July 12, 2008—Congress has plenty of evidence that George W. Bush deserves impeachment for misleading the nation into war in Iraq, authorizing torture and other grave crimes, and violating the Constitution – and it is now time to act, says Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
“How many more hearings do we need to have to prove this administration has violated the Constitution, taken the law into its own hands, and condoned torture?” asked Kucinich, D-Ohio, author of some three dozen articles of impeachment.
“These articles of impeachment are about accountability,” Kucinich said in an interview. “I think our country is at risk. We’re setting a terrible precedent for future administrations if we choose to turn a blind eye to the crimes committed by this administration.
“We need to send a message to the next President that if he conducts himself in a similar capacity it would be met with a response from the Congress that you are going to be held to account. ... There is a point at which you reduce Congress to a debating society.”
Last month, Kucinich stunned colleagues when he introduced an impeachment resolution on the House floor and then spent nearly five hours reading the 35 articles, alleging that President Bush was guilty of a wide range of crimes.
The articles of impeachment were introduced a few days after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a long-awaited report on prewar Iraq intelligence that concluded Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney knowingly misled the public and Congress about Iraq's links to al-Qaeda and the threat the country posed to the United States.
The House sidetracked Kucinich’s resolution by voting – 251-166 – to send it to the House Judiciary Committee. At the time, Kucinich said he expected Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers to hold hearings within a 30-day deadline Kucinich had imposed, but Conyers chose not to act.
On Thursday, Kucinich said he had whittled down the 35 articles of impeachment to a single article, alleging Bush “deceived” Congress into believing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in order to get lawmakers to back a U.S.-led invasion of the country.
The one article was introduced by Kucinich on the House floor as a privileged resolution, which requires lawmakers to act on the measure within two legislative days.
At a news conference, Kucinich said he understands “that many members of Congress voted in good faith to authorize the use of force against Iraq, and I understand that many in the media supported that action.
“When the President of the United States makes representations on matters of life and death, we all want to believe him and give him the benefit of the doubt. Trust is the glue which holds the fabric of our nation together. ...
“We all know the consequences of the war, the loss of lives and injury to our troops, the deaths of innocent Iraqis, the cost to the American taxpayers. There has been another consequence: Great damage to our Constitution through an unnecessary, illegal war and the destruction of the superior role of Congress in the life of this nation.”
Kucinich said "Congress must, in the name of the American people, use the one remedy which the Founders provided for an Executive who gravely abused his power: Impeachment.”
In 2006, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared impeachment “off the table,” in part, to avoid alarming centrist voters. Now, House Speaker Pelosi is keeping the issue “off the table” as Democrats eye the possibility of larger majorities in November’s elections.
"Speaker Pelosi will continue to lead legislative efforts to find a new direction in Iraq but believes that impeachment would create a divisive battle, be a distraction from Congress's efforts to chart a new course for America's working families and would ultimately fail," Pelosi's spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer last month.
On Thursday, Pelosi shifted her stance somewhat by indicating that there is a strong possibility that the House Judiciary Committee may hold hearings on impeachment, but indicated that it’s still unlikely that the full House would take action on impeachment.
"This is a Judiciary Committee matter, and I believe we will see some attention being paid to it by the Judiciary Committee," Pelosi told reporters. "Not necessarily taking up the articles of impeachment because that would have to be approved on the floor, but to have some hearings on the subject."
Conyers's office did not return calls Thursday afternoon. In the past, the Michigan congressman said he did not support Democratic efforts to impeach President Bush. Last year, a resolution introduced by Kucinich to impeach Vice President Cheney died in Conyers's committee.
Some leading Democrats have indicated they would back impeachment proceedings but only if President Bush authorized a military strike against Iran without first consulting Congress, according to a May 8 letter sent to President Bush by Conyers.
"Late last year, Senator Joseph Biden stated unequivocally that ‘the President has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran, and if he does, as Foreign Relations Committee chairman, I will move to impeach’ the President.
"We agree with Senator Biden, and it is our view that if you do not obtain the constitutionally required congressional authorization before launching preemptive military strikes against Iran or any other nation, impeachment proceedings should be pursued,” Conyers's letter said.
Kucinich said Conyers’s way of ensuring the administration does not launch a preemptive attack against Iran is illogical.
“The way to make sure [the Bush administration] doesn't attack Iran is to move forward with impeachment now,” Kucinich said in the interview. “We have an obligation to move forward now. We can't have this administration put us in a second war based on a similar approach.”
President Bush “misled the American people. He led us to believe Iraq posed an imminent threat. We cannot wait until they do something with Iran,” Kucinich said.
Kucinich said if Pelosi attempts to derail his efforts or if Conyers fails to hold hearings he would keep on introducing new articles of impeachment.
“I have informed the leadership of the House should they fail to hold hearings I would come back to the Congress in 30 days with even more articles,” Kucinch said.
“I may have to do this one or two more times before I get their attention and Congress starts to take this seriously. After I introduced this, there was discussion among the media that this is dead.
“Well, I hope they believe in life after death because I am coming back with this. Under a privileged resolution I can bring it up again and again and again. We cannot keep silent. We cannot allow the country to be lost to lies.”
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This story was published on July 12, 2008.