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THE CASE FOR IMPEACHMENT
By Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia
Project for a New American Revolution, http://www.pnar.org
It is by this tribunal, that statesmen, who abuse
their power, are accused by statesmen, and tried
by statesmen, not upon the niceties of a narrow
jurisprudence, but upon the enlarged and solid
principles of state morality - Edmund Burke
President Bush must be impeached and removed from office. He has lied to Congress and the American people about the 9/11 attacks, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the invasion of Iraq. The lies, or misstatements, are so numerous that it would require a book to document all of them.
Nixon and Clinton faced impeachment for lying to the American people. There is no question that lying constitutes grounds for impeachment. Of course, it must be proven that Bush lied and intended to lie. But, there is little doubt that he has not told the truth, whether intentional or not.
Even those who give President Bush the benefit of the doubt and believe he does not intentionally lie must confront the reasons Bush so often "misspeaks". If he is not intentionally lying, is he incompetent? Either way, Bush should be removed from office.
President Bush's defenders have put themselves in the same position that President Clinton's defenders found themselves in when they claimed Clinton was not a liar. They discredited themselves and lost credibility when they defended statements they knew were untrue. Bush's supporters must acknowledge the following lies, or misstatements, or risk losing whatever credibility they may have.
President Bush appeared on television the evening of September 11, 2001 and told the American people, "America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world."
The President continues to claim that terrorists acted against America because they hate our freedom. This explanation might satisfy a child, but only the most uninformed adult could possibly believe this. It has been America's Mideast interventions that have radicalized militant Muslims.
America has sought to directly influence the Mideast using military means, covert intelligence operations, the use of aid, and the use of sanctions for over 50 years. America has propped up bad leaders like the Shah of Iran, the House of Saud, and even Saddam. America continues to support anti-Muslim actors in the Mideast such as Sharon and Uzbekistan.
The President's statement begs the question - is he lying or does he truly believe his simplistic explanation? Those who raise the question of America's foreign policy are shouted down with retorts that they support terrorism. But if the President actually believes that America was attacked because of our freedom, that demonstrates his incompetence.
Congress passed the Authorization For The Use Of United States Armed Forces (Public Law 107-40) on September 18, 2001 which authorized the President "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."
America invaded Afghanistan on Ocober 7, 2001 to remove the Taliban from power and destroy al Qaida. Americans were told that the United States had no intelligence operations in Afghanistan in order to explain the failure of government to prevent the 9/11 attacks. But this, and the idea that America was not already at war with the Taliban, may have also been lies.
Janes Intelligence Review reported the following on March 15, 2001:
"India is believed to have joined Russia, the USA and Iran in a concerted front against Afghanistan's Taliban regime....Military sources in Delhi, claim that the opposition Northern Alliance's capture of the strategic town of Bamiyan, was precipitated by the four countries' collaborative effort....Intelligence sources in Delhi said that while India, Russia and Iran were leading the anti-Taliban campaign on the ground, Washington was giving the Northern Alliance information and logistic support."
News Insight (India) reported the following on June 26, 2001:
"India and Iran will 'facilitate' US and Russian plans for 'limited military action' against the Taliban if the contemplated tough new economic sanctions don't bend Afghanistan's fundamentalist regime.... India, Iran and Russia, for example, are working on a broad plan to supply oil and gas to south Asia and southeast Asian nations through India but instability in Afghanistan is posing a great threat to this effort."
The BBC reported the following on December 27, 2002:
"An agreement has been signed in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, paving the way for construction of a gas pipeline from the Central Asian republic through Afghanistan to Pakistan. The building of the trans-Afghanistan pipeline has been under discussion for some years but plans have been held up by Afghanistan's unstable political situation."
These reports suggest America was involved in operations against the Taliban before 9/11 and President Bush was preparing for military action in Afghanistan for reasons having nothing to do with terrorism. While the conditions of Public Law 107-40 may have been met, it appears the President may have had other reasons for invading Afghanistan that were not presented to the American people.
If the President knowingly withheld information from the public, the case can be made that he lied by ommission. Prior to the passage of Public Law 107-40, there was no deliberation by Congress on whether a gas pipeline justified regime change in Afghanistan.
Preisdent Bush met with Tony Blair on September 7, 2002 and the two men talked with reporters. According to a MSNBC report that day, Blair cited a satellite photo of Iraq showing new construction at sites once used for development of nuclear weapons. Both leaders mentioned a 1998 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that said Saddam could be six months away from developing nuclear weapons.
