Musharraf, Not Bush, Follows Nixon
By Ray McGovern
Most of the fawning corporate media (FCM) coverage of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s resignation Monday was even more bereft of context than usual.
It was as if Musharraf looked out the window and said, “It’s a beautiful day. I think I’ll resign and go fishing.”
Thus the lead in Tuesday’s editorial in the New York Times, once known as the newspaper of record: “In the end, President Pervez Musharraf went, if not quietly, with remarkably little strife.”
Certain words seem to be automatically deleted from the computers of those writing for the Times. Atop the forbidden wordlist sits “impeachment.” And other FCM — the Washington Post, for example — generally follow that lead, still.
Very few newspapers carried the Associated Press item that put the real story up front; i.e., that Musharraf resigned “just days ahead of almost certain impeachment.” In other words, he pulled a Nixon.
How short our memories! Three articles of impeachment were approved by the House Judiciary Committee on July 27, 1974; Nixon resigned less than two weeks later.
But what were those charges, and how do they relate to George W. Bush today?
-- Without lawful cause or excuse [Richard M. Nixon] “failed to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House…and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas…thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested in the Constitution in the House of Representatives.”
-- “Endeavoring to cause prospective defendants…to expect favored treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony.”
-- “Endeavoring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency.”
Fortunately, John Conyers, who now chairs the House Judiciary Committee, was among those approving those three articles of impeachment.
Unfortunately, he seems to have long- as well as short-term memory loss.
He has let the Bush administration diddle him on subpoenas. And even though special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald made it quite clear that, because of “Scooter” Libby’s perjury, a “cloud remained over the vice presidency,” Conyers let out not a peep when Bush allowed Libby to avoid prison by commuting his sentence.
What about misusing the CIA? Here too Conyers’ behavior has been nothing short of bizarre.
Again, hardly a peep out of him, though he has been made fully aware of how the Bush administration “twisted” (to use Ambassador Joe Wilson’s word) intelligence to justify an “unnecessary” (to use former presidential spokesman Scott McClellan’s word) war on Iraq.
On Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” on Aug. 14, Conyers said he was “the third day into the most critical investigation of the entire Bush administration.” He was referring to author Ron Suskind’s revelations about how the White House misused the CIA.
At the same time, Conyers complained that he is “maybe the most frustrated person attempting to exercise the oversight responsibilities that I have on Judiciary” — a clear reference to how he has let himself be diddled by the White House.
Hey, John. If Pakistan can move forward to impeach a sitting president and force his resignation, why can’t you? You were part of it in 1974. Is being chairman of Judiciary too much for you?
Without any apparent tongue in cheek, Tuesday’s New York Times editorial points a sanctimonious finger at Musharraf’s abuse of power, noting that “the presidency must also be stripped of the special dictatorial powers that Mr. Musharraf seized for himself, including the power to suspend civil liberties.”
The Times notes “President Bush underwrote Mr. Musharraf’s dictatorship, but says nothing of the example Bush himself set — including rigging elections, as Musharraf did.
It is the height of irony that the relatively young democracy of Pakistan has been able to exercise the power of impeachment inherited from the framers of the U.S. Constitution, while the constipated committee captained by Conyers cannot.
Under Pakistan’s constitution, the country has a bicameral legislature with 100 senators and over 300 representatives in the National Assembly. The president is head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. Sound familiar?
The difference is that the Pakistani legislature has checked Musharraf’s unconstitutional accretion of power by exercising its constitutional power to impeach. In contrast, Conyers has chickened out.
Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?