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Brattleboro Chamber: Town 'proud' or 'treasonous'

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Election 2008
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Posted March 5, 2008 8:00 PM
The Swamp

The snow was piled high outside Brattleoboro Union High School, where voters spoke out on the Bush administration this week. Photo by Zachary P. Stephens / Brattleboro Reformer)

by Mark Silva

The cards and letters -- emails actually -- are pouring in at the Bratttleboro Chamber of Commerce. That's the chamber of the small Vermont town whose voters voted this week for the indictment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney and ordered the town police to arrest them on sight.

This is a different sort of fare for a small town's Chamber of Commerce to be advertising, but then this is a different sort of town -- as evidenced by the recent editorial in the Brattleboro Reformer accusing Bush of throwing "a temper tantrum'' over terrorist surveillance.

"This vote has to do with the president not being honest in his administrations quest for WAR,'' Daniel wrote to the Chamber. "When a president misleads our country and pushes for war against the better judgement of the CIA and the Pentagon, and against the wishes of the rest of the world; invading a country where the US installed a dictatorship, simply to control the oil in that part of the world while claiming that we need to fight terrorism (which was not an issue at the time), that president whomever he is, deserves to be called to the mat, and held accountable. ''

"I am so proud of the wise residents of Brattleboro for voting to arrest Bush and Cheney for their crimes against the Constitution,'' RB wrote to the Chamber. "You are patriots in the best sense of the word.''

John Long, of Normal, Ill., wasn't so flattering: "I know you will not have the courage to add this letter to your proudly displayed letters of support for your treasonous act of symbolically indicting the President and Vice President of the United States,'' he wrote to the Chamber -- which of course did pos tit.

"I would like to say that I believe in free speech and debate but your actions have put more Americans and soldiers lives at risk with your ridiculous charade. Why the need for attention? Why doe's your town need to put its selfish ideology ahead of the lives of our brave soldiers?''

All this national attention on a small town that long attracted tourists to springs discovered along the Whetstone Brook, home to a gristmill and sawmill. The Brattleboro Hydropathic Establishment, more commonly known as the "water cure", opened in 1846. The water cure, which included "plunges in the cold, pure springs, long walks in the woods, healthful food, and no alcohol or tobacco,'' operated until 1871.

The Estey Organ Company founded soon after that employed more than 500 and sold reed organs around the world -- "Brattleboro truly became the organ capital of America,'' the Chamber boasts. But today, it is the controversy capital -- generating some controversy a couple of years ago when the town Selectboard attempted to ban nudity.

For more on the new debate there, see the Brattleboro Chamber Web-site.

And for the Reformer's take on Bush see this recent editorial:

"It's a hopeful sign that most Americans are no longer moved by the Bush administration's constant exploitation of terrorism to achieve its political goals,'' the Reformer editorialized on Feb. 21

"Aside from the people some have dubbed "the keyboard commandos" -- the pundits, bloggers and professional scaremongers who steadfastly believe they are fighting a war to preserve Western Civilization from "Islamofascists" -- few Americans take anything that President Bush says seriously.

Last week, President Bush threw a temper tantrum after the House refused to pass the Senate's version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a bill that allows his warrantless wiretapping program to stay in place and gives telecommunications companies legal immunity from prosecution for helping the government spy on its citizens.

President Bush tried to convince Americans that they were in danger because the bill wasn't passed. Most Americans just shrugged. There isn't a great deal of support for warrantless wiretapping and for protecting Verizon and AT&T from having to go to court to defend themselves. And, despite the spin put out by the White House and its supporters, the government can still conduct surveillance as it has before, even without the version of the law Bush wants.

The keyboard commandos, always ready to attack those who question their mission but who aren't ready to enlist in the Army and actually join the fight, would be a laughable group -- except that they have been the driving force behind the creation of an out-of-control national surveillance state.

Warrantless wiretapping, the monitoring of e-mails and Web site visits, the ever-growing list of "terror suspects," the various legislation that has given the federal government the power to declare martial law, arrest dissidents and detain people indefinitely without legal recourse is what the fevered fantasies of the keyboard commandos have given us.

We have gotten so accustomed to watching the Democrats cave in to the Bush administration's demands that we were surprised that the House Democrats finally refused to play along.

