Grounds for Impeachment

Article excerpt

George W. Bush and his Administration have been so brazen in violating the law and asserting monarchical powers that we, as American citizens, must use the tool that the Constitution provides to reassert our rights, to reset the system of checks and balances, and to reestablish our democracy. That tool is impeachment.

Article II, Section 4, states: "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."

Notice that the Vice President is specifically mentioned. So while we're advocating the impeachment of George W. Bush, let's not stop there. Impeach Dick Cheney, too. For Cheney has been in on every illegal act that Bush has committed.

And notice the phrase "other high crimes and misdemeanors." At the Constitutional Convention, the drafters had originally restricted impeachment to "treason" and "bribery:" But George Mason, one of the influential delegates, found those terms insufficient, according to Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, a new and highly informative book by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Those terms "will not reach many great and dangerous offenses," Mason said, including "attempts to subvert the Constitution." After some wrangling over wording, the founders agreed to James Madison's phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors."

George W. Bush has been subverting our Constitution, and he has repeatedly violated his oath of office to "faithfully execute" his duties and to "pre serve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

He has done so in four key areas: in the Iraq War, in detentions here at home and abroad, in the torture scandal, and in the NSA warrantless spying program.

First, Iraq. Bush's invasion was a war of aggression, prohibited by the U.N. Charter, as Kofi Annan himself has acknowledged.

And by violating the U.N. Charter, Bush was violating Article VI of the Constitution, which says that treaties are "the supreme law of the land."

But even beyond this, the way that Bush bamboozled the country into war is itself an impeachable offense. There can hardly be a more grave act imaginable than to dupe a democracy into going to war, but that is what Bush has done, as the Downing Street Memo clearly indicates.

On July 20, 2002, eight months before Bush launched the war, Richard Dearlove, head of British Intelligence, met with George Tenet, director of the CIA. After that meeting, Dearlove reported back that Bush was intent on war.

His findings were reflected in the July 23, 2002, memo to Prime Minister Tony Blair, which said: "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

To fix the intelligence and the facts is to engage in a fraud against the U.S. government and the American public, and that's exactly what the top officials of the Bush Administration proceeded to do. Bush, Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell issued 237 statements that were "misleading at the time they were made," according to "Iraq on the Record," a report by Representative Henry Waxman of California and the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Government Reform.

Bush and Cheney were engaging in "a conspiracy to commit fraud," as Lewis Lapham points out in his pathbreaking essay, "The Case for Impeachment," in the March issue of Harper's Magazine. Lapham notes that the Supreme Court in Hammerschmidt v. United States said someone engages in a conspiracy to commit fraud against the government when that person obstructs lawful government functions "by deceit, craft, or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest" and when its "legitimate official action and purpose shall be defeated by misrepresentation, chicane, or other overreaching of those charged with carrying out the government intention. …