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Happy Impeachment Day!

by Dave Lindorff Thursday, Jul. 20, 2006 at 7:20 AM
dlindorff@yahoo.com

This is no time for political strategizing. Every member of Congress is sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, and it is being gravely threatened by this president.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been playing a leading role in battling the Bush administration’s attacks on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and international law, has declared today to be Impeachment Day, with teach-ins scheduled around the country.

Seems like a great occasion to offer up 10 reasons for impeaching the president, as presented in Barbara Olshansky’s and my new book The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office.

The case for impeachment just grew much stronger, with the US Supreme Court's powerful decision in Hamdan v Rumsfeld. In that decision, the justices didn't simply say that the President was wrong and in violation of U.S. and the international law in arbitrarily claiming that the Guantanamo detainees were not subject to the Geneva Convention on Treatment of Prisoners of War. The five-justice majority, which included conservative Anthony Kennedy, declared the President's bogus claim to have "special powers" as commander in chief in "time of war" to be just that--bogus.

What has been missed in almost all the mainstream media coverage of this important ruling is that this slap-down of Bush's justification for his Guantanamo decision also undermines his justification for many other of his constitutional violations.

Let's first look at the list of the president's High Crimes and Misdemeanors. They are:

1. "A Crime Against Peace." Initiating a war of aggression against a nation that posed no immediate threat to the U.S.--a war that has needlessly killed 2550 Americans and maimed and damaged over 20,000 more, while killing over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children, is the number one war crime according to the Nuremberg Charter, a document which was largely drawn up by American lawyers after World War II.

2. Lying and organizing a conspiracy to trick the American people and the U.S. Congress into approving an unnecessary and illegal war. This is defined as "A Conspiracy to Commit a Crime Against Peace" in the Nuremberg Charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory.

3. Approving and encouraging, in violation of U.S. and international law, the use of torture, kidnapping and rendering of prisoners of war captured in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the course of the so-called War on Terror. Note that the Hamdan decision actually declares Bush to have violated the Third Geneva Convention on Treatment of Prisoners of War, which means the justices are in effect calling the president a war criminal. Under U.S. and international law, if prisoners have died because of such a violation--and many have died in illegal US captivity because of torture authorized by this president--the penalty is death (a point made to the president in a warning memo written by his then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, the text of which is published in full in the appendix of our book).

4. Illegally stripping the right of citizenship and the protections of the Constitution from American citizens, denying them the fundamental right to have their cases heard in a court, to hear the charges against them, to be judged in a public court by a jury of their peers, and to have access to a lawyer.

5. Authorizing the spying on American citizens and their communications by the National Security Agency and other U.S. police and intelligence agencies, in violation of the First and Fourth Amendments and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

6. Obstructing investigation into and covering up knowledge of the deliberate exposing of the identity of a U.S. CIA undercover operative, and possibly conspiring in that initial outing itself.

7. Obstructing the investigation into the 9-11 attacks and lying to investigators from the Congress and the bi-partisan 9-11 Commission--actions that come perilously close to treason. (Former Florida Senator Bob Graham, who headed the Senate Intelligence Committee until his retirement at the end of 2002, has called this the president's most impeachable crime.)

8. Violating the due process and other constitutional rights of thousands of citizens and legal residents by rounding them up and disappearing or deporting them without hearings.

9. Abuse of power, undermining of the Constitution and violating the presidential oath of office by deliberately refusing to administer over 750 acts duly passed into law by the Congress--actions with if left unchallenged would make the Congress a vestigial body, and the president a dictator.

10. Criminal negligence in failing to provide American troops with adequate armor before sending them into a war of choice, criminal negligence in going to war against a weak, third-world nation without any planning for post war occupation and reconstruction, criminal negligence in failing to respond to a known and growing crisis in the storm-blasted city of New Orleans, and criminal negligence in failing to act, and in fact in actively obstructing efforts by other countries and American state governments, to deal with the looming crisis of global warming.

Crimes 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9, and possibly crimes 1, 2 and 6 have all been justified by the president using the claim of "special powers" in his role as commander in chief, the claim that was ruled invalid by the High Court, in relation to crime number 3.

It is clearly high time for all Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and for all American citizens, whatever our politics, who care about the Constitution, American democracy, and the basic freedoms that we as a nation have assumed for over two centuries to be our birthright, to demand that this criminal usurper in the White House be called to account, along with his cronies--especially Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

This is no time for Democrats to be crqassly analyzing the political pros and cons of impeachment as a campaign strategy, the way Democratic Party leaders have been doing. Impeachment is the patriotic duty of anyone who has sworn to protect and defend the Constitution. No member of Congress should be re-elected who doesn’t support putting the president in the dock.

To find out more about the new book, The Case for Impeachment, click here. For early review quotes, check out the “Impeachment News” box on the top right of the homepage at This Can't Be Happening! .

For other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .

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