Little bits of this story were just starting to poke through into the daylight this morning, and by this evening the rumor--fantasy? theory? speculation? ugly truth?--has circled the blogosphere several times already:
Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.Read the rest, including the evidence, at the Washington Note, whose foreign policy mojo has--unfortunately, tonight--always been pretty reliable.
The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country.
I popped in at the anti-war march at Pioneer Square tonight--didn't know about it until I found out from the Skirt--and it wasn't one of Portland's best. (Rule of thumb: When the demonstrators meet up, then confer with the onlooking cops about the actual, you know, necessity of a parade permit before marching down Broadway, things haven't been thought through.) There were lots of flags, bumper stickers, and homemade signs calling for impeachment.
In general, I've been one of the people who's stayed fairly mum on the subject of impeachment during the Bush administration. True, Bush richly deserves it. (And Clinton didn't--so it's not like the system's perfect.) Truth be told, when Pelosi said that impeachment was "off the table," I was secretly delighted, because I took it to mean--albeit in an indirect, coded way--that it was inappropriate to talk about impeaching Bush when, for six years, his actions had gone completely uninvestigated by the Republican Congress. First things first. The impeachment process has already been tainted as a partisan witch-hunt tool; no need to reinforce that impression.
There's a thing called "due process"--at least in theory--and even someone who believes in it least, like Bush, is entitled to it. It's also political insulation for the Democrats: First the Congress resumes its normal oversight activities, as required by the Constitution. And if evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors turns up in the normal course of oversight hearings, well--then the "I-word" would legitimately be back on the table.
But if, in fact, Bush is cowboying around trying to give his Iraq war a second front in Iran or Syria, without even the congressional fig-leaf of an Authorization of the Use of Military Force (forget for the moment about that quaint old custom, the congressional declaration of war)--trying to get us irrevocably committed before anyone can stop him--then yes, let's start the impeachment process. I'll bring the coffee and doughnuts.
I realize that a lot of the Republicans who are now distancing themselves from Bush's war in Iraq are doing so because they face re-election in 2008, not because they've seriously reconsidered their votes that helped get us into this morass. And the Republicans in Congress just re-elected the worst among their ranks as their leadership, although Pelosi's 100-hours agenda has peeled off a lot of GOP votes. Nevertheless, a sizeable number of the congressional GOP may well be in a position to do the right thing (if only for the iffy-est of reasons) on this subject.
The Watergate hearings had the clout they had because they were clearly a bipartisan effort.
My main objection to impeachment talk during the Bush Reich has been that with the hyperpartisanship that is the Gingrich/Lott/Delay legacy, no grounds for impeachment could be taken seriously without a substantial number of votes from across the aisle.
What I'm thinking is that popular support for Bush and his war is running so low, and his domestic and foreign policy adventures are are so widely recognized as being so far beyond the bounds of constitutionally and politically defensible behavior, and the political lock into the next generation that Republicans seemed until recently to have on Congress is now so nearly in tatters--so much so that the impeachment move might be able to draw enough Republicans (by conscience or expedience) to make it legitimate.