Sunday, July 15, 2007

IMPEACHMENT: Let's use the I-word. The time is now.


It's time to impeach Bush & Cheney.

It's past time, in fact.

Don't mistake the cure for the disease: Impeachment is NOT a "Constitutional Crisis." It is, in fact, the Constitutionally-prescribed CURE for the Constitutional Crisis of a President who Behaves Like A Monarch. We are today defining the future of the Presidency; that is why, even at this late moment, it is important to set a precedent by punishing the high crimes and misdemeanors of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

The consensus of the People of the United States is that it is now time to impeach the President. According to a recent poll, more than four in ten Americans -- 45% -- favor impeachment hearings for President Bush, and more than half -- 54% -- favor impeachment for Vice President Cheney.

The Founding Fathers made six separate references to "Impeachment" in the Constitution. SIX. This was not just some thing they threw into the document at the last moment. It is integral to the functioning of our democracy. They wanted us to know this word, and to be familiar with the process.

Remember, when the Founding Fathers were writing the Constitution, they had just finished fighting a war with a king named George. They wanted the People of the United States to be able to remove from the Executive Office anybody who displayed monarchical behavior -- that is, assuming an attitude of "I am king, and what I do is above the law, because the law only applies to all of the rest of you."

Does the behavior of King George sound familiar to you?

A recent Bill Moyers Special on PBS (which you can watch online here: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07132007/profile.html) discussed this very topic with Bruce Fein, the conservative constitutional scholar who wrote the articles of impeachment against President Clinton. Also on the program is Jonathon Nichols, Capitol correspondent for The Nation. Bruce Fein was in agreement with impeaching Clinton because he believed that Clinton committed perjury, and he thought that no President should be above any law of the country. Bruce now believes that both Bush and Cheney should undergo the impeachment process as well, not only because it is clear that they have committed impeachable offenses:

According to Fein, Cheney has:
* Asserted Presidential power to create military commissions, which combine the functions of judge, jury, and prosecutor in the trial of war crimes.
* Claimed authority to detain American citizens as enemy combatants indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay on the President's say-so alone.
* Initiated kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture in Eastern European prisons of suspected international terrorists.
* Championed a Presidential power to torture in contravention of federal statutes and treaties.
* Engineered the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic surveillance program targeting American citizens on American soil in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
* Orchestrated the invocation of executive privilege to conceal from Congress secret spying programs to gather foreign intelligence, and their legal justifications.
* Summoned the privilege to refuse to disclose his consulting of business executives in conjunction with his Energy Task Force.
* Retaliated against Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, through chief of staff Scooter Libby, for questioning the administration's evidence of weapons of mass destruction as justification for invading Iraq.


According to the Wikipedia entry on the Movement to Impeach George W Bush, he has:

* Ordered the wiretapping of certain international calls to and from the U.S. without a warrant. Furthermore, the Bush administration's justification of the program, using its interpretation of presidential power, overthrows the Constitutional system of checks and balances and ignores other provisions of the Constitution mandating that the President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed" and vesting Congress with the sole authority "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces" and "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."
* Planned and executed a first-strike invasion of Iraq, in violation of the War Powers Clause of the US Constitution
* Knowingly distorted intelligence reports (or ignored contrary information) in constructing a case for the war in Iraq.
* Violated the Supreme Law of the Land, as ratified by the U.S. Congress, by invading a country without provocation. By Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, Senate-ratified treaties such as the U.N. Charter are "the supreme Law of the Land." This was not a war in self-defense, but a war of aggression contrary to the U.N. Charter (a crime against peace) and therefore a war crime. Also, Kofi Annan (former head of the U.N.) called the war in Iraq a violation of the UN Charter and therefore "illegal." A war of aggression refers to any war not initiated out of self-defense or sanctioned by the UN. Such a violation of international law would constitute an impeachable offense.
* Extradited detainees to other countries where they were tortured. The CIA has "rendered" suspected terrorists, such as Maher Arar, to other countries. Critics accuse them of doing this in order to avoid U.S. laws prescribing due process and prohibiting torture, calling this "torture by proxy" and "torture flights". The U.N. Convention against Torture (again, ratified by the United States and therefore the supreme law of the land) states:

No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

Under international law, rendition as practiced by the U.S. government is illegal.
* Leaked the name of a CIA operative to the media as political payback for an attempt to show that lies were told about the availability of uranium to Saddam Hussein in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. The litigation surrounding Lewis 'Scooter' Libby has yielded court papers showing that Libby was authorized and instructed to disseminate formerly classified information by his superiors.
* Declassified documents for political purposes, that is, to justify the invasion of Iraq.
* Politicized the offices of the United States Attorney, specifically to encourage actions that would promote Republicans candidates and stifle any action that would help Democratic candidates.
* Sought to combine the powers of all three branches of government in the single person of the President, which is the diametric opposite of the text and the Founding Fathers' intended meaning of the U.S. Constitution.
* Commuted the sentence of Scooter Libby, in defiance of the rule of law within the United States. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said that: "It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals... That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.' This unprcedented decision and obstruction of justice, to cover up prior or ongoing criminal activities, is an impeachable offense. Though the President is within his prerogative to commute a sentence, according to a Judiciary Committee report (drafted in response to Watergate) when commutation is used in matters in which he himself may be involved, impeachment is warranted:

"In the [Constitutional] convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to 'pardon crimes which were advised by himself' or, before indictment or conviction, 'to stop inquiry and prevent detection.' James Madison responded:

"[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty. . . ."

"Madison went on to [say] contrary to his position in the Philadelphia convention, that the President could be suspended when suspected, and his powers would devolve on the Vice President, who could likewise be suspended until impeached and convicted, if he were also suspected."


If Bush and Cheney are allowed to remain in office, they will have created a toolbox of powers for the Office of the President of the United States that will be passed on to their successor, whether that turns out to be Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani or Barac Obama. The only way to curtail the powers that have been added to the Presidential toolbox is to punish this White House, and the Constitutionally-prescribed method of doing so is to Impeach. That is why the Constitution makes mention of it so often; that is the recommended solution.

If our Founding Fathers were alive today, they would be carrying torches in the streets of the capitol, SCREAMING for impeachment. They would say, "We wrote this power into the Constitution so that it could be used to curtail a tyrant. WHY ARE YOU NOT USING IT?"

Because if this Congress is not allowed to vote to impeach; if the Judiciary Committee does not take up articles of impeachment; then the next President will feel free to wiretap Americans without a warrant, to read the mail of Americans without a warrant, to kidnap and hold without cause indefinitely without a warrant or charges, to use torture and secret prisons on those held without charges with no fear of reprisals or consequences. The next President will feel free to lie to Congress, to lie to the American People, and to generally act like a monarch who serves a four year term.

And then what? Will we all need to return to Britain to experience true democracy?

I don't think that's what any American wants.

That's why even conservatives like Bruce Fein, red-blooded Americans who would not agree with a "liberal" on many other issues, are coming to agree on this one:

Bush and Cheney must be IMPEACHED.

Say it loud.

IMPEACH.

Say it often.

IMPEACH.

Call your elected representatives.

IMPEACH.

Write your elected representatives.

IMPEACH.

Hell, go down to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. carrying torches, and scream it at the top of your lungs:

IMPEACH!!!

Because we have allowed this Congress to be quiet and complacent for too long. Far too long.

It's time to use the I-word, and use it often.

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