Does the Constitution Require Impeaching Bush and Cheney? ~ Part 2 of 2

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 6:50pm.

Which brings us to the question of exactly what Bush's and Cheney's impeachable offenses are. An exhaustive list would take us all day, so I'll give you my top 12 for the president and my top 12 for his boss.



And by the way, the founders intentionally chose a single executive, not a pair, not a triumvirate, not a council, in order to hold that one person responsible for the executive branch. The Cheney co-presidency and groups like the secret energy task force deny us the ability to know who the decider is, but under our Constitution it really is Bush, regardless of what you may think of his mental abilities.


BUSH:

1. Refusal to comply with subpoenas (not disputable, and passed by the Judiciary Committee against Nixon)

2. Routine violation of numerous laws, preceded by announcement of intention to do so in signing statements (White House website and GAO studies)

3. Violating U.S. law and the Constitution through widespread wiretapping of the phone calls and emails of Americans without a warrant. (Confessed to.)

4. Commuting the sentence of I Lewis Scooter Libby.

5. Violating the United Nations Charter by launching an illegal "War of Aggression" against Iraq without cause, using fraud to sell the war to Congress and the public, and misusing government funds to begin bombing without Congressional authorization.

6. Violating U.S. and international law by authorizing the torture of thousands of captives, resulting in dozens of deaths, and keeping prisoners hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

7. Violating the Constitution by arbitrarily detaining Americans, legal residents, and non-Americans, without due process, without charge, and without access to counsel.

8. Violating the Geneva Conventions by targeting civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, and using illegal weapons, including white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and a new type of napalm.

9. Violating U.S. law by using paid propaganda and disinformation, selectively and misleadingly leaking classified information, and exposing for political retribution the identity of a covert CIA operative working on sensitive WMD proliferation.

10. Violating U.S. and state law by obstructing honest elections in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.

11. Gross negligence in failing to assist New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina.

12. (This one is happening right now.) Negotiating with the president of Iraq an agreement of a sort that heretofore has always been called a treaty, but doing so without the constitutionally required advice and consent of the US Senate, or for that matter the Iraqi Parliament. The power to negotiate such treaties would logically include the power to negotiate the same sort of treaty in reverse: that is to say, an agreement to station Iraqi troops in the United States with the license to kill Americans with impunity.

CHENEY:

1. Refusal to comply with subpoenas.

2. Creating and advocating the "Unitary Executive Theory" which is used by the White House to defy laws duly enacted by Congress and thereby justify dictatorial action. Cheney's office has drafted many if not all of the signing statements.

3. Cheney played a key role in setting up illegal spying programs.

4. Coordinating campaign to obstruct the investigation conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald.

5. Coordinating a campaign of retribution against whistleblower Joseph Wilson, including the outing of a covert CIA operative.

6. Leading efforts to institute routine use of torture.

7. Leading campaign to manipulate pre-war intelligence.

8. Creating a secret Energy Task Force which operated in defiance of open-government laws.

9. Directing massive no-bid contracts to his company, Halliburton, and profiting from the same illegal war he defrauded the American public to launch.

10-12. The charges found in H Res 333, also known as H Res 799.

For some of these impeachable offenses, the evidence is not even disputable. They simply have refused to comply with subpoenas, for example. The subpoena that Nixon refused to comply with was part of an impeachment investigation, but the equivalent could be generated in a week by simply opening an impeachment hearing and subpoenaing testimony or evidence from Bush or Cheney.

The signing statements, for example, are completely public. And while Congress should impeach regardless of its own level of complicity in the offenses being addressed, there are plenty of offenses like refusing subpoenas and releasing signing statements that Congress is not complicit in at all.

Violations of FISA and the 4th Amendment are not in dispute. Bush is on videotape lying about the warrantless spying programs for years. He's also on videotape openly confessing to violating FISA. John Dean, Nixon's lawyer, calls Bush the first president to confess to an impeachable offense.

Have Bush and Cheney threatened an aggressive war on Iran? They're both on videotape doing so. Cheney has done so from a ship off the coast of Iran. Remember that in the 1950s our CIA overthrew Iran's democracy and installed a dictator. We have labeled Iran evil and criminal. We have invaded and occupied the nations to its east and west (Afghanistan and Iraq). So threats to Iran are taken seriously by the Iranians. If anything could drive Iran further toward dictatorship it would be an attack by the United States.

Was Bush criminally negligent during Hurricane Katrina? He's on videotape being warned of the danger. He's on videotape claiming he was never warned.

Have Bush and Cheney used unlawful detentions and torture? The Supreme Court in Rosul v. George W. Bush ruled detainees were being wrongfully imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba. The Bush Administration´s detainment policies and actions were ruled unconstitutional and illegal - in violation of Amendments V, VI &VII. The use of torture, legally justified by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and thus condoned by President Bush and Vice President Cheney is an additional violation to the 8th Amendment. The Supreme Court again in Hamdan v. Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, et al. ruled that the Military Commissions instituted by the Bush Administration violate the Universal Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions to which we are bound by American law. Again, the Bush Administration´s actions were found by the highest court of the land to be illegal and unconstitutional - violating Amendments V, VI, VII . Bush and Cheney and their staffs have defended these policies on video and in writing. The practice of detaining without charge and the numerous victims of it are undisputed public knowledge. Evidence of torture is voluminous and indisputable and includes public photographs. Bush's signature is on a February 2002 authorization to torture.

Bush openly admits it, but claims that certain torture techniques are not torture, techniques like waterboarding for which Americans have gone to prison, for which Americans have prosecuted Japanese as war criminals, techniques our founders hoped to leave behind in England through the Eighth Amendment.

Did Bush and Cheney intentionally mislead the Congress and the public into the invasion and occupation of Iraq? They are on videotape doing so, and the evidence that they knew exactly what they were doing is overwhelming and has been collected on my website at
http://afterdowningstreet.org/keydocuments 

Impeachment hearings could be dragged out for as long as desired, or could be over and done with in an hour. No new information is needed.

Ah, but isn't it too late for impeachment?

It is never too late to establish that future presidents and vice presidents will be required to obey laws and the Constitution.

It is far from too late to try to prevent the damage Bush and Cheney can still do in the next 9.5 months, which DO exist.

There is nothing else for Congress to do that impeachment could distract from. All good bills are vetoed and all partially good bills are signing statemented.

Impeachment in this case could be very quick because of the overwhelming evidence.

If your preference is to focus on the next election, think about how that election would look were John McCain forced to choose between the Constitution and Dick Cheney.

Most impeachments happen late. The movements to impeach Truman and Hoover, and the impeachment of Johnson, happened later than where we are now.

Most impeachment movements achieve useful results in restoring the rule of law without getting all the way to impeachment, much less removal from office.

If there is time for endless hours of grilling steroid-popping baseball players, there is time for impeachment.

If Congress is sincere about wanting Bush and Cheney to obey its laws and comply with its subpoenas it will impeach. If it does not impeach, it is not sincere, and no non-impeachment investigations will get anywhere.

But isn't this all beside the point when we should not dare to impeach a president during a time of war? No, I side with the last great Republican president on this one: Abraham Lincoln. When a president takes us into an unnecessary war, and people are dying for no good reason, that is the most important time to challenge the president. And this current so-called war, we are told, will last for decades or forever. If announcing eternal war provides immunity from impeachment, can you guess what percentage of presidents will make that announcement? James Madison saw war as the tool through which a president might seize inappropriate powers. "War," he said, "is the true wet-nurse of executive aggrandizement."

Remember, we are borrowing from China to spend our grandchildren's hard-earned pay to fund an illegal occupation of a distant land, an operation that our own intelligence agencies say is boosting terrorist recruitment, an operation opposed by about 80 percent of Americans, 90 percent of Iraqis, and 70 percent of active-duty US troops. If we can't challenge THAT, what can we challenge?

Well then, you might ask, isn't it more important to end the occupation, the so-called war?

Ending the war is a task that could best be accomplished by inaction, by Congress refusing to provide any more funding. Or it could be accomplished by a bill created by one committee. It is not a full-time task for the entire Congress.

However, this Congress has already demonstrated that it has no intention of ending the war. Pelosi has sworn that cutting off the funding is "off the table."

