Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Vote on Impeaching Bush Tomorrow...

Dennis Kucinich yesterday introduced a resolution to impeach George Walker Bush, standing for about five hours to read his entire 62-page resolution aloud into the congressional record.

Tonight the same resolution is being read aloud a second time, in order that the bill may be voted on tomorrow.

It's going to go to the House Judiciary Committee to die, the same as Kucinich's bill to impeach Richard Cheney. Nancy Pelosi has not moved on her position of no impeachment now or ever. As of this typing Kucinich has only one co-sponsor- Richard Wexler of Florida- and, aside from MSNBC, no mass media coverage to speak of.

To my mind, of course, this is a demonstration of the criminality of the current Democratic leadership, acquiescing yet again to an imperial presidency they hope to inherit. That's not as important in my view, though, as the thirty-five- count them, THIRTY-FIVE- articles of impeachment Kucinich proposes. Some are valid, some are interesting... and some are stretching the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors so far as to discredit the whole enterprise and make Kucinich look like more of a loon than usual. (Remember, when he was a Presidential candidate, one of his campaign planks was to use the power of the federal government to "encourage adoption of the vegan lifestyle.")

Anyway, here's a PDF with the full articles listed. I'm going to list them here by title and describe them in one of four (edit five- apparently I can't count) ways: Fair Cop (no reason why Democrats shouldn't vote for it), Complicit (Democrats supported it), Clinton-bait (involves the same kind of crimes Democrats voted NOT to impeach Bill Clinton for), Not a Crime (self-explanatory), and Just Plain Nuts (ditto).

Oh- and for "Democrats", read "Democratic members of the House of Representatives."

I. Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq. Fair Cop. Kucinich began his list with a very poor title. The meat of his case is not that Bush misled people about Iraq- which, although outrageous, is at best Clinton-bait- but that Bush spent taxpayer dollars to spread the lie and to persuade the American people that we were in imminent danger of being nuked by Iraq. The title should have been, "Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars for Partisan Purpose, To Wit a Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq." That said, the actual meat of the article of impeachment holds up.

II. Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression. Clinton-bait. This article, on the other hand, is simply about Bush lying, plain and simple. The Clinton impeachment made it plain that the majority of Democrats still in office today believe lying, even under oath as a witness in court, is not an impeachable offense. Kucinich does an excellent job of establishing that Bush did, indeed, deliberately lie to the American people, but Democrats can't vote yes on this now without admitting that they should have voted yes then.

III. Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War. Clinton-bait. Ditto.

IV. Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States. Clinton-bait. Ditto.

V. Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression. Complicit. Democrats failed to even make the effort to exercise Congressional oversight over military spending at the time, and indeed voted supplementary funds prior to the war to pay for the military buildup prior to the invasion. No Democrat can vote for this without essentially convicting themselves for the same crime.

VI. Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114. Not a Crime. Despite Kucinich's efforts to prove the contrary, HJRes114 was essentially a blank check for Bush to invade whenever he saw fit- the bill had no enforcement mechanism should Bush abuse it, in any case. Indeed, in my view anyone and everyone who voted for HJRes114 should be impeached for giving Bush (or ANYBODY) the power to use offensive military force without a declaration of war... but, in essence, HJRes114 acted as a war declaration for all legal purposes.

VII. Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War. Complicit. See above.

VIII. Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter. Not a Crime. The Constitution levies no penalty on the American government in general, or any officer within it, for violating a treaty. Indeed, the precedent for violating treaties goes back to George Washington himself, who violated our Treaty of Alliance with France by not declaring war against Great Britain during the French Revolution.

IX. Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor. Not a Crime. Negligence is not a crime in politics- otherwise every Democrat who voted against impeaching Cheney would be guilty as charged.

X. Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes. Just Plain Nuts. Not only is this not a crime, it's so commonplace throughout history that it's expected. What's more, Kucinich only gives the two most famous examples- Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman- as if there were no other cases of White House propagandizing using the dead and wounded- or hiding them, as the case may be. More to the point, in wartime- regardless of whether or not the war is just- the people want heroes. To quote the reporter in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, "When you're given a choice between truth and legend, print the legend."

XI. Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq. Just Plain Nuts. Would have been Not a Crime, except that the specific example Kucinich gives hasn't happened yet- it's still in negotiation with the Iraqi occupation government, which isn't having any of it.

XII. Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources. Just Plain Nuts, because motivation for the war is essentially unprovable.

XIIII. Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries. Not a Crime, or if it were every Congressperson who ever told staffers to find facts to back their political positions would also be guilty.

XIV. Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency. Fair Cop- despite Cheney's claims that the President and Vice President can declassify information at will without consequences, oversight, or due process of law.

XV. Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq. Not a Crime. The contractors in question were acting as de facto officers of the American government, and thus entitled to the sovereign immunity that also applies to, for instance, on-duty cops and military. The officers should have been fired and the contract cancelled immediately and Blackwater blacklisted- but Bush's State Department had every right under the law to give those mercenaries immunity.

