Let me discuss the difficulty of arraigning the President based on a hypothetical impeachment stemming from FISA violations, briefly discuss the general effects of an impeachment and Senate trial and make a conclusion
In my opinion, the strongest charge to bring against Bush for impeachment would be the violation of fourth amendment rights stemming from the Administration's use of the NSA to eavesdrop on international communications under FISA.
Federal district court ruled earlier in the year that the President has exceeded the authority found under FISA, but did not order him to desist.
During the past couple of days the Administration has retreated from its previous position. Per AG Gonzales, they will now seek judicial warrants for their eavesdropping.
What would an impeachment charge based on FISA violations look like?
It would have to something like, " For a specified period during the national defense crisis stemming from 9/11 the President exceeded his FISA authority and violated the fourth amendment rights of sundry parties."
Would such a charge stand up against the Administration's obvious lines of defense?
The Administration would contend that the national security emergency warranted this intrusion, that there no are specific statutes or case law forbidding their actions and that when the legal issues were drawn and adjudicated, they complied with the court decision.
It seems to me that the Administration, if it followed the above could launch a robust and probably effective defense against this charge.
By carefully game plannimg each and every charge that an impeachment motion could bring against the President, one finds that they are aggressive in their interpretations of the law.
Their agressiveness often exceeds the statutory authority accorded to them, but their aggressiveness stems from the urgency of the 9/11 emergency.
One will also find that when legal relief was sought and pertinent adjudication found against them, they complied to the court orders.
Link the Administration's behavior to the general presumption of innocence and the continuing political strength that the President's security policies have in the Congress and among the electorate and impeachment appears to be a Sisyphean task.
Add the facts, that
a. Bush will gone in less than two years;
b. that court or impeachment findings against the Administration will create security vulnerabilities;
c. impeachment or court proceedings will not provide compensating programs to protect us from terrorists' plotting and schemes;
d. the impeachment proceedings will paralyze the government and the Congress will lose this rare opportunity to propose new business and an agenda for the future; and
e. the impeachment proceeding will vastly increase the partisan rancor that prevails in DC;
f. this increase in partisan rancor will corrode whatever power subsequent Administrations have to govern and;
g.will revitalize the currently dispirited and discouraged GOP.
It may well be that in the face of such practical difficulties you believe that impeachment is a good idea.
Factor in that a Senate trial will result in certain acquittal. Such an acquittal will be taken by many as a justification of the Administration's actions, further strenghtening the institutional tendencies toward abuse of civil liberties.
Impeachment leads directly away from people power.
People power will be enhanced by mobilization and voting.
Progressives must be elected to office in large numbers and at all levels.
At some point, the election of numerous progressive officials will result in, the government, the educational system and the judicial system being restaffed with progressives.
Until and unless these electoral victories and subsequent restaffing take place, the conservative corporate structure will remain its hydra headed self.
The left should direct itself toward providing the 110th Congress the political support to redefine the agenda and set the stage for political victories in 08 and beyond.
Diffusing and wasting our strength and this opportunity on impeachment will only serve to maintain and normalize the status quo.