15 Things About Bush&Co.: An Impeachment List
15 Things Learned About Bush&Co.: An Impeachment List
By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers
Though my degrees are in government and international relations, I hadn't been part of the political arena in an activist way since "The Sixties" -- roughly the Civil Rights Movement late-'50s through the anti-Vietnam War mid-'70s. Instead, after years of college teaching, I found myself more engaged in cultural work as a playwright, poet and newspaper reporter, and, for nearly two decades, as a theater critic.
When 9/11 arrived, something snapped open in me, as it did for many Americans. The world indeed had changed, not just the fact that the U.S. was attacked in such a horrific way and had to respond but also, and perhaps more significantly, in the brazen, power-hungry way the Bush Administration had chosen to use those multiple terror-murders.
My political instincts and intuitions were re-activated, along with a desire to talk about what I saw happening, and I began writing political analyses for a wide variety of internet websites. If one examined those early columns, one could see a moderate progressive struggling, along with everyone else, in trying to make sense of what was going on politically, socially, economically.
After a year or so of writing for other publications, co-activist philosopher Ernest Partridge and I in November of 2002 founded our own website The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org), where we not only would publish our political analyses but also link to the best writing we found out there on the Web, and help the fledgling resistance gain momentum.
Two years later, just prior to the 2004 election, we found we were receiving close to a half-million hits a month. We were able to share our own ideas and stimulate our readers' thoughts about the Bush Administration, the "war on terrorism," the various scandals, the torture policy established from the top, and, especially, the unwise, dishonorable, illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, etc.
CLARIFYING THE CRIMES
Below is a quick list of fifteen things that I -- and maybe half of my fellow Americans -- have learned since George Bush first moved into the Oval Office four-plus years ago. Don't know about you, but making such lists helps me sum-up and clarify my thoughts, giving me something to chew on when figuring out what to do next, including the possibility of moving on some of these items as grounds for impeachment. See what you think.
1. I've learned that while many of us in the late-'80s and early-'90s were celebrating the implosion of Soviet-style communism and the end of the Cold War, others already had been drafting aggressive plans to exploit the fact that the U.S. was now the sole Superpower on the planet. If you want to know why America is in Iraq, you need look no further than the theoretical writings of the neo-cons associated with The Project for The New American Century, who essentially run Bush Administration foreign/military policy. Among the founding members: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz. For an introductory primer, see "How We Got Into This Imperial Pickle" ( www.crisispapers.org/essays/PNAC.htm ).
2. I've learned that these neo-cons realized their aggressive views were way out of the mainstream and thus that their goal of assuming "global hegemony" would have to be put on hold "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor." Their wish came true on September 11, 2001; then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said 9/11 presented the Bush Administration with "an enormous opportunity" for the implementation of its agenda in the world. (Note: All the words inside quotation marks are theirs, not made up by me.)
By the way, it seems overwhelmingly apparent that Rice, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al., were quite aware weeks ahead of 9/11 that a spectacular terrorist attack was coming from Al Qaida, but, for their own reasons, chose to look the other way and do little or nothing to prepare themselves or the country for what was about to come down.
3. I've learned that Karl Rove, et al., taking note of how so many presidents (especially Bush the Elder) plunged in the polls after successful foreign adventures, realized that while Americans rally around a president during wartime, other concerns often take precedence once the hostilities cease. So Rove and Rumsfeld and Cheney and Wolfowitz decided to make sure that hostilities never cease.
They reacted to 9/11 by declaring a never-ending "war on terrorism," thereby ensuring that the U.S. would be kept on a permanent war footing, and Bush would be a "wartime president" during his entire residency in the White House. (Note: There definitely are bad guys out there anxious to do more damage to the U.S., and those murderous thugs need to be dealt with, but what we're talking about here are the reckless, imperial measures chosen by the Bush Administration that just happen to coincide with fulfilling their agenda.)
