping into cars and buildings until a final, destructive crash. The passengers aren't completely innocent, of course.

Leila

Didn't William S. Lind write a sort of blog post a clef about being called to the White House to hear the Prez discuss his great gamble?

http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_12_19_06.htm

I mean, this was presented as "in a parallel universe" but it sounds like he was speaking of something that really happened, but making it "fictional." Anyway, if you haven't read it, it's germane to this discussion.

Perhaps it is total speculation and he is only writing about what would have happened had he been called to the White House for such a discussion. I dunno. It does look like W is going for the big gamble and Lind thinks it's a sure loser.

ali

Don't you need a 2/3s majority to impeach a President? This would be a bit tricky as most of those roosting in Congress have either been cheerleading for the neocon cause or have meekly sat on their sweaty hands until very recently. La Clinton was not even one of the latter.

A cap on forces isn't a line in the sand, it is feeble posturing. She's found a chink here though. Talking up the idea that those brigades are needed in Afghanistan and demanding they be sent were they might do some good is not only smarter politics but militarily accurate. Highlight that we are losing in Afghanistan because of the foolishness in Iraq. Even Rove will find it hard to swift boat his way round that.

pbrownlee

The "well, where's your plan?" gambit seems a bit thin when the latest KoolAid version of reality (as shown in the Great Leader and Teacher's astounding interview with Jim Lehrer) is so warped:

"The administration has continued to offer inaccurate information to Congress, the American people and sometimes to itself. The Iraq Study Group, in its December report, concluded, for example, that the U.S. military was systematically underreporting the violence in Iraq in an effort to disguise policy failings. The group recommended that the military change its reporting system.

"Whether many of the administration's statements about Iraq for nearly five years have been deliberately misleading or honest but gullible mistakes hasn't been determined. The Senate Intelligence Committee has yet to complete an investigation into the issue that was begun but stalled when Republicans controlled the committee.

"Frustration over the accuracy of administration statements on Iraq boiled over during Rice's testimony at the recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

"Madam Secretary,' said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., 'I have supported you and the administration on the war, and I cannot continue to support the administration's position. I have not been told the truth over and over again by administration witnesses, and the American people have not been told the truth."

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/16460924.htm

Incidentally, I have often found quite bright people perfectly capable of doing very stupid things; this may be more about character, checks and balances, proper scrutiny and accountability than it is about formal, IQ-measurable intelligence.

confusedponderer

ExBrit,
I read an interview with the psychiatrist who wrote 'Bush on the Couch', Justin A. Frank.

He's making a good argument for Cheney in favour of Bush on the topic of impeachment:

"BuzzFlash: But then we have Cheney.

Justin A. Frank, M.D.: The way the Republicans did it in ’73 was, they got rid of Agnew first, and they made sure that the person who would be the Vice President would be somebody who would be acceptable to both sides of the aisle. Maybe they should threaten to impeach Cheney first or something, and make Bush appoint somebody else. I’d rather have Cheney than Bush.

BuzzFlash: Why is that? Many people would disagree with you.

Justin A. Frank, M.D.: A lot of people would disagree with me. I really think that Bush is not competent to be President. He is unconsciously destructive. He is out of touch with his cruelty. He is unable to think clearly when presented with new information. He cannot do it. He cannot read. He cannot pay attention to the Baker-Hamilton Report. He never looked at that report. He looked at the opening title, about a new way forward or something, and that’s what he’s been using as his slogan now. He is not able to process information.

I think Cheney, as much as he is malevolent and destructive and greedy and self-interested as an oil executive and wants absolute power, he’s out front about it. I think that he would have to negotiate in a way that’s different because he can’t not think, whereas Bush doesn’t think.

BuzzFlash: It would certainly bring Cheney out of the shadows and make him accountable. Is that what you’re saying?

Justin A. Frank, M.D.: Yes."

http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/interviews/049

Paul Lyon

``I do not believe that GWB could possible accept this and, in that context, he will "bet the ranch" to try retrieve the situation.''

You may be right about what Bush is planning, but if there were any doubts anywhere about his being the worst Prez since at least Warren Harding, an attack on Iran will certainly erase them.

rick

I am not sure that I think that freezing troop numbers at the present, universally acknowledged to be ineffective, levels is a real idea. At least it's not one that is meant to do anything but vex the president(who is incompetent, but nevertheless...) without actually effecting the situation in any way that the Senator from NY can be blamed for. It's not a plan, it's a tantrum, and as such the electorate should really love it.

