Impeachment: Just For Fun

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Let's examine the actual proposed articles of impeachment against Bush.

  1. Seizing power to wage wars of aggression in defiance of the U.S. Constitution, the U.N. Charter and the  rule of law; carrying out a massive assault on and occupation of Iraq, a country that was not threatening the United States, resulting in the death and maiming of over one hundred thousand Iraqis, and thousands of U.S. G.I.s.

    Both houses of Congress approved of this. Any argument that this is a high crime or misdemeanor is a complete joke and waste of time. Many of the "Articles" are of this sort: implying Congress would ever impeach the President for something Congress gave the President explicit authority to do. Not going to happen.

  2. Lying to the people of the U.S., to Congress, and to the U.N., providing false and deceptive rationales for war.

    There's no substantive evidence of lying.

  3. Authorizing, ordering and condoning direct attacks on civilians, civilian facilities and locations where civilian casualties were unavoidable.

    This is not a crime of any sort, if that attack was deemed necessary to the war effort. It's happened in every war, and while a tragedy, it is not something Congress would ever impeach over, unless it were shown civilians were specifically targetted, where civilian casualties were reasonably avoidable.

  4. Instituting a secret and illegal wiretapping and spying operation against the people of the United States through the National Security Agency.

    Frankly, impeachment over this would constitute a violation of separation of powers, a virtual coup of the legislature over the executive. There is a legitimate argument that what Bush did was not legal, but the actual law is not clear, and the only reasonable course of action is to have the Supreme Court adjudicate the dispute, because there is also a legitimate argument that what Bush did was legal. The Legislature does not have the right to tell the Executive how to interpret the Constitution.

  5. Threatening the independence and sovereignty of Iraq by belligerently changing its government by force and assaulting Iraq in a war of aggression.

    See 1.

  6. Authorizing, ordering and condoning assassinations, summary executions, kidnappings, secret and other illegal detentions of individuals, torture and physical and psychological coercion of prisoners to obtain false statements concerning acts and intentions of governments and individuals and violating within the United States, and by authorizing U.S. forces and agents elsewhere, the rights of individuals under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    There's a lot here, and I don't have the will to break it out and address it individually. For much of it -- such as "summary executions" -- there is absolutely no evidence of any kind. For others -- such as "psychological coercion" -- there is absolutely nothing illegal about it. And for all of it, what little evidence exists, there's no direct tie to Bush.

  7. Making, ordering and condoning false statements and propaganda about the conduct of foreign governments and individuals and acts by U.S. government personnel; manipulating the media and foreign governments with false information; concealing information vital to public discussion and informed judgment concerning acts, intentions and possession, or efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction in order to falsely create a climate of fear and destroy opposition to U.S. wars of aggression and first strike attacks.

    Again, there's no evidence that intentionally false statements were ordered or condoned, or that anyone was intentionally manipulated with false information, or that any vital information was withheld. It's like the recent hubbub over the Libby leak on July 8, and then July 18, where lots of people on the left said, "well, but they never told anyone that they were warned about that intelligence being wrong!," even though if you cared to look, you saw that the warnings were right there in the NIE itself. The information was there, it was available. If you followed along, you knew well before the invasion that there were serious questions about the aluminum tubes, and that the Niger documents were forgeries, and so on.

  8. Violations and subversions of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, both a part of the "Supreme Law of the land" under Article VI, paragraph 2, of the Constitution, in an attempt to commit with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes in wars and threats of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and others and usurping powers of the United Nations and the peoples of its nations by bribery, coercion and other corrupt acts and by rejecting treaties, committing treaty violations, and frustrating compliance with treaties in order to destroy any means by which international law and institutions can prevent, affect, or adjudicate the exercise of U.S. military and economic power against the international community.

    First, see 1. Congress approved, so Congress won't impeach. Also, note that here they say the invasion of Afghanistan was illegal and immoral. Yeah, that's gonna fly. Right. And finally, on what planet is refusal to submit to the International Criminal Court -- again, something neither Congress, nor any President, would ever agree to anyway -- an impeachable offense? I call this the Anationalist Wacko Article of Impeachment.

