It�s astonishing that members of Congress are either unaware
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied the nation into war with Iraq, or they are
aware of the fact and don�t care. A Congress grounded in reality would have
unequivocally acknowledged the administration�s lies long ago and taken
appropriate action -- almost certainly impeachment.
If we say the pre-war lies don�t matter and the country
should sweep them under the rug and only focus on the best way out of Iraq,
what we�re really saying is that the truth itself doesn�t matter. If we say we
should look away from the fact that thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of
thousands of Iraqis died for a lie, we�re saying the lost lives don�t matter,
the war-injured and maimed don�t matter, America�s honor and integrity don�t
The logic-free anti-impeachment excuse is that the nation
can�t handle running the country and impeachment simultaneously. John Nichols wrote in The
Nation recently, �[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi fears that impeachment would
distract from the Democratic legislative agenda and provoke an electoral
However, the bottom line is the country can�t afford to let
Bush and Cheney get away with deceiving us into a costly and bloody war.
Decisions on a matter of this weight shouldn�t be based on fear, whether fear
of an impeded agenda or threat of backlash.
According to Nichols, such fears are unwarranted. He
mentions the Watergate Congress was able to carry out a complex agenda in
addition to conducting impeachment proceedings against Nixon. Nichols also
points out that �Democrats had one of their best years ever at the polls after
pressuring Nixon out of office.�
The public would likely reward congressional Democrats for
their courage if they impeached Bush and Cheney. Impeachment proceedings will
shed additional light on the administration�s malfeasance, and the increased
exposure would likely cause the country to support the Democrats� efforts.
Though Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) filed articles of
impeachment against Cheney on April 25, he hasn�t gained support from certain
members of Congress. According to an article
by the Washington Post�s Dana Milbank, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
declined to support Kucinich�s efforts. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the House
Democratic caucus, said, �Dennis can do what he wants; I�m not going to support
It�s ironic that Kucinich is dismissed while Hoyer and
Emanuel are actually the ones with the frivolous position. What could be more
superficial and feckless than Hoyer�s and Emanuel�s writing off the idea of
impeachment without first examining the abundant evidence for it?
The case for impeaching Bush and Cheney has already been
made by prominent public figures, including former Congresswoman Elizabeth
Holtzman. In a January 2006 article for The Nation,
Holtzman says, �A President can commit no more serious crime against our
democracy than lying to Congress and the American people to get them to support
a military action or war.�
Holtzman continues, �Given that the consequences can be
death for hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of people -- as well as the
diversion of vast sums of money to the war effort -- the fraud cannot be
tolerated.� Members of Congress should read the entire Holtzman article.
Impeachment opponents say Bush and Cheney haven�t committed
documented impeachable offenses. However, Michael Schudson writes in Watergate In American Memory, �A
president can be impeached not only for directly engaging in criminal acts but
for failing to fulfill his oath of office, failing to see in good faith that
the laws of the land are executed. There is no legal �bar� to interpreting
impeachment in this light.�
Any member of Congress who doubts the Bush administration
lied and fixed the intelligence around the Iraq policy should read the many
books and articles which detail the deceptions. In Worse Than Watergate, John Dean, former counsel to President
Richard Nixon says, �The evidence is overwhelming, certainly sufficient for a
prima facie case, that George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have engaged in
deceit and deception over going to war in Iraq. This is an impeachable offense.�
Dean states, �Bush deliberately violated the very
authorization he sought from Congress, which was not merely a serious breach of
faith with a trusting Congress, but a statutory and constitutional crime.� He
reminds us that Bush lied to Congress at a classified briefing when he claimed
Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons and was able to use them,
via unmanned drone aircraft, against the United States.
According to Dean, at a congressional leadership meeting on
October 3, 2002, Bush falsely claimed Saddam�s regime had the ability and
materials needed to build nuclear weapons. Dean also notes that Bush deceived
Congress in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address when he falsely
claimed Iraq had sought uranium from Niger.
Peter Eisner is a veteran foreign correspondent and is
currently an editor at the Washington Post. Recently he discussed his book, The Italian Letter: How the Bush
Administration Used a Fake Letter to Build the Case for War in Iraq,
in a Democracy
Now broadcast with interviewer Amy Goodman.
