Saturday, April 01, 2006

Censure: Some Points of Light

Update [2006-4-2 8:5:46 by howieinseattle]: "John Dean to Senate: Censure Is Necessary," from John Nichols in The Nation. Pithy quote:
"I certainly do not claim to be prescient. Then or now. But actions have consequences, and to ignore them is merely denial. Today, it is very obvious that history is repeating itself."

1. It's clear that the NSA surveillance without warrants program is illegal.

2. The rovians will not do anything about it.

3. "Godot Democrats" need to embrace their constitutional duty to conduct meaningful oversight of the Executive Branch.

4. John Conyers lead the way on this issue by introducing a censure resolution in the House in December, 2005 based on his report "Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retributions and Cover-ups in the Iraq War."

5. Let's hope Pat Leahy's "movement" on this issue is a hopeful sign."

Ari Melber makes the case on AlterNet(excerpt):

"It would be disingenuous for people in either party to claim they don't know if the NSA conducted surveillance without warrants. The second part is, of course, a matter of opinion: Do the President's actions merit censure? Most Republicans have answered clearly. Democrats should do the same.

Yet the battle over a potential investigation goes beyond simply answering that question. The Republican Congress has been either negligent or complicit in each Bush Administration failure, while Democrats keep waiting for investigations that will never happen.

On virtually every major scandal of the Bush Presidency, Republicans in Congress have stifled investigations or turned the oversight process on its head -- manipulating it to cover up failures instead of to expose them. This is not just partisan politics. American history has many instances of a Congress providing legitimate oversight when the same party controlled the Presidency. (In one of the most famous examples, Senator Harry Truman took on a Democratic Administration during war to investigate defense spending.)

On censure and surveillance, the Republicans in Congress have made it clear there will be no thorough investigation. We have been down this road before, and everyone knows where it ends.

How to change it? Republicans should stop shirking their constitutional duty to provide oversight and Democrats should stop saying they need an inquiry before deciding on issues like censure.

There is no more time for these "Godot Democrats" to wait for an investigation that will never happen. Because of the Republicans' continued betrayal of their constitutional duty, Democrats must take a position and take action now.

To see an example of such leadership, the Senators considering censure at Friday's hearing need only look down the street to the U.S. House. While Republicans stalled last year, Representative John Conyers conducted an independent inquiry into the Administration's "Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retributions and Cover-ups in the Iraq War." In December, he released a 273-page report on it and introduced a House Resolution on censure.
After Conyers' leadership, it only took a few more months for the Senate resolution to ignite the censure debate. The public clearly welcomes it. The majority of Americans with an opinion on the issue supported censure at first blush. (An American Research Group poll found initial support was 48 percent to 44 percent.) Hopefully this public interest will wake up the Republicans and motivate the Democrats. It might even be enough to make all of Congress do its job again."

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