  9. Acting to strip United States citizens of their constitutional and human rights, ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to counsel, without charge, and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the Executive of a citizen as an "enemy combatant."

    This has already been adjudicated by the Supreme Court, which found in Bush's favor on some points, and against on others, and the administration has been in compliance with those rulings, and there's no room for Congress to step in here.

  10. Ordering indefinite detention of non-citizens in the United States and elsewhere, and without charge, at the discretionary designation of the Attorney General or the Secretary of Defense.

    See 9.

  11. Ordering and authorizing the Attorney General to override judicial orders of release of detainees under INS jurisdiction, even where the judicial officer after full hearing determines a detainee is wrongfully held by the government.

    This is a technical issue that, again, is properly adjudictaed in a court of law, if there remains a reasonable legal question. There's nothing preventing appeal to a higher court, and no reason to suspect that should it reach the Supreme Court, the administration would not do what that court says.

  12. Authorizing secret military tribunals and summary execution of persons who are not citizens who are designated solely at the discretion of the Executive who acts as indicting official, prosecutor and as the only avenue of appellate relief.

    Again: "summary execution"? Pull the other one. Also again: see 9.

  13. Refusing to provide public disclosure of the identities and locations of persons who have been arrested, detained and imprisoned by the U.S. government in the United States, including in response to Congressional inquiry.

    Again: see 9.

  14. Use of secret arrests of persons within the United States and elsewhere and denial of the right to public trials.

    "And elsewhere" has already been addressed. If there's a credible case of violation of rights of persons in the U.S., sue.

  15. Authorizing the monitoring of confidential attorney-client privileged communications by the government, even in the absence of a court order and even where an incarcerated person has not been charged with a crime.

    See 1.

  16. Ordering and authorizing the seizure of assets of persons in the United States, prior to hearing or trial, for lawful or innocent association with any entity that at the discretionary designation of the Executive has been deemed "terrorist."

    See 1.

  17. Engaging in criminal neglect in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, depriving thousands of people in Louisiana, Mississippi and other Gulf States of urgently needed support, causing mass suffering and unnecessary loss of life.

    This is just utter nonsense. I've spent more than enough time on this issue, but I am including it only for thoroughness.

  18. Institutionalization of racial and religious profiling and authorization of domestic spying by federal law enforcement on persons based on their engagement in noncriminal religious and political activity.

    Again, See 1. But further, our tradition has never held that noninvasive surveillance of potentially dangerous groups violates any law. If I, as a civilian, can go into a public place and look at what people are doing there, so too can the government. You may find it distasteful, but this information collection is not illegal, nor a high crime or misdemeanor in any reasonable sense.

  19. Refusal to provide information and records necessary and appropriate for the constitutional right of legislative oversight of executive functions.

    This is laughable. If the Executive were withholding information that Congress had a right to, they would sue. They have done that, in fact, and the Executive has won each time. Again, this is something that Congress cannot reasonably impeach over, because Congress cannot be the arbiter over Constitutional power struggles between the Legislative and Executive. That is what the Court is for.

  20. Rejecting treaties protective of peace and human rights and abrogation of the obligations of the United States under, and withdrawal from, international treaties and obligations without consent of the legislative branch, and including termination of the ABM treaty between the United States and Russia, and rescission of the authorizing signature from the Treaty of Rome which served as the basis for the International Criminal Court.

    Simply false. The text of the ABM itself, which Congress approved of, gave the United States the authority to withdraw. The Constitution says the Executive has the power to make treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate; this does not imply that Senate approval is required to exercise the provisions of that treaty.

    I don't know what they are referring to regarding the Treaty of Rome, but I do know that no existing treaty obligates the U.S. to participate in the ICC, so their continued wanking about the ICC is moot.

So let's count up the score. Out of 20 articles, six were approved of already by the Congress; two were about things there's no evidence of; one was not actual crimes or wrongdoing; nine were violating the spirit of the Constitution by putting the Congress over the Executive (and the Supreme Court) as final arbiter of the meaning of the Constitution; and one was in three of the other categories. And one was absolutely nonsense about Katrina.

In other words, there's no reasonable chance of impeachment.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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