Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Case for Impeachment

Today, we're gonna discuss some of the legitimate reasons for impeaching Barrack Obama. This is a purely hypothetical exercise, since the House Republicans have pretty much ceded any possibility of actually going forward with such proceedings. After raising a fuss over Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the dreaded national spread of Romneycare, and some made up thing I'm probably forgetting, the loyal opposition party has settled for a lawsuit. Because settling for a lawsuit is what craven Americans do.

So we're gonna ask the question no career pol will: How does one go about impeaching Obama?

"Bring it on, bitches."

The NSA is the first obvious choice, if only because it's still in the news and the internet libertarian man crush on Edward Snowden. Nevermind Chelsea Manning revealed systemic war crimes in both Iraq and Afghanistan, incidences of not just mass murder but also blackly comic incompetence on the part of the US military - no, what really concerns Americans is if some other office slave was reading their private emails.

While this would be the first option, it's also the trickiest. When the NSA was caught data-mining in the Bush years, it was doing so without a FISA warrant. That's the secret court that issues the secret warrants for secret surveillance, so the government can get its snoop on legally. The PRISM program exposed last year may be technically legal, depending on what secret documents of the secret court get de-secreted. Further, connections to Obama could prove tenuous as he went on record as being unaware of the program, like a good lawyer, when the whole scandal kicked off last year.

So you're not going to impeach Obama over the NSA monitoring your porn surfing. What else is there...

Oh! How about them drones? Admittedly, I'm not an opponent of drone warfare - as I'm under no illusions that war can be moral - but it has killed a number of American citizens under Obama's watch. While a captured Awlaki could quite easily have been convicted of treason and then executed, our legalistic society declares it a bad thing that he was just zapped outright.

And this is a matter of public record. Obama has never shied away from admitting that yes, he gave the order to kill an American citizen. No, there was not a trial. Here, look at the rationalizations the DOJ wrote up after the fact. This here is an abuse of power that practically prosecutes itself!

However... Kamal Derwish. Not many Americans know him but he was the first American citizen to die by drone. In 2002. Also in Yemen, coincidentally. It was little commented on at the time, likely because it was little reported, but his ghost would haunt any impeachment trial based on Obama's use of drones. A sad jihadi ghost, wailing "What about Buuush!" in the middle of the opening statements.

So while legally a good option, impeaching Obama over drones would not be feasible politically.

Now what else does that leave us with? Well, Gitmo is still open - but that brings us right back to the Kamal Derwish example. Detainees may be getting tortured but that started in the Bush years. While it's not explicit in the Constitution, there's likely a gentleman's agreement between Congress and the White House to grandfather in immunity over crimes against humanity committed by the previous administration.

That would certainly explain the GOP's silence on the legality of bombing Libya. They'll yell about Benghazi until they're blue in the face, but Obama's initial attack of yet another Islamic Third World nation is treated as standard operating procedure. Which it is, since it easily falls within the loose confines of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists. And Congress can't really go after him for not attacking Syria since they never voted for that - which Obama didn't even need to take action, legally speaking.

One could argue that Obama trading a couple of battered victims from the Cuban gulag for Bowe Bergdahl constitutes "giving... Aid and Comfort" to the Taliban, a not-exactly-declared enemy of the nation. Except prisoner exchanges are perfectly common in war, as is "negotiating with terrorists" like Obama did to free Bergdahl and Reagan did to free the embassy hostages in Iran. You just know a slick Chicago lawyer is going to have these precedents memorized before the House can even introduce the articles of impeachment on this one.

Which leaves us with... Nothing. Zip. Nada. No impeachable offense.

At least not one that wasn't already business as usual.

No comments:

Post a Comment