Quite simply, the White House maneuvered the FISA vote so it would be dropped into the laps of the House just a few days before an arbitrary deadline. Bush then said they had to pass it as is, and immediately, or else America would be in danger.

Thankfully, the House rejected this bogus reasoning. And, as expected, the White House, the Republicans in Congress and the keyboard commandos went ballistic. They claimed al-Qaida members were jumping up and down with glee over this vote and that Democrats don't care about keeping America safe.

There are many things we are looking forward to when the Bush administration finally leaves power. One of them is the end of the constant fear-mongering -- fear-mongering that has led to a weakened Constitution and eroded civil liberties.

There is absolutely no reason why telecommunication companies should not be subject to legal action for helping the Bush administration break the law. There is absolutely no reason to flout the laws against illegal surveillance. And, there is absolutely no reason why the Democrats can't finally stand up to the constant bullying of an administration that cries "wolf!" at every turn.''

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Then the Vermonters shouyld get their socialist Senator and theri Congressman going and start the impeachment procedings. IF President Bush and VP Cheney did the treasoness offense that these people alledge they did, then it is the sworn constitutional duty of these Congressman to start the impeachment procedings.

Treasonus. Can't wait for them to lose any federal money they previously got.

The Bush/Cheney Regime

-Spying on Americans
-Lying to Congress
-Waging an Unnecessary
Pre-Emptive War
-Torturing Prisoners
-Operating Secret Prisons
-Ignoring Pre-9/11 Warnings


I love watching GOPer's like Terry and Bill/Jeff come on here, raise their hands and volunteer to give up more of their Constitutional rights for the "good" of the almighty Republic Party....IDIOTS!

I, for one, am proud of Vermont. Vermont is obviously one of the few places where the heartbeat of America is truly still strong. I was beginning to believe the America had really lost its way; that we would be cowed by this administration, the next administration, and the one after that. However, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and all the others could NOT have done it without congressional aid. I would have some people look at the Micheal Moore interview with a senator. He states that they don't even read most of the bills they get. They just sign them and move on. This is not true for all senators and House Reps, but, we must remember that these people are responsible, too. These people, Republican or Democrat, have a SWORN DUTY to PROTECT the CONSTITUTION, and duty in which they have proven to be grossly misjudged as suited for. It is time that America wakes up and takes her government back to what it was meant to be. Perhaps we should "seriously" consider legislation for capping the number of terms a senator or House Rep can serve, as the longer they are in there, the more likely they are to find themselves weak, and take the side of small interest over the side of the American people.

My point here is simply that many more are to be blamed than is being perceived. If our government officials were misled, then so-be-it. However, I believe more of them were likely aware of much more than they would be willing to admit. I might be wrong, but I don't believe so.

-Greg C.
-Kalamazoo, MI

Hi Jeff -- where would you say that it ranks on the "treason" scale next to revealing the identity of a covert CIA operative?

Treasonus. Can't wait for them to lose any federal money they previously got.

Posted by: Jeff | March 5, 2008 9:08 PM

Yes, free expression must be stamped out at all cost. The Great Leader must never be questioned!

Seig Heil!

Most Americans are aware of the courageous service John provided as a naval aviator and POW . But few can fully appreciate how bad the egregious hospitality of the Hanoi Hilton was .His main concerns were for other POWs’ life threatening conditions and how he could assist their problems.

To this day John’s truthfulness, dedication and what he believes in is demonstrated by his sincere actions and service as a Senator of the United States of America. We could do a whole lot worse than vote for John Mc Cain.

Most Americans are aware of the courageous service John provided as a naval aviator and POW . But few can fully appreciate how bad the egregious hospitality of the Hanoi Hilton was .His main concerns were for other POWs’ life threatening conditions and how he could assist their problems.

To this day John’s truthfulness, dedication and what he believes in is demonstrated by his sincere actions and service as a Senator of the United States of America. We could do a whole lot worse than vote for John Mc Cain.

Good point Terry. These Vermonters should encourage their Representatives in Congress to begin impeachment hearings. I encourage residents here in Illinois to do the same.

Fools!!! Add this "boro" to the growing list of "places to avoid in America." Winter is almost over...maybe their brains will begin to thaw out a little? Hey...speaking of places to avoid...has anyone out there noticed the wonderful Democrats who control Cook County, Ill (Chicago) have just raised the sales tax to 10.25% Great job Dems!! You now have the highest sales tax in America. That will encourage people to rush out to the stores and buy things. Or should people just go to the next county and buy the same products with a 5-6% sales tax? Ummm...that's a tough one!