XVI. Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors. Fair Cop- but another example of a very poorly titled article. In the text itself, Kucinich is essentially accusing Bush and his cronies of graft- giving plum contracts to their corporate buddies, especially Haliburton. "Misspending" is not only a matter of opinion- by most people's opinion, it's chronic in Washington, and incurable. "Graft and corruption in office" would be both more accurate and more compelling.

XVII. Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives. Complicit. Over sixty Democrats voted for the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which authorized Bush to define what torture is and isn't, to prevent prosecution of any government officer or agent for torture, and to hold people indefinitely without benefit of habeas corpus. The Democrats who voted for that won't vote to declare it a crime now.

XVIII. Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy. Complicit. See above- and damn those Democrats for giving up the moral high ground for the sake of re-election.

XIX. Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to "Black Sites" Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture. Fair Cop- not even the Military Commissions Act authorized this, and there's no excuse whatever for not voting to impeach on this one.

XX. Imprisoning Children. Fair Cop- but not likely to get far, since quite a few of those children were caught carrying rifles or explosives, if not actively using them against American troops.

XXI. Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government. Clinton-bait, at least for the parts involving lying to the American people. The text of the article itself comes very close to Just Plain Nuts for citing a bunch of examples of Bush supposedly fighting a proxy war against Iran in secret with only single, alternative-media sources. Conspiracy theorists use similar tactics- you don't want your case for impeachment to sound like theirs if you want it to go anywhere.

XXII. Creating Secret Laws. Sadly, Complicit. Congress, including Democrats, gave Bush the power to keep all these things secret, most recently in its law giving him temporary authority to wiretap without warrants on anyone he saw fit to eavesdrop upon. (Thankfully, efforts to make that authority permanent have failed.) Before Democrats can impeach anyone on this, they must begin by stripping the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act courts of their secrecy.

XXIII. Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. Fair Cop- and too few people understand just why we have the Posse Comitatus Act in the first place. Hint: we don't want a permanent military establishment to get too powerful...

XXIV. Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment. Complicit- see my comments on Article XXII.

XXV. Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens. Technically Fair Cop, but will probably be treated by Kucinich's fellow Democrats as Complicit; see again my comments on Article XXII.

XXVI. Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements. Not a Crime. Saying, "I'm going to rob a bank," is not a crime; the person has to actually rob a bank. Kucinich would have done MUCH better to give examples where Bush had actually violated laws passed by Congress after issuing a signing statement- but Kucinich didn't do that.

XXVII. Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply. Fair Cop- and John Conyers has been a coward for not enforcing those subpoenas with Congress's inherent powers. If all else failed, Congress could create a new law enforcement agency separate from the executive branch for the sole purpose of enforcing subpoenas and other legal actions against the executive branch. Based on experience, that wouldn't be a bad idea in general...

XXVIII. Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice. Fair cop- clear examples of abuse of power.

XXIX. Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965. There's a LOT in this one article, but by and large it falls under Just Plain Nuts- in that there's no way to prove that Bush was behind all of it. The examples all point to other people's conduct, particularly Ken Blackwell, a state official of Ohio and not legally under Bush's authority at all. It's conspiracy theory, and even if it's true it's going to discredit the rest of the articles.

XXX. Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare. Not a Crime. This article is an attempt to impeach Bush for being a politician and trying to get Medicare Part D passed by usual tactics- nothing more.

XXXI. Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency. Not a Crime. See comments on Article IX.

XXXII. Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change. Clinton-bait, and probably Not a Crime- politics again.

XXXIII. Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911. Not a Crime. See again comments on Article IX.

XXXIV. Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001. I'm uncertain about this one, but based on Kucinich's explanation I have to lean towards Not a Crime. Bush was not subpoenaed at the time, so you can't get him on that. In all other ways, he played the political game, fulfilling the bare letter of the law while utterly violating the spirit- but for legal purposes, of course, that's good enough.

XXXV. Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders. Not a Crime, unless you believe that the federal government is obliged to guarantee good health to all people. The worst Bush can be proven to have done regarding air quality at the World Trade Center cleanup site is negligence- and, again, negligence is very seldom a crime.

So- out of thirty-five articles, in my opinion only nine have a hope in hell of surviving, even if John Conyers weren't going to smother this as soon as it gets to his Judicial Committee. The bulk of Democrats would vote against the others even if Nancy Pelosi weren't dedicated to blocking impeachment- in some cases because the acts are not criminal, in others because they don't want to face up to their own crimes.

One thing gets me, though: Kucinich failed to name the one definitely, unequivocally criminal thing Bush has not only done but confessed to: the destruction of nearly two years' worth of White House emails, technically government records which are supposed to be preserved for posterity. Kucinich says nothing about those records in his articles- and I, for one, would have that article pretty damn prominent in the list. It's the only one that no investigation would be required to prove- we have the confession on tape, when Bush admitted as much to the world press.

I approve of Kucinich's goals- Bush and his policies must be repudiated beyond all possible doubt- but his tactics leave very, very much to be desired.

No comments: