From The Brouhaha: Part 1: Historical Cases of Presidential Impeachment and Opening Arguments
In both cases where a US President has been impeached, the circumstances were somewhat less than the "high crimes and misdemeanors" spoken of in the US Constitution. In each case, articles of impeachment were served because of political disagreements. In the case of Andrew Johnson, the 17th President, the nominal charge was the violation of the "Tenure of Office" act, a law that would be ruled unconstitutional later and was passed solely so that Johnson would lose control over who he could appoint to his cabinet. The real reason for Johnson's impeachment was a disagreement over the Reconstruction -- Johnson had angered many of his fellow Democrats by advocating a more conciliatory stance on the rebel states than Congress.
In the case of Bill Clinton, 42nd President, the nominal charges were perjury and obstruction of justice, although the circumstances for those charges aren't nearly as high-minded. Clinton was charged with lying under oath about a sexual affair he had carried on with an intern. Not exactly a matter of national security there, right? The real reason for the impeachment proceedings was a Republican Congress angry at the Democrat Clinton who had defeated George Bush and ended a long run of GOP control of the White House. After previous witch hunts about Clinton's financial dealings and a sexual harassment case both turned up nothing, the GOP was desperate for any way to undermine the President.
In both cases, the President was acquitted, although the impeachment served a purpose: the tarnishing of the legacy of each President and the short-circuiting of that President's control over the powers of government.
Many people along the political spectrum would say that our goal -- the impeachment of George W. Bush -- is also politically motivated and not based on any large breach of the law. Indeed, the contested election of 2000, in which Mr. Bush received fewer votes across the nation but was still elected President, did more to polarize the electorate than anything during either the Clinton terms or the Reagan/Bush terms that preceded them. But are progressives and other leftists merely seeking revenge for the impeachment of Clinton and the stolen election of 2000, or are there actual crimes to be laid at the feet of George Bush, crimes so vile that his being charged with them and subsequently removed from office is necessary?
We submit that unlike in the Johnson case, where a law was specifically created to emasculate and entrap the President, that George W. Bush has willfully violated and misused the public trust. Unlike in the case of Bill Clinton, where the laws broken pertained to a personal and family matter, the crimes of George Bush have killed Americans and weakened the national security of the United States. It is not for political or revenge purposes that we ask that these charges be brought, but merely the duty of every American citizen to see that the laws of the land are upheld even -- and especially -- by its privileged leaders.
The phrase "High crimes and misdemeanors" comes from English law, and has never been used to just describe ordinary criminal offenses -- although those criminal offenses certainly are covered. As Alexander Hamilton put it in Federalist number 65, "those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself." In other words, Hamilton is saying that impeachment might be necessary due to harms perpetrated against society and abuses of the public trust.
Let us discuss now reasons to impeach George W. Bush. This is just an overview, I'll go into more detail in subsequent posts. Meanwhile, check out the Impeach Bush Coalition site for more links on the subject.
George Bush, in spite of evidence that the documents were a forgery, told the American people and the United States Congress that Saddam Hussein was attempting to acquire uranium from Niger. This is at best a case of negligence and at worst a case of outright falsehood.
George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, and others told the American people that Saddam was close to building a nuclear device. Hans Blix proved this wrong, and the subsequent American invasion turned up no evidence of this claim. This was an outright lie. George Bush and his cabinet used Ahmed Chalabi, a man convicted of fraud, to build a case for war against Saddam Hussein. This sort of consorting with a known criminal is beneath the office of the President. Chalabi's response to the London Telegraph was this, "That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants." In other words, it didn't matter what lies were said -- the war was the only goal. Bush ignored the United Nations in going to war in Iraq. The US Constitution holds the President accountable for violating treaties signed by the United States. The UN Charter counts as such a treaty.
The Bush Administration told the American people and Congress that Iraq had connections with al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks. This is untrue. In fact, there was no al-Qaeda presence in Iraq until after the US invasion.
Even before Katrina, George Bush is guilty of impeachable offenses. The aftermath of the hurricane showed Bush's political appointees to be unqualified to hold the jobs to which they were appointed -- and in several cases, these appointees were no more than recipients of political favors. The Bush Administration is, in the case of Hurricane Katrina, guilty of dereliction of duty at the very least and homicide due to negligence at worst.
In Part 2, I will begin the discussions of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" committed by the Bush cabal in relation to the illegal attack on the sovereign nation of Iraq.