What a waste of time and energy. Must be a cold boring winter in Vermont this year.

I believe what these people did was probably a bit foolish, but it wasn’t treasonous. We use that term “treason” and “treasonous” too loosely to describe any conduct that appears disloyal to the government. That would be fine if we went by the definition of treason under the English Common Law, but we don’t. We live in a country founded on the idea that the People have the right to alter or abolish a government that is destructive of their unalienable rights. This idea is expressly stated in the Declaration of Independence (in case you weren’t allowed to read it in school). Thus, it is not treasonous to give loyalty to a government only if it deserves it, or to withhold loyalty and oppose the government when it is guilty of abuses. (See Cramer v. United States, 325 U.S. 1, 21 (1945).) That is our right.

Instead, treason consists of something more treacherous. A conviction for treason requires proof that (1) a person who owes allegiance to the United States, (2) either: a) waged war against the United States, or b) “adhered” to an enemy of the United States (i.e. an entity waging war against the U.S.), and gave the enemy aid and comfort, and (3) that he or she did so with the intent to betray the United States by means of these acts. (See U.S. Const., Art. III, Sec. 3; Cramer , 325 U.S. at 28-29, 31.) The latter distinction is important. There may, in fact, be many things a person can do to hinder, disrupt or subvert the government, but such conduct is not treason unless it was done to give aid to the enemy.

In light of the foregoing, the conduct of our little Vermont town can’t be viewed as “treasonous.” In the first place, it couldn’t have been done in earnest. Vermont’s rules of criminal procedure don’t permit an indictment or arrest to be based on a popular vote, in which case the vote resulted in nothing remotely official. Not only is the indictment invalid, no law enforcement officer in his right mind would ever attempt to enforce an arrest warrant based on such an indictment. Knowing that Vermont governmental officials aren’t stupid, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of seeing any further action based on this popular corruption of an indictment.

These guys were just blowing off steam. They are unhappy with Bush and Cheney and believe their conduct has been criminal, or that it ought to be viewed that way. They are not entirely alone in this sentiment either. This is just a case where a group of people have voiced their displeasure and withheld their loyalty in the believe the government has been abusive. That is their right under the First Amendment. However much we might not like it, it is something we must tolerate.

I know John Long.

He's an idiot.

The Brownshirts in Vermont want to punish anyone who dares disagree with them.

No wonder the new book by Jonah Goldbeg, "Liberal Fascism", is now number one in the nonfiction field.

If the Bush FISA is made permanent, and telecommunications companies remain legally immune from prosecution when helping the NSA to spy on American citizens, those companies likely will be be willing to continue doing so - for a substantial fee.

The Bush administration could easily have the NSA eavesdrop on political candidates who are running against their favorites - for state offices and for national offices, particularly U.S. representatives and senators. If found out (not too likely) they could give "national security" as their rationale. After all, if the Bush policies are the "only right way" to ensure national security, it could endanger U.S. national security for very many of their political opponents to win.

Unless their policies continue after President Bush and VP Cheney leave office, laws which have protected abusers of power during this administration will be changed, and quite a few abusers of power - corporations and individuals - will be sued. This lame duck administration is apt to do just about anything to ensure continuation of their policies.

I can think of no reason the Bush Administration would refrain from surveilling their political opponents as long as they can do so secretly. Can you?.


Not very high, seeing as how Richard Armitage (the man who actually did it) was charged with no crime.

If Joe Wilson wants to play with the big dogs and politicize intelligence he'd better be ready to pee in the tall grass.

Hey Rob, are you aware of what your ol' pal Joe Wilson's been up to lately? The Obamessiah would not approve...

Freedom of expression, Freedom of speech. Great things they are. Just remember even though there are freedoms you have to be willing to accept the consequences of what you say.

You don't have freedom to get free money from the federal government, Congress still holds that small thing called the power of the purse.

neither - the real answer is hypocritical, or typical liberal.

I have yet to find one Liberal who can explain the difference between the invasion of Iraq and the invasion of Serbia. At least the leader of Iraq tried to destroy a US ally and proudly announced their payments to terrorists. What possible threat did Serbia pose to the US?

