Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Time For Congressional Hearings

The best result from the Scooter Libby trial would not be seeing Scoot sit in the pokey. Americans may want a pound of flesh for the crimes, lies, and guile of the administration and its incredible con job about Iraq, but we don't want it from Lewis Libby. Until this scandal broke, no one even knew his name. He may be the highest official convicted of crimes in modern American history, but that doesn't mean he's a significant player in the larger drama. In fact, the whole Plame affair turned out to be a distraction and a proxy battle for the investigations that should now ensue:
  • Did the Bush administration commit any crimes when it rigged the evidence to support an invasion of Iraq?
  • Were crimes committed when the administration farmed out its war in no-bid contracts to major donors (and past employers) of the White House?
  • Did the administration break laws in its covert torture efforts (Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, secret rendition, black sites)?
  • Did the administration illegally spy on Americans?
The current case about fired prosecutors is instructive. Respected judges were fired because they failed to carry the White House's water:
The White House approved the firings of seven U.S. attorneys late last year after senior Justice Department officials identified the prosecutors they believed were not doing enough to carry out President Bush's policies on immigration, firearms and other issues, White House and Justice Department officials said yesterday. . . .

Since the mass firings were carried out three months ago, Justice Department officials have consistently portrayed them as personnel decisions based on the prosecutors' "performance-related" problems. But, yesterday, officials acknowledged that the ousters were based primarily on the administration's unhappiness with the prosecutors' policy decisions and revealed the White House's role in the matter.
Normally, the vacancies would be filled by nominees approved by the Senate, but the White House had managed to subvert this via the Patriot Act, that grab-bag of executive giveaways:
Democrats say the administration is exploiting a little-noticed provision slipped into the Patriot Act that allows the attorney general to select new federal prosecutors without getting Senate confirmation. Critics say the Justice Department targeted those who did not bend to the demands of either the White House or top GOP lawmakers.
The White House has used its office, a compliant GOP Congress, and the bombings of 9/11 to subvert the law at every opportunity. Hell, Bush admits as much in his 600-plus "signing statements," in which Bush approves a law but exempts himself from it.

The rule of law functions in the US because we have checks on branches of power. Scooter Libby's conviction means little in the scope of administration malfeasance, but it could become a powerful symbol that the other branches still protect the Constitution. The Congress should use this moment--and the Libby conviction--as an opportunity to begin holding serious hearings to find out what actual violence the Bush administration has committed against the Constitution.


DA English said...

I agree that Congressional hearings should be held to find out the extent of the crimes. If I was a betting man (which depends on my mood whether or not I am) I'd say it will never happen. Our own party can't even figure a way to stop the surge or help us bring our troops home. It makes me feel like Congress is powerless to do anything. Granted at least they are not the Presidents rubber stamp anymore, but we have to expect more from them then what they are doing.

Absent Mindful said...

Alworth said,
"bombings of 9/11"

I guess technically they were plane crashes, but it's hard to reconcile the counter-arguments. Suppose it could have been a brain slip- keep up the good bloggin' Jeff!

Zak J. said...

It makes me feel like Congress is powerless to do anything.

Impeach, remove, & jail: Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld & Gonzales.

That's what Congress should do.

By the way, anyone notice the guy running Walter Reed is a former Haliburton executive? Now they get two chances to screw our troops: as contractors in Iraq and back in America.

These people belong in chains.