Thursday, June 28, 2007

Conservative says: Impeach Cheney, but takes a glaring pass on Bush

That’s the (years-belated) demand by former Bush speechwriter Bruce FeinHis nut grafs, in reviewing Cheney’s “excesses”:

The vice president asserted presidential power to create military commissions, which combine the functions of judge, jury, and prosecutor in the trial of war crimes. The Supreme Court rebuked Cheney in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Mr. Cheney claimed authority to detain American citizens as enemy combatants indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay on the president's say-so alone, a frightening power indistinguishable from King Louis XVI's execrated lettres de cachet that occasioned the storming of the Bastille. The Supreme Court repudiated Cheney in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.

The vice president initiated kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture in Eastern European prisons of suspected international terrorists. This lawlessness has been answered in Germany and Italy with criminal charges against CIA operatives or agents. The legal precedent set by Cheney would justify a decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to kidnap American tourists in Paris and to dispatch them to dungeons in Belarus if they were suspected of Chechen sympathies.

I call it ‘years-belated” because renditions in this administration are four-five years old (and were also done, though with less frequency, in the Clinton Administration). Abu Ghraib’s public whitewashinvestigation are three years old.

But, something is better than nothing, right?

However, Fein then goes from a good, straightforward bill of claims against Dick Cheney to giving George W. Bush a “get out of jail free” card on grounds of innocence, naivete, or something:

The Constitution does not expressly forbid the president from abandoning his chief powers to the vice president. But President Bush's tacit delegation to Cheney and Cheney's eager acceptance tortures the Constitution's provision for an acting president. The presidency and vice presidency are discrete constitutional offices. The 12th Amendment provides for their separate elections. The sole constitutionally enumerated function of the vice president is to serve as president of the Senate without a vote except to break ties. …

In the end, President Bush regularly is unable to explain or defend the policies of his own administration, and that is because the heavy intellectual labor has been performed in the office of the vice president. Cheney is impeachable for his overweening power and his sneering contempt of the Constitution and the rule of law.

Bush made his choice in the summer of 2000, when he accepted at face value — at least for public consumption — Cheney’s story that he, as head of the vice presidential search committee, couldn’t find a better vice presidential nominee than Dick Cheney.

To allow “The Decider” a free pass, on grounds of stupidity, or whatever, as “The Unwitting Abdicator” just doesn’t wash.

To hark back to 1776, it would be to give King George III a pass and blame all of London’s mistakes on Bute or another advisor.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly