Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The enablers
I spend a lot of time focusing on the ills wrought by Republicans, whether President Bush or his lackeys in Congress and the blogosphere. But Democrats have some things on their consciences, too. Democrats have in many ways been the chief enablers of this most lawless of presidents, by refusing at every turn, to stand in the way of his trashing of both the law and the constitution, or to apply the Constitutionally mandated prescriptions for such violations.

In other words, the Democrats won't stop George W. Bush from violating the law. They won't punish him for violating the law. So they are inherently complicit in his lawbreaking, the same way someone who hides an escaped convict is guilty of aiding and abetting a fugitive.

When you look at the conduct of the 110th Congress -- which definitely is superior to the 109th in that it is not a complete fool's palace full of sycophant courtiers -- you can't help but notice a certain, I guess you could call it fear? of the president of the United States, or at least an unusually deferential and non-confrontational attitude, that is nothing like the "jealous" guardian of its own prerogatives that the framers intended each governmental branch to be. Hell, the Congress doesn't seem the least bit jealous about guarding its prerogatives. You can lie to them. You can hide information, even destroy it, with little consequence beyond quiet hearings without the force of consequences.

So what's the point of having hearings at all?

Think about a situation in which a Democratic president flagrantly violate U.S. statutes outlawing the torture of prisoners, violated the Geneva Conventions, possibly even condoning the commission of war crimes, then destroyed the evidencee, even after it was requested by the president's own commission, flouted Congress' authority by attaching signing statements to laws passed by the legislative branch, refused subpoenas, abused executive privilege in order to continue to shade information, outright lied to Congress about the case for starting a war, and issued dicta stating that the president literally is beyond the reach of the law, so long as we are in a war that he himself has declared to be endless ... your head spins wondering how thick the impeachment briefing would be. And yet, not only will the Democratic-led (barely in the Senate, which is actually 50/50...) Congress not move to hold a single impeachment hearing, they go further:

- They refuse to even censure the president, or even to criticize him in the stark terms his actions seem to call for.

- They refuse to call for an independent counsel to investigate the myriad Bush administration scandals, from the midnight coercion of former attorney general Ashcroft, to the summary firing of U.S. attorneys who wouldn't play ball on the Bush political agenda, to the latest bombshell -- the erasure of CIA tapes showing the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody.

- And they won't even verbalize what has become patently obvious, not just to the blogosphere or to talk radio hosts, but to a majority of Americans, and a majority of constitutional and legal scholars, including those from Republican administrations: that this president -- the man entrusted with leading the executive branch of our government -- is a liar and a lawbreaker.

And if the Congress won't hold him accountable, who will? Worse, if the Congress sees no point in stopping him, because they think it would be "bad politics in an election year," and they therefore take their oaths to defend the Constitution no more seriously than George W. Bush does, then what the hell is the point of the Congress?

OK, off my soap box. To the news.

The NYT reports that lawyers inside the CIA OK'd the destruction of those torture tapes, including the ones involving terror suspect Abu Zubayda.

ABC Newsman Brian Ross made short work of General Hayden's lie about the tapes being destroyed in order to protect the identities of the agents involved in the interrogations (et tu, Valerie Plame outers?) by interviewing one of the lead interrogators, who says yes, it was torture, and the tapes shouldn't have been destroyed.

Team ABC updates their coverage with an interview with President Bush, who denies, in very legalistic terms, remembering that he knew about the tapes:
he President said he was told just a few days ago.

"My first recollection of whether the tapes existed or whether they were destroyed was when [CIA Director] Michael Hayden briefed me," Bush said.

"There's a preliminary inquiry going on and I think you'll find that a lot more data, facts will be coming out," he said, "that's good. It will be interesting to know what the true facts are."

Yes, George, that would be very interesting...

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posted by JReid @ 3:31 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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