But reporters and other liberals are not bright enough to ask this question, so it will never get reported in the Tribune.

And Rob S. - The guy who revealed the name of the CIA employee (note, NOT operative) was Richard Armitage, a former State Department honcho that leaked the info to Bob Woodward and Novak, among others. Oddly enough, he was never charged, even though Fitzgerald knew about it from the beginning . . . .

Jeff sums it up in a nutshell. It's only a crime if you get caught.

"Freedom and Unity!"

Alas , we've seen all too little of both in the past seven years.

I feel your pain and anger, Vermont.

Bush ran for office on a promise of accountability and consequences. Yet, he has suffered no consequences for abolishing most of the Bill of Rights, no accountability for the lies to Congress and the abrogation of treaties like the Geneva Conventions, and the Nuremburg Charter. He hasn't been held to account for the violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. When he cut funds for levee maintenance, resulting in thousands of deaths, when he altered the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to allow more mercury in the air and toxic chemicals in the water, no one held him to account. As for his invasion of Iraq, there has never been legal, ethical, or rational justification for the mass murder of the innocent Iraqi people.
If no one else will stand for the honor of the US Military and the sworn duty to protect the Constitution, indictment is the only logical remedy. Bush now has all the tools available to King George III before the revolution. Let us at least honor all those who gave their lives to make America a bastion of law and justice.

There is something in the water in Vermont. Crazy Howard Dean, Senator Depends Leahy, Socialist Bernie Sanders and Jumpin Jim Jeffords all come from there.
Impeaching Presidents is done for attention by a bunch of nut cases In Battleboro.
President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are honorable Americans who shouldn't even worry about scumbags from Vermont. Jerry White, Springfield, IL. By the way I won't be a tourist there ever because of this stupidity. They're stuck on stupid!

Mark Silva's article mentions a "debate" over the Brattleboro vote.

Mark, doesn't a "debate" require two sides? And if there IS a "debate", isn't a reporter required to present both sides?

Instead, the above article quotes the hate-Bush crowd 654 words, compared to only 88 words for the other side.

An almost 8-1 ratio. Typical DNC Swamp, perhaps. But that's not a fair presentation of a "debate".

It appears that even Mark Silva realizes the hate-Bush case is so feeble that in order for them to win the argument he has to give them 8 times as much space.

I would call it proud in order to choose between the two.
If you do a little research, or even just pay attention you will see that the doings of GWB are indeed treasonous. He has (With the help or even leadership of the VP, Placed America directly in harms way, possibly intentionally with his 'war'. Thereby destroying national security.
He has signed into law a bill (S-1959) that violates the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, and by doing so directly violated the 4th amendment as well.
His 'war' besides being an illegal war, he has been quoted to say he will keep troops there for the next 50 years, thus indicating his intention to somehow remain in power again against the Constitution, not to mention indicating that his goal is NOT to win a war, or achieve a purpose there, only to occupy the region.

I have only mentioned a few of the gross indifferences to the very position he holds in this country to make a point. There is certainly much more but if I included them all this would be 6 or 7 pages long!

When he accepted office he swore an oath to protect and serve, and to DEFEND the Constitution, yet instead he is systematically destroying the constitution, and directly endangering America both economically, and physically. That is treason, ad it is the duty of every citizen of the United States of America to put a stop to it. That was designed into the constitution to prevent this very type of thing from happening.

Why to go Vermont, you give me reason to believe there is yet hope of America! My hat is off to you, now may more good folks of the free world wake up and smell the coffee and take their country back!

By your calculation, Bill Hussein R, Armitage was "caught." The exact day he spoke to Novak and what he told him are a part of the public record and have been published in every major newspaper in this country, yet a decorated federal prosecutor still felt he couldn't even indict, let alone convict, based on such evidence.

So he was "caught." There's no question about that. The question really is "what crime was committed?" It would be like putting Plame on the stand and asking her why she perjured herself to congress when she said she did not send her husband to Niger. CIA documents that have since been declassified clearly prove that she did.

But what good would come of prosecuting Plame and Armitage for crimes that are difficult to prove and would open the whole intelligence up to more of the politicization that Wilson wanted in the first place? The prosecutor believed no good would come of it.

Jerry, I, too, will pull my tourism dollars from Vermont. The snow is better in Colorado and Utah than it is at Killington, anyway.

