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Impeachment has to precede investigation

By Carla Binion

Without impeachment there won't be serious investigation of Bush-Cheney's lawbreaking. Each day these two criminals remain in office, additional victims of their policies suffer and die.

The administration's war crimes and crimes against humanity -- their ongoing illegal war of aggression and torture policy -- can only be stopped with impeachment and the investigation that would follow.

The mainstream press fails to fully inform the American public. Folks who get their information via the Internet and other alternative sources are the only ones aware of the extent of the Bush-Cheney abuses and the need for impeachment.

The Bush administration's refusal to abide by the Geneva Conventions and comply with the International Criminal Court (ICC) set the stage for its war crimes and human rights violations. As independent journalist Dahr Jamail says in *Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney*:

"By refusing to join the ICC, the United States finds itself in the company of several other nonmember states with records of horrific human rights abuses such as Libya, Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea, Sudan and Pakistan.

"As many as 192 states are signatories of the Geneva Conventions, including the U.S. -- although the U.S. is blatantly disregarding them with regards to Iraq."

According to the Geneva Conventions, civilian populations must be protected. However, Dahr Jamail and others have reported many attacks on Iraqi civilians. "In a home raid that produced no weapons," writes Jamail, "American soldiers detained fifty-seven-year-old Sadiq Zoman at his residence...More than a month later...U.S. soldiers dropped Zoman off, comatose, at a hospital in Tikrit...His body bore telltale signs of torture."

Those signs included electrical burns on the soles of his feet, whip marks and bruises across his back, point burns on his skin and more electrical burns on his genitalia. His wife said to Jamail, "Is it fair for any man's family to be made to suffer like this? Is it right that his daughters must see him like this? Our lives will never be the same again, no matter what happens."

Article 17 of the Third Geneva Convention says, "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever."

Jamail recounts the story of Iraqi civilian Ali Abbas, who lived in Baghdad and was employed in civil administration. Friends asked Abbas to inquire at a nearby U.S. base about the inordinate number of their innocent neighbors being detained.

On Abbas' fourth visit to the base, he was also detained, and then sent to Abu Ghraib and held without charges for over three months. He was later released.

Abbas had a loaded gun held to his head "to prevent him from crying out in pain as his hand ties were tightened," according to Jamail. Abbas said, "My hands were enlarged because there was no blood because they cuffed them so tight. My head was covered with [a] sack, and they fastened my right hand to a pole with handcuffs. They made me stand on my toes to clip me to it."

He was beaten on his genitals and denied food and water. According to Jamail, a female soldier told Abbas, "Our aim is to put you in hell."

Jamail notes that an April 2005 Human Rights Watch report said: "Abu Ghraib was only the tip of the iceberg, it's now clear that abuse of detainees has happened all over -- from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay to a lot of third-country dungeons where the United States has sent prisoners. And probably quite a few places we don't even know about."

Former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, once in charge of Abu Ghraib, gave testimony in 2006, that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had issued a memo approving "harsher interrogation techniques" for use at Abu Ghraib. Karpinski said Rumsfeld handwrote in the memo's left margin: "Make sure this happens!"

Karpinski told the War Crimes Commission in 2006: "The Secretary of Defense would not have authorized [the harsh techniques] without the approval of the Vice President."

In another chapter of the above-referenced book, historian Jeremy Brecher; assistant dean at Yale College, Jill Cutler; and writer-attorney, Brendan Smith write that "war crimes are high crimes." They say Bush and Cheny should be investigated for "initiating a war of aggression, abusing noncombatants, and engaging in torture and prisoner abuse."

The president and vice president are required to obey the law, and, as these authors suggest, "The United Nations Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and other treaties ratified under the authority of the United States are the supreme law of the land."

Brecher, Cutler and Smith go on to say, "Today the Bush administration has subverted constitutional government from within. It has paralyzed the constraints that would limit executive authority...When asked at his Senate confirmation hearings whether he agreed that the President could simply refuse to obey a law he considered unconstitutional, President Bush's Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales assented."

Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh lamented that by that same logic, the President would also have "unfettered authority to license genocide." The Bush administration has granted itself the powers of a dictatorship -- a cruel, violent dictatorship, and Congress has sat back and allowed it to happen.

Every day Bush and Cheney remain in office, some new victim of their unlawful policies will face agony or death. There's a soldier or innocent civilian alive in Iraq today who will not be alive tomorrow, because of the Bush-Cheney policies. Whose son or daughter will this be? Whose father or mother?

When Congress fails to impeach, they implicitly give their blessing to this tragic situation. Impeachment has to precede genuine investigation. Ordinary citizens who care at all about the issue should keep up the effort to wake Congress as to the importance of such an investigation.

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May 12-13, 2007 -- Hookergate involves fired US Attorney. US District Judge for the District of Columbia Gladys Kessler, a Clinton appointee, has re-issued an order prohibiting DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey from releasing any more phone lists of her Pamela Martin & Associates customers. Secrecy of the phone records has been a priority for DC Assistant US Attorney William Cowden. Palfrey released her 10 years of customer phone records to ABC's "20/20" before Kessler's March order prohibiting such a release took effect. As WMR reported, ABC and Disney, under pressure from the Bush White House, killed the story and stated that there were no "newsworthy" names on the Madam's list. WMR has been informed by three well-placed sources that Vice President Dick Cheney, while a part-time resident of McLean, Virginia and while serving as Halliburton's CEO, was a customer of the DC Madam.

The focus on the DC Hookergate story has now moved to Baltimore, and the firing by the Justice Department in December 2004 of the US Attorney for Maryland, Thomas DiBiagio. DiBiagio was fired, along with a number of other US attorneys, after George W. Bush's re-election for political reasons. One of DiBiagio's public corruption targets was the staff of then-Republican Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich, some of whom had engaged the services of Madam Palfrey's escorts. The US Attorney's office in Baltimore first became involved in the investigation of the prostitution ring after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office and IRS agent Troy Burrus in Baltimore made a criminal referral to the US Attorney's office in Baltimore. Subsequently, an asset seizure warrant for Palfrey's assets was issued. Palfrey and her employees used two telephones in Maryland for their escort business, 301 231-5800 in Rockville, near some of the "mansions" in Potomac, Maryland and Great Falls, Virginia described by "20/20" as the locations in DC where Pamela Martin escorts would pay calls, and 410 244-1818 in Baltimore.

After Ehrlich complained to then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey about the aggressiveness of DiBiagio, the Baltimore-based US Attorney was placed on the firing list in the wake of the 2004 election. David Margolis, an Associate Deputy Attorney General, claimed he did not know about any investigations of Ehrlich's staff by DiBiagio when he informed the number one Justice Department official in Baltimore that the Justice Department had lost confidence in his abilities.

DiBiagio had already witnessed the brutal murder of his Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Luna in December 2003. A husband and father of two, Luna had departed in his vehicle, strangely leaving his cell phone on his desk at his office, and drove a circuitous route through Delaware, New Jersey, and then Pennsylvania before he was found in a creek near the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Denver, PA stabbed to death 36 times, supposedly with his own pen knife. Federal authorities leaned toward a suicide but local investigators treated the death as a homicide. In 2004, DiBiagio claimed he was being pressured to stop his investigation of Ehrlich's staff for links to gambling (particularly the gambling interests of jailed Maryland/DC GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff), prostitution, and other corruption and filed a threat report with the FBI. The Washington Post and Washington Times then reported that Luna was fearful that DiBiagio was going to fire him, which led to Luna's "suicide." It is a charge DiBiagio strongly denied. DiBiagio told the New York Times that the pressure from Ehrlich's office and the Justice Department served "to intimidate my office and shut down the investigations." Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin has asked for an investigation of DiBiagio's firing.

Luna's death on December 4, 2003 was followed a few days later, on December 10, 2003, by the indictment of Maryland State Police Superintendent Ed Norris for using his Executive Protective Unit (EPU), the unit that protects the Governor of Maryland and other state VIPs, to transport prostitutes to various locations, including posh Baltimore and New York City hotels, including the Baltimore Hyatt. Like Palfrey, Norris also came under investigation for tax evasion by the Baltimore IRS office. ABC's 20/20 reported that Madam Palfrey's escorts were also driven to expensive Washington hotels, including the Hay-Adams. Palfrey, herself, has suggested that some of her escorts may have been linked to the case of jailed California Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham, Mitchell Wade's MZM, Inc., and Shirlington Limousine. The limousine service was, according to investigators, involved in transporting escorts to the Watergate and Capitol Hill's Westin Grand Hotel for "poker parties" with top Republican congressmen and CIA officials.

Hookergate expands: Cheney (l.), fired US Attorney Thomas DiBiagio (c.), who charged he was fired because of pressure from DOJ and Maryland GOP Governor, and Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich (r.), whose staff was linked to a prostitution ring.

The murder of Luna and the firing of DiBiagio eliminated the threat that the well-heeled customers of the DC/Baltimore prostitution ring, many of them GOP stalwarts, would be exposed prior to the December 2004 presidential election. The attempt by Justice prosecutors and Judge Kessler to limit the criminal case to Palfrey continues the effort to punish the DC Madam and her employees and divert attention away from the customers. In May 2004, at the same time Norris and his chief of staff agreed to a plea deal in the prostitution case and received light semtences, Palfrey came under intense federal investigation. Palfrey claims that she is being scapegoated by the very same people who were her customers.

This past January, after being exposed by the media as running an escort, Brandy Britton, a PhD and former Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus was found hanging in her home in Ellicott City, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. Britton's home had been foreclosed after she was charged with running a prostitution service using the name "Alexis" and has since been identified from Palfrey's phone lists as one of the Pamela Martin & Associates escorts. Palfrey used the name "Julia." The Bush administration, clearly concerned about a sex scandal that will bring down more than just former Assistant Secretary of State Randall Tobias, is hoping to keep the focus on "Julia" and her employees, and not on "Backseat."

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