The time has come, I fear, when we, the people of the United States of America, must begin giving serious consideration to impeaching President George W. Bush. Yes, I know that impeachment is a terribly drastic step -- one definitely not to be taken lightly. But, as the old saw proclaims, "drastic times call for drastic measures." Believe me, I have given this drastic measure a lot of anguished thought. Do not for a single moment assume that I reached this conclusion as a highly partisan Democrat -- which of course I am. I am perfectly cognizant of the fact that were President Bush to be impeached and then convicted, leadership would then devolve to Vice President Dick "Deadeye" Cheney -- not exactly the kind of thought a good Democrat wants to go to bed with at night.
I am certainly not alone in concluding that the president should be impeached; increasingly you can hear the same drum being thumped in newspapers, on the Internet and even in the halls of Congress. And, mind you, this is definitely not some partisan "payback" for the Republicans' light-than-air charges that eventuated in the disgraceful impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
The Framers of the Constitution were both prescient and correct in fearing that the day might come when executive power might run amok; impeachment was the remedy of last resort they provided to protect us against such a situation. The United States Constitution empowers Congress to vote on Articles of Impeachment when, in their estimation, the President is guilty of "high crimes and misdemeanors" -- an archaic term for a serious abuse of power. A President may not be [or at least should not be] impeached for mere incompetence, personal arrogance or the butchering of the English language. Were such the case, George W. Bush would have been hauled before Congress a long time ago. No, in my mind, and indeed, in the mind of a growing number of other patriotic Americans, President George W. Bush stands accused of high crimes and misdemeanors.
What are they?
- The War in Iraq: We now possess a welter of data offering conclusive proof that the President and his administration knowingly and deliberately misled the country into war. First came the claim [backed up by "intelligence"] that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Osama bin Lauden and his Al Qaeda terrorists. When that balloon was shot full of holes, a new justification arose: that the Iraqi strongman had "weapons of mass destruction," and was poised to launch both chemical and biological weapons against the West. Another balloon sent up, another balloon fallen to earth. Lastly came the generic claim that by fighting for the liberation of Iraq, we were somehow destroying the perpetrators of 9/11.
- Engaging in Warrantless Wiretaps: In 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA]. This sweeping measure -- an attempt to remedy the more egregious illegal acts of monitoring carried out by the Watergate-era Richard Nixon -- granted the Executive Branch the right to engage in a whole host of surveillance techniques on suspected enemies of America -- provided that the President obtain a warrant from a secret FISA court. Moreover, the law permitted said surveillance to begin even prior to the issuance of a warrant. So long as said warrant was obtained within three days after the commencement of snooping, everything would be considered kosher. And, as we all know by now, getting a warrant wasn't terribly difficult: since 1978, the secret court has approved more than 10,000 surveillance applications; only four have ever been turned down. Nonetheless, when confronted with this issue and these facts, President Bush claimed that in his capacity as Commander in Chief, he had the legal right to circumvent FISA. His reasoning? He was protecting the people of the United States against further acts of terrorism.
- Engaging in the Torture of Prisoners: Despite protestations to the contrary ["We do not torture"], it turns out that the CIA has been running secret jails and engaging in torture -- most notably at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. As former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman wrote in a recent article for The Nation, "it has been well documented that abuse [including torture] of detainees by U.S. personnel in connection with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been systematic and widespread." We will recall that President Bush opposed the "McCain Amendment" barring torture. Despite his opposition, Congress enacted the law. Then, in his signing statement, the President boldly announced that he has the right, as Commander in Chief, to break laws when it suits him! In essence, he was informing the entire world that he stood poised to violate not only his oath of office [to uphold the laws of the United States], but both the Geneva Conventions and the War Crimes Act.
These are all impeachable offenses. What we are now witnessing on an almost daily basis is that which the late Senator J. William Fullbright called the "arrogance of power." And, while it is abundantly clear that the Constitution makes the President Commander in Chief over our armed forces, it in no way means to grant him [or someday, her], blanket unilateral authority to act as he sees fit in a time of declared [or in this case, undeclared] war.
To throw but one more log onto the bonfire, just this week, we have learned that the Bush Administration intends to cede authority over six major American ports to an international security firm headquartered in Dubai. Putting aside the fact that John Snow, the current Secretary of the Treasury made a $100 million killing on the sale of his former company -- CSX -- to an English firm which then sold it to the very Dubai firm that the President wants to hire. Never mind that the most recent head of that firm was just named to head up the maritime board that oversees our ports. Put aside the fact that President Bush, Vice President Cheyney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Treasury Secretary Snow claim that they weren't even aware of the proposal until they read it in the newspaper. What does all this tell us? That the President and his administration are once again putting cupidity and cronyism ahead of what's in the best interests of the United States of America. President Bush has gone so far as to promise that should Congress vote to deny the deal, he will issue the very first veto of his presidency. Imagine: he really wants us to believe that handing over the security of six major American ports to a company from Dubai -- an emirate that launders terrorist money and denies Israel's right to exist -- that this will somehow advance and improve American homeland security.
This last issue has served to defrost the eyeballs of many Republican leaders in Congress, who are fast approaching a state of high dudgeon over being kept out of the loop. Perhaps they are finally getting a sense of how the Democrats have felt since January of 2001. And yet, despite Republican pique, there are precisely two chances of this Congress handing down Articles of Impeachment against President George W. Bush: absolutely none and even less than that.
So what to do? First and foremost, Congress -- both House and Senate -- must be returned to the Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections. Is this realistic? Yes -- if enough people conclude that America is in danger of being turned into a fiefdom. If enough voters come to realize that "God, guns, and gays" aren't the real issues facing this country; its the single issue of a President grabbing up power and authority like an early-bird shopper at a rummage sale.
For the future of America -- an America that is now financially strapped, morally debased and politically stultified -- George W. Bush must be impeached.
No one is above the law.
Especially not George Walker Bush.