Impeachment is Imperative
The case for accountability
BY JACK DRESSER
Impeachment is mentioned six times in the Constitution because the architects of our democracy intended us to use it as the people’s constitutionally prescribed remedy for abuses of power. It must begin in the House of Representatives, where the sole oath sworn by each member is to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
When a “civil officer” of government is impeached by the House, then tried and found guilty by the Senate of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution requires removal from office. “High crimes and misdemeanors” are not ordinary offenses (such as perjury about sex) but are abuses of power that endanger our constitutional government.
Ex-Attorney General Ramsey Clark, House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers, ex-Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman (who participated in drafting the Articles of Impeachment against Richard Nixon), National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn and University of Illinois international law professor Francis Boyle, author of Destroying World Order, have identified numerous offenses by the Bush administration that rise to that level.
Several involve flagrant violations of international treaty law to which the U.S. is a signatory. Our treaty obligations are defined by the Constitution as “the Supreme Law of the Land,” making each of these a constitutional crime as well.
The U.N. Charter requires that all member states “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” The Nuremberg Tribunal declared that “To initiate a war of aggression is … the supreme international crime.” Numerous other treaties define the permissible limits of warfare. Violating these, the president:
• Manipulated intelligence and conspired to defraud Congress and the public by providing false testimony to obtain a war powers resolution and launch an illegal war against a sovereign state without U.N. approval, resulting in the deaths of several hundred thousand Iraqi and American citizens and billions of wasted taxpayer dollars.
• Permitted use of internationally prohibited (cruel or indiscriminate) weapons which violate the U.N. Charter, The Hague Rules on Land and Air Warfare, the Genocide Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles.
• Permitted torture and humiliation of prisoners in violation of the U. S. War Crimes Act of 1996, the Anti-Torture Statute, The Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and The Convention against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment;
• Imprisoned captives without charge or trial, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution that guarantee due process of law.
Further, President Bush or his subordinates have:
• Conducted electronic surveillance without court authorization, violating the FISA law, three other communications acts and the Fourth Amendment, which establishes the right of citizens “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
• Subverted the Constitutional separation of powers by 1) withdrawal from international treaty obligations without congressional consent, 2) reversing or revising laws enacted by Congress by executive orders or “interpretive signing statements,” 3) evading U.S. courts for “terrorism” suspects, 4) instructing subordinates to ignore congressional subpoenas and 5) refusing congressional access to emergency contingency plans.
• Obstructed justice and conspired to commit treason by 1) disclosing the identity of a covert CIA agent in violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, compromising the lives, safety and operational capacity of covert agents and damaging ability to recruit human intelligence assets worldwide, and 2) providing false testimony and withholding information about this crime in interviews with federal investigators.
• Failed to protect U.S. citizens by ignoring multiple warnings; from the preceding administration and numerous federal and international agencies that anticipated the 9/11 attacks; subsequent lying about the existence of these warnings; and contempt of Congress and obstruction of justice by attempting to prevent formation of, and then withholding evidence from, the 9/11 Commission and its legally empowered investigation.
• Failed to protect U.S. citizens by making politically motivated appointments of unqualified federal agency heads, ignoring explicit advance predictions of the likely destruction from Hurricane Katrina, resulting in the death of more than 1,300 American citizens, and lying to the people about this advance knowledge.
These are naked abuses of power and high crimes that threaten our constitutional rule of law. To regain our national identity and the world’s trust and respect, we must remove criminals who occupy our highest offices, hopefully followed by appropriate indictments and prosecutions. We must demand support of impeachment by Congressman DeFazio.
Jack Dresser, a behavioral scientist and former Army psychologist during the Vietnam War, is co-founder of Lane County Veterans for Peace and was a regular columnist for The Springfield News.