"I don't know what more evidence we need," Bush said, according to MSNBC, "We owe it to future generations to deal with this problem."
A White House official acknowledged later that the 1998 report did not say what Bush claimed. "What happened was, we formed our own conclusions based on the report," the official told NBC News' Norah O'Donnell. Mark Gwozdecky, a spokesman for the IAEA, disputed Bush's assessment of the satellite photograph. Contrary to news reports, there was no specific photo or building that aroused suspicions, he told NBC News' Robert Windrem.
The Washington Times reported on September 27, 2002 that the report cited by Bush as evidence that Iraq was six months away from developing a nuclear weapon did not exist. Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan claimed Bush was referring to an earlier 1991 IAEA report, but Gwozdecky said no such report was ever issued by the IAEA in 1991. McClellan also cited two news articles from 1991 (a July 16 story in the London Times and a July 18 story in the New York Times), but neither article cited an IAEA report or stated that Saddam was six months away from developing nuclear weapons.
The news conference with Bush and Blair marked the beginning of a series of untrue statements made to the American people. Bush's handlers may claim that his September 7th misstatement was merely an honest error, but it is hard to imagine two world leaders getting both the satellite pictures and the IAEA report wrong and then coming to the rash conclusion that they must act on the mistaken information.
Two days after Bush's misstatement, coalition aircraft struck Iraq for the third time in a week. According to an AP story dated September 9, 2002, the U.S. and Britain used precision-guided weapons to hit an air defense command and control facility near Al Amarah, about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad.
Three days earlier, the World Tribune reported that 100 American and British aircraft participated in striking targets in an area where Iraq had based its Scud-class missiles in the 1991 Gulf war. As in the case with Afghanistan, it would appear that while Bush was trying to sell the war, a war was already in progress.
Bush and his neoconservative allies provided the public with numerous reasons to go to war with Iraq during the months before the war. Iraq was linked to al Qaida and the 9/11 attacks. Iraq had vast stocks of biological and chemical weapons. Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa and aluminum tubes for centrifuges to make nukes.
Bush told Americans on October 7, 2002, "Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof - the smoking gun - that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud....If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today - and we do - does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?"
All of these claims were eventually proven to be dubious or false. Representative Ron Paul (R-Teaxs) refuted some of these claims from the floor of the House on October 8, 2002. Paul also raised a more fundamental question in his opening remarks:
"This resolution is not a declaration of war, however, and that is an important point: this resolution transfers the Constitutionally-mandated Congressional authority to declare wars to the executive branch. This resolution tells the president that he alone has the authority to determine when, where, why, and how war will be declared. It merely asks the president to pay us a courtesy call a couple of days after the bombing starts to let us know what is going on."
Rep. Paul quoted Bush: "Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don't know exactly, and that's the problem."
Paul then asked, "An admission of a lack of information is justification for an attack?"
Congress passed the resolution (Public Law 107-243) on October 16, 2002. It authorized Bush to use military force in Iraq and required the President to give Congress, within 48 hours after exercising such authority, his "determination that further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either will not protect the national security of the U.S. against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the U.S. continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the 9/11 attacks".
President Bush sent letters to the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate on March 18, 2003 giving Congress notice as required by Public Law 107-243. Apparently, Bush and Congress did not consider the bombings in Iraq during the preceding months to be acts of war.
Bush told Congress that he had determined that diplomatic means, such as inspections, would not protect America against the threat of Iraq and was unlikely to lead to the enforcement of earlier U.N. resolutions. Bush also told Congress that making war on Iraq was consistent with the U.S. taking action against nations that planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Tony Blair and President Bush appeared together on January 31, 2003 and answered questions from reporters. A reporter asked, "One question for you both. Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?"
President Bush answered, "I can't make that claim."
Prime Minister Blair then said, "That answers your question."
Perhaps the President was merely mistaken six weeks later when he informed Congress that the war was consistent with the U.S. taking action against nations that planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. While continuing to assert that Iraq is somehow linked to al Qaida, the President has not made any claim that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. In a report issued in June of 2004, the 9/11 Commission found no credible evidence of any operational link between Iraq and al Qaida.
Bush either lied to Congress by claiming an Iraq connection to 9/11 or he had new information that would cause him to make the claim on March 18 that he was unable to make on January 31. Apparently, Bush did not share this new information with the 9/11 Commission or the American people.
Bush's March 18 letter to Congress implied that Iraq posed a threat to America so great that only military action could protect the nation. President Bush seemed quite certain on January 22, 2003 when he said, "The dictator of Iraq has got weapons of mass destruction."
"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," Bush said on March 17, 2003.
Weapons inspector Charles Duelfer reported that Iraq destroyed their weapons of mass destruction in 1991. David Kay earlier reported that there were no WMD in Iraq. This is in clear contrast with the claims of Bush. It is possible that the President did possess intelligence that Iraq had "lethal" weapons. Assuming that "lethal" weapons are the same as "weapons of mass destruction", it is not true that intelligence left no doubt - as many doubts were raised by weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Scott Ritter, Congressman Ron Paul, and many others.
The March 3, 2003 issue of Newsweek reported that Iraqi weapons chief Hussein Kamel told U.N. inspectors in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and banned missiles in 1991. The CIA was told the same story, according to Newsweek, and a military aide who defected with Kamel backed Kamel's assertions about the destruction of WMD stocks.
Kamel's story should have raised some doubts about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction - especially since Bush and Cheney used information from Kamal to justify claims that Iraq had biological weapons. Cheney said Kamel's story "should serve as a reminder to all that we often learned more as the result of defections than we learned from the inspection regime itself."
"In 1995, after several years of deceit by the Iraqi regime, the head of Iraq's military industries defected. It was then that the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents," Bush said on October 7, 2002.
These statements call into question the President's honesty unless one believes that Bush could know that Kamal was telling the truth about Iraq having WMD prior to 1991 but was lying about it being destroyed.
Bush has lied about the reason America was attacked on 9/11, thereby exposing Americans to future attacks by refusing to deal with the root causes of terrorism. Bush has lied to the American people and Congress about the reasons for invading Afghanistan and Iraq. Reports that America was conducting operations against both Iraq and Afghanistan before military force was authorized suggest that Bush misled Congress and ignored the Constitution.
The consequences of the lies of Nixon and Clinton were minimal compared to the consequences of Bush's lies. Thousands of U.S. troops have suffered injuries - many of which will render those men and women disabled for life. Over 1,100 U.S. troops have been killed. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi and Afghani citizens have been killed or wounded. Billions of dollars have been spent.
Bush's claims of bringing democracy and freedom to Irag and Afghanistan ring hollow as Allawi and Karzai are considered to be puppets of the U.S. and because both countries are in chaos. Bush's failure to hold anyone accountable for the 9/11 attacks, the escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora, and the mistakes of the Iraq war call into question his competence.
Assuming that Bush never intentionally lied to the American people, one cannot dismiss so many misstatements, errors of judgment, and failures to comprehend information. It is hard to believe that Bush has not lied considering the number of times that leaked documents and people speaking on the record have challenged his many misstatements of fact.
Even President Bush's most ardent supporters must admit that the President has not spoken the truth, whether intentional or not. Either way, Bush has no business remaining in office. If Bush is not intentionally lying, why does he continue to repeat the same misstatements?
Article 2, Section 1, Clause 6 of the Constitution (as modified by the Twenty-Fifth Amendment) provides for the removal of the President from office by Congress for his inability to discharge the powers and duties of office. In the event that it can't be proven that the President intentionally lied to the American people and Congress, he should be removed from office for a degree of incompetence that renders him unable to discharge the duties of the office.
Should the degree of Bush's veracity or his inability to discharge the duties of President be insufficient grounds for Congress to remove him from office, there remains another remedy.
The clearest case for the impeachment of the President is his failure to keep his oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution by invading Afghanistan and Iraq without a formal declaration of war. That Congress voted to assign their power to declare war to the President should be no bar to impeachment as such an assignment is not valid.
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution plainly places the power to declare war with Congress. The Constitution makes no provisions regarding the assignment of the enumerated powers of Congress to another branch of the government.
George Washington said, "The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure."
President Bush should be impeached and removed from office immediately. America may never recover from Bush's legacy if he isn't removed from office. Besides the unnecessary wars, wasted lives, huge debts, and the loss of privacy and civil rights that Bush's war on terror has produced, Americans will suffer under subsequent politicians who know they will not be held accountable for lying and disregarding the Constitution.