Warehouse F

Crooks Untouchable

The Unseen Enemy
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Bush May Legally Escape Criminal Investigation

By James Donahue

Even though they had the power and many members of the U.S. Congress had the desire, our legislatures did not start impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for a long list of obvious criminal acts.

Many Democratic leaders appear to be waiting for Bush to leave office before launching an investigation into possible war crimes including the illegal detention and torture of American and foreign citizens, refusal to answer subpoenas to appear before Congressional investigating committees, plotting to strip citizens of their Constitutional rights, and a variety of other matters.

Now the New York Times reports it may be too late to get the bad guys.

It seems that the late President Harry S. Truman set a precedent for blocking presidential investigations in 1953, about a year after he left office. When a Congressional committee subpoenaed Truman he argued that the doctrine of separation of powers and the independence of the presidency is equally applicable to a president while in office, or after he leaves office. And Congress backed down, thus suggesting that all presidents have the power to keep matters of their administration secret indefinitely.

While this is not a question that has been tested before the Supreme Court, the fact that the high court has been stacked with conservative thinking judges since Bush took office in 2001 suggests that the court also might block efforts to bring criminal charges against Bush or members of his administration.

That Bush and Cheney used false information to justify launching a war against Iraq, that our bombing raids on that country killed and injured thousands of innocent civilians, left hundreds of thousands homeless, and destroyed that nation’s infrastructure, should make they both subject to a trial before the International Court. Iraq was not a threat to the United States or its allies.

But the possible criminal charges involve the administration’s secret activities at home as well. The Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees are even now conducting examinations of the Bush policies and two human rights groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First are preparing reports for the new administration and calling for criminal investigations over the abuse of detainees.

Other investigations include the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama, secret legal memorandums from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and the role for former White House aides Karl Rove and Harriet Miers in the firing of federal prosecutors.

Bush has used his executive powers to block Congressional requests for both documents and testimony from Rove and Miers. Investigators are hoping that the Obama Administration will open the filing cabinets and give some transparency to whatever has been secretly going on behind closed doors in Washington.

It is not too late to open impeachment hearings. That may be the best avenue left to force Bush and  Cheney to open the books and let us all know what they have been up to.