As for requiring the president to go to Congress for permission to up the troop numbers...I suppose I can envision a scenario where it's possible that Congress could turn down such a request without incurring unsustainable political damage, but I would file those scenarios under "N", for "Not Bloody Likely". Did Congress cut off funds after Tet?(I'm asking because I was 3, but I can't really remember them doing so from my reading)

I just heard The Senator from NY saying that her proposal was meant "to send a message". Great. It's always best to send a message, rather than try to actually accomplish anything; if you try to DO something, as was pointed out on Stephen Clobert's The W0rd, "that way lies accounability."

And why all of this message sending and symbolic flailing? Because the American People will punish anyone who tries to really disengage us by proposing actual withdrawal, even as they howl for withdrawal.

taters

Impeachment may the card that's forced to be played. Excellent, Col. Lang - with the unique insight that you bring. I recall that Sen. Clinton is an excellent lawyer.

bh

While I welcome Sen. Clinton's recent conversion, her criticism of Bush's current plan indicates that she is still on the wrong track. She described Bush's plan as a "losing" plan.

If you are still talking about winning and losing, you still don't understand what is going on in Iraq. Bush is not critical of his Senate critics because they don't have an alternative plan. He said they should provide an alternative plan "for victory."

As long as Sen. Clinton is still talking about "losing," she is still within the Bush strategic framework.

A reality based plan must start with accepting that Bush has already lost.

Sen. Kennedy said in an interview last week that Bush has already exceeded Congress's authorization in Iraq, which only allowed military action to stop Iraqi aggression and end development of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Those goals have been met, so Bush has already exceeded the authority given him by Congress in 2003. Bush and the neo-cons further defined their strategic objective as "establishing a free and democratic" Iraq. That objective has failed and Bush does not want to acknowledge defeat by withdrawing from the field.

Thus, the situation is already different from the perspective of Congress. Congress has met the strategic goals of its original war authorization. Congress has "won" the war it authorized, but Bush lost his war.

I agree with Lina that Bush's violation of new resolutions would not amount to impeachable offenses. I would submit, however, that Bush's prosecution of the war at least since 2004 has been direct violation of Congress's original war authorization. That violation is a much more serious matter.

Antifa

Why do people discuss impeachment in terms of what is allowable or not allowable, proper procedure or not proper?

Impeachment of a sitting President is a matter of getting sufficient votes, that's all. If enough Senators and Congresspersons vote to impeach, the President is impeached. It's a political act, not a judicial one.

The LAST detail to put in place, on the afternoon of the impeachment vote, is which particular high crime or misdemeanor to put atop the impeachment order. It's an afterthought to the pure political act of voting the President out of his office.

JFM

Hilary, now an advocate for the troops and sage expert on national security policy? Yeah, and I’m Batman! I shake my bony head at the parading legions of grousing Congressional members who don’t know a wall locker from a lister bag but are willing to assume the mantle of Sun Tsu. Expecting Congress to galvanize and take definitive action to block further Administration idiocy almost requires one to believe also in the tooth fairy. Despite continued mutterings of bipartismship by all, Congress remains the Muppet show…most doing their own thing with the attempted appearance of working together. No, this travail will continue lurching along toward the national elections well over the horizon. Certainly mention must be made of the inane premature media coverage of proposed Presidential candidates which only stokes the useless speculative fires of what’s to come.
Here the best advice is probably to heed again the encouragement of the old drill sergeant of many years ago, “take two salt tablets and keep moving.” Little relief is to come from within the Beltway.

John

David E. Solomon said:

I believe it is time to entertain the idea of amending the constitution so that no individual could become president without passing an I.Q. test (with the minimum result on the upper end of the spectrum).

Personally, I would rather do what a lot of businesses do in the US for high level positions and what is a generally accepted practice in Europe for top executives. Make all people who are interested in running for political office take various personality tests. These tests identify various psychopathic and personality disorder problems. The results of the tests should then be published for everyone to see.

It should also be noted that such testing was also performed in the US on all nuclear missle crews. If you are going to test the peons should you not test the guy who could actually push the button.

I have a very bad feeling that we have not seen anything yet. GWB shows many signs of a psychopath. Lack of remorse, manipulative, various antisocial behaviors (he was a alcoholic among other things) and anger when confronted with things he does not want to hear. There is also the issue where he appears to think he is smarter than anyone else. All signs of a personality disorder.

Mo

Nothing but a marker laid down for her upcoming declaration to run for the Presidency, trying to pander to both left and right (such as left and right is in US politics!).

Nevertheless, for someone who is considered, outside the US at least, as an intrinsic part of the AIPAC/Friends of Israel group in Congress, I was still surprised to see her include caveats to any attack on Iran.

arbogast

D'accord.

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