Monday, July 2, 2007

On Impeachment, I Hope Obama's Mind Can Be Changed

By Manifesto Joe

It was discouraging to read a few days ago that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, told USA Today and other media at a function that he opposes impeachment of either Bush or Cheney. A different message from Obama, a first-rate constitutional scholar, would perhaps have jump-started Rep. Dennis Kucinich's House Resolution 333 for the impeachment of Richard B. Cheney.

But I think there may be one big thing getting in the way: Obama wants to be the next president, so he's playing to what is perceived as the political "mainstream." That's just my take on it. His credentials are beyond question. He lectured for many years on the Constitution at the University of Chicago School of Law. Maybe he's sincere, but if so, I don't get it.

Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution says: "The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." The problem here is that with only that language to go on, the bar for "high crimes and misdemeanors" can be ratcheted up or down, according to the whim of the sitting Congress.

Obama explained his position thusly: "I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breaches, and intentional breaches of the president's authority.

"I believe if we began impeachment proceedings we will be engulfed in more of the politics that has made Washington dysfunction. We would once again, rather than attending to the people's business, be engaged in a tit-for-tat, back-and-forth, non-stop circus."

With all due respect for his scholarship, the argument seems to be that since our previous president was impeached on frivolous charges -- lying about a sex act -- we should raise the bar of "high crimes and misdemeanors" much, much higher for the likes of Bush and Cheney, for reasons of state.

His comments seem to give some sad credence to the view of many on the far right wing, that lying about one's sex life may be somehow worse than lying to get the country into a disastrous elective war that has claimed close to 700,000 lives, strained our armed forces to the hilt and almost irreparably damaged America's reputation in the world community.

Never having formally studied constitutional law, I'll let the reader decide. This is excerpted from the first of Kucinich's three articles of impeachment against Cheney:

(1) Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Vice President actively and systematically sought to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States about an alleged threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction:

(A) `We know they have biological and chemical weapons.' March 17, 2002, Press Conference by Vice President Dick Cheney and His Highness Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain at Shaikh Hamad Palace.

(B) `. . . and we know they are pursuing nuclear weapons.' March 19, 2002, Press Briefing by Vice President Dick Cheney and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem.

(C) `And he is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time . . .' March 24, 2002, CNN Late Edition interview with Vice President Cheney.

(D) `We know he's got chemicals and biological and we know he's working on nuclear.' May 19, 2002, NBC Meet the Press interview with Vice President Cheney.

(E) `But we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons . . . Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.' August 26, 2002, Speech of Vice President Cheney at VFW 103rd National Convention.

(F) `Based on intelligence that's becoming available, some of it has been made public, more of it hopefully will be, that he has indeed stepped up his capacity to produce and deliver biological weapons, that he has reconstituted his nuclear program to develop a nuclear weapon, that there are efforts under way inside Iraq to significantly expand his capability.' September 8, 2002, NBC Meet the Press interview with Vice President Cheney.

(G) `He is, in fact, actively and aggressively seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.' September 8, 2002, NBC Meet the Press interview with Vice President Cheney.

(H) `And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.' March 16, 2003, NBC Meet the Press interview with Vice President Cheney.

(2) Preceding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq the Vice President was fully informed that no legitimate evidence existed of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Vice President pressured the intelligence community to change their findings to enable the deception of the citizens and Congress of the United States.

(A) Vice President Cheney and his Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby, made multiple trips to the CIA in 2002 to question analysts studying Iraq's weapons programs and alleged links to al Qaeda, creating an environment in which analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives accounts.

(B) Vice President Cheney sought out unverified and ultimately inaccurate raw intelligence to prove his preconceived beliefs. This strategy of cherry picking was employed to influence the interpretation of the intelligence.

(3) The Vice President's actions corrupted or attempted to corrupt the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, an intelligence document issued on October 1, 2002, and carefully considered by Congress prior to the October 10, 2002, vote to authorize the use of force. The Vice President's actions prevented the necessary reconciliation of facts for the National Intelligence Estimate which resulted in a high number of dissenting opinions from technical experts in two Federal agencies.

(A) The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research dissenting view in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate stated `Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute it's nuclear weapons program INR is unwilling to speculate that such an effort began soon after the departure of UN inspectors or to project a timeline for the completion of activities it does not now see happening. As a result INR is unable to predict that Iraq could acquire a nuclear device or weapon.'.

(B) The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research dissenting view in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate also stated that `Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious.'.

(C) The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research dissenting view in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate references a Department of Energy opinion by stating that `INR accepts the judgment of technical experts at the US Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose.'.

There are many links to the rest of this, including one posted on Watching Those We Chose back in April, when Kucinich first introduced the articles in the House. If you haven't read the whole thing and want to, in html format, here's the Library of Congress page address:

Just from reading this much, it looks to me like Cheney impeachment proceedings should begin ASAP. Of course, that's just my opinion. But I hope something can happen that will make it more widely shared, including by Obama. More important than any concern about political "tit-for-tat" is that someone who has deliberately done these things may just skate in January 2009, leaving the post mortem to historians.

Postscript: Bush has commuted Scooter Libby's prison sentence. These people do seem to look out for each other. Or, was Scooter getting ready to come clean about what Cheney knew?

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Red Hog Diary said...

Hey Joe,
At first I kind of thougt Obama was right. With only 18 months left in "the embarassment" it seemed as like, "what's the point?" But the combination of refusing the Congressional Subpoena into the Plame affair and commuting the sentence of Libby "the protector" is too much. Bush and Cheney must laugh at night as they flaunt their untouchable nature over the land. It is time that Congress tells them who is boss...and that would be the people!

Manifesto Joe said...

I honestly think it's come to a point where we the people just really can't permit this shit to go on. It's become sort of like the "outrage of the day." I think collectively the American people will regret it if these people aren't ultimately taken to task before their appointed time to leave office.

Marc McDonald said...

Chomsky once pointed out that, in Washington, there are issues that are popular with the public, but not "politically feasible." (A good example is universal health care).
Chomsky noted that, if America really is a democracy, then what is popular and what is "politically feasible" should be one and the same.
Unfortunately, this isn't the case.
The American people essentially voted to end the Iraq War last November. But I guess it isn't "politically feasible."
Meanwhile, the horrific bloodshed goes on.