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Bill Moyers Puts Impeachment On the Media Table
Sunday, 15 July 2007 10:34
by Dave Lindorff

Bill Moyers has put impeachment in the news, in the process shaming both the national media and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Congressional leadership.

In his Saturday program, Bill Moyers Journal, Moyers and guests John Nichols, the Nation's Washington correspondent and author of The Genius of Impeachment and Bruce Fein, a former attorney in the Ronald Reagan Department of Justice, made it clear that the Bush/Cheney administration has gravely threatened the Constitution and the survival of tripartite, divided government.

Moyers, feigning astonishment at the arguments of Nichols and Fein, asked if it might be justified for the Bush administration to grab special dictatorial powers in order to combat terrorism. His posited position was demolished by both Nichols and Fein.

Nichols explained that the Constitution was designed by the Founders to be a "fighting" document, capable of handling dangerous times. He noted that the Constitution actually provides for the temporary barring of habeas corpus (the right to have one's imprisonment brought before a court and adjudicated), but he said that this was something that a president had to do with the approval of Congress (not behind its back), and only if the Country was under attack, which is of course not the case right now.

Fein for his part noted that most of Bush's and Cheney's abuses of power and violations of the Constitution and the rule of law have been done not openly and in consultation with Congress, but in secret and in the dark of night. His secret monitoring of American's communications--phones, mail and internet for example--went on in for four years before it was exposed in an article in the New York Times. And the president has still not explained to anyone why he felt the need to break the law.

Fein and Nichols both blasted the current Democratic leadership of Congress for cowardice, lack of principle, and a basic failure to honor their oaths of office to uphold and defend the Constitution, in refusing to impeach the president. Fein said that in earlier administratiions, there were always at least a few members of Congress who were honorable enough to put country and the Constitution above party. "We don't have anyone like that in Congress now," he said.

Actually, it was one failing of Moyers' program that neither he nor his two guests mentioned that there actually are some honorable members of the current Congress. They did not mention that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), has filed a bill of impeachment against Vice President Cheney, and that his bill currently has 14 co-sponsors, with more people signing on every week. They also failed to mention that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) only days before the program, declared in no uncertain terms that Bush and Cheney should be impeached, saying that the country was "closer to dictatorship than it has ever been" because of the president's assertion of "unitary executive" powers to ignore laws passed by the Congress."

Despite this one shortcoming, Moyers' program is a public shaming of the tawdry and shameless corporate media, which has ignored the exploding impeachment movement blossoming across the nation, pretending that it doesn't even exist, or that it is the province of a few leftist wackos.

In fact, as Moyers noted, the most recent poll on the issue shows that half of Americans want both Bush and Cheney impeached and removed from office.

It will be interesting to see what impact the powerful Moyers program has on ther growing movement for impeachment, on how it is reported, and on the response in Congress.

While not watched by too many ordinary Americans, the program is influential among professional journalists and editors, and among liberals and progressives, who will be increasing their pressure on Democratic leaders to act.

Pelosi's efforts to block impeachment and keep it "off the table", will continue to look more and more pitiful and self-serving.

The next challenge to do-nothingism will be a march on July 23 from Arlington Cemetary to the office of Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and the man who has the power to kick-start hearings on impeachment--in particular to schedule hearings on the Kucinich bill (H Res. 333). (Click on the banner to the left for more information.)

A sit-in is planned in Conyers' office if he won't meet with the delegation, which will be headed by Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war and impeachment activist whose son was killed in action in Iraq.

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Comments (4)add comment

a guest said:

An Observation About the Insanity of Governments
Lawyers are famous for believing that the details of every contingency can be written into law; bureaucrats are notorious for proving that such laws are in error. Still, lawyers flock to government positions, while bureaucrats abound as their practitioners and obeyers.
July 15, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

Jimmy Montague
Nichols & Fein -- I read the transcript on public TV website.
Nichols and Fein, it seems to me, talk a good line right up to the end -- at which point the kick the legs out from under themselves by saying that if impeachment hearings lead to public apologies from Bush and Cheney, then impeachment hearings ought to stop at that point. Removal from office and/or trial as criminals would not be necessary: what they want is for the executive to confess its wrongs and acknowledge the power of congressional oversight.

I won't even discuss how stupid that seemed after all they'd said about the crimes of Bush and Cheney. I just gotta wonder: Why did they bother to speak out at all?
July 15, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

transcript..."apology" not their point
I watched the show, and don't believe that was the point of Nichols and Fein at all. The point you describe was when they were describing what happened when impeachment was being considered for Richard Nixon. They made a point that the full impeachment process MUST be carried out...including trials for Bush and Cheney if it comes to that. I think you need to read the transcript again.
July 16, 2007
Votes: +0

Jimmy Montague said:

Jimmy Montague
I think it's YOU who had better read the transcript.
Here's the relevant part:

BRUCE FEIN: 'Cause it seems to me very important. I think that if impeachment proceedings began and the president and the vice-president sat back and said, "We understand now. We both understand. We renounce this claim. No military commissions. We're going to comply with the law," the impeachment proceedings ought to stop and they should. It's not trying to be punitive and recriminate against the officials but you've got to get it right. And it's that what I hope would happen.

I've said if the president now renouncing the power and said, "It was wrong and I now respect and honor the separation and the genius of the founding fathers," that's great. And all of the purpose of impeachment would have been accomplished. They could stay in office and we'd have the greatest precedent with regards to executive authority and the separation of powers and checks and balances. This is not an effort to try to blacken the names of the president and vice-president. And nothing would gratify me more than having them stand up and say, "Yeah, I've thought about this now. My mind is concentrated wonderfully," as Sam Johnson would say.
July 18, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

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