And all the King’s Men: laying down the law on Bush and his cronies
“Fuck Saddam, we’re taking him out,” he said.
According to one of the participants, the senators laughed uncomfortably at the President’s comment while Rice merely smiled. Bush then left the room, as he wasn’t part of the work being done there.
Later in the year, Vice President Dick Cheney told Sen. Patrick Leahy to “...go fuck yourself...” as he walked away from their argument on the floor of the Senate about Cheney’s ties to Halliburton.
While this kind of language could be seen as inappropriate, even embarrassing, coming from the two highest elected officials in the land, it isn’t a legal problem.
The Constitution allows anyone to speak freely whenever they choose. Even grandiose dreams of an American military empire aren’t impeachable acts unless the dreamers engage in illegal conduct to further their ambitions.
But Cheney and Bush have done exactly that. They have, as the articles of impeachment brought against President Richard Nixon state, “acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”
They’ve broken the laws of the country and violated the Constitution in a wide variety of ways, surpassing the crimes committed during even the Nixon and Reagan years – which is no small accomplishment, considering how criminally active those administrations were.
But don’t expect the current Congress to hold Cheney or Bush accountable. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that impeachment is “off the table” because it’s “a waste of time.” But while Pelosi may be correct in that she lacks the necessary votes to impeach either man, articles of impeachment can still be filed. In fact, they already have been. Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) filed Articles of Impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee in *******, where they will likely sit and gather dust until they become irrelevant in 2009.
Illegal, impeachable conduct by Cheney and Bush is documented in the perjury trial of Lewis Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff. Cheney told Libby in June 2003 that the President had authorized Libby to disclose the classified identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA officer and wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, in retaliation for Wilson blowing the whistle on Bush’s false statement that Iraq was trying to buy enriched uranium from the African nation of Niger.
Despite subsequent lies spoken by Cheny, Bush, Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell, we now know that the CIA and other sources warned the White House not to make that false claim, and that it had been taken out of an earlier Presidential speech.
After Plame’s CIA status and identity were leaked by at least four White House operatives to a half-dozen journalists, Bush told the American people that it was unlikely that the individuals who blew her cover would ever be found.
“I mean, this is a town full of people who like to leak information,” Bush said. “And I don’t know if we’re going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there’s lots of senior officials. I don’t have any idea.”
Game over, Mr. President. That was a stone cold lie. Bush knew exactly who the leakers were, because he gave explicit approval to publicly disclose the identity of a CIA officer. And the extent of the deception was worse than most of us could have even imagined. According to The Washington Post, “...Martin explained how she, Libby and Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley worked late into the night writing a statement to be issued by George Tenet in 2004 in which the CIA boss would take blame for the bogus claim in Bush’s State of the Union address that Iraq was seeking nuclear material in Africa. After ‘delicate’ talks, Tenet agreed to say the CIA ‘approved’ the claim and ‘I am responsible’ – but even that disappointed Martin, who had wanted Tenet to say that ‘we did not express any doubts about Niger.’”
Compromising the integrity of the CIA and disclosing classified information for political and personal reasons are actions that meet any standard for impeachment. Betraying an oath to uphold the Constitution and deceiving Congress also meet that standard.
But any discussion of impeachment must center on the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Bush authorized a war of aggression in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the United Nations Charter, the Nuremberg Principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The badly misnamed “Siege of Fallujah” along with the “Shock and Awe” bombing of the city of Baghdad are war crimes under both U.S. and international law. The facts regarding those events have been reported by only a few U.S. news sources, but the truth is that Bush authorized military actions he knew would cause the deaths of hundreds or possibly thousands of innocent civilian residents in those two cities.
And there’s more to the story. Here’s a brief timeline of Bush administration lies:
March 6, 2003:
George W. Bush: “I’ve not made up our mind about military action. Hopefully, this can be done peacefully.”
March 7, 2003
UN Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix reports that Iraq is cooperating with weapons inspectors, and that they cannot confirm any presence of WMDs. Blix asks for two more months to complete his task, as Iraq is cooperating better by the day and progress is being made.
March 8, 2003
Bush says in a speech, “We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq.” Nine days later he publicly advises weapons inspectors to leave Iraq immediately and includes the following lie in his comments: “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”
July 14, 2003
Bush makes the following statement: “The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And therefore ... we decided to remove him from power.”
During the transition prior to taking office, Bush issues a classified executive order to authorize electronic eavesdropping on American citizens. Four years later he speaks publicly about it, saying, “Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires – a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.”
Bush admits that the spying program was far more extensive than the law allowed and that court orders were not always sought. He also states, “I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks,” and justifies the illegal behavior as “necessary to protect Americans.”