John W:

Any thoughts on whether the Clinton impeachment was justified in light of your fairly hight standard for impeachment? Or does that standard only apply to Republicans?

This is such a waste of time by a bunch of Left Wing Crazies of the Democratic Party. It makes the beautiful state of Vermont look stupid.

What a rediculous waste time for a bunch of worthless Vermontites. And people say Texans are stupid... bah...
Secede to Canada already! We'll help you pack!

I don't really care about the indictment. One, the local police have no authority on this issue. I would love to have Bush and Cheney visit the village and get arrested. The second a cop touched them, secret service would arrest the police. The cops would be committing the crime.

Even better, indict those senators and congressmen who also voted for the war including those on the Senate "Intelligence" Committe who never read the report and voted for war -- Can you say HILLARY??

Why would there be a debate? The Constitution/Bill of Rights made provisions for what Brattleboro did. If Bush would ever think of depriving the town of federal funds--force the Supremes to pee on The Constitution and agree with Bush.
I will make a point of going to Brattleboro when I am in New England. This looks like a community of patriots, and I would gladly spend some of my hard earned, Bush-recession-plagued money there. Thank you Brattleboro for your courage--and you are spot on in your assessment of the current administration. I am wondering if any community would cast such votes on Pelosi's dereliction of duty in her role re the required checks and balances of the executive office?

John Long said "I would like to say that I believe in free speech and debate but your actions have put more Americans and soldiers lives at risk with your ridiculous charade. Why the need for attention? Why doe's your town need to put its selfish ideology ahead of the lives of our brave soldiers?''

This dude needs read his last sentence and replace "your town" with "George Bush" and then it will make sense. it's because of him that we have lost 4000 American live, ruined the lives of many others and put our country in greater peril.

To Steve S and the rest of the Bushycophant crowd, yes, Vermont should secede JUST AS SOON as your precious GOP Dixie re-constitutes the glorious Confederacy

Republicans are quick to trot out "Treason(!!!!!)" whenever they're criticized. Certainly, recent history has taught us, it's not un-American to demand impeachment when we decide that our President and/or his administration has performed his/their office in an unacceptable mannner.

They're ("they" = "Republicans") also pretty quick to forget that all the freedoms they give up so easily to a Republican administration are going to stay in jeopardy for a Democrat. I wonder how much groaning from their side we're going to hear if President Democratson decides that Republicans in general are potential "enemy combatants" and has all their conversations wiretapped, or if he decides to have the more "troublesome" ones renditioned to some nameless facility and held indefinitely without any charges or legal counsel. "Ann Coulter? George Bush and Dick Cheney? No IDEA where they went. Looks like they just -- DISAPPEARED all of a sudden. They must've decided to go underground. Oh, well!"

And, of course, if they decide they don't like the way President Democratson has stepped on their rights and want him impeached, they will have now engaged in treason and are themselves prey for whatever a ubiquitous, all-seeing government decides to dish out to them. Hmmm -- what might that be like?

Oh, wait! The Republicans ALREADY DID have to deal with a Democratic president -- Clinton -- who attempted to invade too much into their constitutional rights when he introduced his Omnibus Anti-Terror legislation in 1996, in the face of potential terrorists who, Clinton feared, could do us harm. They just about wet themselves screaming about how invasive it was (and I'm not a bit in disagreement with them on that point). I WONDER why they changed their minds??

I think it was a meaningless vote. But if this symbolic message of dissent makes your blood boil, the problem is with you. Move on to something important.

Posted by: Bruce | March 6, 2008 9:10 AM

Brucie, got any cheese to go with your never ending WHINE?

I say, listening to all this prattle about Bush and Cheney let's get it over with, and shoot them at dawn, they don't deserve all this attention.

What they did makes me happy. I may want to move there someday. Somebody finally has big gonads to stand and say Bush you are not a dictator and we do not have to bow to you. You have to obey the law just like everybody else. You should be tried in court for your lies and for murder for sending out brave troops to fight and die for your war, not ours but yours and Cheney's. Both of you should spend the rest of your lives behind bars.
January cannot come soon enough.

What a colossal waste of time. Just another silly town, with a few yahoos, trying to tell America what to do.

This town had a say in both the 2000 and 2004 elections. Apparently, there aren't enough people in Battleboro, Vermont, to win an election, so clearly this micro-minority isn't going to have the votes to force some sort of impeachment or arrest.

