So You Think You Want to Impeach?

Article excerpt

So You Think You Want to Impeach?

The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism and Why It Must Be Applied to George W. Bush

By John Nichols

The New Press. 217pages. $15.95.

Pretensions to Empire: Notes on the Criminal Folly of the Bush Administration

By Lewis Lapham

The New Press. 277pages. $24.95.

The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush From Office

By Dave Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky

St. Martin's Press. 275pages. $23.95.

Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush

By the Center for Constitutional Rights

Melville House Publishing. 141 pages. $9.95.

The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Handbook for Concerned Citizens

By Elizabeth Holtzman and Cindy Cooper

Nation Books. 256pages. $14.95.

ON OCTOBER 7, 2003, citizens of the world's fifth-largest economy swarmed to the ballot box to oust their feckless chief executive in a special recall election. The wellspring of their discontent? A fiscal emergency, linked to a bungled electricity crisis, which had left constituents sweltering in the dark. Vying for votes against a modey crew better suited for a season of hijinks on VH1's The Surreal Life-a midget, a pom star, a Greek millionairess, an ex-Mr. Universe-Governor Gray Davis was thus rudely ushered out of power and Arnold Schwarzenegger installed as commander in chief of a state reborn, in a guttural instant, as "California."

With the benefit of hindsight, it's now clear that the wrong politician got the boot for the Golden State's woes. The energy crisis had nothing to do with Davis, the tone-deaf technocrat. Instead, it was a criminal conspiracy by Enron to plunder state coffers with schemes so malevolent that company traders code-named their effort "The Death Star."

If dead men could tell tales, Ken Lay might now regale us with the secret back story of those infamous energy meetings in the White House-the ones whose opacity Vice President Dick Cheney defended all the way to the Supreme Court-and expose the role of the Bush administration in suborning that faux "crisis." At the time, our president laughed off calls to investigate market manipulation by his chief corporate benefactor, even as he used California's blackouts as cover for abandoning his most important campaign promise. "We're now in an energy crisis," Bush declared in the spring of 2001. "And that's why I decided to not have mandatory caps on CO."

And perhaps, then, we as Americans would demand ultimate accountability. For if lying under oath about a sexual dalliance with a Botero-esque intern is an impeachable offense, so certainly would be administration complicity in the effort to (as one Enron trader put it so coarsely) "jam Grandma Millie. . .right up her asshole for fucking $250 a megawatt hour."

But why limit ourselves to speculation about misdemeanors when the administration's high crimes are hiding in plain sight:

* Whereas the administration "fixed" intelligence to embark on a war of choice, unsanctioned by international law.

* Whereas a criminally incompetent lack of planning has caused that conflict to drag on longer than U.S. involvement in World War II, while spurring the nuclear ambitions of the mullahs in Tehran.

* Whereas the president authorized the National security Administration to engage in warrantless wiretaps of American citizens in violation of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the doctrine of separation of powers, and the express will of Congress in establishing the FISA courts.

* Whereas the president has authorized the use of torture in contravention of military law and Article Three of the Geneva Convention, violations of which, as Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy pointedly observed in the Hamdan decision, "are considered 'war crimes,' punishable as federal offenses."

* Whereas the president has subjected "enemy combatants" to unconstitutional trial by military tribunal, and held American citizens in indefinite detention without access to lawyers or criminal courts. …