It's time to act--and this is the guide. Now in paperback to meet a rising public demand, here is a hard-hitting argument for the impeachment of George W. Bush--and top members of his administration. Events since the book's hardcover release--including court decisions regarding war crimes and violations of the FISA law on wiretapping--have only heightened the urgency.
Methodically detailing the Bush regime's offenses and refuting its lies and deceptions, investigative reporter Dave Lindorff and constitutional rights specialist Barbara Olshansky explain why the president and his inner circle should be removed from office for high crimes and misdemeanors. Among the most grievous harms:
· misleading the nation into war
· authorizing and encouraging the use of torture
· failing in almost every way to defend the homeland and our borders
· undermining habeas corpus and other traditional rights
· illegal NSA wiretapping, mail opening, and other assaults on the Bill of Rights
· the catastrophic federal failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina
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Dave Lindorff, an award-winning journalist for over three decades, has written for BusinessWeek, Salon, and The Nation. Barbara Olshansky is Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at Stanford Law School.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The President, vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
--Constitution of the United States, Article II, Section 4
On April 29, 2004, a nervous President George W. Bush went before the bipartisan 9/11 Commission to answer questions about how his administration had responded to the attack. The commission had already taken testimony from a long string of witnesses in the military, intelligence, justice, and other agencies of government. All had been questioned under oath about their knowledge of the events leading up to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, including the government's response--or lack of response--to early warnings. All of that testimony had been widely reported, even televised. Only a handful of people know what happened after President Bush entered that room, though, because he (who had opposed creation of the commission in the first place) had made some curious demands before agreeing to appear. He insisted that only a few selected members of the ten-member body could be present, that he not be placed under oath, that he could have Vice President Dick Cheney by his side, and that no recording or notes be made of his testimony. The entire interview was conducted behind closed doors, with the press and public barred.
The only possible explanation for this behavior is that the president did not want the American public to know the truth--or that he had no intention of telling the truth--about his knowledge of the attack on America. Not only had his administration been criminally negligent during the months before the attacks, he, Cheney, and their neo-conservative advisers had shamelessly exploited that American tragedy to accomplish the greatest executive power grab and the worst descent into secret government in the history of the republic. They had used it as an excuse to launch two wars and a full assault on the Bill of Rights, the courts, and the political opposition.
Flash back more than a year to January 29, 2003. Standing before the assembled joint session of the Congress for his State of the Union address, President Bush told a hushed chamber of senators and representatives, and millions of Americans who were watching, that they were facing the imminent threat of a nuclear attack from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. With the Pentagon already engaged in an all-out campaign to ferry troops and materiel to the Persian Gulf region in anticipation of war, and with U.S. fighter/bombers stepping up provocative aerial attacks in Iraq under the guise of maintaining several "no fly" zones in that country, the president said:
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon, and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb.
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.
Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.
Bush went on to drive the terrifying message home, saying:
With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region.
And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.
Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses, and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained.
Imagine those nineteen hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.
We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes.
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?
If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
Scary stuff, but it was just not true. According to a series of memos written at that time, two days after this speech was given the president had informed Tony Blair, the British prime minister, that with or without UN approval, he intended to take America to war. In fact, he was considering flying a U2 surveillance aircraft painted in UN colors over Iraq, hoping to provoke an attack to which America could respond in force. Additionally, the president already knew at that point that the documents suggesting that Iraq had tried to buy yellow-cake uranium ore from Niger were forgeries and that no such effort had been made. (Indeed, as we shall explain later, there is reason to suspect that the Bush administration may have been involved in those forgeries.) The president was also aware that there were other far more likely and permissible uses for those aluminum tubes--such as fuselages for small rockets. In fact, scientists had noted that the pre-cut tubes were too short for use in a centrifuge, as was being claimed by Bush. Finally, the president also knew by the time of his address that not only was there no credible evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda--an organization which had, in fact, condemned Hussein as a godless apostate--but that Hussein viewed Al Qaeda as a potential threat to his regime.
It is commonplace for politicians and presidents to lie. Some lies though, are more serious than others. Only five years before Bush's State of the Union address, the House of Representatives had voted 228-206 to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying to a grand jury convened by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who was investigating, among other things, the weighty matter of whether Clinton had had consensual sex with an intern. The House also voted 221-212 to impeach Clinton for obstruction of justice. Nobody died (or even got pregnant) as a result of Clinton's deceit, but the impeachment effort, which purported to focus not on the sex but on the lying, nonetheless led to a bitter political battle and ultimately to a trial in the U.S. Senate, where Clinton was acquitted of the charges.