As for those who are saying that Bush wants to "spy" on everyone, I want to know one thing: with less than 11 months left in his term, exactly what is his motive for this sinister spying he's doing on everyone? He's lobbying for a continuation of FISA, when he won't be in office to see the benefits of it. Since you all are flush with conspiracy theories of how he wants to take over the world, what exact benefit will he derive by Congress extending FISA beyond his term? I guess I just don't see what advantage this would give a lame-duck president in his final year.

My take on the issue is twofold: 1) you don't set up these types of powers by one branch of government without first recognizing that your political adversaries will have use of them when they control that branch. Whether we're talking about FISA, or line-item vetoes, anytime a sitting president makes an argument for expanding or retaining these types of powers, they have to know that whatever political gain they believe their party will achieve from them will also be afforded to the other party in due time. If Bush wanted these powers to control the liberals (personally I think internment camps are a more effective idea), his control would ultimately be temporary, and if it truly was exploitable, it could very well be used against him once out of office.

Secondly, these "spy" permissions do seem a bit invasive, and force all Americans to ask the question "exactly how much personal freedom am I willing to surrender in order to safeguard my fellow countrymen?". Liberal or Conservative, Republican or Democrat, this is a tough question to answer. I don't necessarily think that there's a solid correlation between party affiliation or political ideology, and the answer to this question. There are some who would install checkpoints at each state border, there are others who would want us to be completely unencumbered in how we live, travel, and communicate. As a conservative, I wonder if we've gone too far. However, I suppose I'd have a different reaction if we were continuing to experience bombings within our borders.

I'm not sure the issue of "spying" is worthy of executive impeachment (esp with 11 months left in the current administration), but the question is worthy of asking any political candidate seeking office exactly how far they're willing to push the Constitution in order to safeguard their constituents.

Brattleboro - idiots on parade!


“Any thoughts on whether the Clinton impeachment was justified in light of your fairly high standard for impeachment? Or does that standard only apply to Republicans?”

Posted by: a blinkin | March 6, 2008 10:18 AM

Impeachment? What are you talking about? I’ve said nothing here about impeachment? My only post on this thread gave reasons why we shouldn’t consider the Brattleoboro gang a bunch of traitors.

But you want to know about impeachment. Okay.

Impeachment is covered by Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, which states:

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The basis for impeachment (as set forth above) must be the commission of a crime. This is first shown by reference to the language of the Constitution itself. Treason and Bribery were (and are) crimes by statute and the common law. (See Art. III, Sec. 3; 18 U.S.C. §§ 201 and 2381.) The categories “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” were also used to describe criminal behavior at common law. (4 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 5 and fn. 2 (16th ed. 1825); and Id., Ch. 9, at pp. 120-121; Ch. 10, at pp. 131-132; & Ch. 16, at p. 221.) In addition, a rule of construction known as ejusdem generis - provides that, where general words follow specific words in a statutory enumeration, the general words are construed to embrace only objects similar in nature to those objects specifically enumerated. Thus, the phrase, “or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors” – which is the general language, refers to some offense as grave as “Treason or Bribery” which is the specific language. In turn, if we look at the crimes of Treason and Bribery we know that both involve serious crimes against the nation and its government.

Two other portions of the Constitution unmistakably show that an impeachable offense must be a crime. The first is last clause of Article I, Section 3 which provides that, “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.” Thus, the Framers clearly contemplated that offenses that would subject an office holder to impeachment would be of a nature that could also subject the offender to criminal punishment. The second portion is found in Article III, section 2, which states, in relevant part, that “[t]he Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury . . .” The equation of impeachable offense with a “crime” couldn’t be any clearer.

All of this fully accords with the understanding of the Framers of the Constitution. During the Constitutional Convention of 1878, George Mason stated his belief that Treason and Bribery did not sufficiently encompass all the offenses that ought to result in impeachment and removal from office. So, he submitted “maladministration” as an additional ground for impeachment. Madison objected to “maladministration” as the basis for impeachment because, in his view, the term was so vague it would “be equivalent to a tenure during pleasure of the Senate.” Based on that objection, the phrase “or other high crimes and misdemeanors” was substituted without further discussion or objection. (See 2 Farrand, Max, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, at p. 550 (Yale University Press, 1911). This is significant inasmuch as “maladministration” was a common basis for impeachment under English Common Law. (4 Blackstone, Commentaries, supra, Ch. 9, at pp. 121-122.) Thus, the Framers took a deliberate step to require more than some ill-defined wrongdoing or “maladministration” as the basis for impeachment.

Alexander Hamilton similarly observed that impeachment is for “those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.” (The Federalist, No. 65.) Or, to use, the words of James Iredell (a member of the 1787 Constitutional Convention and, later, a Justice of the Supreme Court), “when any man is impeached, it must be for an error of the heart, and not of the head. God forbid that a man, in any country, should be impeached for a want of judgment.” (4 Elliot, Jonathan, The Debates in the Several State Conventions On The Adoption Of The Federal Constitution, at 125-26 (2d ed. 1876).) “But if a man be a villain, and willfully abuse his trust, he is to be held up as a public offender, and ignominiously punished. A public officer ought not to act from a principle of fear. Were he punishable for want of judgment, he would be continually in dread; but when he knows that nothing but real guilt can disgrace him, he may do his duty firmly, if he be an honest man; and if he be not, a just fear of disgrace may, perhaps, as to the public, have nearly the effect of an intrinsic principle of virtue.” (Id., at 126.) In short, an impeachable offense has to be some willful, corrupt or abusive misuse of office that resulted in harm to the government or the nation.
But, saying the offense has to be a crime does not necessarily mean the crime has to be one denounced by statute. The United States did not have a statutory offense of bribery when the Constitution was written. Thus, the inclusion of bribery in the language of the Constitution as an impeachable offense is a good indicator that the Framers were referring to crimes at common law. The common law permitted judges to punishment individuals for intentional misconduct that resulted in some cognizable harm regardless of whether the particular offense was denounced by a statute. What it does mean to require a “crime” is that it be an act committed with the kind of corrupt intent which involves a harm to government or a breach of public trust.
When viewed in light of the foregoing, I believe it was perfectly proper for the House of Representatives to impeach Bill Clinton. Contrary to popular belief, Clinton was not impeached for his indiscretions with Monica Lewinsky. Nor was he impeached for lying to the public about the affair. Had that been the limit of his indiscretions, there would have been no impeachable offense. But that wasn’t all of it. He was impeached for lying to a grand jury, perjury during a deposition, allowing his attorney to make false and misleading statements to a federal judge in a civil rights action against him, and for his corrupt efforts at influencing the testimony of a witness, procuring false evidence and impeding discovery in that civil rights action. See
for the text of the articles of impeachment against him. Not only were these crimes defined and denounced by federal law (see 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503 & 1621), they harmed the operation of the government, namely, the judicial branch, which makes them “high crimes.” Moreover, these offenses demonstrate moral turpitude, thus reflecting negatively on his fitness for public office. This is the kind of stuff Madison, Hamilton and Iredell were talking about with regard to impeachable offenses.

And, yes, the same standard applies to both Republicans and Democrats alike. We live in a country of laws, and not men. The law, once decided, has to apply to everyone alike, or we no longer live in anything that resembles a representative democracy.
In which case, I must state that there very well could be grounds to impeach President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. A willful violation of FISA is a felony under federal law. A conspiracy to violate FISA is, by the same logic, another felony violation of federal law. (See 18 U.S.C. § 2.) Thus, counseling and authorizing the use of wiretaps without warrants or resort to the FISA courts, and combining with federal officers to do the same, constitute crimes. We just heard from Mueller, the head of the F.B.I. that there have been violations of FISA which, no doubt, sprang from one of the President’s “programs.” It is equally without doubt that violating a person’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the FISA statutes, is a crime that involves injury to the Constitution and society. Duh’bya’s very act of misappropriating the authority to suspend parts of the Constitution is also harmful to the government and people. I suppose much of the same logic could be made with regard to allegations of torture, unlawful detentions, and so on. I realize that some latitude ought to be allowed for mistakes of judgment, but one must seriously question the whether what was done was merely a lapse of judgment versus an intentional usurpation.
Now all you have to do is convince some of those lard-ass Representatives in the House to begin impeachment proceedings. Good luck.

Decouple from London and indict the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. You'll suddenly find that wars no longer exist.

Your money is being stolen by the minute as Bilderbergers devalue the currency.

Technologies have been supressed to use oil as diplomacy.

Indict the Rothschilds and Rockefellers and take back our wealth.

Tom O - your right - lets see if these democrats want to back all their talk of 2006 about impeachment and start the procedings.

Let's see if the dems are more than a bunch of hot air. Let the games begin.

Is there alink or bank account so people can put there money into to a monument to Freedom for this place?

To all of the brain-dead, right wing lemmings who seem to have lost complete touch with what the constitution actually stands for, and what it means to actually practice democracy, I just want to say I am so GLAD to know you won't be coming to VT as tourists. I really don't want to see you here anyway, and we certainly don't want your tourist dollars!!! There are plenty of cool people we would rather do business with.

“Dissent is not disloyal. What is unpatriotic is subserviance to bad policies. The cowardly sin of silence in the face of evil”. -William Sloan Coffin

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." -John Adams

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
-Abraham Lincoln

"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety."
- Benjamin Franklin

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross."
- Sinclair Lewis (1930’s)

"The really dangerous American fascist... is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power... They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection."
- U.S. Vice President Henry A. Wallace, quoted in the New York Times, April 9, 1944

Neither proud, nor treasonous...Just stupid!
Won't be going back there
I wasn't overly impressed the last time I was there anyway.

Yikes! There's so many Sky 'God- Fearing' and Boot Licking Pro-Fascist 'liberal' haters posting here!

"Long ago, there was a noble word, LIBERAL, which derived from the word FREE [libre]. Now a strange thing happened to that word. A man named Hitler made it a term of abuse, a matter of suspicion, because those who were not with him were against him, and liberals had no use for Hitler. And then another man named McCarthy cast the same opprobrium on the word. Indeed, there was a time--a short but dismaying time--when many Americans began to distrust the word which derived from FREE. One thing we must all do. We must cherish and honor the word FREE or it will cease to apply to us...." From Eleanor Roosevelt in her last book "Tomorrow Is Now" published posthumously in l963

"We will have a liberal democracy, or we will return to the Dark Ages." FDR in 1940

"American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery." Henry A. Wallace, 33rd US Vice President and 10th Secretary of Commerce, both under Roosevelt.

"The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism."
Henry A. Wallace, 33rd US Vice President and 10th Secretary of Commerce, both under Roosevelt.

"Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war, either via Latin America or within the United States itself." Henry A. Wallace, 33rd US Vice President and 10th Secretary of Commerce, both under Roosevelt.

"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear." Marcus Tullius Cicero, considered the greatest Roman orator, also famous as a politician and a philosopher born January 3, 106 BCE and murdered on December 7, 43 BCE coinciding with the decline and fall of the Roman Republic.

Posted by: HL | March 6, 2008 5:45 PM

HL, I couldn't BEGIN to explain why Bush has done the things he's done, all the way through his presidency. So much of it makes no sense at all. Why did he invade Iraq on such poor planning? Why did he take such pains, once there, to guard the Ministry of Oil buildings with such fervor (a good thing) while at the same time, and against better advice, leave the buildings housing weaponry and bio-samples unguarded AT ALL, which gave the insurgents free access to the materials they then used to make the road bombs that have killed so many of our brave soldiers and their fellow Iraqi countrymen? Why did Bush continue to "stay the course" when "the course" was so obviously not working and he could have changed tactics WITHOUT GIVING IN TO ANY POLITICAL ENEMY AT ALL? Making necessary changes would have CERTAINLY given him the political support he now lacks and MIGHT have actually afforded us some military gain at a time when it would have really mattered (and the situation in Iraq MIGHT look very different right now).

If Bush is NOT absolutely insane, delusional, psychotic, and/or schizophrenic, I'm at a loss for what prompted him to do what he's done over the past 7 years. Perhaps he truly believes that he'll somehow magically be called at the 11th hour to come back for a third term. Perhaps his certainty that the country will always continue with the "Permanent Republican Majority" that's been touted since 1994 has led him to believe Democrats will never be able to use the awful precedents he's put into play. Perhaps he just plain doesn't give a flying -- fig? Whatever his thought processes or lack thereof, what Bush has done is VERY dangerous and we as a nation need to be extremely careful in the next few years if the country is to stay together.

And finally, HL, I'd recommend you read "The March of Folly" by the late Barbara Tuchman for some insight on why some leaders do what they do and what lies in their wake.

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