Impeach Bush! 

A Quasi-Legal Argument for Impeachment

Two Saturdays ago, millions of people from Paris' boulevards to Portland's Park Blocks carried antiwar signs and called for President Bush not to go to war against Iraq. Thousands of others carried placards imploring, "Impeach Bush." Although the president dismissed those massive calls for peace (and his impeachment) as inconsequential "focus groups," two potentially lasting resolutions emerged from the dissent.

At the march in Washington, D.C., Ramsey Clark--LBJ's Attorney General--stood on the Washington Mall in front of 500,000 protesters and called for Bush's impeachment. At approximately the same time, Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois law professor, authored a resolution ticking off five broad reasons for Bush's impeachment. What differentiates these calls for impeachment from standard liberal bellyaching is they may actually have legal merit.

While nearly every president has heard calls for his removal, few impeachment movements have been successful.

Richard Nixon scurried from office when his impeachment appeared inevitable. But, as maligned as Tricky Dick has become, Nixon's offenses were just about dirty politics. Unlike Bush's potential illegalities, they did not risk lives or violate basic civil liberties.

Clinton was "censured" for lying, but it's important to recall that his lies stemmed from a personal matter--an extramarital blowjob and creative cigar use--not an official act of his presidency.

Bush's potential offenses are much more egregious. The proposed "Articles of Impeachment," drafted by Ramsey Clark, charge that the Bush administration is bullying other governments, breaking international treaties, and lying to the American public. Law professor Francis Boyle's Articles of Impeachment essentially restate these accusations.

Both proposed impeachments have their strong and weak points. These articles rant that Bush should be impeached for violating the Geneva Convention with threats of harm to children in Baghdad, and with threatened use of nuclear weapons.

While such military actions may violate international law, it's doubtful they would be grounds for impeachment. A more appropriate venue for these complaints would be an international war tribunal, such as the one convened to prosecute Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president. Breaking international treaties and crashing borders are violations against the international community, but not necessarily against the American population.

The strongest arguments to impeach Bush involve acts the President and cabinet members have committed within American borders, in violation of the US Constitution. Especially important are the parallels between the current and the past Bush administrations that share similar personnel--including Cheney, who was Secretary of Defense during Operation Desert Storm.

In 1991, the first Bush administration tried to indict Saddam with satellite photos. To convince Congress to approve military action, the administration produced "classified" photographs allegedly showing 250,000 Iraqi troops congregating on the Saudi border. (In spite of what many think, Congress did not permit Bush to attack Baghdad after the Iraqis invaded Kuwait; instead, military action was only endorsed after Bush produced this "evidence.")

But Jean Heller, an investigative journalist for the St. Petersburg Times and a five-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, has debunked those satellite photos. Using other photos taken at the time--commissioned from a commercial satellite and analyzed by experts at George Washington University--Heller discovered no sign of the alleged quarter-million Iraqi troops. "We could see empty barracks where you would have expected these thousands of troops to be billeted," Heller explained recently in London's The Guardian. The original story broke 24 hours before the 1991 invasion of Iraq, its timing effectively burying the story. (The satellite photos on which the Bush Administration predicated its 1991 attack remain classified.)

Of course, this alleged sleight-of-hand by the first Bush administration does not necessarily implicate the second. However, in recent interviews, Heller has indicated she believes the same trickery is occurring again, but is unable to prove it.

Raising the issue of impeachment is an important first step. But such an act cannot be based on emotions and politics--it needs hard evidence and legal grounding. The Republican Party succeeded in prosecuting Clinton because they were relentless with their investigation. Now Bush opponents need to do the same: Find a smoking gun, and then impeach Bush.

For more information about the movement to impeach Bush, check out www.votetoimpeach.org.

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