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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Impeachment?

Is the White House bracing for the worse?

From the Washington Times: Insight magazine (FYI: This paper is about as conservative as you can get).

The Bush administration is bracing for impeachment hearings in Congress.

"A coalition in Congress is being formed to support impeachment," an administration source said.

Sources said a prelude to the impeachment process could begin with hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. They said the hearings would focus on the secret electronic surveillance program and whether Mr. Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Administration sources said the charges are expected to include false reports to Congress as well as Mr. Bush's authorization of the National Security Agency to engage in electronic surveillance inside the United States without a court warrant. This included the monitoring of overseas telephone calls and e-mail traffic to and from people living in the United States without requisite permission from a secret court.

Sources said the probe to determine whether the president violated the law will include Republicans, but that they may not be aware they could be helping to lay the groundwork for a Democratic impeachment campaign against Mr. Bush.

"Our arithmetic shows that a majority of the committee could vote against the president," the source said. "If we work hard, there could be a tie."

The law limits the government surveillance to no more than 72 hours without a court warrant. The president, citing his constitutional war powers, has pledged to continue wiretaps without a warrant.

[...]

On Jan. 16, former Vice President Al Gore set the tone for impeachment hearings against Mr. Bush by accusing the president of lying to the American people. Mr. Gore, who lost the 2000 election to Mr. Bush, accused the president of "indifference" to the Constitution and urged a serious congressional investigation. He said the administration decided to break the law after Congress refused to change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

"A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government," Mr. Gore said.

"I call upon members of Congress in both parties to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution,” he said. “Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of American government that you are supposed to be under the constitution of our country."

Impeachment proponents in Congress have been bolstered by a memorandum by the Congressional Research Service on Jan. 6. CRS, which is the research arm of Congress, asserted in a report by national security specialist Alfred Cumming that the amended 1947 law requires the president to keep all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees "fully and currently informed" of a domestic surveillance effort. It was the second CRS report in less than a month that questioned the administration's domestic surveillance program.

The latest CRS report said Mr. Bush should have briefed the intelligence committees in the House and Senate. The report said covert programs must be reported to House and Senate leaders as well as the chairs of the intelligence panels, termed the "Gang of Eight."