In an open session of the House, Rep. Conyers (D-Michigan) says: “There can be little doubt that we’re in a constitutional crisis that threatens the system of checks and balances that have preserved our fundamental freedoms for over 200 years. There’s no better illustration of that crisis than the fact that the President of the United States is violating our Nation’s laws by authorizing the National Security Administration to engage in warrantless surveillance of United States citizens.”
U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor rules that the NSA wiretapping program violates the First and Fourth Amendments.
“There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution,” Judge Taylor said. “The public interest is clear in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution. It was never the intent of the Framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights.”
Taylor quotes a statement made by Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1967: “It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of those liberties which makes the defense of the nation worthwhile.”
Bush authorizes forms of interrogation that are considered inhumane under the Geneva Accords and the War Crimes Act, a law approved by Congress that makes the Geneva rules a corollary to federal laws. Cheney and Bush both deny that they approved the torture of suspects by describing it as “tough interrogation” and “taking the gloves off” when dealing with illegally imprisoned “detainees” in secret prisons around the world. The Supreme Court has since ruled that military tribunals used by the administration to try those “detainees” were illegal.
Excuse me, has anyone seen the legislative branch?
The only reason not to pursue the Conyers and McKinney resolutions to investigate the Vice President and President for possible impeachment is a lack of Congressional courage. But honest and full inquiries are required to preserve what little remains of the American Republic while restoring the government to its proper role of serving the will of the people.
Supporters of Cheney and Bush are claiming that those charges have already been investigated by the Senate, but the few hearings that were held on those matters were carefully restricted in their scope. The administration first tried to prevent any investigation at all, according to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who said that the pressure came directly from Cheney.
“We've abdicated our responsibilities,” Chuck Hagel, the Republican Senator from Nebraska, said recently. “That has to do with the fact that the Republican Party controlled the White House, the House, and the Senate. When that happens, you get no probing, no questioning, no oversight. If Bill Clinton had invaded Iraq and after two years he was having the same problems, do you think the Republican Congress would have put up with that? I don't think so.”
Faced with that lack of oversight by Congress, at least a dozen citizen groups have drafted their own Articles of Impeachment, citing some of the following actions as their cause:
“The Bush Administration authorized, under the doctrine of 'preemptive war' and a policy of 'regime change', a war of aggression against Iraq. It did so not in self-defense or under the authorization of the United Nations Security Council. The doctrine of ‘preventive war’ is not recognized as a justification for war under international law. The goal of 'regime change' is also not recognized as a legitimate purpose for waging war under international law.”
“The Bush Administration declared the city of Fallujah, a population of 350,000 people, a free-fire zone. As a result, the Bush Administration bombed 70 percent of the city in 2004. The Bush Administration also extensively and indiscriminately bombed Ramadi, Samara, Haditha, Alkaim, Abuhisma, Sania, Najaf, Kut, Baghdad, Musul and other Iraqi cities causing substantial civilian deaths and severe injuries.”
“The use of force beginning with the campaign of 'Shock and Awe' was not a necessary means or necessary measure to attain a lawful objective, and it was a severe example of overwhelming, indiscriminate, and disproportionate use of military force against a nation state.”
“The indiscriminate use of weapons such as cluster munitions, incendiary bombs, depleted uranium, and chemical weapons, for which it is reasonably foreseeable would have caused and have indeed caused significant civilian injuries.”
“The invasion of Iraq was the supreme war crime and the resultant occupation of Iraq is itself a war crime. The occupation consisted of additional war crimes such as intentional and targeted attacks upon civilian populations, hospitals, medical centers, residential neighborhoods, electrical power stations and water purification facilities; the wide spread use of torture against the Iraqi people, mass arrests and detention of civilians and civilian home demolitions, and the destruction and desecration of the cultural and archeological heritage of the Iraqi people.”
Investigations are being called for to examine the fact that Bush took $2.5 billion appropriated by Congress for Afghanistan and used it to improve Kuwaiti airfields and fuel pipelines that would be used in the invasion of Iraq. There are also questions regarding why four huge, permanent military bases in Iraq are still under construction and why the Pentagon is building a massive communication system that will link those bases with bases in Qatar and Afghanistan – despite the fact that Congress has prohibited further spending on those so-called “superbases.” Both of those actions violate Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution (“No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law”) and rise to the level of impeachable offenses.
David Swanson, former press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, sums up things in just a few words: “This president believes that laws passed by Congress can be overturned by the president. Only after the Supreme Court has ruled on each point of law is the president obliged to obey and properly execute. So, why have a Congress at all?”