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Monday, March 6, 2006

Articles on Impeachment

Posted by on March 6 at 10:07 AM

In what seems to be the first mainstream media article written about the grassroots drive to impeach President Bush, The Wall Street Journal today weighs in on the risks Democrats face in embracing the subject.

Only paid online subscribers can get the WSJ article, but ImpeachPAC has it here, along with this interesting WSJ graphic showing more popular support for Bush’s impeachment than there ever was for Clinton’s. (ImpeachPAC has a larger version of the graphic that’s more easily readable, here.)


Also noted by ImpeachPAC: The West Seattle faction of Seattle’s 34th District Democrats has agreed to a resolution calling for Bush’s impeachment, and will be presenting it to the full 34th Disctrict Caucus meeting in late April.

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Much as I like the idea, I think ImpeachPAC is on the wrong track. You can't impeach Bush just because he is unpopular (and getting more unpopular by the day, it seems). And "lying about the war" is a nebulous argument too. It is one thing to say we were wrong, that mistakes were made, that intelligence was off, that the whole thing has been mishandled, that we should get out, and so on. But it is another thing entirely to prove that Bush lied to trick us into war.

To impeach Bush, you need to actually prove he did something clearly illegal. And it needs to be done in an easily understood way that the public can get behind. Especially when the Republicans hold all branches of government.

Remember, Clinton wasn't impeached for having sexual relations with Monica, he was impeached for lying about it. And it didn't fly, despite Republican control of the House & Senate.

It seems to me that the more likely avenue for a successful impeachment attempt would be the NSA eavesdropping of American citizens. On the surface, that seems blatantly illegal, both on a general constitutional level, and against specific FISA laws. And Gonzoles's attempt at explanation in front of the Judicial committee were laughable. While the Republicans seem to be dragging their feet about actually doing anything about it, many of them are not buying the white house line either.

If the Dems manage to regain either the house or senate, the NSA eavesdropping seems like a better shot of impeachment than supposedly lying about the war.

I'm all for impeachment, but the wording of the questions is too different to compare side by side. The Bush one asks about Congress considering impeachment, the Clinton one asks about actual impeachment. Also, I think the country is more educated about impeachment now than they were in 1998, so a greater % of people know that impeachment is the trial and not the removal. So it's essentally asking about 1 to 2 steps further down the road. Still yay for half the nation!

In a one party city, it will be interesting to see who spews what conservative invective at the 34th district d's-- who will be the voices of caution and complicity in this purportedly "liberal" city?

"yes he's admitted to breaking the law (wiretapping) and overriding the will of congress (torture). yes his vice president ordered an illegal outing of a cia agent and he lied about the reasons for war with iraq. yes he vacationed while new orleans flooded. but think of the suburban swing voters from your liberal seattle utopia! they're just not ready for an opposition party yet. and what if the republicans in congress say no? we can't ask for something they wouldn't do! think of how it would make us look! we're either for the republicans or against america. we want to look like team players with practical ways for working with a president who admits to criminal behavior. and based on that record of compromise, we'll take back congress in 2006 and the presidency in 2008..."

The impeachment resolution floating around Seattle is set forth below at the end of this post. Feel free to use it!

Recently the 46th District Democrats, the Metropolitan Democratic Club, all caucuses in the 43d District Democrats, and many other Democratic caucuses in Seattle, passed this impeachment resolution. I had written it, with assistance from others who provided invaluable editing, and I sent it around prior to the March 4th caucuses. (That's a Democratic party neighborhood meeting where folks talk issues and pass resolutions.)

The resolution is set forth below -- copy it, pass it, change it, add Dick Cheney's name to it, and most of all, send it to your Representative and editorial page editors and ask them to take a stand, yea or nay.
Four things to mention, then the resolution:

1. The grounds are misleading us into war (either deliberate lying OR knwoingly withholding certain material information), torture AND spying.

