NADER/ZEESE: The 'I' word

The ‘I’ word

By Ralph Nader and Kevin Zeese | May 31, 2005

THE IMPEACHMENT of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, should be part of mainstream political discourse.

Minutes from a summer 2002 meeting involving British Prime Minister Tony Blair reveal that the Bush administration was ''fixing" the intelligence to justify invading Iraq. US intelligence used to justify the war demonstrates repeatedly the truth of the meeting minutes -- evidence was thin and needed fixing.

President Clinton was impeached for perjury about his sexual relationships. Comparing Clinton's misbehavior to a destructive and costly war occupation launched in March 2003 under false pretenses in violation of domestic and international law certainly merits introduction of an impeachment resolution.

Eighty-nine members of Congress have asked the president whether intelligence was manipulated to lead the United States to war. The letter points to British meeting minutes that raise ''troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war." Those minutes describe the case for war as ''thin" and Saddam as ''nonthreatening to his neighbors," and ''Britain and America had to create conditions to justify a war." Finally, military action was ''seen as inevitable . . . But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Indeed, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, nor any imminent threat to the United States:

The International Atomic Energy Agency Iraq inspection team reported in 1998, ''there were no indications of Iraq having achieved its program goals of producing a nuclear weapon; nor were there any indications that there remained in Iraq any physical capability for production of amounts of weapon-usable material." A 2003 update by the IAEA reached the same conclusions.

The CIA told the White House in February 2001: ''We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has . . . reconstitute[d] its weapons of mass destruction programs."

Colin Powell said in February 2001 that Saddam Hussein ''has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."

The CIA told the White House in two Fall 2002 memos not to make claims of Iraq uranium purchases. CIA Director George Tenet personally called top national security officials imploring them not to use that claim as proof of an Iraq nuclear threat.

Regarding unmanned bombers highlighted by Bush, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center concluded they could not carry weapons spray devices. The Defense Intelligence Agency told the president in June 2002 that the unmanned aerial bombers were unproven. Further, there was no reliable information showing Iraq was producing or stockpiling chemical weapons or whether it had established chemical agent production facilities.

When discussing WMD the CIA used words like ''might" and ''could." The case was always circumstantial with equivocations, unlike the president and vice president, e.g., Cheney said on Aug. 26, 2002: ''Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

The State Department in 2003 said: ''The activities we have detected do not . . . add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing . . . an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons."

The National Intelligence Estimate issued in October 2002 said ''We have no specific intelligence information that Saddam's regime has directed attacks against US territory."

The UN, IAEA, the State and Energy departments, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center, US inspectors, and even the CIA concluded there was no basis for the Bush-Cheney public assertions. Yet, President Bush told the public in September 2002 that Iraq ''could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given." And, just before the invasion, President Bush said: ''Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

The president and vice president have artfully dodged the central question: ''Did the administration mislead us into war by manipulating and misstating intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to Al Qaeda, suppressing contrary intelligence, and deliberately exaggerating the danger a contained, weakened Iraq posed to the United States and its neighbors?"

If this is answered affirmatively Bush and Cheney have committed ''high crimes and misdemeanors." It is time for Congress to investigate the illegal Iraq war as we move toward the third year of the endless quagmire that many security experts believe jeopardizes US safety by recruiting and training more terrorists. A Resolution of Impeachment would be a first step. Based on the mountains of fabrications, deceptions, and lies, it is time to debate the ''I" word.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate. Kevin Zeese is director of DemocracyRising.US.

Impeachment -- then and now

Now that we've solved the 30-year-old mystery of "Deep Throat," it may be an opportune moment to ponder some more current issues involving the man who now sits in the office that Richard Nixon once held.

George W. Bush hasn't authorized or covered up any two-bit break-ins, at least as far as we know. And if they're still making tapes in the Oval Office, they're probably not quite as colorful as the ones that ultimately forced Nixon to resign. But Bush and his administration are certainly guilty of other offenses, and some of them would seem to rise to the level of what the Constitution calls "high crimes and misdemeanors." This should go without saying, but apparently it doesn't: If lying about a blow job is an impeachable offense, then what can be said about telling lies that led a country into war?

Even before Vanity Fair brought back a flood of Watergate memories this morning, we had our minds on impeachment. Maybe it was the excerpt from John Harris' new Clinton book in the Washington Post this morning. Or maybe it was the Ralph Nader/Kevin Zeese op-ed in the Boston Globe, the one in which they said that revelations about the lead-up to the Iraq war suggest that it's "time to debate the I-word" again."

Whatever it was, we were thinking about impeachment this morning, and when the first rumblings of the W. Mark Felt story broke, we started to ask ourselves: "Where are the 'Deep Throats' of today?" But the thing is, they're there -- and they're not hiding. They go by names like Clarke and Wilson, like O'Neill and Taguba. They've told us some of the stories, connected some of the dots. The Downing Street memo takes us a long way down one trail, but how much further could we go? What would a real investigation, one conducted by an independent prosecutor or a House impeachment committee, tell us about Saddam Hussein's WMDs? What would someone like Colin Powell say under oath? What would we learn about what Bush knew and when he knew it?

We don't pretend to know all the facts about Iraq, but we do know this: If Bill Clinton were still the president, there isn't a Republican in Congress who would say that the facts we do know don't warrant at least some discussion about articles of impeachment. It's not going to happen, of course. The Republicans won't let it, and the American people won't demand it; there's such a weariness now, such an acceptance that the administration misled us into war, that the nation is incapable of working up the outrage that would be needed to embolden the Democrats and overcome the Republicans' partisan opposition. But as the country moves past the final lingering question about the last president driven from office, isn't it time to at least start asking serious questions about this one?

from Salon:

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