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Body Politic 

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Dennis Kucinich introduced 35 articles of impeachment against George W. Bush on June 10, 2008. It was on C-SPAN, it was covered by the AP, and the story is available on the websites of the major news organizations. The New York Times buried it in the National Briefing on page A21. The other major papers treated it likewise. It wasn’t featured in the network or major cable news shows, except Keith Olbermann’s. If you already knew to look for it, you could find it. But otherwise, you would never know it had happened. It had been rendered invisible.

The articles were referred to the Judiciary Committee. According to NPR and several other mainstream news sources, this is a way to bury them. They’ll be put on the shelf until after next January. It’s too bad.

The actions of the Bush Administration deserve full and open debate. With members of the administration forced to answer subpoenas and to testify under oath.

Does anyone even remember why we went to war? Officially? House Joint Resolution 114, signed into law on October 16, 2002, is the bill that authorized the war.

It states explicitly that we were going to war because:

Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq had ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorists.

Iraq was therefore implicitly tied to 9/11.

Iraq posed an imminent threat.

It has now been established that all those things were false.

Kucinich claims, with a great deal of documentation, that the president was informed that those things were false—or at least flimsy and questionable—back in 2002. That makes the carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign that sold those ideas a deliberate deception of Congress and the American people.

According to the Constitution, only Congress can declare war. HJR 114 delegated that authority to the president under certain circumstances: If “the reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.”

By the time we went to war, Iraq had admitted weapons inspectors with full access in compliance with the toughest of the UN resolutions. They had not found the weapons that didn’t exist and had said so, publicly. Therefore, the president violated the Constitution, his oath of office, and the law.

War against another country is illegal under international laws that the United States helped invent and implement. The exceptions are self-defense and with UN Security Council approval. The UN Security Council never authorized the Iraq War.

If Iraq did not attack us—and did not even support the people who attacked us—we did not act in self-defense.

Bush doctrine—the war in Iraq being its prime example—is an attempt to extend the concept of self-defense. If we “know” they are about to attack us, we can strike first (preemptive war). If we think that someday they might get around to attacking us, we can strike them now (preventive war). These are very suspect ideas.

Nonetheless, if Iraq didn’t have the means to attack us, and they were in compliance with inspections, those facts took the invasion of Iraq out of even the wide range of preventive and preemptive war. It is squarely in the realm of “aggressive war.” An aggressive war, as established at Nuremburg and the Japanese war crimes trials after World War II, and enshrined in the UN Charter, is a war crime.

If this were a mystery novel—my primary business—or even a real world trial, we would want to know motive. It is clear that the declared reasons for going to war were false and that the administration had reason to know that. It is well established that many members of the administration wanted that war even before they came into office.

Was it part of a dream of imperial glory? Pax Americana with forward military posts in all strategic and profitable regions? Was it for the oil, as Article XII charges? Did the administration’s secret task force on energy plan the overthrow of Saddam by force to get that oil, as Article XIII charges? Was it to demonstrate how powerful the US military machine is, so that every other country would think twice before they dared defy us on anything? To terrorize the whole world through a display of irresistible force?

Once the war was launched, a whole new set of crimes was committed.

They often are. It’s hard to fight a “clean” war. That’s why the chief American prosecutor at Nuremberg, US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, stated: “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

The crimes contained within the war on terror and the war in Iraq include torture; illegal detention; detaining indefinitely and without charge persons both US citizens and foreign captives; rendition: kidnapping people and taking them against their will to “black sites” located in other nations, including nations known to practice torture; imprisoning children; failure, as the occupying power, to protect the civilian population of Iraq; providing immunity for criminal acts by contractors, thereby condoning murder, rape, and other crimes.

Were these things necessary? Did they work? Were they useless and counterproductive?

Is anyone responsible? Or is the age of responsibility over? The Bush Administration, while fighting a war on terror, has supported terrorist organizations in Iran, attacking the Iranian government and population, as the Los Angeles Times reported in April. Is one man’s terrorist the other man’s freedom fighter? Is there such a thing as good terror and bad terror? And if there is, hadn’t we better redefine things to make it clear that we are fighting a war on bad terror?

Let us turn to the domestic front:

1. Spying on Americans without warrants.

2. Intentionally subverting and refusing to enforce laws through signing statements.

3. Tampering with free and fair elections.

4. Corruption of the administration of justice.

5. Conspiracy to violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

6. Obstruction of the Investigation into the attacks of September 11, 2001.

7. Denial of habeas corpus.

It may be true that a trial about all of this would not be nearly as titillating as one about semen stains on a blue dress. But ignoring it and just letting the man slide, because it’s not worth the effort, is criminal. It makes anyone who helps that happen, who doesn’t stand up and demand answers, a coconspirator.

The man who will now make that decision is John Conyers. If the articles of impeachment are still stashed away on the shelf by the time you read this, give him a call at (202) 225-5126.

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