The Case For Censure

Ken AshfordWiretapping & SurveillanceLeave a Comment

Sen. Feingold raised the notion of a Bush censure this week on The Week With George Stephonoplous, and the idea is already gaining much support.

Georgia10 at Daily Kos makes the case:

Five minutes is all it takes, really.  Less, if you’re not that chatty. In five minutes, you can speak up for the rule of the law. In five minutes, you can put your own footprint in history, as one of the mass of millions who advocated for the censure of a President who broke the law.  Years from now, no matter what the outcome, you can look back and say you stood up when Congress stood down, you pushed your party forward no matter how much it wanted to cower back in the shadows.  Are you ready?

Talking points:

  • The President admitted to conducting a domestic spying program outside the scope of FISA, despite knowing that FISA is the exclusive means of such surveillance inside the United States.  President Bush broke the law, and this is the only way this Republican Congess can hold him accountable.

  • President admitted he did not brief the full intelligence committees. This is against the law.

  • We don’t have to wait for an investigation before censure.  President Bush admitted to his crimes publicly. An investigation is needed, but that should not preclude censure at this time.

  • Andrew Jackson was censured in 1834 for refusing to hand over papers to Congress and assuming power not granted by the Constitution.  With his stonewalling of the investigation and by ignoring FISA, this is exactly what President Bush has done, and he should also be censured accordingly.

Makes sense to me.

The White House responds:

"I think it does raise the question, how do you fight and win the war on terrorism?" McClellan said. "And if Democrats want to argue that we shouldn’t be listening to al Qaeda communications, it’s their right and we welcome the debate. We are a nation at war."

Okay.  For the last time.  Read this and let it sink into your think skull. McClellan: Democrats are not against listening to al Qaeda communications.  We just think that we should do it within the law.  And we can do it within the law.  And if we can’t (for some reason), then we change the law the way we always do — through an act of Congress.  Why is the White House being misleading here?  Can they not help it?

UPDATE:  Glenn Greenwald catches the same McClellan lie.

UPDATE:  Sen. Feingold has posted the proposed Senate Resolution for Censure on his website (PDF format).