The last thing I posted (as far as I can tell) is this about a recent article from John Dean. Dean's rather pragmatic point was that since there's no chance the Senate would convict Bush/Cheney, why waste the time? Go after and impeach some lower level officials.
I can see his point about the Senate. Heck, the Republicans there won't even allow a debate a non-binding resolution on Iraq because it might embarras dubya. Those same folks wailing for an "up or down" vote on judicial nominees suddenly find the wisdom of the fillibuster when it comes to the protection of their embattled president. Partisanship at its worst.
Back to Impeachment. There've been a few other voices out there calling for Impeachment. We'll start with Howard Zinn. For those few who don't know, Zinn wrote A People's History of the United States.
Recently in The Progressive, he wrote:
And some details:
Courage is in short supply in Washington, D.C. The realities of the Iraq War cry out for the overthrow of a government that is criminally responsible for death, mutilation, torture, humiliation, chaos. But all we hear in the nation's capital, which is the source of those catastrophes, is a whimper from the Democratic Party, muttering and nattering about "unity" and "bipartisanship," in a situation that calls for bold action to immediately reverse the present course.
These are the Democrats who were brought to power in November by an electorate fed up with the war, furious at the Bush Administration, and counting on the new majority in Congress to represent the voters. But if sanity is to be restored in our national policies, it can only come about by a great popular upheaval, pushing both Republicans and Democrats into compliance with the national will.
The Declaration of Independence, revered as a document but ignored as a guide to action, needs to be read from pulpits and podiums, on street corners and community radio stations throughout the nation. Its words, forgotten for over two centuries, need to become a call to action for the first time since it was read aloud to crowds in the early excited days of the American Revolution: "Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government."
Still, there seems to be a special viciousness that accompanies the current assault on human rights, in this country and in the world. We have had repressive governments before, but none has legislated the end of habeas corpus, nor openly supported torture, nor declared the possibility of war without end. No government has so casually ignored the will of the people, affirmed the right of the President to ignore the Constitution, even to set aside laws passed by Congress.For Zinn, this leads to:
There is a logical next step in this development of an impeachment movement: the convening of "people's impeachment hearings" all over the country. This is especially important given the timidity of the Democratic Party. Such hearings would bypass Congress, which is not representing the will of the people, and would constitute an inspiring example of grassroots democracy.I'm not sure it'll happen, but I'd be overjoyed if it did.
Robert Scheer makes a different case. He shares Zinn's cynicism about the Democratic Party. Take a look:
He puts the whole Libby trial in the broader context of dubya's ongoing deception of Congress.
Not all lies are created equal. It is understood that there is a chasm of importance between little white lies and big black ones. Most would agree that lying about a consensual sexual affair, even by the president, is of significantly lesser concern than lying about the proliferation of nuclear weapons as an excuse to take the nation to war.
How then is it possible that a Republican-controlled Congress impeached President Bill Clinton over his attempt to conceal marital infidelity but that a Democratic-led Congress will not even consider impeaching this president for far more serious transgressions against the public trust? That is the question that arises from early revelations in the trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.
Indeed it's the act of defrauding the Congress that's at the heart of Elizabeth De La Vega's case for Impeachment. She wrote it back in late 2005.
The Supreme Court has defined the phrase "conspiracy to defraud the United States" as "to interfere with, impede or obstruct a lawful government function by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest." In criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement "between two or more persons" to follow a course of conduct that, if completed, would constitute a crime. The agreement doesn't have to be express; most conspiracies are proved through evidence of concerted action. But government officials are expected to act in concert. So proof that they were conspiring requires a comparison of their public conduct and statements with their conduct and statements behind the scenes. A pattern of double-dealing proves a criminal conspiracy.And:
Finally, "fraud" is broadly defined to include half-truths, omissions or misrepresentation; in other words, statements that are intentionally misleading, even if literally true. Fraud also includes making statements with "reckless indifference" to their truth.Here's a more specific example:
There's much more to the article. The NIE report of December, 2001 that starkly contradicted the administration's assertions that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program. Dubya said it did, the NIE said no.
The PR campaign intensified Sunday, September 8. On that day the New York Times quoted anonymous "officials" who said Iraq sought to buy aluminum tubes suitable for centrifuges used in uranium enrichment. The same morning, in a choreographed performance worthy of Riverdance, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Gen. Richard Myers said on separate talk shows that the aluminum tubes, suitable only for centrifuges, proved Iraq's pursuit of nuclear weapons.
If, as Jonathan Schell put it, the allegation that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Niger is "one of the most rebutted claims in history," the tubes story is a close second. The CIA and the Energy Department had been debating the issue since 2001. And the Energy Department's clear opinion was that the tubes were not suited for use in centrifuges; they were probably intended for military rockets. Given the lengthy debate and the importance of the tubes, it's impossible to believe that the Bush team was unaware of the nuclear experts' position. So when Bush officials said that the tubes were "only really suited" for centrifuge programs, they were committing fraud, either by lying outright or by making recklessly false statements.
Cheney claimed that the meeting in Prague between Iraqi Intelligence and Mohammad Atta was "pretty well confirmed" when it was nothing of the sort. And so on.
The de la Vega ends her article with this:
The evidence shows, then, that from early 2002 to at least March 2003, the President and his aides conspired to defraud the United States by intentionally misrepresenting intelligence about Iraq to persuade Congress to authorize force, thereby interfering with Congress's lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations, all of which violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
To what standards should we hold our government officials? Certainly standards as high as those Bush articulated for corporate officials. Higher, one would think. The President and Vice President and their appointees take an oath to defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States. If they fail to leave their campaign tactics and deceits behind--if they use the Oval Office to trick the public and Congress into supporting a war--we must hold them accountable. It's not a question of politics. It's a question of law.