Impeaching Bush

Foreign Policy is running a web-only story on their website titled The Case Against George W. Bush. Go read it. To me, this signifies that the Washington political establishment, the constructors of conventional wisdom, now believe that whether or not to impeach is a legitimate debate.

One of the key problems in impeaching Bush is the question of what to impeach him for - his list of misdeeds, lies and political crimes is so long it will be difficult to pick a single issue out of the mix to focus on. Elizabeth Holtzman (the author of the FP piece) picks two. The strongest legal case is the warrantless NSA wiretapping. The strongest political case is the war in Iraq, specifically the claim about uranium from Niger. It all comes down to the clause from article 2, section 3 of the Constitution:
he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed
Difficult to do when you have John Yoo legitimizing that voice inside your head that tells you you're above the law.

Brzezinski's latest Op-Ed

Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote an Op-Ed in yesterday's Washington Post titled "Terrorized by 'War on Terror': How a Three-Word Mantra has Undermined America." It is worth reading in full, but I'd just like to add a comment to his concluding paragraph.

Where is the U.S. leader ready to say, "Enough of this hysteria, stop this paranoia"? Even in the face of future terrorist attacks, the likelihood of which cannot be denied, let us show some sense. Let us be true to our traditions.

It makes me sad that a young 'un like me is more cynical than 79 year old Brzezinski. Brzezinski (that name is a pain in the ass to type) refers to Roosevelt's first inaugural address ("The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"), and a "calm" America winning the Cold War with a "quiet persistence." Yet when I think of American traditions, I think of COINTELPRO and wiretapping Martin Luther King Jr., of the "missile gap," of the Red Scares, of misguided CIA interventions in Latin America and Iran, of "Evil Empire," and of the domino theory.
Paranoia has been a constant in American foreign policy. This was somewhat more understandable when facing five million Soviet soldiers and ten thousand nuclear weapons. Now that our enemies are hiding in caves, and our "vigilance" serves no security-related purpose, it's less understandable. Maybe the problem is that we've been too true to our traditions, and that we need to change them. A new kind of politics! Too bad I don't think Obama's the guy to get us there.

"Distinguished Practitioner"

I just got an email from Georgetown:

*Doug Feith, Distinguished Practitioner in National Security Policy*

*Fall 2007 Course*

The Security Studies Program has been awarded six seats in Prof. Feith's Fall 2007 course, which will be held on Wednesdays from 3:15 - 5:05 pm. This course may be used to satisfy the elective requirements for a free elective. Those interested should email [administrator's name and email] by Thursday, March 28 at noon. We will select students based on seniority to fill the seats. In the case of a tie, we will break the tie using a lottery. Placement winners will be notified by email by 5 pm on Friday, March 29.

*Class title: /National Security Policy of the Bush Administration – INAF-650/*

Course description:
Coming soon…

I'm sure "Distinguished Practitioner" Doug Feith will lead a totally unbiased look at the Bush Administration's National Security Policy. Really makes me proud of my school. Colbert's take:

"If you do something illegal, you can go to jail. If you do something inappropriate, you can go teach at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University."

When it rains, it pours

A slew of scandals have hit the news lately that would make President Bush sweat if he actually read newspapers.

Scooter Libby found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. Remember when Bush promised to restore "honor and dignity" to the White House in 2000? Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame's civil suit against Libby, Cheney, Rove and Armitage is also coming up soon.
By the way, who knew that Scooter Libby wrote a book filled with prostitution, pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia? I can't find the New Yorker article online, but this is from the google cache of Close Reading Dept. Scooter's Sex Shocker, by Lauren Collins:

Other sex scenes are less conventional. Where his Republican predecessors can seem embarrassingly awkward—the written equivalent of trying to cop a feel while pinning on a a corsage—Libby is unabashed:
"At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest."
And, finally:
"He asked if they should fuck the deer."
The answer, reader, is yes.

Anyway, back to Bush's scandals:

Walter Reed hospitals found in deplorable shape. People are getting fired left and right, including the commander of the hospital, Maj. General Weightman, his replacement, Kevin Kiley, and the Secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey. Bush portrays still himself as Mr. Support the Troops.

A slew of U.S. attorneys are fired because they didn't engage in partisan investigations. David Iglesias, one of the fired attorneys from New Mexico, says that Representative Heather Wilson and Senator Pete Domenici, both Republicans, both pressured him to finish investigations of Democrats in time for November elections. A clause slipped in to the second installment of the Patriot Act by a staffer of Senator Arlen Specter, without the Senator's knowledge, allows the Department of Justice to replace U.S. attorneys with "temporary" replacements that serve indefinitely without Senate confirmation.

The FBI's use of National Security Letters is riddled with errors and has no oversight. This is probably the least surprising of all of them, given that Bush explicitly said in a signing statement attached to the Patriot Act that the executive can do whatever it wants as long as they can tangentially relate it to national security.

Mark Klein, former AT&T employee who went public a little while ago about the NSA installing secret rooms in phone companies' buildings in order to suck up all the data that passes through there, had an ABC Nightline feature on him and the story. The new bit of news is that the L.A Times editor killed the story because the documents Klein supplied were too technical and he "could not figure out what was going on."

Two guys are suing the NSA for wiretapping them. While the NSA has been wiretapping everybody, it's difficult to establish standing in court because you can't prove that you specifically been harmed or wiretapped. Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor, two lawyers in Oregon, were shown Treasury Dept. papers with their phone logs on them, evidence they can use in court to establish standing.

A lot of this stuff has to do with the Department of Justice. Attorney General Gonzales might be on his way out (or so I can dream). Senator Specter is pissed, saying "One day there will be a new attorney general, maybe sooner rather than later." Maybe Specter is just pissed that he got hoodwinked by his own staffer in that business about replacing U.S. attorneys.

What if World War 3 had happened?

I grew up in a suburb of Boston, northwest of the city. It was near Hanscom Air Force base, as well as Lincoln Labs and the headquarters of Raytheon. Thus, if the US and USSR had started flinging ICBMs at each other, my house definitely would have been glowing. But I always used to wonder exactly how everyone I knew would have died. Would our house have survived the initial blast long enough to burn in the massive firestorms that follow the nuclear blast? Would we have lasted long enough to die from radiation poisoning? Luckily a rather morbid individual named Eric Meyer created a Google Maps tool to map the effects of nuclear explosions. And, assuming a yield of 550 kilotons from a Soviet SS-19, my house would have been destroyed in the initial blast. Click this link to see the map.

On reading the map: Everything in the smallest circle would be flat. The next smallest circle represents 5 PSI, that means that most buildings that aren't blast-resistant would be destroyed. My old house falls in the outer area of that region. Since it's made of wood, we can safely say that my house would have been flattened in WW3.

Have a nice day.