By Malachy Kilbride
Since the recent midterm elections I have wondered what will happen now that both houses of the US Congress are run by the Democrats. Specifically I think about the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and how peace will prevail with justice for the Iraqi and Afghan people. I think about the US soldiers sent off to fight in a war that was based on lies and deceptions. I think about the families who have to deal with the loss of loved ones killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the families that have to deal with their loved ones coming home with permanent physical and mental injuries. I think of the lies that put all of these people in these tragic situations. It was all for lies and we know it. I also think of the loss of our civil liberties and the domestic spying here and the use of torture and secret renditions and detentions carried out in our names, with our tax money, and most importantly with our knowledge. We know that torture is practiced by our government. We know that some of our troops are raping, torturing, and killing innocent people in Iraq. And now I wonder what will be done for the sake of justice? One starting point is impeachment for without a doubt President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, to name just a few, have committed high crimes.
The power is not simply in the hands of the US Congress. The Congress is the representative of the people. The power is with the people. It is the responsibility of the people to demand justice and an end to the immoral illegal war and occupation. It is time to demand an end to the funding of the war-occupation and the return of US troops now. It is time for the people to demand that all the people, not just US citizens, have habeas corpus rights. The time has come to call for an end of the spying by our government on its citizens. It is time to demand an end to secret rendition and detention. It is time to end torture! It is time to close places like the Guantánamo Bay concentration camp and let the detainees have access to lawyers and the legal system. It is time for accountability and for oversight on this executive branch that has irresponsibly abused power by committing high crimes and undermining the Constitution of the United States. It is time to call for the impeachment of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld. The power and responsibility is with the people and they must act. It is time.
Sadly, since the Democrat victory on Election Day I have heard from people of good will that impeachment is not a good idea. There is a political agenda that includes a minimum wage increase, national healthcare or healthcare reform, and other domestic issues that will be advanced by the Democrats in Congress. Impeachment, I have been told, will threaten all of these worthy reforms. It could also work against the Democrats in 2008 they tell me. Where is the justice in this?
Impeachment is a political tool of the people and it is not a perfect remedy for the crimes of the Bush Administration. However, it is a starting point and it is an expression of the people that crimes have been committed that are worthy of being recognized officially by their representatives in Congress. An impeachment process will not be pleasant. It is, however, necessary because the crimes are so notorious that to turn away is an injustice.
It is we, the people, who are responsible for letting the Congress know that it is time for oversight and accountability for the sake of justice. We cannot let this justice be bartered away for a political agenda or the prospects of winning the next election. Our calling should be higher than political expediency.
Many people who marched against war and protested against torture called for impeachment. Almost everyone who opposed the war policies of the Bush Administration has had conversations with others in which the impeachment issue was raised. What were all of these demands and conversations about impeachment? Was it empty slogans and nonsensical jabber? No, it was a cry for justice. It was an acknowledgement that if the time came the people had to take their government back. It was an acknowledgement that responsibility had to be taken for the crimes that had been committed.
It is time to exercise that responsibility the way governments are taking responsibility for the crimes and atrocities committed by the likes of Augusto Pinochet. It is time for the people to demand that their elected leaders are held accountable and that nobody, not even a president, is above the law. If people turn away from this responsibility for the sake of a future election or because it is not politically expedient then what type of precedent is being set? If we don't take care of the high crimes now it will be easier for others to ignore domestic and international law, the Bill of Rights, and our constitution in the future.
Impeachment is a starting point seeking truth and demanding justice. Those illegally spied on by our government, those sent away to an illegal war based on lies, the innocent Iraqis killed, tortured, and raped, people held in detention camps without charge or access to the legal system all deserve justice for high crimes that have been committed by this administration. Our choice is clear. We must demand this imperfect tool, impeachment, be used. Or will we chose a domestic political party agenda and do nothing so that a political party wins at election time? If we don't accept our responsibility demanding accountability then we are deferring justice. And justice deferred is justice denied.