- House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in an interview
with Lesley Stahl of CBS News, said impeachment would be "off the
table" if Democrats take over the House of Representatives in November,
calling it a "waste of time." She couldn't be more wrong, and
most Americans know it.
- While Pelosi was responding to a loaded question from
Stahl, who couched impeachment in terms of Democrats' supposed desire to
seek revenge if they retake Congress, Pelosi, who would become majority
leader in a Democratic House, bought into Stahl's argument, saying that
she'd be "satisfied" to see the president and vice president
spending the remaining two years of their second term as "lame ducks."
- What Stahl should have asked Pelosi was whether she thought
that President Bush had violated the law and the Constitution, and whether
she believed he has committed impeachable offenses.
- The answer to that is clearly yes.
- Rep. Pelosi must know most of the president's crimes
are not partisan at all. They are crimes against Americans of all stripes,
and against liberty and the Constitution.
- Just take the president's order to the National Security
Administration to spy on Americans without first seeking a warrant. A federal
judge in Detroit has already found that the president violated the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act--a felony--and the Fourth Amendment. That
is an impeachable act, and one which Democrats and Republicans alike would
punish if they understood the the implications of what the president has
done. Given that the secret FISA court has only rejected a handful of warrant
requests out of over 70,000 made since 1978, the only reason Bush could
have decided to violate the law is that he is doing something so outrageous
he knew the hand-picked, top-security-cleared FISA judges would have rejected
it out of hand.
- Or take the signing statements. This president has used
so-called "signing statements" to render inoperative over 800
laws or parts of laws passed by Congress, claiming that he has the authority
to do so because he is a commander in chief in time of war (the so-called
"War" on Terror). Rep. Pelosi claims that if she becomes House
leader, Democrats will want to pursue a positive, progressive political
agenda, yet this will be clearly impossible if the president is allowed
to simply continue issuing signing statements invalidating any laws passed
by a Democratic Congress. Signing statements cannot be overridden, and
if Democrats were to attempt to pass legislation outlawing them, Bush could
veto that legislation--or render it inoperative with another signing statement.
The only way to stop this unconstitutional usurpation of the founding principle
of tripartite government is to impeach the president for blatant abuse
- This too, is an issue that Republicans and Democrats
should agree on, for if this president is permitted to ignore laws passed
by the Congress, then subsequent presidents (perhaps a President Hillary
Clinton or Barak Obama?) could also do it, citing the continuing "War"
on Terror, and the Bush precedent.
- Does Nancy Pelosi believe that the president's lies and
deceptions and the conspiracy by his administration to trick the nation
into a disastrous invasion of Iraq is not grounds for impeachment? Nearly
3000 Americans have died as a result of that deceit, and nearly 40,000
have suffered grievous wounds, while the US military has been stretched
to the breaking point, leaving the country unable to respond to genuine
threats. Surely the author of this ongoing national nightmare must be punished,
so that future presidents will not attempt to do the same thing.
- These are only some of this administration's crimes.
- Bush's role in attacking, and then covering up the attack
on former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame--a
crime that was committed to discredit Wilson and discourage reporters from
probing more deeply into his revelation that the documents used to claim
Iraq was trying to buy uranium ore from Niger were obvious forgeries, and
into who was behind those forgeries in the first place.
- Bush's authorization of torture as a policy for captives
in Afghanistan, Iraq and in the nebulous, endless and borderless "War"
on Terror. The president, in an act of desperation, has gotten the currently
Republican Congress to ram through a bill granting retroactive immunity
to all those, including himself, who authorized or engaged in torture,
but this should not deter a Democratic Congress from seeking impeachment
for an action that remains a violation of international law, that places
American troops at greater risk, and that has destroyed America's image
around the globe.
- Bush's criminally negligent handling of the Katrina disaster
in New Orleans.
- The rot of corruption in the administration, highlighted
by the Abramoff lobbying scandals, which clearly reach right into the Oval
Office, despite the president's initial lie that he didn't know Jack Abramoff.
- Bush's refusal to testify under oath and on the record
before the 9-11 Commission, and his refusal to provide officials and documents
demanded by the commission regarding what the administration knew before
the attacks and how it responded to what it knew. This obstructionism by
the White House has been called close to an act of treason by former Sen.
Bob Graham, who until the end of 2002 was the chair of the Senate Intelligence
Committee, and who has said if he were currently in the House would be
the subject of a bill of impeachment.
- Rep. Pelosi may think Americans don't want impeachment,
but, like many Democratic leaders, ' simply out of touch. Indeed, the congresswoman
will find a resolution on impeachment on her own ballot when she goes home
to San Francisco to vote this November (a resolution that is likely to
pass handily). Meanwhile, a new Newsweek magazine poll finds that fully
51 percent of all Americans believe that the president should be impeached--more
than half of them saying this should be a priority. That same poll finds
that 20 percent of Republicans think the president should be impeached,
with one in four of those saying it should be a priority for the next Congress.
These are astonishing figures when you consider that support for impeachment
of President Bill Clinton never got higher than 36 percent, even at the
height of his impeachment process.
- Maybe Rep. Pelosi should start listening to the voters,
instead of to her campaign strategists.
- More importantly, she and other Democratic-and Republican--members
of the House should recall that oath they took when they assumed office,
which commits them to "support and defend the Constitution of the
United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
- The Constitution these days is under relentless assault
by an enemy in the White House. Defending it is not a "waste of time"
Ms. Pelosi; it is your sworn duty.
- Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation
into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch
columns, titled This Can't be Happening!, is published by Common Courage
Press. Lindorff's latest book is The Case for Impeachment, co-authored
by Barbara Olshansky. Visit his website for more information. Lindorff
may be reached at email@example.com. This story is published in the Baltimore
Chronicle with permission of the author.