Meanwhile, Bush's dissembling and fabrications are more than garden-variety whoppers about illicit sex. His lies were designed to make the Congress and the public ready and willing to support a war of aggression against Iraq, a battered and impoverished country of 26 million people, which the president and his advisers knew posed no credible threat to the United States, or even, thanks to years of embargo and sanctions, to its neighbors. They are lies that led directly to a war that by March 2006 had killed over 2,300 American troops and grievously wounded more than 19,000, as well as killing an estimated 100,000 Iraqis, most of them civilians. And they have cost hundreds of billions of dollars.*
Where impeachment is concerned, the issue is not whether an official was under oath or not; rather it is the significance of the lie, and what the liar was attempting to accomplish. Furthermore, there is a precedent for impeaching a president for lying to the public and to Congress, even if he was not under oath. Richard Nixon is the model here. On July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted 27-11 for an impeachment article accusing Nixon of making false and misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States [author's emphasis] into believing that a thorough and complete investigation has been conducted with respect to allegation of misconduct on the part of personnel of the Executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct.1
As we will see, this is remarkably similar to President Bush's role in revealing the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson. Speaking through his press spokesman, on several occasions Bush has falsely assured reporters and the public that he knew of nobody in the White House who was responsible for disclosing her identity. In fact, there is evidence that well before those assertions, Bush had criticized his closest adviser, Karl Rove, for his involvement in the outing of Plame to the media.2
But Bush's lies about Iraq and the Plame affair are only the beginning of the case for his impeachment. Over the course of his one and a half terms, this president and his administration have committed a staggering string of what could clearly qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors. Among them:
· The arrest and detention without charge of American citizens, who have been denied their constitutional rights to due process and a speedy and public trial.
· The violation of international treaties that the United States has signed, and which have thus become the law of the land, such as the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of soldiers, military detainees, and civilians, and the conventions against torture--protocols that the current U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, in his earlier role as White House counsel, advised the president is just a "quaint" artifact of an earlier time.
· Willfully ignoring or violating acts of Congress, through the issuance of hundreds of so-called "signing statements" by the president, in which Bush declared his intention to interpret laws in his own way and to obey only those that he feels like obeying.
· The blatant violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, by secretly authorizing secret warrantless spying on thousands of American citizens by the National Security Agency.
· The foolish and disastrous transfer of the nation's first-line defenders--police, firefighters, and border patrol personnel who were long encouraged to supplement their income by joining their local National Guard units--to Iraq, leaving the nation unprotected against both cross-border infiltration and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed much of the city of New Orleans.
As the list grows, so have calls for the president's impeachment. In June 2005, Zogby International, a well-respected nonpartisan polling organization, found that 42 percent of Americans thought that Bush should be impeached if it were determined that he had lied about his reasons for invading Iraq. That was an astonishing number, particularly because at the same time an even higher percentage of Americans were telling pollsters they believed the president had lied about the reasons we went to war. Compare that to polls taken at the height of the Republican campaign to impeach President Clinton; according to sixteen major polls conducted during the summer and fall of 1998, only 36 percent of the public thought impeachment should be considered, while only 26 percent thought the president should be removed from office.
Since June 2005, support for impeachment of President Bush has steadily increased. A poll conducted in early October 2005, by Ipsos Public Affairs, another nonpartisan polling firm, found support for the impeachment of the president up to 50 percent. A month later Zogby asked the same impeachment question which it had asked four months earlier: of 1,200 Americans polled, 53 percent said they supported impeachment while only 42 percent of Americans opposed impeachment. Even among self-identified Republicans, 29 percent said that if the president lied about the war, he should be impeached. Another Zogby poll, this one conducted in January 2006, found that 52 percent of Americans supported impeaching President Bush if he authorized warrantless domestic spying on Americans by the NSA, an action he openly admits to.
Impeachment isn't a popular election, nor is it simply a legal matter to be tried in a court of law. Impeachment is a political process played out in the Congress. Technically, it is an action taken by the U.S. House of Representatives, which must first consider a bill of impeachment, vote articles of impeachment out of the Judiciary Committee, and then put the question to the full membership. If a majority of the House votes for an article or for multiple articles of impeachment, this becomes the equivalent of an indictment, which must then be "tried" in the U.S. Senate. A two-thirds majority is required to convict and to remove the president from office. There have been two presidential impeachment trials in American history--both of them brought for political rather than legal reasons. In 1868, Democratic President Andrew Johnson was impeached and came within a single vote of being removed from office.
In 1998, President Clinton was confronted by a House that had a Republican majority. His own Democratic Party still held a narrow edge in the Senate, meaning there was no chance he would be convicted and removed from office, but there were plenty of Representatives, the vast majority of them Republicans, ready to vote for impeachment. In contrast, approaching midterm elections in Bush's second term, the Republican Party has a firm grip on power in both the House and the Senate, making even a hearing on impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee almost inconceivable, no matter how serious the president's crimes.
The two situations are almost mirror opposites. In the Clinton case, a popular president's congressional Republican enemies were seeking impeachment, while a majority of Americans did not support it. In the present case, Bush, an unpopular president, has the backing of a majority of both houses of Congress, so more than five years into his presidency only a handful of Democratic legislators had even suggested calling for his ouster. Despite the unpromising political situation in the Congress, a number of grassroots campaigns promoting impeachment have sprung up, and numerous polls suggest widespread support for impeachment. What would be the point of impeaching Bush though, if the Republican Senate would never consider removing the president?
"There is in a sense an impeachment campaign whether we want one or not," says David Swanson, co-founder of the organization A...
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