The reaction to the call by Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin to censure President Bush for violating national law by conducting warrantless domestic surveillance clearly demonstrates two things: that the Washington-establishment Democrats are a bunch of wimps, and that many of the most visible (read televised) members of the national press corps are — despite the mounds of scorn heaped on them by the Bush White House, or perhaps because of it — little more than Bush toadies.
Censure is a little-used and only symbolic action. The Senate has invoked it only once, in 1834, against Andrew Jackson. Jackson shrugged off the censure and saw it revoked three years later. Those who see Feingold’s move as a transparent substitute for a more legally rigorous and meaningful call for impeachment are, of course, correct. But at the moment, censure will have to suffice.
Even if the Democrats are able to win a majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections six months from now, it is still unlikely that an impeachment vote, which would trigger a subsequent trial by the Senate, could be managed while we’re still at war in Iraq. And by Bush’s own admission, we’ll have troops on the ground well after he leaves office.
That Iraq should provide Bush with a political prophylactic is ironic in the extreme. The evidence that he committed the high crimes required to be removed from office by grossly and continually misleading the nation (not a literal crime) and Congress (certainly an impeachable offense) is considerable.
Another example of Bush’s mendacity surfaced this week on the front page of the New York Times — almost a month after the news broke in Great Britain. This latest evidence of deceit came in a memo dated January 31, 2003, summarizing for Prime Minister Tony Blair’s closest official confidantes the result of Blair’s two-hour, closed-door meeting with Bush. The conclusion: wiggle words aside, Bush was going to war, even if it meant goading Saddam Hussein into firing the first shot.
Bush’s predetermination to invade Iraq should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the so-called Downing Street memo of July 2002. That memo, also British, showed that Bush was committed to war months before Bush and Blair requested that the UN resume its search for nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
The world well knows that those much-feared weapons have never been found. The commonsense conclusion that they never existed has received yet another boost with the publication of Cobra II, a book by Times reporter Michael Gordon and retired Marine Corps general Bernard Trainor. Drawing on a still-classified Bush-administration report, declassified portions of which are available on Foreign Affairs magazine’s Web site, Gordon and Trainor make a strong case that Bush not only knew, but that Hussein knew that we knew, that there were no weapons of mass destruction hidden somewhere in Iraq.