Hmm, I just read an article by John Dean of Watergate fame, that posed this very question and it got me to thinking that if Bill Clinton can be impeached over lying about a couple of bouts of oral sex and the whole Monica Lewinsky affair, why the hell can’t the same thing be done to President George W. Bush if in fact no weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s) are discovered in Iraq? Sure, we all know that Clinton probably lied under oath but if it ever comes out that the Bush Administration lied to the American public and the world in general about matters of national security, well, lets just say that the stakes are much higher.

In the article, Mr. Dean raises some valid points and cites examples of Richard Nixon and his abuse of power as well as LBJ's refusal to reveal the extent of American involvement in Vietnam. Even though LBJ wasn't impeached, his lack of disclosure about our involvement was a major factor in his decision not to run for re-election.

Mr. Dean uses the following quotes from George W. Bush to make his point.

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons."
United Nations Address
September 12, 2002

"The Iraqi regime . . "Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons." "We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."
Radio Address
October 5, 2002

“possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons."

"We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States."

"The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" - his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."

Cincinnati, Ohio Speech
October 7, 2002

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."
State of the Union Address
January 28, 2003

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
Address to the Nation
March 17, 2003

The article goes on to describe the importance of a President's statements regarding matters of national security and the implied trust that the American people have in their leadership. It further goes on to describe the importance of such statements since they have an effect on the world in general.

Mr. Dean’s sentiments are much in line with my own way of thinking. Even though I consider myself a left leaning, free thinking individual and I did not cast my vote his way, I trusted the President and his statements regarding Iraq’s capabilities. So far to date, my trust seems to have been betrayed as no major evidence of weapons of mass destruction have been uncovered and none looks like it is forthcoming. If that turns out to be the case, then I’m all for starting the impeachment process.

I’m beginning to think that the President, in the wake of terrorist acts and threats played upon the fears and emotions of the country rather than practical solutions such as the United Nations weapons inspections which, coincidentally, turned up little or no evidence of WMD’s.

It gets me to thinking about the words of another President who told a struggling country in his first inaugural address:

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance”

Yeah, I know that times have changed since those words were spoken but I don’t think the sentiments behind them have.

In closing, I guess as things stand right now, the decision by both France and Germany to not support the war on the basis of the lack of evidence of WMD’s is looking pretty good. Even though the war has been declared “over”, both American soldiers and Iraqis are still being killed on a daily basis. There seems to be no exit strategy and even though I regret saying it, it looks like our troops will remain in Iraq for many years to come.

http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0606-05.htm
http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/200306 06.html
The first casualty when war comes is the truth.
-- Hiram Johnson

Frankly, I have never been one to completely trust the Government, particularly during war time. If Bush did actually deceive the American people, it wouldn't be the first time a President has done so. Clinton lied about Bosnia. Reagan and Bush the elder lied about Iran-Contra. Nixon lied about Cambodia and Laos. Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin. Kennedy lied about Cuba. Certainly such lies should be an impeachable offence, yet what we know from history, this is never the case. The Onion, in suit with the rest of their brilliant satire, printed an article late last year titled "Presidents Washington Through Bush May Have Lied About Key Matters," as if this is news. Apparently, at the moment, it is. Do people really expect politicians to be honest?

Absence of proof is not the proof of absence.
-- William Cowper

But for now there are absolutely no facts, only accusations, that suggest Bush lied about Iraq's possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction. If one can remember, it wasn't very long ago, there was a lot of talk about this very thing in the U.N. Security Council. Nearly everyone believed Iraq had these weapons. There was good intelligence from several different nations. These deliberations did not regard whether or not Iraq had these weapons, but among other things, how to take them away. This included Germany and France, however, they did not support the war because they believed a diplomatic solution could be met.

But some are demanding Bush find these weapons or face impeachment or worse, a War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague. The logic behind this I can only presume; Hussein was actually complying with Resolution 1441 by destroying the chemical and biological weapons the world knew he had, but he did so quietly. Honestly, doesn't this sound ludicrous?