What could help move Congress would be the same thing that helped a previous Congress find the nerve to finally cut off the funding for the Vietnam War (once the troops were already home) and convinced Nixon not to veto the cut-off in funding: impeachment. In this case, even more so than Nixon's, impeachment would drive the war debate in the right direction, because impeachment would be for offenses either directly connected to the war or offenses that have been justified by "war on terror" propaganda.

In addition, should Congress actually cut off the funding and end the war, it is very likely that Bush and Cheney would misappropriate funds from the Pentagon to keep the occupation going. They did so in order to secretly begin the war, and they have never been held accountable for it. So, removing them from office is not only needed in order to give Congress the nerve to end the war, but is also needed if the war is to actually end.

Won't impeachment take up too much time and distract from other goals?

Nixon's impeachment took three months. Clinton's impeachment and trial combined took four months. The current Congress has wasted more than that amount of time already in avoiding impeachment, and has almost nothing to show for it (a minimal partial and gradual correction to the plummeting minimum wage). Congress has taken no serious steps toward ending the occupation of Iraq, and has in fact provided major new funding for it. During Nixon's impeachment and the lead up to it, in contrast, the threat of impeachment allowed Congress to raise the minimum wage, create the Endangered Species Act, and end a war.

Important as stem cell research and immigration policy may be, when did the Bill of Rights become a distraction? What is more important than restoring the right to not be spied on, to not be picked up without charge and locked away to be tortured with no access to a lawyer, a trial, or your family, not to be sent into an aggressive war for greed and power? Of course, there are many pressing areas in which we need to pass legislation. But all good bills and vetoed, all mixed bills are signing-statemented, and all horrendous bills become law. There is nothing for impeachment to distract from. Impeachment is the one action that cannot be vetoed.

Why not just wait for the next election?

The authors of our Constitution established the schedule for elections, but devoted a lot more attention to the mechanism of impeachment as a check on elected despotism in between elections. They had recently thrown off a king and had no interest in electing temporary kings every four years. Neither should we.

Bush and Cheney can still do a great deal of damage before the end of their term. People are dying every day as a result of their policies. There is an urgent need to remove them from office in order to end the brutal occupation of Iraq and prevent an attack on Iran.

But we would need to impeach them were this January 2009 or had they already left office. The purpose of impeachment is to set standards for future administrations. We cannot give the powers assumed by this administration (to mislead the Congress and the public into wars, spy in violation of the law, detain without charge, torture, operate in secrecy, and rewrite laws with signing statements) to future presidents and vice presidents without expecting similar or worse abuses.

In a December 31, 2007, editorial, the New York Times faulted the current president and vice president of the United States for kidnapping innocent people, denying justice to prisoners, torturing, murdering, circumventing U.S. and international law, spying in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and basing their actions on "imperial fantasies."

Um, thanks for finally noticing. What would you suggest we do about it?

"We can only hope," concludes the New York Times, quite disempoweringly, "that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle, and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America."

But here's the problem (other than the pretended certainty that Bush won the 2004 election):

The United States of America, as established by its Constitution, simply does not have a presidency with awesome powers. And the powers that Bush and Cheney have newly bestowed on the presidency, unchallenged by Congress or the media, are not powers that any human being can be expected to use with decency.

Now, it is possible to make a serious argument that impeachment is difficult and the election is almost certain, so we ought to put our energies into getting the best possible new president and then insisting on reforms and reversals of policy. But, remember, this strategy failed when the Democrats used it in letting Reagan off the hook. And, imagine the landslide Obama could win if the House Judiciary Committee were holding impeachment hearings on all the worst topics for John McCain, starting with torture and signing statements! Personally, I'm far more concerned with imposing the rule of law on the next president than on who that president is, but most Democrats think differently. They think about John McCain all the time, but they don't seem to think about how to put him on the defensive.

Why would we want a President Cheney? Or why would we want a new Republican who could run as an incumbent? Or why would we want a President Pelosi?

