High crimes and misdemeanors is a phrase from the United States Constitution, Article II, Section 4: "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."
"High" in the legal parlance of the 18th century means "against the State". A high crime is one which seeks the overthrow of the country, which gives aid or comfort to its enemies, or which injures the country to the profit of an individual or group. In democracies and similar societies it also includes crimes which attempt to alter the outcome of elections.
After the secret torture memo surfaced this week I cringed at what the response would be by the people and the Democrats. Outrage would be a small measure of what they would do. Glenn Greenwald said of the revelations: revealing the Bush administration's recent violations of legal restrictions on the use of torture and other "severe interrogation techniques." And, in one sense, the outrage is both understandable and appropriate. Today's revelations involve the now-familiar, defining attributes of this administration -- claims of limitless presidential power, operating in total secrecy and with no oversight, breaking of laws at will, serial misleading of the Congress and the country and, most of all, the shattering of every previous moral and legal constraint on our national behavior.
Jane Hamscher notes at the Huffington Post it is ironic that today is the day Patrick Leahy will give up his request documents from the Bush administration and not block the new Attorney General appointment. First Leahy wanted documents regarding the USA scandal and warrantless wiretapping. Then he backed down and said he would "settle for material about interrogation of suspected terrorists and warrantless wiretapping." Now he's willing to chuck the whole bucket. Because George Bush what, won't give them to him? This is headline news? Why ask for them in the first place?
It is not a choice to hold one accountable for the actions, the least of which is the President and the Executive branch of our government. Lying to Congress, and secretly allowing torture against the will of the people and against the consent of the Congress is impeachable, it navigates into high crimes more than any other crime this administration has committed. Yet, the Democrats (and Republicans I might add) sit on their hands and do nothing. Where is the rule of law? We are not a country of Men (and women), but of laws John Adams said. Yet, our Congress is doing nothing while we violate the Geneva Convention, while this President and his minions lie to our faces and we accept it, though everyone knows it. There is no longer an argument for appeasing this administration. These people need to go because it will be best for our country to restore the United States Constitution to where it should be: the Supreme Law of the Land.
If those politicians who we elected to uphold the laws of this country we should hold them accountable and as Jane Hamsher says: complicit in the recklessness and lawlessness of Bush Administration. They should be demanding all of these documents as well as any other "secret memos" that may be floating around. It isn't their choice, it's their obligation. It's what America thought it was voting for when it gave the Democrats a majority in the House and the Senate. And until these representatives start using their power to force some answers and stop these horrible abuses, they have blood on their hands and the suffering these victims on their consciences.
See here for proof of torture. Kudos to CNN. Townsend's comments do not make me feel better. It is irresponsible to report on torture, but not irresponsible to actually commit torture? Doublespeak will be the legacy of this administration.
It is time Congress begins its job in full. Start impeachment proceedings now.