An Analysis of Kucinich's Impeachment Case Against Bush

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 or by his successors.
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Some will want to dismiss Rep. Dennis Kucinich's introduction ofarticles of impeachment against President Bush as quixotic, but it'snot. Twenty House Republicans joined nearly all House Democrats invoting to send the articles to the Judiciary Committee. This comes onthe heels of the Senate Intelligence Committee's 107-page reportconfirming, with the vote of two Republican Senators, that PresidentBush abused his office by deceiving Congress and the American peopleinto the Iraq war. Although Kucinich's articles included otherimpeachment grounds as well, deception about the war is arguably themost serious one.

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

The report describes a drum roll of groundless statements by thepresident, the vice president and other top officials. While it doesnot use the word "lie," it offers plenty of evidence that we were "ledto war based on false pretences," to quote Committee chair SenatorRockefeller. The report shows there was no intelligence to back upthe President's contention that Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were incahoots, or his claim that Saddam would give WMD to terrorists, muchless the Vice President's fantasy that American soldiers would bewelcomed as liberators.

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

The Constitution's framers envisioned the possibility that presidentsand their minions might seriously abuse the power of their office, and"subvert the constitution." Their remedy was impeachment: the removalof the offending official to protect our democracy. They understoodthat Executives historically wanted to take countries into unnecessarywars, so they empowered Congress act as a real check on unwarrantedpresidential warmaking. Since lying to Congress obstructs thatfunction, it is a grave abuse of power that "subverts theConstitution" 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 thearticles, the House has referred them to the Judiciary Committee andthe Senate Intelligence Report goes a long way toward furnishing theinvestigative work Congress needs to do in the course of impeachment,at least as regards the run-up to the war (Congress should also lookat other serious abuses of power, including President Bush's refusalto obey duly enacted laws, as evidenced by hundreds of signingstatements, his violations of the laws on wiretapping and mistreatmentof detainees).

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

Yes, even at the end of their terms, President Bush and Vice PresidentCheney can still be impeached and removed from office. There mightjust be sufficient time to finish impeachment before they leaveoffice, and technically they could be impeached even after that. Thisadministration can still be held accountable for the consequences ofthe unnecessary Iraq War and other grave abuses. The American peoplestill have a chance to witness the Constitution in action as itappropriately limits the powers of this president, preventing furtherabuses by him (such as bombing Iran without approval of Congress) orby his successors.

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

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