Point Austin: Impeach the War

Kucinich's formal move against Cheney one more political weapon

Point Austin
I'm trying to work up some enthusiasm about U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich's proposal to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney for high crimes and misdemeanors. Certainly I've got no quarrel with the bill of particulars against Cheney, especially since it provides a convenient summation of the most notorious outrages perpetrated by the Bush administration in its calculated determination to start a war that had neither military nor moral justification.

Article I: "[That Richard Cheney] has purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and the Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests."

Article II: "[That Richard Cheney] purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and the Congress of the United States about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda in order to justify the use of United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests."

Article III: "[That Richard Cheney] has openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran, absent any real threat to the United States, and has done so with the United States' proven capability to carry out such threats, thus undermining the national security of the United States."

Each of these articles is accompanied by handy documentation of Cheney brazenly lying, again and again, about the "overwhelming" evidence of the Iraqi threat to the U.S. or engaging in the drumbeat to expand the war already proceeding covertly against Iran. At the press conference announcing his resolution, Kucinich recounted a Cheney litany from the 2002 march for war: "We know they have biological and chemical weapons" (March 17); "We know they're pursuing nuclear weapons" (March 19); "He is pursuing, actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time" (March 24); "We know he's got chemical and biological, and we know he's working on nuclear" (May 19); "But we know Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, there is no doubt he's amassing them against our friends, against our allies, and against us" (Aug. 26); "He is, in fact, actively and aggressively, seeking to acquire nuclear weapons" (Sept. 8); "He has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons" (March 16, 2003). (See the complete Impeachment Resolution below.)

There's more, of course – these quotes are just from the direct lead-up to the Iraq war – and the stream of bellicose and wholly dishonest venom pouring from Dubya's chief attack dog has proceeded unabated to this day. The vice president wears shameless warmongering like a second skin, and Kucinich is right to cite Cheney's current and entirely illegal threats of aggression against Iran, because the imperial delusions of this administration appear catastrophically limitless.

Two-Edged Sword

The list is more than enough grounds to impeach, although Kucinich also answered the obvious question: Why Cheney and not Bush? "I think that it's very important that we start with Mr. Cheney – because if we were to start with the president and pursue articles of impeachment, Mr. Cheney would then become president [and] you would then have to go through the constitutional agony of impeaching two presidents consecutively."

Even hesitant Democratic colleagues of Kucinich acknowledge that there are plenty of constituents calling for Cheney's head, and indeed the notion of impeaching Bush has polled nationally in the 40s. In early April, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who has effectively become the Democrats' chief strategist on ending the war, told the Washington Times, "I get one call after another saying, 'Impeach the president.'" But he continued, "[A]t this point I don't see that happening. Instead we'll fight it out on the issues."

The overriding issue, of course, is the war. This week Murtha and the Democrats are proposing to counter the president's veto of the war timeline bill by a two-step Iraq appropriation, requiring the administration to return for more funding in two months. Bush is threatening a veto, but the Congress should call his bluff – if he wants to interrupt the funding for the troops, let it be his call. Even Republicans are now grudgingly pointing at September as a point for Bush's "surge" to put up or shut up – a significant retreat from 2008 deadlines of only a couple of months ago.

Whatever Means Necessary

And impeachment? Frankly, although the accuracy of Kucinich's charges is indisputable, this is a political fight, and symbolic politics – which is what impeachment yet remains – is of more emotional importance to hardcore Bush opponents than it is a likely direct means of ending the war. If it suddenly appeared that canonizing Bush and Cheney would miraculously bring an end to the unbearable, undeserved, and entirely unjustifiable suffering of the Iraqi people, as well as the immoral sacrificing of U.S. troops, I would be writing adulatory endorsement letters to the Vatican.

But that's just another way of saying there is not "one way" to end this war. Kucinich's bringing of charges against Cheney is one more useful tactic in a broad strategy that includes the congressional appropriations maneuvering on one end, conscious of the slim Dem majority in the Senate, and at the other end, continuing public pressure not to let either Bush or the Democrats off the hook as long as this illegal war continues. The presumption of virtually dictatorial powers by the Bush administration, under its doctrine that the president is effectively an elected despot, has made ordinary politics particularly difficult, and it needs to be opposed by every available legal means.

That also means that impeachment should remain "on the table," as one of the additional political weapons available to force this administration to end this illegal war or lose, at a minimum, their jobs. end story

House Resolution 333, 110th Congress, 1st Session,
as submitted by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, on April 24, 2007.
(60K PDF)

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Iraq War, Dick Cheney, Dennis Kucinich, impeachment, John Murtha

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