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Impeachment: "Be prepared" is good advice for the Bush White House

By Paul M. Weyrich
web posted June 23, 2003

The late John Connally, former Governor of Texas, and Secretary of the Treasury in the Nixon Administration, told me a story back in 1975 when I was a guest at his ranch. The governor had been indicted and, although later vindicated, he was fixated on the question of who was responsible for his indictment.

He related to me an episode that he was convinced lay at the heart of his indictment. He said that one day he had been asked to testify before a House Committee. He was confused about the location. He opened a door and there off in a corner was then-Defense Secretary Mel Laird and with him was Father Robert Drinan, the extreme leftist Congressman and a half-dozen other leftists. Since he had not been seen, he thought he'd listen to what Laird was discussing with those left-wingers. Connally found to his utter shock and amazement, Laird was discussing the impeachment of President Nixon. This was early on, when Drinan and the other leftists had just introduced impeachment articles in the House. Most everyone thought this was a frivolous joke on Drinan's part. Supposedly impeachment had no chance.

Anyway, to hear Connally tell it, Laird suddenly looked up and saw Connally there. The governor said Laird was obviously embarrassed and Connally excused himself, saying he was in the wrong place. He didn't give it much thought at the time, he told me, although the sight of Laird together with those left-wingers really troubled him. Then, when the governor was indicted, he began to think of who would want him out of the way and he recalled the meeting. The governor went to his grave convinced that fellow cabinet Secretary Mel Laird was responsible for his indictment so he would not be credible if he fingered Laird as being in on a plot to get President Nixon.

Now I have known Mel Laird for many years and while I am no fan of his, I find the notion that he would be plotting against President Nixon a bit hard to believe. But I mention the story for this reason.

When Father Drinan said that Nixon should be impeached, the president was at the height of his popularity. Drinan was regarded even by most of his Democratic colleagues as a far-out crazy. Drinan was not taken seriously.

Well, there is a little weasel tripping around now, insisting that there might well be grounds to impeach President George W. Bush. I have heard three different interviews with him on the subject. He sounds plausible. His name is John Dean. He once was White House counsel under President Nixon. He blew the whistle on Nixon and for weeks was a matinee idol when Senator Sam Ervin's hearings into Watergate were televised.

Perhaps Dean misses fame and thinks he can be a star once more. Who knows? Right now, only the fringes in the media and politics are taking him seriously. But if I were the administration, I would take him seriously. I would listen to every argument he is making and I would be prepared to counter it. I am assuming, of course, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney didn't attempt to alter the data produced by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other agencies in regard to Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. I still believe they may be found or at least we may learn how they were disposed of. I can also believe that the CIA and even the DIA gave Bush very bad information. It was Bush's father, when he was president, who told me, based on CIA information, that if Gorbachev was deposed, then a Stalin-like figure would take his place. I told President Bush that the CIA could not have been further from the truth. Which of us was correct?

So it is entirely possible those agencies were dead wrong. What I find impossible to believe is that the current President Bush and the Vice President told these agencies the conclusions they wanted when they knew that these conclusions were far removed from the truth.

To believe that is to believe that our President and Vice President have absolutely no integrity. Whatever you think of their politics, I believe President Bush and Vice President Cheney are both men of character who would not take our country to war based on false information they helped to manufacture.

Obviously, if they did engage in such illegal practices they would be impeached. There is no way that will happen. But even if Dean is way out in orbit, he should not be allowed to plant doubts in the minds our citizens. The administration should put the truth out there. Otherwise you never know how a far-out plot by someone who is not taken seriously will turn into something red-hot and blown way out of proportion by the media. Lord knows enough people hate George Bush in this town that they will take any scrap of "evidence" they can find and will turn it into a dozen articles of impeachment.

I know the White House has competent counsel. But they have been busy trying to get good federal judges confirmed and many other matters. If you see them, urge them to add this to their "to do" list. We wouldn't want them to find themselves unprepared in the unlikely event the left is able to make something out of nothing.

Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.

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