TORTURE AS STATE POLICY
4. I've learned that Bush toady Alberto Gonzales, then White House counsel, used this "permanent war" rationale as a justification for instituting the closest thing to a dictatorship in the U.S. since Richard Nixon, except that the Bush Administration makes Nixon's crimes look fairly puny in comparison. According to the twisted legal philosophy Gonzales and his aides came up with, Bush can do whatever he likes whenever he says he is acting as "commander-in-chief" during "wartime." Since it's a permanent war they say we're in, it follows that under the guise of "national security" and "the war on terrorism," Bush can do pretty much what he chooses to do. It is permissible for Bush to make his own law, or to ignore a law on the books, because his authority to do so is "inherent in the President," the Gonzales theory claims. Astounding!
The Supreme Court shot down Nixon when he tried to assert something similar -- that when the President takes an action, it is ipso facto legal because he's the President. We shall have to wait to see how the current Supreme Court will deal with this much more expansive interpretation, especially if Bush can appoint a few more HardRightists to it. The Supremes already fired a warning shot across his bow, telling Bush last year that though the President is granted extra powers during "wartime," he went way beyond the Constitutional pale by refusing prisoners in U.S. care access to the legal system. But Bush simply continues to delay implementation of the high court's ruling, or tries to go around the decision.
5. I've learned that Gonzales and Pentagon lawyers, using the "commander-in-chief-during-wartime" rationale, have attempted to legally justify use of "harsh interrogation techniques" (read: torture) on those terror suspects by inventing a new term, "enemy combatants," not used in the Geneva Conventions Against Torture of Prisoners of War. Various watchdog groups, including the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations, have expressed grave reservations about the treatment by U.S. forces of their detainees; indeed, Amnesty International urged governments around the world to consider bringing war-crimes charges against American officials.
6. I've learned that among the first actions taken by the Bush Administration in early-2001 were those eliminating legal liability for U.S. officials or soldiers from domestic criminal laws and international conventions regarding the torture of prisoners in U.S. care. We didn't fully understand why the Administration was taking these steps until a year or two later, when the extent of U.S. abuse (and deaths) of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and elsewhere become evident. The Administration made sure that only lower-level guards and officers were charged with the deaths and abuse crimes, even though the orders and "atmosphere" that winked at anti-torture laws had come down the chain of command from the White House and Pentagon authorizing the use of "harsh interrogation methods" of terrorist suspects.
"RENDERING" AND AMERICA'S SHAME
7. I've learned that the hardest prisoners to crack were either "ghosted" -- i.e., kept off the rolls so that the International Red Cross would not know they existed to check up on their interrogations and care -- or were "rendered" to countries abroad (such as Uzbekistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, et al.) where they could be severely tortured without running afoul of U.S. laws and military regulations. The CIA uses special planes for flying these high-profile prisoners to the severe-torture countries. Such behavior makes me ashamed for my country. Note: Bush has never ordered an end to all torture and "rendering" activities.
8. I've learned that torture and permanent war abroad have been linked to police-state tactics at home -- mainly in controversial sections of the so-called USA Patriot Act, barely read (if read at all) and passed in great haste and fear after 9/11. The result is the creation of a militarist, neo-fascist atmosphere within America. Those opposing this, or other policies of this Administration are smeared with accusations of giving aid and comfort to the enemy (Ashcroft), or being soft on terrorism (Rove/Cheney).
9. I've learned that much of the corporate-owned mass-media -- newspapers, network news, cable pundits, radio talk-shows -- support the Bush Administration, out of fear of reprisal or because they are ideologically or economically in tune. This means that the broad base of the American population, in a state of constantly-hyped fear, does not have adequate information to counter the massive lies and propaganda barrage of the Administration. Though there are a few voices of rationality and truth-telling in the maintream media, in general citizens must seek out foreign news outlets and/or progressive websites to access alternative points of view. Note: Currently, the Administration is moving to neuter even moderate alternative voices, such as might be found on NPR/PBS, and is devising ways of reining in critics on the internet.
