Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Courage to Do the Honorable Thing
The honorable thing for the Democrats to do is to impeach President Bush.
Nancy Pelosi said almost as soon as she became the Speaker of the House that impeachment is "off the table".
She did this for several reasons. The main motive was to do nothing that would interfere with her party winning the 2008 election. She felt the Democrats could not afford to get bogged down in a major battle with the Republicans. She was sure the GOP would accuse her party of being revengeful, vindictive and of diverting the nation from our war on terrorism --- thus endangering the country. She also wanted to show that the Democrats could enact a great deal of legislation for the common good. Impeachment would sideline everything.
I think her decision was wrong. It was shortsighted. The Democrats have a much more important goal: to restore representative democracy and to cleanse the system of those who by their actions and ideas are destroying the very fabric of our democratic, constitutional republic.
Under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."
President Bush's actions far exceed the minimum level for impeachable offenses.
The chief architects of the Constitution -- in this case mainly Madison and Mason -- felt it was extremely important that the citizens through their elected representatives have the means to remove the President, Vice-President and other civil officers including Supreme Court Justices, other federal judges and cabinet members. These founding fathers foresaw that impeachment could be necessary in the future --- and Congress should not hesitate to use it when justified.
They had devised a governmental structure in which power was divided among the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Supreme Court. This division of powers was to ensure that none of these parts of the government would be able to exercise excessive and undemocratic dominance. They were especially worried about the President --- who in some cases, perhaps of emergency, might become like a king or queen --- ignoring the other branches and the Constitution itself.
The term "high crimes and misdemeanors" is generally accepted as meaning that ---
• The offense does not need to be a crime under the law.
• The above term refers to actions that go against the letter and/or spirit of the Constitution
and/ or that endangers the constitutional structure of our Republic.
• In the case of the President, it could mean such things as interfering with elections; intruding on or ignoring the authority and jurisdiction of the other branches of the government; failing to carry out the duties of the Executive branch.
• Actions or failure to act which injure the country and its people.
• Putting the country's interest below the profit of an individual or group.
• These "crimes" are political crimes, crimes against the very system of representative democracy.
• They represent an abuse of power, a failure to live up to the trust of the people.
Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe speaks of the impeachment procedure this way:
" Impeachment is a prophylactic device to deter certain behavior and cleanse the body politic."
Now, I believe there are a number of grounds for impeachment. In fact, no President, probably, in the nation's history has provided our representative with such fertile ground for impeachment.
PRESIDENTIAL SIGNING STATEMENTS:
What are they? When a President signs a bill sent to him by Congress very -- infrequently in the past -- Presidents have written a sentence or two on the bill indicating some reservations they might have had , some concern, etc.
Are signing statements constitutional? They are not found in the U.S. Constitution.
In the view of the "Founding Fathers", a President if he signs a bill is supposed to see that the intent and letter of the bill be faithfully carried out by his executive branch. If the President believes the bill will hurt the nation, that it is unconstitutional or for any other reason --- he is supposed to >> Veto It!
This President has only vetoed one or two bills since he took office almost seven years ago.
This may seem amazing, and it is, despite the fact that he had a almost completely subservient Congress. The best explanation for this lack of vetoes is that so far he has issued or written over 1100 Presidential signing statements. In 2006 the GAO (Congressional Accounting Office) estimated that in 30 % of the cases of President George W. Bush's signings -- had the effect of nullifying the law in question!
These signing statements from Bush tend to be broad, arrogant in tenor, and confrontational in attitude. Bush is enlarging the role of the Executive by these statements, and he is diminishing tremendously the balance of powers --- a crucial idea from our Founding Fathers.
The legislative branch can draw up bills and have the President sign in these cases without much expectation that they will carried out in the intent of Congress.
When a bill by Senator McCain regarding torture was approved by Congress, and signed by Bush --- Bush's additional "signing statement" in effect nullified the effect of the bill.
The Justice Department has often ruled that Congressional legislation is entitled to a strong presumption of constitutionality. If the President thinks all or part of the bill is unconstitutional --- it's his duty to veto it. Not, scribble a signing statement giving him the "right" to enact or not enact what he wants or doesn't want -- or what he believes or does not believe in.
In brief-- signing statements are not provided for in the Constitution. The use of them in the manner and in the number by President Bush is an abuse of Executive Power which will undermine our representative democracy. This habit of this President must not be allowed to
become a precedent. Impeachment would be totally appropriate.
BUSH CONDONED TORTURING PRISONERS:
On 6/22/04 Bush said, "We do not condone torture. I have never ordered torture. I will never order torture. The values of this country are such that torture is not a part of our soul and our being."
Bush and his team have actively pursued torture not only within Guantanamo but throughout the world in secret prisons. Bush is guilty of violating the Federal Torture Act, the UN Torture Convention and the Geneva Convention. Arguments that our country is not obliged to abide by the international agreements we have signed is patently untrue.
BUSH CONDUCTED ILLEGAL WIRETAPS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS
Bush has admitted to authorizing the NSA (National Security Agency) to conduct warrant-less wire tapes on U.S. citizens. Even postal mail is under scrutiny. The NSA has been attempting to construct a data base of all phone calls made by U.S. citizens.
The President must follow the legal course of receiving court approval for all emergency wire taps. The judges routinely approve them within 72 hours. Bush does not like being constrained by the laws of our nation.
MISLEADING THE NATION ABOUT THE IRAQ "THREAT"
The Bush administration waged a media campaign by manipulating bits of data, leaving out other bits----then hammering home from every pulpit within the government the mantras: Iraq is a danger to this country; weapons of mass destruction; connections with Al Qaeda; connections with 9/11, etc. They fixed bits information around their purpose to present the picture they wanted the American people to see. The neo-conservatives who held sway in the administration had wanted a new government in Iraq during the first of Clinton's terms. They described their plan for U.S. domination in their document: Project for the New American Century, which was composed almost ten years ago.
This impeachment charge is the most serious because we have a President elected by the people, and in whom they had trust --- consciously deceiving them into accepting an unnecessary war for fabricated reasons. The real reasons we invaded Iraq were to install a government favorable to us, create a beachhead in the Arab world from which we could dominate the Middle East; secure the largest supply of oil (Iraq's) after Saudi Arabia's reserves and to give a demonstration of "shock and awe" to those who might oppose us. The war was part of building a new American empire while we have the power, and to secure the products needed for our economy.
Democrats are being remiss in their carrying out their oaths of office if they do not draw up articles of impeachment. It should be done regardless of any prognosis of success or failure.
For more information on the reasons and basis for impeachment, I recommend