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Powell's Chief of Staff Proposes Impeachment

By David Swanson

On Thursday, May 10, 2007, Lawrence Wilkerson, speaking on National Public Radio, proposed impeaching President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Here's the audio.

Wilkerson is a Retired Army Colonel, the former Chief of Staff at the State Department from 2002 to 2005 under then Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Vietnam War veteran, the former Acting Director of the Marine Corps War College at Quantico, and currently a teacher of national security at William and Mary College.

The program, On Point, was hosted by Tom Ashbrook, who focused the discussion on a need for greater public accountability for the Iraq War, but who maintained that the public was not outraged or interested. (Ashbrook should read some polls and invite on organizers of the impeachment movement.)

Also on the program was Ken Adelman, who promoted the war and said it would be "a cakewalk". Adelman argued a case for not holding public officials accountable.

Wilkerson said in early comments on the show: "This administration doesn't know how to effect accountability in my opinion." But he did not raise the possibility of impeachment until after a member of the audience had phoned in.

The first caller who was put on the air demanded an investigation of the lies that launched the war, and asked for accountability "all the way up." In response to Adelman's claims that history would hold people accountable, the caller said "I would love to have a job where, worst case scenario, my historical record is flawed."

Ashbrook framed the question in terms of alleged limitations of the U.S. political system, and Wilkerson replied: "Well I do think that that's a reality of our system. However, let me back up just a minute and say that I really do think that our founding fathers, Hamilton, Washington, Monroe, Madison, would all be astounded that over the course of our short history as a country, 200 plus years, we haven't used that little two to three lines in Article II of the Constitution more frequently, the impeachment clause. I do believe that they would have thought had they been asked by you or whomever at the time of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia 'Do you think this will be exercised?' they would have said 'Of course it will, every generation they'll have to throw some bastard out'. That's a form of accountability too. It's ultimate accountability."

After an interruption, Wilkerson continued: "The language in that article, the language in those two or three lines about impeachment is nice and precise – it's high crimes and misdemeanors. You compare Bill Clinton's peccadilloes for which he was impeached to George Bush's high crimes and misdemeanors or Dick Cheney's high crimes and misdemeanors, and I think they pale in significance."

Ashbrook asked for some examples of such high crimes and misdemeanors, and Wilkerson replied: "I think that the caller was right. I think we went into this war for specious reasons. I think we went into this war not too much unlike the way we went into the Spanish American War with the Hearst press essentially goading the American people and the leadership into war. That was a different time in a different culture, in a different America. We're in a very different place today and I think we essentially got goaded into the war through some of the same means."

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I'm thrilled to hear see the discussion on impeachment which in my opinion, would do more than anything else to restore citizen confidence in equal justice, equal protection and Constitutional accountability. The whole issue is regarded in pop media as petty retribution, or "not realisitc in time of war". That's skillful, and deceitful framing of the issue, a.k.a. propagandizing. Americans must shed their deep apathy and cynicism and seize the tools provided to reclaim our government from crooks, incompetents and corporatists.


I just can't imagine what other "high crimes" a president should be inpeached for if not several of the actions of this administration (and not to mention trying to cover them up). If not this, what? I hear some in Congress say they shouldn't impeach out of respect for the office, not in defense of the man; BUT, it's precisely out of respect for the office and the Constitution that we must do this. The same applies for Alberto Gonzales--they're destroying the credibility of the US Justice system and the presidency and our country needs to restore some level of credibility back to our system. It's truly a defining moment in our country's history.

I am amazed at the lack of accountability for this administration. Everyone "accepts" responsibility, in a manner of speaking, but there are no consequences whatsoever. Thus Tenet accepts responsibility for providing faulty intelligence, Gonzo accepts responsibility for the farce that the Justice Department has become, Chimpy accepts responsibility for his failures following hurricane Katrina and indirectly for the disaster that is his war on terror... but there has been no serious consequences to these disasterous failures. Have Americans become so soporific that nothing bothers them any more? Is it all that it takes to derail participatory democracy is to provide cheap merchandise and mind-numbing pablum like American Idol to the masses? This is NOT a Republican or Democratic issue, this is an American crisis. I am certain that most Republicans, not matter their repugnant views on social issues, remain patriots and true to American ideals of governance. So why are they still supporting the dangerous incompetency of this administration?

I honestly don't think you can get an impeachment on lying about the war. You also can't get him for incompetence in war management or with Katrina - there's no mention of 'gross negligence or incompetance' just 'high crimes and misdemeanors'. For whatever his reasons, he's the CIC, he has the right to control the military even if he did lie to Congress about it.

You might be able to get him for that, but you'd have to prove he intentionally mislead Congress strongly enough to get a simple majority in the house and a 2/3rds majority in the Senate. Although the US Citizens by and large believe that Bush is a liar, I don't know that the Republicans would go with it... and without them, you're not going to successfully impeach.

233 Dems
202 Reps
0 Ind.

Requires: 218 votes AYE
Note: If All Dems vote they don't need the Republicans on this. But first the Dems have to grow some guts.

49 Dems
49 Reps
2 Inds

Requires: 66 votes AYE
Note: For this to work, you'd need 17 Republicans to jump ship or both Independents and 15 Republicans. It's doable, but the difficult part will be getting 15 Republicans to go against their own Man.

I'd say you're much more likely to get him for one more more Felonies by using his violations of FISA act. They are felonies carrying a penalty of 5 years and/or $10,000 fines per incident. He's already admitted that he's done it and he's had his pet AG come out and tell us that he won't do it anymore. You wouldn't say that if you weren't doing it. All you'd need to prove would be one instance where the Executive branch eavesdropped on Americans, violating FISA and you've already got something like 2200 Instances where the FBI misused the National Intelligence Letters. Not to mention he fact that Jose Padilla, whether he actually IS a terrorist or not was still an American citizen when they were doing the roto-rooter hussle on him - if he's an American citizen you need a court order. So you've got enough evidence for impeachment AND a conviction in that issue by itself.

But, you have to Impeach Cheney first or none of this means anything. The worst thing that can really happen to these Yahoos through Impeachment is that they are barred from ever holding office again. Once you impeach you need to try them criminally. I'd *love* to see Bush and Cheney in adjoining cells.

Although there is certanly ample reason for Impeacment. Our cowardly Congress will never take that step. Let's be honest. There is NO justice in America. We can throw people in jail for writing a hot check but we can't Impeach a president for starting an illegal war, lying to Congress and the American people and causing the death of thousands.

Over the course of our history, we have magnified the President as more than human. Humans are fallible beings that need to be reminded of what they are supposed to do and held accountable. People are evaluated and fired from their jobs all the time due to various weaknesses and mistakes. The President needs to be held accountable by the same standard that all workers are held accountable. You screw up on the job and you will be fired. I think that our Founding Fathers would approve of this idea.

It is hard to see any solutions in Iraq, but quite frankly impeaching those who started it is a good first step towards a solution. Bush/Cheney have no credibility whatsoever and their whole Iraq policy seems to currently consist of putting off their inevitable personal loss of face for as long as possible. Impeaching them would be a way of saying "We lost our senses for a while there, but we are strong enough as a country to realize our mistakes and take drastic measures to correct them." It would go a long way to restoring US credibility.

This whole "we need to investigate" idea is for crap.
We have all the info we need. Vote to impeach, and let bush and chenecy and condi get on the stand and justify their lies.

It is hard to see any solutions in Iraq, but quite frankly impeaching those who started it is a good first step towards a solution. Bush/Cheney have no credibility whatsoever and their whole Iraq policy seems to currently consist of putting off their inevitable personal loss of face for as long as possible. Impeaching them would be a way of saying "We lost our senses for a while there, but we are strong enough as a country to realize our mistakes and take drastic measures to correct them."

I find it curious, the perspectives many people seem to have on this issue. Funny that Wilkerson sees the war as something which the administration was goaded into. Funny that people see Bush and Cheney as incompetent and funny that they see their resolve to stay as simply some desperate attempt to save face. It stems from the pathological denial, I think, or maybe even from the actual ignorance of the real forces at work here.

Perhaps Bush and Cheney's war in Iraq seems to be an act of failure or incompetence if we're measuring success to be the liberation of the Iraqi people, the promotion of democracy, or even the quelling of terrorism, but in actual fact none of this has anything to do with their measure of success. Has nobody stopped to think about why on earth Bush and Cheney would invest such gargantuan sums of money into this war? Is the freedom of the Iraqi people *really* so important to the conservative US administration that it's worth spending hundreds of billions of dollars on? Is (or rather, was) terrorism *really* such a big problem that it justified spending billions on military spending? Before the Iraq war, one was more likely to be struck by lightning than to be victim of a terrorist attack - where's the logic?

The real fight is for oil. It may even be such a worn-out cliche at this point, but it's absolutely the case. It's nothing to do with saving face and everything to do with securing a return on investment. Victory will mean leaving a stable governing power in place in Iraq which is receptive to foreign business. Democracy is not the issue nor is the safety and security of the Iraqi people - if the government in place is completely fascist that's fine, so long as they're sufficiently militarized such that they can fight their own dissidents. The US army is currently building military installations around key oilfield and the war must continue so long as those oilfields need to be protected - this is the real reason for staying in Iraq. The objectives are twofold - first to maintain or install a military presence which can secure the oil-producing areas and, second, to do so in such a way that US oil companies can manage the extraction and export of that oil.

The motivation is both profit and energy security for the US economy. When oil demand surpasses production, which will be in the very near future, the US must be in control of sufficient resources to provide for its own economy or the markets will crash unrecoverably and plunge the country into chaos. The duration of the engagement is of no consequence to Bush or Cheney since they have financial interest in the biggest war-contractors like Halliburton and KBR, so while the american people pay for the war effort with money and lives, Bush and Cheney profit from the contracts they, essentially, give to themselves while simultaneously securing the critical resource (oil) which backs all power and money in the world. They are neither stupid nor are they incompetent - just extremely evil and self-serving. They feign stupidity in the form of lies and omissions simply to protect their true intentions. Impeachment would bring all of this to light and, on that point, I completely agree with Wilkerson!

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