Impeach the Minions

[Update 12/31: Link to article regarding the neocons From The American Conservative Magazine: “They Only Look Dead.”]

(And you thought recycling was always a good idea.)

Did you know that the impeachment mechanism is not limited to elected officials and judges?

From John Dean:

Realistically Refocusing the Impeachment Movement

The Constitution’s Impeachment Clause applies to all “civil officers of the United States”–not to mention the president, vice president and federal judges. It is not clear who, precisely, is among those considered “civil officers,” but the group certainly includes a president’s cabinet and sub-cabinet, as well as the senior department officials and the White House staff (those who are issued commissions by the president and serve the President and Vice President).

Quite obviously, Bush and Cheney have not acted alone in committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Take a hypothetical (and there are many): Strong arguments have been made that many members of the Bush Administration–not merely Bush and Cheney–have engaged in war crimes. If war crimes are not “high crimes and misdemeanors,” it is difficult to imagine what might be. Jordan Paust, a well-know expert on the laws of war and a professor at University of Houston Law Center, has written a number of scholarly essays that mince few words about the war crimes of Bush’s subordinates. For example, many of their names are on the “torture memos.”

Dean-who says not only that Bush has clearly committed impeachable offenses but that “Cheney’s culpability is 10 to 20 times greater”-argues that impeaching those who work closely with them is do-able because there wouldn’t be the repugnant aspect of overturning an election.  What’s more, there’s a precedent.  If you, like me, dream of justice being served but understand that impeachment of Bush and Cheney (especially the satisfying conviction part) is very unlikely, follow me.  Dean has rethought the idea, and the new one’s a winner.

Dean describes the precedent:

Impeachment of Secretary of War William Belknap, in the aftermath of the Civil War, is the only precedent for using these proceedings against subordinate executive officers. Belknap was said to be involved in a kickback scheme involving military contracts. Just hours before the House was to vote to impeach him, Belknap resigned. Nonetheless, on March 2, 1876, the House impeached the former cabinet officer, and the five articles of impeachment were presented to the Senate.

The Senate trial lasted five months. (Today, such a trial would likely be handled by a trial committee of twelve senators, with a final debate and vote by the full Senate.) A central issue in the Belknap case was whether his resignation had terminated the jurisdiction of the Congress, and whether impeachment was still appropriate when his removal was no longer at issue.

It was because of the jurisdictional issue that Belknap was not convicted, but he escaped it by only two votes.  Obviously, those who did vote for conviction had other reasons such as its deterrent effect and Belknap’s disqualification under Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution “…to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States…”

Yesterday, I saw an old photo of President Ford.  Cheney and Rumsfeld stood with him.  Both of these evil men learned at the feet of their master, Richard Nixon. During the Watergate scandal Cheney and Rumsfeld were among many “youngsters” who flew under the radar because nobody except political junkies knew who they were, and they’ve been allowed to continue their machinations in every GOP administration since. In contrast, Ehrlichman, Haldeman and Mitchell, who were convicted for their crimes (albeit more conventionally than what we’re talking about), never held such high-power positions again.

OK, so now I’m wondering how many hours I’d have to tramp through town before I found more than a couple of people who know, for example, who Stephen Cambone or Joshua Bolten is. Dean again:

Many of these men (and a few women) are young enough that it is very likely that they will return to other posts in future Republican Administrations, and based on their experience in the Bush/Cheney Administration, they can be expected to make the offensive conduct of this presidency the baseline for the next president they serve. Impeachment, however, would prevent that from happening.

What’s more, Dean suggests that impeachments of these underlings could proceed in the same manner as that of judges, meaning that the work could occupy subcommittees, not the full House and Senate bodies, up to the final votes.

Prevent recycling. Impeach the minions.

[Cross-posted everywhere I can think of.]