Impeachment: Something Worth Voting For

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When President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and Attorney General John D. Ashcroft are eventually impeached for crimes against humanity, we can look back and say it started here, when UIUC law professor Francis Boyle announced the beginning of the campaign on October 7, 2002 at a rally on the university quad. Since then this work has been shared with Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General in the Johnson administration and renowned human rights lawyer, and there are now many websites devoted to impeachment.
On March 11 Boyle and Clark met with John Conyers, D-Michigan, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee (if the Democrats were to win control of the House he would be chair). Any action would have to start here. Conyers convened a two-hour meeting in Washington with almost fifty top advisors, most of them lawyers, to hear the arguments to file a second draft of the impeachment bill. Several congressional staff members are surveying the public to determine the level of support for such an action.
What is needed now is a member of Congress to introduce it.
Boyle concedes that this is not very likely in a Republican-controlled Congress. Indeed he stresses that a significant point about this call for impeachment is that it is grassroots-based. Full-page advertisements, costing around $45,000 apiece,with the funds raised from public contributions, have appeared in several major newspapers including the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. ìImpeach Bushî has become a major theme at most recent demonstrations, and over 250,000 people already have cast their vote for impeachment at, with a goal of one million.
When asked if initiating impeachment was not moot because Congress voted to give Bush the authority to act in November, Boyle answered that the Constitution clearly requires a declaration of war by the legislature. Congress gave the President conditional authority providing he exhausted all means of diplomacy and that the attack was necessary for vital national security. According to Boyle such a case was not made; what the administration has said is based on lies and a formal declaration is still needed.
The campaign received strong impetus recently when Lawrence Eagleburger, Secretary of State under George Bush Senior, said an extension of the war against Iraq was unthinkable. In an impassioned BBC interview and an article in the April 14 issue of the UK newspaper the Mirror, Mr. Eagleburger said that if George W. Bush were to take military action against Syria or Iran he would support impeachment.
Boyle calls the Articles of Impeachment that have been introduced a “work in progress” because the specific charges keep changing. As Bush and his cabinet engage in more illegal acts the terms of litigation will change. But the case will remain based on “violations and subversions of the Constitution of the United States of America in an attempt to carry out with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes and deprivations of the civil rights of the people of the United States and other nations, by assuming powers of an imperial executive unaccountable to law and usurping powers of the Congress, the Judiciary and those reserved to the people of the United States.”
A large part of the case is based on the Nuremburg Principles, adopted after WWII and the trial of the Nazi leadership. This international treaty, signed by the U.S., makes it illegal to plan “inhumane acts committed against any civilized population.
î When the president violates this, or the U.N. Charter, he is violating a treaty that the U.S. has ratified, which ranks with the Constitution as the highest law of the land, above statute law. And he is directly violating his oath of office, which is to uphold the law and the Constitution Furthermore, as John Pilger notes in Z Magazine (April 10, 2003), the judges in the Nuremberg trial stated that to initiate a war of aggression is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international war crime in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole. They specifically rejected German arguments of the “necessity” for pre-emptive attacks against other countries.
The Constitution mentions impeachment six times. It is part of the system of checks and balances and provides the legislative branch a way to try the President, Vice President, cabinet members or federal judges. The term “impeachment” has an aura greater than its technical meaning, which is equivalent only to the power to indict. The process begins in the House of Representativesí Judiciary Committee, which conducts an investigation and can then make charges, known as Articles of Impeachment. Each Article requires a majority vote of the House. When this is successful, the person has been impeached. The case then passes to the Senate where the trial takes place.
The impeachment process has been initiated against several presidents in recent times including Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., and of course Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. In fact, the case now being considered is based on the same grounds introduced by Boyle and the late Representative Henry B.
Gonzales (D-TX) in calling for impeachment of the first President Bush. Gonzales kept the case alive into the Clinton administration but dropped it in 1994 when Democrats lost control of the House.
Only Presidents Andrew Johnson, in 1868, Nixon, and Clinton were in danger of being removed from office. In Nixon’s case, he resigned before the process could run its course. As for Clinton, the proceedings reached the stage of trial before the Senate, but the final vote (46-54 on perjury; 50-50 on obstruction) failed to produce the two-thirds needed for conviction and removal.
There are now a large number of websites devoted to documenting Bush and his administration’s offenses. You can find them by searching for “impeach Bush.” Cast your vote at the VoteToImpeach website given above, and call  Representative Tim Johnson (202-225-2371) to let him know that his constituents support this growing movement.

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