Saturday, January 21, 2006
by Dave Lindorff - January 19, 2006
There are now eight members of Congress who have put their names to a bill calling for a special committee of the House to investigate impeachable crimes by the Bush administration. To date, all of them are Democrats.
So far, you'd be hard pressed to know about any of this--including the very fact that Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, had even submitted such a bill--as well as two companion bills calling for censure of both Bush and Cheney for abuse of power.
Apparently in the editorial cloisters of our official Fourth Estate, where decisions get made as to what is safe or appropriate for us in the public to know, it has been determined that we do not need to know that the notion of impeachment of the president is starting to grow.
Most of the major corporate media have yet to let the public know that several respected polls have shown a majority of Americans to favor impeachment if Bush lied about the reasons for going to war against Iraq. That, if combined with polls showing that two-thirds of Americans or more think he did lie about those reasons, tells you all you need to know about the public attitude on impeachment.
The same paternalistic and pro-administration mindset was at work when the editor and publisher of the New York Times decided a year ago to squelch for a year a story they had about the NSA's warrantless spying program. They felt that we the people didn't need to know about that story in a presidential election year, even if the target of that spying may well have been the administration's electoral opponents, just as it was in the 1972 Watergate spying scandal.
There is a clear slide towards dictatorship taking place in America. The president, it turns out, has been signing executive letters along with many of the bills Congress passes, essentially asserting that as commander-in-chief in his "war" on terror, he reserves the right to ignore those bills. The latest such letter was signed by him as he signed the bill banning torture. In other words, he conceded to the bill, but then said he'll authorize torture anyway if he wants to, in his role as commander- in-chief.
The beauty of this presidential scam is that, since the "war" on terror will never end, neither will his self-claimed draconian powers. And what is the limit of those powers? Well, basically the limit is whatever Congress and the courts tell him those limits are. And are we seeing Congress and the courts setting any limits? No.
A major part of the problem is that the media that are supposed to inform the American public about what is happening are instead dropping the ball, or even hiding it.
I write these words in Rome, where I am, among other things, looking into one dark corner of the administration's crimes--the forgery of documents designed to make it appear that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program and was trying to buy uranium. An Italian parliamentary committee concluded this past fall that the forgeries were the work of long-time right-wing con-man Michael Ledeen, who helped bring us the criminal Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages-and-stinger-missiles deal during the Reagan administration, along with Dewey Clarridge (another Iran-Contra veteran), convicted bank swindler Ahmed Chalabi and Frank Brookes, a PR man hired by the Pentagon to promote Chalabi's CIA-created Iraqi National Congress.
That's another story that we didn't see in most of our corporate media, though, given that all those people are connected tightly to the White House and the Pentagon, it suggests strongly that top White House officials were behind the whole Niger document scam.
If so, it would make Lyndon Johnson's Tonkin Gulf deception seem like child's play (and all by itself would be grounds for impeachment).
I should note that Italy provides a good model of where the U.S. is heading. Here virtually the entire media--and certainly the entire electronic media--are owned by the right-wing prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Except for some fortunately excellent independent newspapers, like La Repubblica, which did most of the investigative work into the Niger document forgery story, it's hard to get any information in Italy about what its government is doing.
Of course, Italy appears to have an advantage the United States lacks: its right wing faces genuine political opposition.