the case for impeachment

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    American deaths in Iraq have passed 40 since the ceasefire was declared.

    The impeachable offense
    Bush jeopardized troops' lives on false pretext

    Finally, and far too late, the networks, the big dailies, and the national news magazines are discovering that the Bush Administration's case for invading Iraq was a combination of willfully gross exaggerations and flat-out lies.

    For weeks, various recently leaked or released documents have confirmed that there was little or no evidence in American and British files that even plausibly pointed to an Iraqi threat of either nuclear or other banned weapons or an Iraqi link to Al-Qaeda. Intelligence analysts in both governments did not believe such threats existed; allegations of a threat only materialized when the politicians got involved.

    The new documentation of hyped claims, combined with an utter lack of post- invasion evidence that such claims had any basis in fact, are an enormous political scandal in Britain. However, their content does little more than confirm what opponents of the proposed invasion have said since last summer. Even then, it was a staple of opposition to Bush's invasion that intelligence community reports assessed the possibility of the existence of Iraqi WMDs as minimal and Iraq's threat to the U.S. as nonexistent. It was also an opposition staple that the Bush Administration routinely either misrepresented or ignored such expertise, and that most of the endless variety of Bush assertions "proving" either Iraqi WMDs or links between Saddam and Al-Qaeda were on their face preposterous.

    The Bush team's strategy of rapidly shifting justifications effectively deflected attention each time actual facts on the ground caught up with the rhetoric; by then, the White House was already hammering on a new reason for its unprovoked war. All this has been known for months by enough people to fuel the instant birth of a massive peace movement in America, and to inspire tens of millions to pour into the streets of cities around the world. The lack of any subsequent supporting discoveries of WMDs or terror links, and the utter disinterest by the British and American governments in finding any, comes as no surprise; a stopped clock is occasionally correct, but usually it's wrong, and usually its owner knows the clock is broken.

    But this wasn't a matter of reporting the time; it was a matter of the Bush Administration's swearing to Congress, America, and the world that the legal justification for invading, conquering, and occupying Iraq was based on evidence that did not in fact exist. The Bush Administration made such assertions repeatedly, for over half a year. Such assertions are not simply an appalling campaign of lies. They are an impeachable offense.

    For months, various mostly liberal and progressive critics of Bush have been whipping up impeachment calls on the Internet. Such calls have been delusional, boiling down, essentially, to the fact that Bush's critics hate a number of his policies. But there are no pending or existing indictments; no evidence of criminal wrongdoing; and no conceivable political route by which the votes for impeachment could be mustered by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and upheld by two-thirds of a Republican-controlled Senate. Critics may charge that Dubya's administration has been appallingly corrupt, or that it is gutting the Bill of Rights; but so far the corruption has been legal, and conservative federal courts have mostly upheld post-9/11 civil liberties atrocities. George W. Bush has inspired remarkable amounts of hatred amongst many of his critics; but that alone doesn't make impeachment legally viable or politically sustainable. It has been a non-starter.

    Until now.

    If proven -- and they can, in fact, be proven as such -- the Bush Administration's lies to the United Nations, to the American people, and to Congress in last October's effort to win authority to invade, all constitute an either unwitting or witting effort to put American soldiers in harm's way, guaranteeing the deaths of some. America's military was deployed for reasons Bush and his entire foreign policy apparatus either knew or should have known were fallacious.

    They did so anyway, in the service of a war whose unprovoked nature was a sharp departure from international law and norms. Bush claimed as his legal authority last October's Congressional vote. On the eve of that vote, in a major speech aimed at Congress, Bush claimed satellite photos gave irrefutable evidence that Iraq was rebuilding its nuclear weapons program, and claimed -- mere days after intelligence agencies put the date at 2010 -- that Iraq would have such weapons ready to deploy within a year. "Facing clear evidence of peril," Bush told Congress, America, and the world, "we cannot wait for the final proof that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

    All this was nonsense, and plenty of the administration's own experts had told the White House it was nonsense. From August to March, Bush and his team first insisted they had evidence that did not in fact exist, and then presented evidence, such as Colin Powell's U.N. citations of a forged bill of sales and a plagiarized ten-year-old graduate student paper, that was patently false. In doing so to win approval for an unprovoked and legally unjustifiable war, Bush and his top officials -- including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Paul Wolfowitz -- have done something that (unlike, say, violating international law) is considered an extremely serious affront by much of the American public, Republicans as well as Democrats. They have caused the unnecessary deaths of a lot of U.S. soldiers.

    The outrage thus far is coming from the media and from the British example. With a few honorable exceptions, such as Sen. Robert Byrd, it is not coming from Congressional Democrats. Contrast this with the Clinton impeachment, where years of fanatical attempts by Congressional Republicans and right-wing talk radio hosts to impale Clinton over Whitewater had resulted in a special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, whose obsessive efforts finally provided the legal pretext for the Monica Lewinsky charges.

    By contrast, this time, given the relative Democratic spinelessness, no attack on the fitness of George W. Bush and his band of neocon zealots can have any traction without widespread public outrage, including support from independents and at least some Republicans.

    Corporate corruption and civil liberty attacks don't rise to that level. Misuse of the American military does -- either willfully or through incompetence. Soldiers are sacrosanct to many Americans, especially conservatives. Now, we have learned, the President of the United States has deployed our soldiers on the basis of a threat he knew or should have known did not exist.

    The unprovoked invasion, conquest, and occupation of Iraq should never have happened. Instead, the White House claimed that Bush spent several months allegedly agonizing over whether to launch an invasion he had already approved.

    Before and after his secret decision, for at least half a year, his Administration's claims were largely false. If Bush himself didn't know that, he should have.

    If he did know it, he has lied to Congress -- just like Clinton -- and to America and the world, but repeatedly and on a far more serious matter than the definition of "sex." Bush, instead, used his lies to intentionally sacrifice the lives of American soldiers -- along with other coalition soldiers and countless Iraqis, soldier and civilian alike.

    For this egregious abuse of his oath of office, George W. Bush should be impeached.
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