Specter: Bush could face impeachment


    The powerful Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee admitted Sunday President Bush could face impeachment over his authorization for spying on Americans by the National Security Agency.

    “The remedy could be a variety of things, including impeachment or
    criminal prosecution, but the principal remedy … under our society is
    to pay a political price,” Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter told ABC’s “This Week.”

    “But,” Specter added.  “I don’t see any talk about impeachment here.”

    Even so, Specter said he and his fellow Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are “not going
    to give him a blank check, and just because we’re of the same party
    doesn’t mean we’re not going to look at this very closely.”

    Specter joins a
    growing chorus of Republicans and Democrats who are questioning the legal
    justification for spying on Americans by the super-secret NSA.

    Specter, who will hold hearings
    next month on the decision to allow the NSA program without court approval, said he has told Bush administration
    officials he believes they are on shaky legal ground.

    Bush
    has pointed to a congressional resolution passed after the attacks of
    Sept. 11, 2001, that authorized him to use force in the fight against
    terrorism as allowing him to order the program. The program authorized
    eavesdropping of international phone calls and e-mails of people deemed
    a terror risk.

    “I thought they were wrong,” Specter said on ABC’s
    “This Week.” “There still may be different collateral powers under
    wartime situations. That is a knotty question.”

    A number of
    members of Specter’s committee, including GOP Sen. Sam Brownback of
    Kansas, have expressed doubt about the administration’s legal basis.
    The hearings, planned for early February, will feature Attorney General
    Alberto Gonzales.

    Specter noted that
    impeachment and criminal prosecution are possibilities in the event a
    president acted unconstitutionally.

    But Specter added: “I don’t
    see any talk about impeachment here. I don’t think anyone doubts the
    president is making a good-faith effort. He’s acting in a way that he
    feels he must.”