Goodman asked about the CIA�s role regarding the misleading
Niger claim. Eisner said, �The CIA actually had attempted to block the
statement . . . There was quite an argument between lower CIA officials and
White House staff . . . Finally, George Tenet, the head of the CIA, had to
intercede on October 7 and demand that the White House remove the sentence
describing uranium purchases in Niger.�
However, Bush did include the sentence in his address. He
omitted any mention of U.S. intelligence reports, saying only that the
information came from British intelligence. During the interview with Eisner,
Amy Goodman aired a portion of her earlier Democracy Now interview with former
Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Well before the State of the Union, Wilson had told
the CIA the British reports weren�t reliable.
Wilson said Bush referred to British intelligence and left
out reference to U.S. intelligence, because the CIA had refuted the claim. He
adds, �So there was real deception there. This was not just an accident. This
was not a slip of the tongue. These were people who wanted to put something in
there that was actually deceptive to the U.S. Congress and to the American
Goodman returned to the discussion with Eisner and asked
whether Congress might later consider impeachment. He responded, �What do we
know that President Bush himself knew about this, and what do we know the Vice
President knew . . . Of all people, Vice President Cheney is not just some
latter-day vice president that had no relationship to the intelligence
Eisner added, �[Cheney] was considered one of the most
minute analysts of information that was coming in. He knew more than many other
people that Italian military intelligence was providing this information, and
he also knew there were highly placed doubts about all of the information . . .
So there�s a lot of investigation to be done, subpoenas to be issued, before I
would know enough to talk about impeachment.�
The investigation and subpoenas should go forward, and
Congress shouldn�t let administration officials get away with evading the
subpoenas or whitewashing and covering up the facts. Given the vast amount of
evidence on public record and easily available to Congress, it�s likely that
any honest, rigorous investigation would lead to impeachment.
Though impeachment isn�t the focus of his book, David Corn
lists dozens of Bush�s and Cheney�s serious deceptions in The Lies of George W. Bush. The information in this book alone
would give any member of Congress ample reason to issue subpoenas and follow up
with impeachment proceedings.
Corn makes it clear the Bush administration exaggerated the
threat from Iraq and lied about and fixed the intelligence. He describes how
Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union Address, falsely implied that U.N.
inspectors believed Iraq had large amounts of WMD.
Instead, U.N. inspectors expressed doubt, stating they had
dismantled Iraq�s key weapons-making facilities and destroyed most existing
WMD. Corn refers to a September 2002 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency
(DIA). The document said: �There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is
producing or stockpiling chemical weapons, or whether Iraq has -- or will --
establish its chemical warfare production facilities.�
In conclusion, Corn says it was obvious Bush had �misinformed
-- if not misled -- his own country and the world. It was undeniable that he
had launched a war on the basis of false assertions . . . George W. Bush had
also provided the entire world with good reason to doubt the word of America.
And that was unlikely to make the nation safer.�
Many Americans act as if we�re aware the administration
deceived us into invading Iraq, while others, including some in Congress,
operate as if they fail to see that reality. Those who don�t or won�t see and
respond to what actually happened are living in a make-believe state of mind, a
form of denial that resembles a psychotic break with reality.
Burying the pre-war lies under the rug harms this country on
many levels. The national pretending is disturbing, because Bush�s and Cheney�s
pre-war fabrications aren�t just any lies; they�re lies that led to, and
continue to cause, widespread loss of life and limb, not only for Americans,
but also for soldiers of other nationalities and for Iraqi civilians.
Congress�s failure to confront the untruths that led to the
death and bloodshed dishonors those who suffered and died for the lies. When
people acknowledge on some occasions that Bush and Cheney lied us into war, yet
at other times act as if the lies never happened, they have one foot in reality
and the other in a world of make-believe.
Many members of Congress, the media and the American public
float along day to day, pretending the administration has been truthful,
behaving as if nothing can be done to set right the fact that we were lied into
war. How did we get to the point where vast numbers of citizens turn a blind
eye by choice?
Imagine American streets filled with the blood of the war�s
victims, citizens moving forward doggedly, smiling vacantly, with self-centered
plans and agendas, oblivious to the wet red substance. This is America today,
sloshing through knee-deep blood in the land of make-believe, living in heart
crushing denial about gravely significant events.
nation that doesn�t care enough about the truth to investigate tenaciously and
impeach Bush and Cheney if the probe warrants, is a nation divorced from
reality and conscience. No fear-based or politically expedient excuse could
possibly justify Congress�s hesitating to pursue this issue in a sober,
principled and timely manner.