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Where Are Our Watergate Hearings? If Congress Won't Do It, Maybe There's Another Way

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It is doubtful there has ever been, in American history, so urgent a need for honest, impartial investigations as with the Bush administration. In the face of so much evidence that this administration has acted with disdain for the Constitution and contempt for the law, surely the Congress should be conducting hearings into the conduct of this regime.

Among the questions that should be investigated are:
**Did this administration violate its constitutional responsibilities in the way in which it led the United States into the war in Iraq (e.g. deliberate deceptions on the reasons for the war)?

**Has this administration violated the Constitution and/or the law in its programs of surveillance of American citizens?

**Has this administration violated U.S. law and/or American treaty obligations in its handling of prisoners in its "war on terror" (e.g. violations of prohibitions against torture)?

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**Has this administration violated U.S. law by lying to Congress on legislative matters, thus "defrauding" the United States (e.g. deliberately fraudulent budget numbers for the prescription drug benefit)?

**Has this administration obstructed justice (e.g. the Plamegate affair)?

**Has this administration usurped powers that constitutionally belong to other branches of government, and made indefensible arguments that would subvert our constitutional system (e.g. in the 751 "signing statements")?


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To many of those who have paid close attention to the information that has emerged in recent years, the evidence on these questions cries out for investigation. On many of these questions, indeed, the evidence seems sufficient for indictment. On some, it seems we know enough to convict.

But most of our countrymen have not yet reached these conclusions. The urgent business of America right now, therefore, is to subject these gangsters now ruling America to the thorough and systematic public exposure that will strip this destructive regime of its moral authority and, thereafter, of its power. For the sake of our future freedom, the American body politic needs to rise up to send a strong and clear message to future American leaders that contempt for the oath of office will not be tolerated.

The Watergate hearings accomplished this with the Nixon presidency. And similar hearings could accomplish this for the Bushite regime.

Yet nothing of the sort is happening. The majority Republican Party continues to cover up for its president, and the opposition Democratic Party runs away from even the possibility of censure, fearing that it is bad politics. The American people are not getting the help they need to see the big picture, see the pattern of lawlessness and lying that characterizes this administration's assault on our American democracy.

Do we have to stand by helplessly in the face of the corruption and cowardice of the political parties? If Congress will not hold such hearings, is there any other credible way in which they might be held?

Perhaps there is another way. And I put forward these ideas in the hopes that perhaps a popular movement can provide the impetus to put them into effect.

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There are three requirements for a successful alternative form of investigative hearings: 1) credibility, 2) visibility, and 3) a defined result.

Credibility

For credibility, what we need are high quality players, and an honest deck.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
 

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