The Impeachment of George Bush

An absolute must-read article: The Impeachment of George W. Bush by Elizabeth Holtzman. From the January 30, 2006, issue of The Nation.

Finally, it has started. People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush–not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I believe they are right to do so.

I can still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach during those proceedings, when it became clear that the President had so systematically abused the powers of the presidency and so threatened the rule of law that he had to be removed from office. As a Democrat who opposed many of President Nixon’s policies, I still found voting for his impeachment to be one of the most sobering and unpleasant tasks I ever had to undertake. None of the members of the committee took pleasure in voting for impeachment; after all, Democrat or Republican, Nixon was still our President.

At the time, I hoped that our committee’s work would send a strong signal to future Presidents that they had to obey the rule of law. I was wrong.

Like many others, I have been deeply troubled by Bush’s breathtaking scorn for our international treaty obligations under the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions. I have also been disturbed by the torture scandals and the violations of US criminal laws at the highest levels of our government they may entail, something I have written about in these pages [see Holtzman, “Torture and Accountability,” July 18/25, 2005]. These concerns have been compounded by growing evidence that the President deliberately misled the country into the war in Iraq. But it wasn’t until the most recent revelations that President Bush directed the wiretapping of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Americans, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)–and argued that, as Commander in Chief, he had the right in the interests of national security to override our country’s laws–that I felt the same sinking feeling in my stomach as I did during Watergate.

As a matter of constitutional law, these and other misdeeds constitute grounds for the impeachment of President Bush. A President, any President, who maintains that he is above the law–and repeatedly violates the law–thereby commits high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional standard for impeachment and removal from office. A high crime or misdemeanor is an archaic term that means a serious abuse of power, whether or not it is also a crime, that endangers our constitutional system of government.

The framers of our Constitution feared executive power run amok and provided the remedy of impeachment to protect against it. While impeachment is a last resort, and must never be lightly undertaken (a principle ignored during the proceedings against President Bill Clinton), neither can Congress shirk its responsibility to use that tool to safeguard our democracy. No President can be permitted to commit high crimes and misdemeanors with impunity.

But impeachment and removal from office will not happen unless the American people are convinced of its necessity after a full and fair inquiry into the facts and law is conducted. That inquiry must commence now.

Ms. Holtzman then proceeds to clearly outline the specific instances that warrant a call for impeachment.

It is time to take our country back from the greedy, arrogant, power-hungry, criminal dictatorship that has taken it over. And once we get rid of Bush, we continue on with Cheney. These two are at the top of a chain of command which has demonstrated that it has no respect for the Constitution, for the International Community, or for the American People. They hide behind a facade of patriotism and religion to achieve their own selfish ends. It has got to end.

Congressional midterm elections are coming up this year. Your Congresspeople need to be told that if they are not willing to investigate and impeach the President, they can be replaced with people who will.

And, incidentally, it occurred to me while reading 1776 by David McCullough, about the early days of the American Revolution, that the colonists went into rebellion with a list of grievances far shorter than the one we have now against our current authority.

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3 Responses to The Impeachment of George Bush

  1. pronoblem says:

    Agree 100%. My first thought when I heard the news of the numerous wiretaps… this is impeachable.

    However: “It is time to take our country back from the greedy, arrogant, power-hungry, criminal dictatorship that has taken it over.”

    And then hand it over to the next? The other party is simply a different CEO for the same corporation. The issues that are debated in politics that are used to sell the parties really only serves to create, in most cases, single issues voters. At the core, it is all the same… and very little change from regime to regime. The Democrats are not a leftist party, and for people like you and I to join them with the task to bring this country on a different course is a futile path.

  2. Dave says:

    I’m not for a moment suggesting that the Democrats are a far, far better group to hand over to. I think they’re a somewhat better alternative, but I also think a pile of cinderblocks would be a somewhat better alternative. I very much want a truly progressive party to exist, and I don’t want to go about developing one in tiny, incremental steps, but at the moment I see America as a stab wound patient in the trauma ward bleeding to death and we’ve got to do the most helpful thing immediately to stabilize her before we can start fixing the other problems. Ushering the two men who are continuing to stab her out of the room would be a good start.

  3. pronoblem says:

    …and the immediate response of the Democrats (to stop this bleeding) is to lean more to the right of center in dialog and in policy making. If there will be a power grab this is the way the Democrats will win. They have to appeal to the other side (red states) in the starkly divided nation. The only way I see any swing to the left in the future happening would be a serious economic failure under the Republicans. As it has been witnessed, being attacked on our own soil has unified the country under Bush and the war on Iraq divided the country along party lines – though near half of the Democrats in the Senate and House voting for Bush’s war powers back in October, many later recanting due to the intelligence failures. The right has had a very successful media (propaganda) campaign and the response of the Democrats has only seemed to be to make themselves look less ‘liberal’ as that has now been made a slur. I simply find it amazing when I listen to these talk radio shows with neo-con hosts and what they will call ‘radical’. Obviously, people are listening.

    I think that the whole story of modern America and its global policy was summed up with one act back in 2003: