Impeachment Now! ? A Recantation of Opposition

February 6, 2007 ( — "I am … unwilling to endorse demands for immediate bills of impeachment against Bush and Cheney, for the simple and compelling reason that such an approach is less likely to succeed. Recent history teaches us that the direct route to impeachment may not be the most effective."

I wrote this, and believed this, last December 5.  Intervening events, and some sober reflection, have convinced me that I was wrong.

The intervening events

Since I wrote those words, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has told the Congress, under oath, that the Constitution does not guarantee the protection of habeas corpus to the citizens of the United States. If he believes this and acts accordingly, Gonzales has violated his oath of office. So too the President and Vice President if they endorse Gonzales' opinion. Congress must demand that Bush, Cheney and Gonzales repudiate the Attorney General's pronouncement and reaffirm their oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. If they refuse, then they must be removed from office.

In addition, both Bush and Cheney have expressed their determination to add more troops to the Iraqi occupation force, despite the opposition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an accumulating roster of the military, both active and retired, the Iraq Study Group, the American Public, and the Congress. By announcing that nothing, not even an act of Congress, will deter them, the Bush/Cheney team have, in effect, proclaimed themselves dictators. If this proclamation is to fall short of an implementation of rule by decree, the Congress must promptly and decisively reinstate its co-equal status with the Bush Administration, and it must send back that message to the White House with an explicit threat of impeachment.

Finally, over the past two months it has become apparent that Bush and Cheney might launch an attack on Iran. Most informed observers agree that this would be an act of insanity, that would unite the world against the United States, probably sharply curtail the production and shipment of oil from the Persian Gulf throwing the US and the world into a depression, and just possibly igniting a third World War. This attack might be prevented by an act of Congress refusing to fund such an attack and proclaiming explicitly that the Congress, in accordance with its Constitutional authority, forbids the President to launch an attack against Iran. That act of Congress should state that failure of the President to obey this act would result in impeachment.

There is no need for the Congress to “build a case" against Bush and Cheney

Two months ago, I believed that if Bush and Cheney were to be impeached and convicted by the Senate, investigations would have to take place, with the amassing of evidence, testimony under oath, and extended debate in Congress. Such was the case with Nixon and with Clinton.

However, I have come to realize that the situation today is substantially different. The evidence is public, indisputable, and even, in some cases, freely admitted by Bush and Cheney. As John Dean has pointed out, when Bush announced that he had authorized secret wiretaps in direct violation of the FISA law, he had, in effect, confessed to an impeachable offense. In addition, the use of torture violates the Geneva Conventions, and the launching of an aggressive war against a nation, Iraq, that did not attack or threaten to attack us, constitutes a war crime in violation of the Nuremberg Accords. Both of these treaties have the force of law, and thus their violation merits impeachment. Finally, Bush's “signing statements," many of which state explicitly a Presidential prerogative to ignore acts of Congress at will, contradict the Constitutional requirement that the President “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

There are many additional “high crimes and misdemeanors" that justify impeachment and conviction, but some of these require investigation and debate. However, those listed above are both indisputable and sufficient. All that remains, then, is the will of Congress to do its duty. While extended debate on all these issues might be desirable under ordinary circumstances, these are not ordinary circumstances. The Bush/Cheney administration has caused enormous damage to the American economy, to its international reputation, and to its Constitutional order. And it appears quite likely that this administration is about to precipitate a calamity of unimaginable severity upon the nation and the world. Time is of the essence.

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