If there are these chemical and biological weapons in Iraq, why haven't Coalition forces found them by now? Try to remember, this war on Iraq began just a little more than three months ago. Coalition forces have only controlled Baghdad for a little more than two months. The fighting has not ended, the war is not over, and no one has claimed otherwise. The area being searched is an unfamiliar and hostile land the size of California. It is going to take a little while. Have a little patience.

People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election.
-- Otto von Bismarck

Don't get me wrong; I understand why this issue is being discussed so early on. Because of the conditions in Iraq, the chance that chemical, biological, or radiological weapons will be discovered before next year's elections is fairly slim. Consequently, this is a great issue for Democratic presidential hopefuls to run on. As the election gets closer, demands to produce Iraqi WMD will increase. There's nothing new about making wild baseless accusations regarding one's adversary. Imagine if you will; the invasion of Iraq happened six years earlier under the exact same circumstances, after nine weeks and still no WMDs, would the Republicans be screaming for impeachment? Probably. This, my friends, is partisan politics. Until there is some substantial proof to back up these allegations, for now, I believe it is a nonissue.

I am not a lawyer, nor a law student, nor a constitutional scholar. I am a citizen of the United States of America and thus should have some interest in the government that has been elected.


Flashback...

The year is 1974. Watergate. I doubt that most people on E2 are familiar with Watergate beyond what was read in the Recent American History class in high school, and those that are, few of them were there and aware of of the issues at the time (I was turning one in '74).

Nixon was impeached because...

In disregard of the rule of law, he knowingly misused the executive power by interfering with agencies of the executive branch, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Criminal Division, and the Office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, of the Department of Justice, and the Central Intelligence Agency, in violation of his duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
(item #5 from Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment for Richard Nixon)

Since Watergate, all presidents have been put on notice that the manipulation or misuse of any agency of the executive branch is considered a serious abuse of presidential power. Nixon claimed that his use of the agency was in the interest of "national security". The manipulation of national security intelligence data is considered by many a "high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause and furthermore violates federal criminal law (anti-conspiracy which states that it is a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.").

And so, we come to the statement made by Paul Wolfowitz -

"For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

Paul Wolfowitz
Vanity Fair interview
May 28, 2003

Was intelligence information manipulated to make this argument seem compelling to the people of the United States and the world? At this point, it would be silly for me, or anyone without concrete information (I certainly don't have it) to say it is so one way or the other. However, it is important that this be looked at and investigated with even more diligence than was spent examining dresses and cigars with past administrations.

The question of what is an impeachable offense is one that is open to interpretation. The "High Crime and misdemeanor" language which is so often quoted is in Article II, Section 4:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Thus, if the president was to be impeached for treason, bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors (accused - impeachment does not mean removal from office) and convicted by the Senate of that, then he may be removed from office. It is generally considered that perjury (lying under oath) to be a high crime (for Clinton - the articles drawn up included: "willfully committing perjury by providing false and misleading testimony to the grand jury in relation to his relationship with an employee" -- do note that the impeachment fell short of the 2/3 vote necessary to convict him).

The "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" has three general sets of definitions that are tentatively agreed upon. No one knows exactly what the original intent of the Founding Fathers meant when they wrote "High Crimes and Misdemeanors", however this was not intended as a catch-all for removal public officials.

  1. Serious crime that breaks the law
  2. Abuse of office
  3. Abuse of the public trust
These are not set in stone, but only some guidelines that some scholars have tried to set down (see the UIC document listed below). Nixon abused the office and public trust. Clinton abused the public trust. The question is, has George W. Bush abused the office or the public trust?

Do realize, that historically, more than 60 impeachment charges have been brought up against presidents and judges including:

Only Clinton and Andrew Johnson had the impeachment approved against them; Nixon resigned before the house voted on impeachment (the articles of impeachment were drafted as can be seen above) and thus was not impeached (though it is fairly certain that he would have been and furthermore convicted).


http://www.airbeagle.com/archives/001002.htm
http://worsethanwatergate.blogspot.com/
http://www.watergate.info/
http://changingplanet.supremalex.org/archive/impeach.htm
http://www.landmarkcases.org/nixon/Impeachments.html
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0764613.html

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