Wednesday, December 21, 2005

An Article of Impeachment against President Richard Nixon: Illegal Electronic Eavesdropping

Article II of the articles of impeachment approved by the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives against Richard Nixon related to domestic electronic surveillance that Nixon ordered without judicial authorization or review. And, it might be recalled, the United States of America was very much at war at that time, in 1974.

Yes, Article II of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon charged that Nixon's domestic surveillance had been done "for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office." Nixon himself, however, did not see things that way: he (or his counsel) asserted that the electronic surveillance that he had authorized was justified by national security considerations. This is also the claim that the current President makes. Of course, even if one assumes that unilateral executive domestic electronic surveillance is sometimes legally permissible, the secrecy that still surrounds the domestic electronic surveillance unilaterally authorized by President Bush makes it rather difficult to determine if the surveillance unrelated to national security was carried out. In any event, the reaction of the country and Congress to Watergate and Nixon's abuses of power to Watergate effectively rejected Nixon's claim that Article II of the Constitution of the United States confers on the President unilateral and judicially-unreviewable power to conduct any electronic surveillance of U.S. citizens that the President deems to be necessary for national security.

Immanuel Kant wrote a tract called Perpetual Peace. This President should write a screed called Perpetual War. Perhaps he has already done so?

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