Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Time to impeach, convict, and remove Bush

At last, the "I" word is spoken aloud. Dare we hope that America has emerged from a self-imposed neo-Stalinism? The issue, of course, is not Iraq or Bush's numerous other outrages. The issue is this administration's firing of US attorneys under questionable, suspicious circumstances.

Washington is abuzz with talk of Watergate, comparisons are made to Richard Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre. Even now, Bush seems safe from actual impeachment. What is refreshing is the new willingness on the part of many to take Bush on. Some of his most acerbic critics can be found in his own party.

The level of discourse is a measure of just how bad things have become, how desperately people need accountability. Don't get excited just yet. It was, arguably, an honest House that drew up the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. The House today is still packed with ideological Bush loyalists and corporate Republicans. At best, a country club, at worst -a cult. Actual impeachment will require substantial if not miraculous changes in GOP attitudes.

Of course, the framers understood that despite safeguards, a rogue president might harm the nation, the Constitution, the people, the world. This President has most certainly done that by subverting the mechanism of justice, abusing the courts and the separation of powers. During the Watergate Scandal, the "...House Judiciary Committee determined that (Presidential) abuses did not have to violate the criminal code" to warrant impeachment and removal. The standard they established was whether or not “great and dangerous offenses" subverted the Constitution.” Findlaw columnist, John Dean, White House Counsel to Richard Nixon, most certainly thinks that Bush's conduct meets that test in several areas.
In truth, much more is at stake here for both the Congress and the White House than this bare description of the conflict would indicate. These issues strike at the heart of what post-Watergate conservative Republicans seek to create: an all-powerful presidency. Thus, for the same reason that Vice President Cheney went to extreme lengths to block Congress from getting information about the work of his National Energy Task Force, as I discussed in prior columns such as this one, I expect President Bush to take what will appear to be a similar irrational posture. For both Bush and Cheney, virtually any limit on presidential power is too great.

-John Dean, Former White House Counsel, Findlaw
Of course, Bush abused the powers of his office with regard to the "firing" scandal. But even before this scandal reached the mainstream media, Bush was known to have flouted law and Constitution as egregiously in other ways. Certainly, he should be impeached, tried, and removed from office. The will to do so is something else again. Three main issues seem to be converging amid growing outrage.

Bush told numerous lies in order to begin his war of aggression against Iraq. He told many more after the fact to justify it. John Dean, writing for Findlaw, asked: Is lying about the reason for a war an impeachable offense?

As Dean points out, Bush "...made a number of unequivocal statements about the reason" for the US attack and invasion of Iraq, a sovereign nation. And just as significant, in my opinion, is the fact that when WMD were not found in Iraq, Bush mounted a full court press to sell numerous ex post facto cases for war. None of them have turned out to be true.

Bush deliberately deceived the American people, the Congress, and the United Nations. It is impossible write a single sentence that adequately conveys the magnitude of this crime, a crime that has cost some 3,000 American lives, and, by the best estimate, more than 650,000 Iraqi lives, most of which are civilian.

The war itself is a war crime, a crime against humanity. It could not be mitigated politically even if what we now know to be lies had turned out to be true. Nothing mitigates mass murder even when it is perpetrated with the military powers of a sovereign state.

The conduct of the war is cause itself to impeach George W. Bush. Specifically, Bush facilitated the "mistreatment of detainees" in violation of the Geneva Conventions, U.S. statutes (including the War Crimes Act of 1996 and US Criminal Codes, Section 2441), the Nuremberg Principles, and other treaties to which the US is bound. Bush himself, by his directive, exempted alleged al Qaeda and Taliban "detainees" from those protections and did so in the absence of probable cause.

But GITMO and Abu Ghraib abuses were intended to be kept secret. It didn't work out that way and the entire world was outraged. The American effort in Iraq was lost when the abuses became public. Bush lost the moral high ground, if he ever had it. As John Dean points out, "Bush failed to conduct thorough investigations or to ensure that those responsible" would be brough to justice. The investigations most certainly have not gone further than the lower level show trials that were served up to distract the public and the media.

Related to the war of aggression in Iraq, is the deliberate "outing" of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA operative. As Bill Maher angrily declared: "Traitors don't get to question my patriotism." Indeed, the cynical act of retaliation against Joe Wilson for daring to question Bush's WMD rationale must certainly rank as high treason -endangering the life of an undercover operative, subverting national security, covering up bald faced lies told by the Bush gang of criminals and traitors to the nation. It typifies a criminal administration willing to do anything in order to cover up its many heinous crimes

At last, amid the numerous abuses, all of which are most certainly impeachable by established standards, just being "out to lunch" and "asleep at the wheel" may be among the most important. As Bill Maher points out, when told "America is under attack", Bush just sat there. Pulling faces. Squirming. Crossing his eyes.

Additional resources:

Because news about the Bush administration is always heavy and depressing, I have decided to post something of a positive nature at the end of every "Bush-oriented" post, something that might even make you happy. Something that might make you smile. I love music of all types, but today, after "auditioning" Leonard Bernstein conducting Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue", some Glenn Gould, and other great music, I decided that what our times need right now is some pure, unadulterated Ragtime -Scott Joplin's immortal Maple Leaf Rag

The text link takes your to an audio file of "Maple" by a different pianist -Bob Ringwald. Both versions are good.


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