I propose impeaching Cheney first or together with Bush. The first Articles of Impeachment to be introduced (H Res 333) (not counting Rep. Cynthia McKinney's articles introduced the last day of the previous Congress) are addressed only to Cheney. Impeaching Cheney first ought to put the fear of a President Cheney to rest. But there remains the possibility of fearing his replacement or even of not wanting Nancy Pelosi to be president or not wanting her to become president in this way. She won't. We will never succeed in removing Bush and Cheney from office simultaneously and by surprise. We will remove them, but they will be replaced by a new President Ford, who will operate within the rule of law and lose the next election.

But this whole discussion misses the point. The question of who holds which office for the next year or six months, as well as the question of who wins the next election, is of very minor importance in comparison with the question of whether future administrations will be compelled to operate within the limitations of the law. If we do not impeach Cheney and Bush, we will establish that it is permitted for future presidents and vice presidents to mislead the Congress and the public into wars, spy in violation of the law, detain without charge, torture, operate in secrecy, and rewrite laws with signing statements. Those powers in the wrong hands could do far more serious damage than Bush and Cheney have done.

So, if we keep this in perspective, the fear of Cheney appears trivial. It appears even more so when we consider that impeachment and removal from office are two separate steps and that we're only working on the first one so far, and when we recognize the extent to which Cheney has been running the country already for years. Were Cheney officially president, most policies would remain unchanged, but the public face of the White House and of the Republican party would be that of a man whose approval rating has been unable to top 20 percent. The Republicans will never allow this, so it would be rather foolish for the Democrats to retreat out of fear of it.

Whoever is president next will have to operate under fear of being impeached next. That is the point of impeachment. In the case of Cheney, he would be operating under the high probability of being impeached. No serious discussion of the evidence can incriminate Bush or Cheney but not the other. And, in any event, we will be impeaching Cheney first.

Wouldn't impeachment split the Democrats? That's a question that some find important.

Impeachment is splitting Democrats now, but wouldn't if they united behind it. At least 80 percent of Democrats outside Capitol Hill want impeachment. If 80 percent of Democratic elected representatives were pushing for impeachment, the Bush presidency would be over quite quickly. The Democrats in Congress tried to avoid the topic of the war, for fear it would split them. Iraq went unmentioned in Pelosi's plan for her first 100 hours. But the majority of the country wants to see the issues it cares about dealt with, and there are some Democrats who will stand with the people. The Democratic Party could unite by supporting peace and impeachment.

Why not do investigations and see where they lead?

They have led to the Bush administration refusing to comply with a growing list of subpoenas:
http://democrats.com/subpoenas . The House Judiciary Committee passed three articles of impeachment against Nixon. Article 3 was for refusal to comply with subpoenas.

And they've led to Bush ordering a former staffer not to comply with subpoenas, and to Bush announcing that the Justice Department will not enforce congressional contempt citations. Where do you go from there, other than impeachment?

Impeachment is an investigation, leading to an indictment. A preliminary investigation is not possible when subpoenas are ignored, and is not needed when indisputable evidence is already public knowledge.

Isn't impeachment an extreme remedy? Doesn't there have to be an actual crime committed? Doesn't there have to be perjury?

There's nothing extreme about it. One of the better lists of the specific criminal violations is found in Congressman John Conyers' report:
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/downloads/crisis/summary.pdf

This report is also a book. Yes, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is selling books on Bush and Cheney's impeachable offenses while refusing to impeach them.

Impeachment is the penalty for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The Constitution says nothing about perjury as a ground for impeachment. And it is a crime to mislead or to defraud Congress, whether or not you do so under oath.

When Diane Sawyer asked Bush on television why he had made the claims he had about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, he replied:

"What's the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger."

What's the difference? The difference is that had the President merely said that Saddam Hussein could conceivably acquire weapons someday, many people would have opposed his war who supported it. They supported it because Bush said that Saddam had nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and was behind the attacks of 9-11. Bush and his subordinates (for whom he is legally responsible) made these claims in the clearest language. In every such case, fraud was committed. And instances of implying and omitting are legally fraud as much as lying is.

When Bush lies, he is well aware of what he is doing. The day after the 2004 elections, he told reporters that he had lied to them about keeping Rumsfeld on as Secretary of Defense so that they wouldn't write anything about it.

