Let the lynchings begin!
Liberal activists are pressing for the impeachment of federal Judge Jay Bybee over the Bush administration’s “torture memos” in part because there is virtually nothing that President Barack Obama, congressional Republicans or conservative Senate Democrats can do to stop the process from getting under way.
Obama and key members of Congress have weighed in against a “truth commission,” an independent prosecutor and other attempts at war-on-terror accountability. But impeachment is not so easily stymied, especially in its early stages, analysts said.
“If the House votes for it, there’s no way the Senate can avoid it,” a former Senate parliamentarian, Robert Dove, said Monday. “I can’t think of any way of just not acting on it. I assure you, if the Senate could have not acted on the Clinton impeachment, they would not have acted on it…..If the House impeaches, we will have a trial.”
One of the earliest proponents of Bybee’s impeachment, Yale Law School professor Bruce Ackerman, noted in an interview that Obama — or any president — has no official say in the process. “Constitutionally, it is entirely independent of, and should be independent of, the executive branch,” Ackerman said.
Bybee is in the firing line because, while the top lawyer at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in August 2002, he approved and signed a legal opinion concluding that so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, including water-boarding, did not meet the definition of torture under federal law.
Two House Democrats who have been outspoken critics of the Bush-era policies, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan and committee member Jerry Nadler of New York, are expected to write to Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday, formally requesting a special prosecutor to investigate whether crimes were committed in connection with prisoner interrogations.