10. I've learned that the HardRightists are not content to control the Legislative and Executive Branches, and much of the Judicial Branch and most of the news media. They are moving to obtain near-total control of the Judiciary by packing the important appellate courts with extreme rightwing judges, and Bush is hoping to nominate at least two FarRight justices to the Supreme Court during this second term, which could alter American jurisprudence for decades to come.
REALITY-BASED VS. SELF-DELUSION
11. I've learned that this is an Administration that appears to be severely allergic to fact and truth. For example: To delay the inevitable, Bush appointed his own scientific panel to investigate the issue of global warming; when those supposedly Administration-friendly scientists reported that the situation was even worse than other scientists had thought and that immediate remedial action was called for, Bush called their report the product of "government bureaucracy" -- as if that epithet ended the discussion right there -- and continued on his merry way. When confronted by truths in Iraq and elsewhere -- for instance, that the war is not going well on the ground -- the Bush Administration just ups the decibel level on its lies and continues on with rosy-colored optimism as if the truth on the ground just doesn't matter. Or, it denounces the media that report what's really going on militarily in Iraq. In short, Bush and his dozen or so most-trusted aides exhibit a bunker mentality, letting not hing in that will interfere with their fantasies and delusions and constructs of deception.
12. I've learned that the Bush Administration, which does everything to ease law-enforcement pressure on polluting corporations, has the worst environmental record in modern times. It permits the polluters effectively to write the regulations of their industries; it opens up once-protected natural areas to more logging, mining, mineral extraction; it even lied to residents of lower Manhattan in the days and weeks after the 9/11 attacks about how it was safe for them to return to their homes, schools and businesses. It wasn't until two years later (!) that the EPA revealed it knowingly had withheld the truth about how bad the air was; thousands of New York citizens now face long-term health consequences as a result of this mendacity.
DEMOCRATS AS AN "OPPOSITION PARTY"
13. I've learned that the Democrats in the Senate and House too often are complicit in helping Bush&Co. implement their plans and programs by rolling over in the face of the Republicans' smash-mouth politics. The Dems are a bit better now than they were in Bush's first term, but they still haven't figured out that being an Opposition Party means acting like one, not trying to play patty-cake with the Republicans, who mainly want to politically slash their throats and eliminate them as an obstacle to seizing full control over everything.
It is not too soon to seriously start thinking, and organizing, a broad alternative party -- perhaps the Greens in association with a new entity (maybe a reconstituted Progressive Democrats of America) -- if the Democratic Party doesn't start developing a consistent spine in Congress. At the very least, it would be good to have this new party gaining electoral ground on the local and state levels, building the infrastructure and street-smart leaders for the future, even if a national candidate is not put forward in 2008.
14. I've learned that America's voting system is thoroughly corruptible and cannot be trusted to yield the actual results. It's not that I object because Republican companies manufacture the voting machines and control the secret software that counts the votes; I would feel the same way if Democrat companies were in charge. We simply cannot have a privatized voting system, with secret software, and with no certified way of checking that the votes are honestly cast and fairly counted. And, even if the companies are not manipulating the tallies -- and there are indications that they may have done just that -- it's been demonstrated many times how absolutely easy it is for hackers (or company technicians) to enter the vote-counting system, alter the numbers and exit without anyone being the wiser.
Our country simply has to return to paper ballots, hand-counted, if we want to be taken seriously as a nation dedicated to fair and honest elections. Right now, even with (or because of) our high-tech computer systems, we're just about on par with the most corrupt third-world country in terms of a transparent, honest vote-counting system.
THE WHITE HOUSE HORRORS: IRAQ
15. Finally, there is Iraq, which (as was the case with Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam) will be the death of Bush's legacy and which potentially could get him impeached during his term, or put on trial domestically and in The Hague after he leaves office. Thanks to insiders who have left the Administration, the demonstrable facts, and now the so-called Downing Street Memos from England, I have learned, we all have learned, that there were immense immoralities and crimes perpetrated by our own government (and the Blair regime) in preparing for, launching, and carrying out this war and occupation. And those crimes continue to this day.
