Yesterday’s article surprised a lot of people who regularly read my articles. First, it was about six times longer than most of the articles I write and I received some good natured ribbing about that (one person at work said that he was going to call me ‘Tolstoy’ from now on). Second, I have had a cautious approach toward impeachment since the election of the Democratic congress until yesterday. Many people expressed surprise at the change in my opinion in that regard. I felt like those people who read my articles deserve answers when they ask questions like these, so here goes.
There is a solid reason why I changed my mind on impeachment as a result of the Libby commutation. In my opinion, there are three levels of misdeeds and crimes a President can commit:
1. Level one is a misdeed or crime that is not serious enough to be impeachable. The President is somehow allowed to drive a car and gets a speeding ticket. Or the President goes to Target and puts a snickers bar in his pocket without paying. What Clinton did in Monica-gate is, in my opinion, a level one misdeed. He had an affair with a willing participant and did not want to divulge that. Whether or not he did divulge the information had no impact on any other ongoing investigation. There was no ‘there’ there as most of us Democrats tried to explain at the time.
2. Level two offenses are when the president is involved in any primary high crime or misdemeanor that is considered an impeachable offense. By primary, I mean that it isn’t a secondary offense where the President is using his powers to try to hide another offense he committed. Level two offenses run the gamut from the smallest thing you could think of that should cause the President to lose his job, all the way to murder and genocide. When Libby and others exposed Valerie Plame, they committed a felony. Anyone in the executive branch who discussed with them the idea of doing this conspired to commit a felony, and that is also a felony. It is a particularly bad felony because it involves harming those in the security apparatus of the government who were working to protect us from Weapons of Mass Destruction. Because of Libby’s obstruction of the investigation, we don’t know who else in the White House was involved or the extent of their involvement. We know the Vice President had his fingerprints all over the leak and was very interested in Joseph Wilson’s article.
3. Level three offenses are when the President has committed or had some involvement in a Level two offense, and then knowingly uses the powers of the Presidency to cover-up the offense or hinder the investigation or prosecution of the offense. When a President gets to level three, they need to be stopped right away. At that point, the Presidency and Executive branch has officially graduated from being merely criminal to being corrupt and an ongoing criminal enterprise. Such a President has embraced lawlessness and abuse of power as an acceptable means to remain in power. Finally, regarding Level three offenses, the dictionary defines a dictator as someone who holds absolute power. The definition of absolute power is when there is no law or other governing body that can hold a ruler in check. The ruler is above the law. Thus a President who has committed what I define as a level three offense is pretty far down the road toward dictatorship. Libby obstructed justice and Bush’s commutation enables him to continue withholding information without consequences. The information Libby has withheld definitely involves discussions with his boss, Vice President Cheney, and likely other senior members of the White House, i.e. possibly Bush, regarding the Plame leak BEFORE the leak happened. Thus, I can say with complete certainty that when Bush commuted Libby’s sentence, he prevented additional information regarding felonies committed by either himself or other senior officials in his White house or both and thus committed a level three offense. He must be impeached.
In yesterday’s article, I took readers all the way through the chain of events and included a large excerpt of Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s comments on with what he was charging Libby. I thought it was important to completely explain the events as I saw them so people would know I was not tossing around the idea of impeachment recklessly. Yes, it was a change in my opinion and I think that change is justified given recent serious events. As always, I welcome my readers comments and emails.