CONGRESS HAS AN OBLIGATION TO CONSIDER CAREFULLY THE 35 ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT THAT CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH OF OHIO HAS INTRODUCED AGAINST GEORGE W. BUSH. Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, June 24, 2008
On June 9th, Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio stood on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and introduced an impeachment resolution, with 35 articles of impeachment, against George W. Bush. It got very little attention, but it deserved the focus of the whole nation.
By his reaction to the 2001 terrorist attacks and his pursuit of war in Iraq, Bush has violated the constitution over and over again – the constitution that he took a solemn oath to preserve, protect and defend. He has also violated his oath to make sure that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed. To put it simply, he has committed many crimes.
I will not read all 35 of Congressman Kucinich’s impeachment articles, or the supporting evidence he spent nearly five hours reciting upon the floor of the House. But I would like to call several of them to our attention.
Article 1 – Creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacturer a false case for war against Iraq.
Article 3 – Misleading the American people and members of Congress to believe Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, to manufacture a false case for war.
Article 4 – Misleading the American people and members of Congress to believe Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States.
Article 7 – Invading Iraq absent a declaration of war.
Article 9 – Failure to provide troops with body armor and vehicle armor.
Article 14 – Misprision of a Felony, misuse and exposure of classified information, and obstruction of justice in the matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, clandestine agent of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Article 15 – Providing immunity from prosecution for criminal contractors in Iraq.
Article 17 – Illegal Detention; detaining indefinitely and without charge persons both United States citizens and foreign captives.
Article 18 – Torture; secretly authorizing and encouraging the use of torture against captives in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places, as a matter of official policy.
Article 22 – Creating Secret Laws.
Article 23 – Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.
Article 24 – Spying on American citizens, without a court-ordered warrant, in violation of the laws and the Fourth Amendment.
Article 26 – Announcing the intent to violate laws with signing statements.
Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University School of Law, conceded that not all of Representative Kucinich’s 35 articles are impeachable offenses, but said: “there are plenty of crimes there -- this is a target-rich environment."
Unfortunately, the House, which is controlled by Democrats, I might note, promptly buried the resolution in committee, and the issue will probably not resurface again in this Congress. That is a disgrace, and a danger to our form of government that the founding fathers bequeathed to us. The issue now is not so much to remove the President from office -- he has just several months left, and the impeachment process would probably take at least that long anyway. The imperative here is for someone to stand up for the rule of law, to stand up for the Constitution and Bill of Rights, to stand up and say that we have a system of checks and balances in this country, rather than a system in which the executive is allowed make his own laws when it suits his purposes, or trample on other laws when he finds them inconvenient.
As Representative Kucinich put it in an interview: "The Bush administration has promulgated this concept of a unitary executive, which essentially nullifies, again, the Congress of the United States. And if the Congress goes along with that, it's essentially engaging in self-negation. We don't have any right to destroy the Constitution any more than the president does. And we have to look at the consequences of our failure to act in this case."
Professor Turley agrees: “The fact is, this is not supposed to happen the way it’s happened in the last seven years. The framers, I think, would have been astonished by the absolute passivity, if not the collusion of the Democrats in protecting President Bush from impeachment,” he said.
This is not just the voice of radically partisan House members, or the voice of legal academics. Listen to this quote:
“There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes.”
Those words came last week from retired U.S. Army Major General Anthony Taguba, who investigated the original claims of detainee abuse at Abu Graib Prison in Iraq.
Why does all this matter? Because our democracy is at stake. When dictators rise, it is not always through a military coup. Sometimes it is with the soft and gradual erosion of freedoms that citizens take for granted. In her 2007 book “The End of America,” Naomi Wolf discussed the way, historically, open societies have become closed. She cites many examples of countries that have undergone a fascist shift, and she documents similarities to the tactics used in this country by the Bush Administration since 2001.
Writing of Hitler and Mussolini in the 1920s and 1930s, she points out the following: “Each came to power legally in a working democracy; each made use of the parliamentary system itself to subvert and reorder the rule of law; and each of them quickly, legally, aggregated state power overwhelmingly in his own person. Both leaders were supported by sophisticated intellectuals and political theorists who made the case to the people that democratic processes weakened the nation in a time of crisis.
She wrote: “All dictators invoke an external threat, develop a paramilitary force, create a secret prison system, surveil ordinary citizens, arbitrarily detain and release them; harass citizens groups; target writers, entertainers and other key individuals for dissenting; intimidate the press; recast dissent as treason and criticism as espionage; and subvert the rule of law.”
We have seen all of those things happen in this country over the past seven years. She points out that the steps toward totalitarianism are well known and well studied. After Germany and Italy, we saw the same tactics used in Stalin’s Russia in the 1950s, in Pinochet’s Chile in the 1970s, in Communist China, and in oppressed Iron Curtain Europe.
The United States has not gone that far down that road yet. But we must remain vigilant. We must not lull ourselves by thinking, It Can’t Happen Here. As Wolf also wrote in her book:
“We tend to think of American democracy as being somehow eternal, ever-renewable, and capable of withstanding all assaults. But the Founders would have thought we were dangerously naïve.”
I wish Congress were not so naïve and so lax in doing its duty, and that it would take a stand against the criminal acts of this administration.
Now Madam President, calling to mind one of the tragic results of this administration’s lawless war in Iraq, I ask us to honor two Pennsylvania soldiers who have given their lives there.
Private Wesley J. Williams, 23, of Philadelphia, Pa., died March 2, 2007 in Baghdad, of a non-combat related injury. Private Williams was assigned to the163d Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade.
Sergeant Ashly L. Moyer, 21, of Emmaus, Pa. died March 3 2007 with two other soldiers in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle. Sergeant Moyer was assigned to the 630th Military Police Company.
They are among the 4,101 Americans killed in Iraq. Another 30,276 have been wounded.
Thank you, Madam President.
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo