Montréal, le 9 janvier 1999
Numéro 28
(page 8) 
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           Vos commentaires         
       LE QUÉBÉCOIS LIBRE sollicite des textes d'opinion qui défendent ou contestent le point de vue libertarien sur n'importe quel sujet d'actualité. Prière d'inclure votre titre ou profession et le village ou la ville où vous habitez. 
          Le procès du président Bill Clinton, qui pourrait mener à sa destitution, a finalement été enclenché au Sénat américain. Les sénateurs devront décider à une majorité des deux tiers s'il s'est rendu coupable de parjure devant un grand jury et d'obstruction de la justice dans l'affaire Monica Lewinsky. La Chambre des représentants a adopté à une majorité simple le 19 décembre dernier ces deux articles de mise en accusation.  
          Dans les médias québécois et français, où les commentaires sur ce qui se passe aux États-Unis s'inspirent plus souvent de fantaisies gauchistes et anti-américaines que des faits, on continue à laisser entendre presque unanimement qu'il ne s'agit que d'une histoire de sexe, d'intolérance et d'hypocrisie. Le président, selon ce point de vue, serait persécuté par des puritains ultraconservateurs pour avoir eu une aventure extraconjugale.  
          La polémique se déroule pourtant à un autre niveau à Washington, et nos lecteurs pourront se faire par eux-mêmes une idée de la pertinence du processus d'impeachment en lisant des extraits de ce discours donné par Henry Hyde lors du débat à la Chambre. Le président du Comité judiciaire y a alors présenté avec éloquence et simplicité les principaux arguments légaux et moraux à l'appui de l'adoption des articles. 
HENRY HYDE: “A vote about the rule of law.”

          Mr. Speaker, my colleagues of the people's House: I wish to talk to you about the rule of law.  
          After months of argument and hours of debate, there is no need for further complexity. The question before this House is quite simple. It is not a question of sex. Sexual misconduct and adultery are private acts and none of Congress's business.  
          It is not a question of lying about sex. The matter before the House is a question of lying under oath. This is a public act. This is called “perjury.” 
          The matter before the House is a question of the willful, premeditated, deliberate, shameless corruption of the nation's system of justice. Perjury and obstruction of justice cannot be reconciled with the Office of the President of the United States. 
          That, and nothing other than that, is the issue before us. 
          The personal fate of a President is not the issue. The political fate of his party is not the issue. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is not the issue. 
          The issue is perjury – lying under oath. The issue is the obstruction of justice, which the President has sworn the most solemn oath to uphold. 
          That oath constituted a compact between the President and the American people. That compact has been broken. The people's trust has been betrayed. The nation's chief executive has shown himself incapable of enforcing its laws, for he has corrupted the rule of law by his perjury and his obstruction of justice. 
          That, and nothing other than that, is the issue before this House. 
An impeachable offense? 
          We have heard ceaselessly that even if the President is guilty of the charges in the Starr referral, they don't rise to the level of an impeachable offense. Just what is an impeachable offense? One authority (professor Stephen Presser of Northwestern Law School) said that “Impeachable offenses are those which demonstrate a fundamental betrayal of public trust; they suggest the federal official has deliberately failed in his duty to uphold the Constitution and laws he was sworn to enforce.” 
          And so we must decide if a President – the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the land, the person who appoints the Attorney General, and the only person with a Constitutional obligation to “take care that the laws are faithfully executed” – can lie under oath, repeatedly, and maintain that is not a breach of trust sufficient for impeachment? 
          The President is the trustee of the nation's conscience – as are we here today. There have been many pyrotechnics in our Committee hearings on the respective role of the House and the Senate. Under the Constitution, the House accuses, and the Senate judges. True, the formula language of our articles recites the ultimate goal of removal from office but this language doesn't trump the Constitution which defines the separate functions, the different functions of the House and Senate. Our Founding Fathers didn't want the Body that accuses to be the same one that renders final judgment and they set up the additional safeguard that a two-thirds vote for removal is required. So despite their protests, our job is to decide if there is enough evidence to submit to the Senate for a trial - that's what the Constitution says, no matter what the President's defenders say. (...) 
          The President's defenders in this House have rarely denied the facts of this matter. They have not seriously challenged the contention of the independent counsel that the President did not tell the truth in two sworn testimonies. They have not seriously attempted to discredit the facts brought before the Committee by the independent counsel. They have admitted, in effect, “He did it.” But then they have argued that this does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. This is the “so what?” defense – whereby the Chief Executive, the successor to George Washington, can cheapen the oath, and it really doesn't matter. (...) 
The rule of law 
          Let us be clear: The vote that all of us are asked to cast is, in the final analysis, a vote about the rule of law. 
          The rule of law is one of the great achievements of our civilization. For the alternative to the rule of law is the rule of raw power. We here today, are the heirs of three thousand years of history in which humanity slowly, and at great cost, evolved a form of politics in which law, not brute force, is the arbiter of our public destinies. 
          We are the heirs of the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic law: a moral code for a free people who, having been liberated from cruel bondage, saw in law a means to avoid falling back into the habits of slaves. 
          We are the heirs of Roman law: the first legal system by which peoples of different cultures, languages, races, and religions came to live together in a form of political community. 
          We are the heirs of Magna Carta, by which the freemen of England began to break the arbitrary and unchecked power of royal absolutism. 
          We are the heirs of a long tradition of parliamentary development, in which the rule of law gradually came to replace the royal prerogative as the means for governing a society of free men and women. 
          We are the heirs of 1776, and of an epic moment in human affairs when the Founders of this Republic pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor – sacred honor – to the defense of the rule of law. 
          We are the heirs of a hard-fought civil war, which vindicated the rule of law over the appetites of some for owning others. 
          We are the heirs of the 20th century's great struggles against totalitarianism, in which the rule of law was defended at immense cost against the worst tyrannies in human history. The “rule of law” is no pious phrase from a civics textbook. The rule of law is what stands between all of us and the arbitrary exercise of power by the state. The rule of law is the safeguard of our liberties. The rule of law is what allows us to live our freedom in ways that honor the freedom of others while strengthening the common good. The rule of law is like a three-legged stool: one leg is an honest judge, the second leg is an ethical bar, and the third is an enforceable oath. All three are indispensable to avoid political collapse. (...) 
          My colleagues, we have been sent here to strengthen and defend the rule of law – not to weaken it, not to attenuate it, not to disfigure it while seeking an extra-legal and extra-constitutional solution to the threat posed to the Republic by a presidential perjurer. 
Not a question of perfection 
          This is not a question of perfection; it is a question of foundations. 
          This is not a matter of setting the bar too high; it is a matter of securing the basic structure of our freedom, which is the rule of law. 
          No man or woman – no matter how highly placed, no matter how effective a communicator, no matter how gifted a manipulator of opinion polls or winner of votes – can be above the law in a democracy. 
          That is not a counsel of perfection; that is a rock-bottom, irreducible principle of our public life. (...) 
          Let us declare, unmistakably, that perjury and the obstruction of justice disqualify a man from retaining the presidency of the United States.  
          There are a mountain of details which are assembled in a coherent mosaic in the Report – it reads like a novel, only it's non-fiction – it really happened and the corroboration is compelling. Read the Report and be convinced. 
          What we are telling you today are not the ravings of some vast right-wing conspiracy, but a reaffirmation of a set of values that are tarnished and dim these days, but it is given to us to restore them so our Founding Fathers would be proud. 
          It's your country – the President is our flag bearer, out in front of our people. The flag is falling my friends. I ask you to catch the falling flag as we keep our appointment with history.

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