An Analysis of Kucinich's Impeachment Case Against Bush

Some will want to dismiss Rep. Dennis Kucinich's introduction of
articles of impeachment against President Bush as quixotic, but it's
not. Twenty House Republicans joined nearly all House Democrats in
voting to send the articles to the Judiciary Committee. This comes on
the heels of the Senate Intelligence Committee's 107-page report
confirming, with the vote of two Republican Senators, that President
Bush abused his office by deceiving Congress and the American people
into the Iraq war. Although Kucinich's articles included other
impeachment grounds as well, deception about the war is arguably the
most serious one.

We have long known that the reasons President Bush and his team gave
for going to war in Iraq were false. Many have contended that the
president deliberately misled the nation into war. Scott McClellan,
for example, with his insider's perspective, says in his new book that
the president used exaggerations and misleading statements to win
public and Congressional support for going to war in Iraq. Now we
have important corroboration of such claims: the Senate Intelligence
Report has made it official in a way that Congress will find hard to

The report describes a drum roll of groundless statements by the
president, the vice president and other top officials. While it does
not use the word "lie," it offers plenty of evidence that we were "led
to war based on false pretences," to quote Committee chair Senator
Rockefeller. The report shows there was no intelligence to back up
the President's contention that Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were in
cahoots, or his claim that Saddam would give WMD to terrorists, much
less the Vice President's fantasy that American soldiers would be
welcomed as liberators.

Now that these are official findings of the Senate Intelligence
Committee, the question is, what do we do about it? Just wring our
hands? Simply hope for change in the November elections? Or does the
Constitution now require something more of us?

The Constitution's framers envisioned the possibility that presidents
and their minions might seriously abuse the power of their office, and
"subvert the constitution." Their remedy was impeachment: the removal
of the offending official to protect our democracy. They understood
that Executives historically wanted to take countries into unnecessary
wars, so they empowered Congress act as a real check on unwarranted
presidential warmaking. Since lying to Congress obstructs that
function, it is a grave abuse of power that "subverts the
Constitution" and meets the standard for impeachment.

The House should commence an impeachment inquiry forthwith. In fact,
in a sense, it is already beginning. Rep. Kucinich introduced the
articles, the House has referred them to the Judiciary Committee and
the Senate Intelligence Report goes a long way toward furnishing the
investigative work Congress needs to do in the course of impeachment,
at least as regards the run-up to the war (Congress should also look
at other serious abuses of power, including President Bush's refusal
to obey duly enacted laws, as evidenced by hundreds of signing
statements, his violations of the laws on wiretapping and mistreatment
of detainees).

The next step is to start asking, what did the president actually know
and when did he know it? Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has
stated that President Bush seemed determined to overthrow Saddam
Hussein at the beginning of his administration, well before 9/11.
There was also the British "Downing Street" memo written in the summer
of 2002 stating that President Bush was going to "fix" the
intelligence to fit the policy of overthrow. It's now incumbent on
Congress to take these matters up in impeachment hearings.

Yes, even at the end of their terms, President Bush and Vice President
Cheney can still be impeached and removed from office. There might
just be sufficient time to finish impeachment before they leave
office, and technically they could be impeached even after that. This
administration can still be held accountable for the consequences of
the unnecessary Iraq War and other grave abuses. The American people
still have a chance to witness the Constitution in action as it
appropriately limits the powers of this president, preventing further
abuses by him (such as bombing Iran without approval of Congress) or
by his successors.

This would be an important lesson in democracy. We last learned it 34
years ago during the Nixon impeachment process, which reminded
Americans how the Constitution works. But our collective memory of
those far-off events may have faded, especially after the past eight
years of President Bush asserting extreme claims for presidential
power, coupled with the failure of Congress to respond forcefully. As
a result, as a nation we may have a diminished level of constitutional
literacy compared to 1974. It's time to reinvigorate that literacy.
We need to understand once again that acquiescing in this president
seriously deceiving us into war means ignoring what the Constitution
says, and jeopardizing our democracy.