News Release

Impeachment in Perspective


WASHINGTON — As the nation considers the future of the Clinton presidency, some legal scholars and policy analysts are putting the Starr report in a broader context of governmental wrongdoing. Among those available for comment:

Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law, Boyle said: “The impeachment clause is meant to deal with crimes against the state, subverting the Republic. Starr has not yet presented evidence of such a threat to the Republic. This is not to say that there is no reason to impeach Clinton. There are grounds for impeachment — for example, the illegal bombings of Sudan and Afghanistan, which violated both domestic and international law, including the U.S. Constitution.” Boyle added: “Our system of government was in jeopardy in the Reagan Iran-Contra scandal.” The White House had “basically set up an underground government. But no one really made an effort to impeach Reagan over that — though documents show that Reagan and his people were concerned about impeachment.”

Kornbluh is a Senior Analyst at the National Security Archive, a public-interest foreign policy documentation center and the leading repository of information on the Iran-Contra scandal. “Iran-Contra was really about high crimes and misdemeanors of a constitutional nature, while this is about personal lives,” said Kornbluh. “The Iran-Contra investigation was done by the book. Lawrence Walsh, the independent counsel for Iran-Contra, showed each portion of the report dealing with each individual to that person and they had the opportunity to respond; their response was included in the report itself. Several went to court trying to block the report from coming out. The press coverage of the Walsh report, which had much more substance, was minimal. Recall that Bush gave pardons to Caspar Weinberger and others involved in Iran-Contra just as he was leaving office. Some people are asking: ‘What do you tell your children about what Clinton is accused of?’ Well, what do you tell them about My Lai, about the U.S.-backed coup in Chile, about the massacres in El Salvador?”

A Professor of Constitutional and International Law at the University of Pittsburgh who has litigated cases involving government misconduct for the Center for Constitutional Rights, Lobel said: “What Clinton is being charged with by Starr is not impeachable. We have to look at the larger problem of government lying, from Reagan to Bush to Clinton. We have gotten used to the government lying to and disinforming us. Most recently, they lied on the Sudan bombing. They said they had compelling evidence that did not pan out. The larger problem is government morality in how it treats the people. For example, what are the moral implications of cutting off welfare?”

For more information, contact Sam Husseini at the Institute for Public Accuracy, (202) 347-0020.