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Friday, June 20, 2008

Bush’s High Crimes and Misdemeanors

Kucinich introduces 35 articles of impeachment

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The country may be running out the clock on the Bush administration, but impeachment advocates are hoping that President George W. Bush leaves office sooner than Jan. 1, 2009. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced 35 articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives last week, even though his party leader, Nancy Pelosi, had declared impeachment attempts to be “off the table.”

The House voted to send the articles to the House Judiciary Committee, headed by Rep. John Conyers, who has said that while the administration has committed impeachable offenses and felonies, he does not believe that Democrats should pursue impeachment proceedings.

Kucinich’s allegations of high crimes and misdemeanors include obvious and well-documented misdeeds that should be familiar to anyone who’s picked up a newspaper in the past seven years. Topping the list of impeachable offenses are Bush’s creation of a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq, and fraudulently and “with criminal intent” linking the 9/11 attacks to Iraq while making a case for war.

But the articles also include matters that are less well known, such as illegally misspending funds to secretly begin a war of aggression, which refers to Bush’s use in 2002 of $2 billion appropriated for Afghanistan and other programs to build airfields in neighboring Qatar and to make other preparations for the invasion of Iraq. As Kucinich notes, Bush did not notify Congress of these activities, a violation of the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Act of 1973.

Kucinich’s articles of impeachment also include crimes involving Bush’s expansion of his presidential powers, such as creating secret laws; announcing the intent to violate laws with signing statements; failing to comply with congressional subpoenas and instructing former employees not to comply; and spying on American citizens without a court-ordered warrant. The articles also document how seriously the Bush administration has politicized the government. Covert CIA employee Valerie Plame’s outing is included, as is the administration’s role in tampering with elections to achieve Republican victories in 2004.

And the administration’s cruelty is also included. Article IX is “failing to provide troops with body armor and vehicle armor,” Article XX is “imprisoning children,” Article XXXI covers Bush’s failure to plan for and adequately respond to Hurricane Katrina, and Article XXXV is “endangering the health of 9/11 first responders.”

A Warning for the Next President
Impeachment advocate David Swanson said the introduction of articles of impeachment with only seven months left in Bush’s supposedly lame duck presidency is better late than never. “There’s this widespread belief that his term is almost over and that he can’t do any more damage and we should just hold our breath and hope and wait,” Swanson said.

But Swanson argued that Bush could still do considerable damage while office, especially if Congress approves more money to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as it is expected to do shortly. “You can’t be sure of anything, but it’s very likely that if Congress hands Bush this incredible pile of money, he will illegally take some of it and use it to bomb Iran,” Swanson said.

He said that impeaching Bush would send a warning to the next president, and the presidents that follow, that they cannot violate laws or the Constitution while in office. “The big point here is not to have President [John] McCain or [Barack] Obama or any future president who believes that they can simply do what they want,” Swanson said. “We fought revolution so that we wouldn’t have hope for a nice king, and we shouldn’t have to.”

Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials can be impeached after they leave office, Swanson said. One of the penalties— removal from office—would not be applicable, but an impeached official would be barred from holding public office in the future.

Regardless, Swanson said that many architects of the war on terror—including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former advisers Karen Hughes and Paul Wolfowitz, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, torture advocate John Yoo and many more—could be prosecuted for war crimes. (For the full list of potential war criminals, and how to make a citizen’s arrest of them, go Swanson’s instructions on www.afterdowningstreet.org.)

“They are all subject to arrest and prosecution in other countries,” Swanson said.

Swanson will deliver a talk titled “Peace, Impeachment and Election Day: Which Comes First?” on Thursday, June 19, at p.m. in Cudahy Hall, 1313 W. Wisconsin Ave., on the Marquette University campus. His talk is sponsored by the Iraq Moratorium, Peace Action Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Impeachment Committee and the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking.

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com or comment on this story online at www.expressmilwaukee.com.

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