The Constitution states that the president and vice president can be impeached for "high crimes and misdemeanors." If we do not impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, we establish that it is permissible for future presidents and vice presidents to deceive Congress and the public into futile wars, engage in widespread illegal spying on Americans, detain prisoners without charge, engage in torture, operate in secrecy and re fuse to execute laws passed by Congress. In writing the Constitution, our Founding Fathers chose impeachment as the primary check on federal officials who act as despots while in office. They had just removed a king and had no interest in replacing him with an elected one.
This was the message we, a group of constituents and leaders of the Central and South Jersey Impeach Groups, brought Rep. Rush Holt, D-Hopewell Township, on July 9. We delivered an impeachment resolution passed by the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO), hundreds of signed petitions, and our passionate belief that our Constitution and democracy are in grave danger. The actions of Mssrs. Bush and Cheney continue to parallel the offenses that caused the House to impeach Richard Nixon 33 years ago.
We asked Holt to co-sponsor HR Res. 333, the resolution to impeach Cheney introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, on April 24, which now has 15 co-sponsors. Have there been "high crimes and misdemeanors"? The Supreme Court found that the treatment of Guantánamo prisoners violated the Constitution and an appellate judge ruled that Bush's secret wiretapping and electronic surveillance were a felony.
Most of the administration's offenses need no further investigation. Bush and Cheney are both on videotape admitting them.
Journalist Bill Moyers presented bipartisan experts who echoed our arguments warning of the expanded tool kit that could be used by any future president if action is not taken now on the abuses perpetrated by this administration. Holt, who is a prime leader on voting reform and who opposed the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq, agreed that the administration committed illegal and criminal acts, but he did not think the American people understood impeachment.
The American people do understand. Forty-three towns and counties across the country have passed resolutions for impeachment, as well as 15 state Democratic parties and the Green Party, three unions, and many other local groups like the PCDO. A poll by the American Research Group this month showed that 54 percent of Americans are in favor of bringing impeachment proceedings against Cheney in the House of Representatives and 46 percent support the impeachment of President Bush.
The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to impeach, i.e. to bring charges. This would be enough to start a thorough public investigation and set a precedent that Bush and Cheney's actions violate our Constitution and must be stopped.
When Nixon was impeached by the House for similar offenses, he chose to resign. Impeachment is its own punishment. It requires only a simple majority of the House. There is no obligation for the Senate to even hold a trial after someone is impeached.
Bush's recent commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence was aimed at obstructing justice by removing any incentive for Libby to reveal the truth. In this respect, it was similar to Nixon's firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.
Bush and Cheney can still do a great deal of damage before they leave office. For what goal are more Americans and Iraqis dying every day in Iraq? We need to remove the president and vice president from office to end our brutal occupation in that country, prevent a planned attack on Iran, end the assault on our civil liberties, restore competence in political appointments and prevent widespread election fraud as occurred in 2000 and 2004.
-If we do not impeach now, we are all complicit in this administration's crimes.
- If we do not act now, we are accepting Bush and Cheney's "unitary executive" theory.
- If we do not impeach now, we destroy the balance of powers designed to preserve our freedom and democracy.