Thursday, March 09, 2006

Making a case for impeachment!

The case for the impeachment of President Bush is arguably the strongest in American history. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) makes this amply clear in its recent book, a concise indictment of President Bush that lays out four clear legal arguments that point to impeachment as a necessary remedy for the gross violation of our Constitution. The Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush covers illegal wiretapping, torture, rendition, detention and the Iraq war. An appendix compares the impeachment proceedings of Andrew Johnson, Nixon and Clinton to the comparatively more powerful case against Bush.

The CCR has drafted four articles:

Article I concerns the warrantless wiretapping of Americans in the U.S. This constitutes a violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which prohibits and makes criminal any wiretapping without a warrant. The president has said that he's doing this, and it's a criminal charge that can get you five years in jail for each count. Additionally, it violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits unlawful searches and seizures -- this includes electronic surveillance. On a deeper level, these wiretaps deny the efficacy and validity of a congressional act.

Article Two of the impeachment of Richard Nixon is very similar. Nixon went outside of Congressional law and engaged in warrantless wiretapping against domestic dissidents and others who opposed the war in Vietnam. So, this article has a historical relation, obviously solid.

Article II is the falsifications that were used to justify the Iraq war. That's the article that congressman John Conyers has really focused on -- he's written an extensive report that documents this. You reference any particular day and the administration was making statements that Iraq has a relationship to 9/11, al Qaida and Osama bin Laden; that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In the one and a half years leading up to the war, the time during which they were making these statements, they knew that they were false.

Lying to Congress and the American people got us into a war that has two serious impeachable issues within it: First, it's an aggressive war contrary to the U.N. charter and contrary to law that doesn't allow war unless it's in self-defense. Secondly, it undermines the authority of Congress and the American people to decide when war is necessary. Through the lies, he got a number of Congress people to believe that war was necessary, thereby undercutting their constitutional obligation to decide on war.

Elizabeth Holtzman, who was part of the Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach Nixon, has written a long piece about how this constitutes fraud under criminal law. Of course, you don't need a criminal act to impeach someone, you simply need an act that undermines and subverts the basic constitutional structure of our government, as well as a failure to execute the proper laws.

Article III deals with what the president has done in regard to the issues of torture, arbitrary long-term detentions, disappearances and special trial. Our law is very clear on these things. You can't torture people, you can't commit war crimes, you can't send people to countries where they're tortured and you can't set up special courts for trial. The Geneva Conventions are a part of our law, as is the international covenant of civil and political rights. The president, in authorizing that entire range of activities, has not met with his constitutional obligation to faithfully execute laws.

Congress tried to put some brakes on the president through the McCain amendment, which prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. But the president, in a signing statement, essentially said he reserved the right to ignore what Congress says. What he did is not just a violation of the law; he is destroying the checks and balances of our Constitution.

Article IV is a general article that puts all of the prior three articles together. If you look at these things together, you see that they are essentially destroying our republic and our democracy. They are destroying the constitutional structure of our government. Therefore, he should be impeached.

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