The following is a case for impeaching the president and the vice president. I hope people will talk about this issue seriously and tell their representatives to support the resolutions introduced by Rep. John Conyers calling for an investigation of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to determine whether Articles of Impeachment should be introduced.
This corrupt Republican Congress will not move for an investigation of their president, much less introduce Articles of Impeachment. That is not the point. I am looking only for a fundamental democratic value — accountability — and I hope that you will join me in demanding it.
An important note: Much of my passion and information on this topic comes from my father, Bob Fertik, the founder of ImpeachPAC. He has been calling for impeachment since the president lied to the Congress and the American public about his reasons for going to war in Iraq.
First, leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the president and members of his administration repeatedly lied or distorted the truth when they insisted that Iraq was an “imminent threat” to the United States. Condoleezza Rice told us not to wait for a “mushroom cloud.” The administration cited Iraqi imports of “uranium yellowcake,” an ore used to make weapons-grade uranium, from Niger as proof that Saddam Hussein was pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Ambassador Joseph Wilson found the allegations to be false and the proof forged. Even after this, the president included a reference to “yellowcake” in his 2003 State of the Union address, knowing it to be false. As the 2002 Downing Street Memo stated, “The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
Second, the abuse at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and other American detention facilities violates the Geneva Conventions Against Torture, ratified in 1994. In case you think “international agreements” are not binding on the American government, look at Article VI of the Constitution: “This Constitution … and all Treaties made … under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” Translated, ratified treaties are U.S. law. Violation thereof without formal abrogation constitutes a crime. Furthermore, the United States also passed a federal anti-torture statute in 1994 that prescribes the death penalty should any person be killed as a result of acts of torture committed by an American. That the United States could engage in torture and that the administration could make actual attempts to justify that behavior is illegal, abhorrent and absolutely un-American. And I have not even touched on “extraordinary rendition.”
Third, Scooter Libby was indicted in relation to leaking the identity of an undercover CIA agent. Just recently, it has been suggested that the vice president himself ordered Libby to leak the details.
Fourth, the president authorized the NSA to perform wiretaps without a warrant on anyone residing in the United States who had contact with terrorist organizations outside the country, or anyone known to have contact with persons suspected of terrorist activity. The executive order circumvented a special secret court whose purpose is to grant warrants for top-secret wiretaps in accordance with a 1974 law. The arguments that the president has offered for this range from the absurd to the outrageous, including that the Constitution grants him absolutely unlimited power in wartime. A judge on that court has resigned in protest, and James Madison is spinning in his grave.
According to the minority staff of the House Judiciary Committee, “There is substantial evidence that the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.” They continue, “There is a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violated a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence.” And that was before the wiretap story broke.
A poll commissioned by afterdowningstreet.org last month asked, “If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment?” Fifty-two percent of those polled agree. That’s a higher percentage than voted for Bush in 2004.
Impeachment constitutes an indictment, not a conviction. The standard to impeach need only be that there is reason to believe a crime may have been committed. At the very least, the facts I have cited indicate the possibility of crimes being committed, justifying, at the very least, a Congressional inquiry or a special prosecutor. The American people deserve to know whether their government has violated the laws of the land. And we, the American people, have an obligation to hold our government accountable if it has.
Ted Fertik is a junior in Trumbull College.