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by Bob Fertik
On Wednesday, Republicans had their chance to save George Bush from impeachment.
And, as Steve Cobble describes, they threw it away.
Since the Downing Street Minutes were published on May, progressives have demanded to know whether the central allegation of those Minutes was true: that the pre-war intelligence and facts were being fixed around Bush's policy of invading Iraq, whether or not Iraq had any WMD's or any connection to 9/11.
We have generated hundreds of thousands of emails, letters and calls to Congress. On July 23, we held Downing Street Memo events all around the country with leading Members of Congress, and had to turn people away. On September 14, we united all 20 Democrats on the House International Relations Committee - including many who voted for the war - to vote for Barbara Lee's Resolution of Inquiry (H.Res 375) for the White House to turn over all documents that would confirm or refute the truth of the Downing Street Memos. We even persuaded one conscientious Republican - Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa - to join them.
But when the vote was counted, those 21 defenders of the truth were defeated by 22 Republican defenders of lies.
In a delicious twist of fate, the leading defender of George Bush's lies about Iraq was none other than Henry Hyde - the former chair of the House Judiciary Committee who led the Impeachment of President Clinton in 1998 not because he had consensual sex with Monica Lewinsky - but because he lied about it.
Every American can lie about sex, and most do - including lots of Congressmen. (Henry Hyde, who was the leading opponent of legal abortion in Congress, had a 4-year extramaterial affair with Cherie Snodgrass, which destroyed her marriage. Newt Gingrich was having a torrid extramarital affair with a young staffer named Callista Bistek even as he was leading the charge to impeach Bill Clinton.) Lying about sex is not a "high" crime under the Constitution - it's about as "low" a crime as a President or a Congressman can commit.
But only one American can lie to start a war - the President.
George Bush's lies about Iraq didn't stain a blue dress - they stained the red, white and blue flag of the United States of America.
Conservatives consider the flag so precious that they want to send people to jail for burning a single one. Bush didn't stain one American flag - he stained every American flag in the United States - and around the world.
Thanks to George Bush's lies, the flag which originally stood for liberty against imperialism, and later stood for liberty against fascism, now stands for imperialism and fascism in the eyes of billions.
And thanks to George Bush's lies, the flag now drapes the coffins of nearly 2,000 of America's bravest and most patriotic young men and women, including Cindy Sheehan's beloved son Casey.
Thanks to the coverup engineered by Henry Hyde and his 21 Republican cronies, George Bush will never have to explain his Iraq War lies to Congress and the American people.
Without a truthful explanation, the American people can only assume the worst - that Bush deliberately committed the following crimes:
- In July 2002, Bush deliberately diverted $700 million from the authorized war in Afghanistan to provoke an unauthorized war in Iraq, including a criminal bombing campaign
- On March 18, 2003, Bush deliberately lied to Congress when he claimed in writing that continued U.N. inspections would endanger the national security of the U.S. and undermine enforcement of U.N. Resolutions, and that Iraq planned or aided the attacks of September 11, 2001
- By invading Iraq without any threat or just cause, Bush launched a War of Aggression in violation of U.S. obligations under the U.N. Charter
- In the conduct of the War, Bush violated the Geneva conventions by failing to protect civilians (including journalists) and by authorizing torture of prisoners
On the basis of these now-undisputed high crimes, Congress must immediately begin to impeach George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and every other high official who participated in these crimes.