It is illegal to spy in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It is illegal to detain without charge and to torture. It is illegal to take funds from other projects to begin a war before it has been authorized. It is illegal to target civilians and hospitals and journalists, and to use white phosphorous and napalm as weapons. It is a fundamental violation of the U.S. Constitution to alter laws with signing statements. Congressman John Conyers' report lists numerous other laws violated by Bush.

Isn't impeachment divisive and unpleasant and traumatic and catastrophic and unsettling and partisan?

No. Impeachment is a remedy for trauma, and one that the majority of Americans long for. Here are the polls:
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/polling

As my friend John Nichols says, impeachment is only a constitutional crisis if aspirin is a headache crisis.

Our President belongs to a political party, it's true. But that does not make him any less of a threat to our system of government. Voters in 2006 rejected his party overwhelmingly. Not a single new Republican was elected, and enough new Democrats won to achieve a substantial majority in the House and a slim one in the Senate. Voters opposed the party of Bush and Cheney, who are incredibly unpopular. Even some Republicans who spoke against the war lost, primarily because they were Republicans. But Republican Ron Paul of Texas, who had spoken in support of impeaching Bush, won.

If Paul and other Republicans manage to put their country ahead of their party's president, as Republicans did during Nixon's presidency, impeachment will not look so partisan. But if Republicans fail to stand for impeachment, then Democrats must do it alone, and doing so will be partisan in the best sense. It will build the Democratic Party into a powerful force for years to come, and it will be divisive primarily on Capitol Hill and in the world of media pundits.

Around the country it will bring us together. Hearings that expose Bush and Cheney's abuses of power will serve to educate many of those who still support them, including those who believe there really were WMDs, there really was a tie to 9-11, Bush was honestly mistaken but meant well, illegal spying is saving us from terrorists, nobody has been tortured, and a signing statement is just something a deaf person tells you with his hands.

Wouldn't impeachment be depicted as revenge and attacked on TV?

Probably. But would you believe that depiction? Do you think everyone else is dumber than you are and would fall for it? The coverage thus far of the initial push for impeachment in Congress does not depict it as revenge.

How did we get where we are? From the publication of the Downing Street Minutes in May 2005 to May 2006, Democrats in Congress, led by John Conyers, behaved as though they would impeach if we gave them a majority. But in May 2006, the Republican National Committee announced, based on no evidence and contrary to all evidence, that talking about impeachment would benefit Republicans in the 2006 elections. Of course it didn't, but within a few days of the RNC's statement, Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi obediently announced that impeachment was off the table. And Conyers has since then obeyed Pelosi.

Dozens of congress members have pushed back, led by Dennis Kucinich and Robert Wexler. And we may very well yet succeed.

For what you can do to help, go to
http://impeachcheney.org

To join a public event near you this month or create one, go to http://iraqtownhalls.com

Join the many places that have passed resolutions urging impeachment or committing to arrest Bush and Cheney should they set foot in a given town:

http://afterdowningstreet.org/ resolutions-list

The state legislature in New Hampshire will vote on April 16th on a resolution to petition Congress to impeach Bush and Cheney.

Without impeachment, what is the best possible scenario? Presidents with complete integrity for a number of terms, and then a real dictator who chooses to seize on the Bush-Cheney precedents.

Urgency comes from Iraq, Iran, and global warming.

Also from the erosion of the rule of law and of our Bill of Rights. The First Amendment has been locked up in a chain-link Free Speech Zone. The Fourth Amendment is under warrantless surveillance and scared for its life. The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments have been detained without charge. And the Eighth Amendment is presently undergoing waterboarding. Restoring our Bill of Rights would be a positive step, not personal, not revenge, not punishment, not backward looking.

Ben Franklin said: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

When asked what sort of a government the Constitutional Convention had created, Franklin said: "A Republic if you can keep it."

Let's keep it.

 

Presented at George Mason University on April 14, 2008

Dedicated to Betty Hall and the New Hampshire State Legislature.

David swanson - April 14, 2008 - posted at www.americanchronicle.com

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 6:50pm.

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Cathy Garger (not verified) | Thu, 04/17/2008 - 8:54pm

In March, 2008 the Brits reported their national leaders to the police for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Learn more about the 6 1/2 hour long police report at: Let's follow what they did here in the US! http://www.makewarshistory.org.uk/?q=node/48