Sunday, January 08, 2006

Feingold won't rule out Bush impeachment

Feingold won't rule out Bush impeachment:BURLINGTON — If Pres. George Bush broke laws when ordering wiretaps and secret spying on U.S. citizens, a key Senate Democrat said he would not rule out calling for his impeachment.

"I think there is an orderly and dignified way to find out what happened," said Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. "And, if there was a legal violation there needs to be accountability ... you can't put the cart before the horse, but I would not rule out any form of accountability."

That would include impeachment, Feingold told reporters.

Feingold, who is eyeing a run for president in 2008, was in Vermont Saturday to stump for Rep. Bernie Sanders, an independent, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Jim Jeffords.

The pair held a morning press conference before making stops throughout Vermont, including Brattleboro, where enthusiastic supporters packed the high school auditorium for what Sanders said was the first formal event of his official Senate campaign. The mid-day meeting drew supporters from New Hampshire and Massachusetts as well as throughout southern Vermont.

The senator, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said in Brattleboro that committee chairman Arlen Specter has already scheduled hearings on the administration's surveillance activities, which will follow this week's confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

Asked by a supporter whether there was a way citizens could impeach Bush "here and now," Feingold said he first wants to hear the administration's justification for conducting domestic surveillance before determining what, if any, punishment should occur.

Once that is known he said, there should be accountability. "I'm not going to prejudge what that accountability should be."

The Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan arm of Congress, released an analysis Friday that said Bush's rationale for eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without warrants rests on questionable legal ground.

"Terrorism is a serious issue in my view, and in the United States we've got to do everything we can to protect the American people," Sanders told supporters to applause. "We can do that without undermining the constitutional rights which have made us a free country. We're not going to let George Bush mistake the fact that he is president with being king; we got rid of a king 200 years ago."

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