2. This resolution says "Congress, start an investigation as to impeachment" not "Congress, impeachment the dude" -- because an investigation is an appropriate first step.

3. As to misleading us into war: there are two grounds: (a) either there was a plain old lie, OR (b) it was misleading to knowingly say over and over the threat of WMD and links to Al-Queda were solid or nearly certain -- while withholding the intelligence information that was directly to the contrary (that is, that nothing was solid or certain).

Say you buy a used car and you are told: "this car has been checked out, and it is solid" when unbeknownst to you the salesperson has a report that says "hey we have no idea how solid this car is, you can't really conclude it is solid."

The used car sales person committed fraud even if he/she does not actually "know" the "real" or "true" facts as to the reliability of the car.

4. Some say "why bother, this can never work." But it will "work" as follows:
(a) we can tell the world we don't want to put up with these high crimes and misdemeanors
(b) raising the i-word may raise the profile of this issue causing every candidate for Congress in 2006 to explain why they oppose or support dopoing nothing in the face of evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors -- producing a better electoral result and firing up the progressive vote.
(c) to let this go is truly to be "soft on crime" when the Democrats should be tough on crime -- particularly tough on crime in the board rooms, in the Oval office, at Enron, in lobbying scandals, etc.

At a time when Democrats often can't figure out what we are for, it can't be right to take a "do nothing" position on impeachment. It boils down to this: are you for or against abuse of State power -- misleading our nation into war, torture and illegal spying on Americans without a warrant?

Here's the resolution:


WHEREAS, misleading the United States into war, violating human rights protected by treaty law and the Constitution, and spying on US citizens without warrants, are high crimes and misdemeanors that are abuses of State power and are impeachable offenses; and there is reason to believe that President George W. Bush may have misled the nation into war by manipulating or withholding material intelligence information and/or falsifying the threat that Iraq presented to the American people, authorizing and implementing a policy of torture and spying on US citizens contrary to statutes and without obtaining warrants;

WHEREAS, the Bush Administration represented as substantially certain fact that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and intended to use them, and that Iraq provided assistance to al-Qaeda, while knowingly withholding material qualifying and countervailing information, that would make the asserted causes for war appear to be speculative or uncertain;

WHEREAS, President Bush either knew the representations were false or that it was materially misleading to withhold qualifying and countervailing information, and recklessly led us into war, disregarding the likelihood that the reasons for going to war would be wrong or non-existent;

WHEREAS, torture is contrary to the US Constitution, our traditions and ideals, the common law, customary international law and US treaty obligations (including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions); and torture degrades those who practice it, yields unreliable information, constitutes punishment without trial, encourages torture by others of our own citizens and military personnel, and has no part in any nation claiming to represent democracy or to lead in a struggle against terrorism;

WHEREAS, President Bush has engaged in or authorized a policy of torture, and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment; and has stated that prohibitions against torture should not apply to foreigners outside the US; has directed his vice president to oppose Congressional acts prohibiting torture, and has condoned the practice of sending persons to the custody of other governments known or expected to engage in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;

WHEREAS, the US Constitution and federal statutes (FISA) prohibit spying or eavesdropping on US citizens in the United States without a court order or a warrant; and President Bush admits to conducting a spying program that clearly violates the Constitution and FISA in this regard;

WHEREAS, this nation has often been under threat of attack, and using the threat of attack to justify violation of law arrogates to the executive branch the power to act lawlessly and could lead to the downfall of our democracy and civil liberties; and it is incumbent upon all to resist and remedy such violations, else greater violations be committed;


1. The House of Representatives shall institute an investigation into the IMPEACHMENT of President George W. Bush for high crimes and misdemeanors including misleading the nation into war, authorizing torture, and spying on US citizens.

2. This resolution shall be forwarded to all US Representatives and Senators representing areas served by this organization who shall be asked to respond in writing within 30 days as to what action they will take in furtherance of said IMPEACHMENT investigation.

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