Bush-Blair/Cheney/Rumsfeld, et al. tried to maintain that they went to war against Iraq only because Saddam forced them to do so because of his supposed stockpiles of deadly WMD about to be used against America and Britain and Iraq's neighbors. However, it has long since been clear, and now is verified by the leaked top-secret Downing Street Memos, that both governments were lying through their teeth, about the supposed WMD and that Saddam "didn't allow U.N. weapons inspectors in," and much more. (Here are the actual texts of these top-secret minutes and memoranda.) ( http://thinkprogress.org/index.php?p=1078 )
Both the Brit and the American governments knew that Iraq was a paper tiger, devoid of imminent threat and any major weapons of mass destruction, and that Saddam had no connection to 9/11; he was contained and, for the foreseeable future, was going nowhere. But the desire of Bush and the neo-cons to attack Iraq had been an obsession long before 9/11, because of their plans to control the oil and to use Iraq as a base for altering the geo-political landscape of the Middle East. Bush and Blair, in order to justify the war to their respective populations, and to the international community, had to find "intelligence and facts" that could be "fixed" around the already-agreed-to policy of war.
Both in England and in the States, there were no such intelligence and facts; in this country, as hard as Cheney leaned on them, CIA and State Department analysts were unable to supply believable facts and intelligence to the White House. The political window for attack was about to close. So Rumsfeld set up his own "intelligence" unit, the Office of Special Plans, stocked it with political appointees of the PNAC persuasion, and, surprise, got the "intelligence" the neo-cons wanted, stovepiped it directly to the White House (thus not having to run it by the professional analysts), and the war was green-lighted.
The American and British peoples were simply lied to. The British were told that chemical shells could hit U.K. bases within 45 minutes, Rice and Cheney and others warned about mushroom clouds over U.S. cities, U.S. Senators were told Iraq could launch drone planes to drop toxins along the East Coast, and so on. (Note: Lying to Congress is a serious crime, an impeachable one.) Colin Powell was dispatched to the United Nations and told some laughable whoppers based supposedly on "incontrovertible" intelligence. The Congress, and the mass-media, bought in to the lies; the U.N. Security Council, first wanting to hear the final report from U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, didn't.
Ten million people in countries around the world demonstrated to try to stop the coming war, convinced that it was illegal, that it was based on lies and deceptions, and that it would open a Pandora's box of increased Islamist terrorism around the world. Bush paid no attention; he began bombing Iraq long before the invasion, in mid-2002, nine months before he received authorization from Congress to launch a war as a last-resort. The "shock&awe" ground invasion began in March of 2003. To date, more than 1700 U.S. troops are known to have died in combat there (if that government figure is the correct total; how can we be sure?), with tens of thousands of our soldiers maimed; maybe as many as 100,000 Iraqis have died, most of those innocent civilians -- "collateral damage."
FORCED ENTRY & NO EXIT PLAN
Because of its Iraq invasion, occupation and tortures, the U.S. is a hated pariah in most of the world, morally isolated, economically vulnerable, anathema to Muslims worldwide (many of whom have not forgotten that Bush initially used the term "crusade" to describe his mission), a magnet target for terrorists everywhere. Our already-streched-thin troops are bogged down in a bloody quagmire in Iraq now and presumably will be for years to come; Rumsfeld the other day said a dozen years is not out of the question.
Bush and Rumsfeld, who have botched the Occupation from day one, have no plan other than to keep repeating the mantra that the U.S. will "stay the course." Clearly, to stay is to prolong the agony for all concerned; there needs to be a major adjustment to "the course," but we see no evidence of any thinking along those lines in the White House.
Well, I could go on and on with things learned since 9/11 about this arrogant, greedy, power-hungry, bullying, ideologically blinded crew. But let's stop here. The American people -- especially moderate Republicans, appalled at how their once-proud party has been hijacked by extremists -- are waking up, shaking off their political torpor and their real and manufactured fear. (Tom Ridge, for example, admitted recently that he had been sent out regularly by the White House to announce phony "terror"-alerts.) As recent polls indicate, the American citizenry is voicing a demonstrable lack of faith in, and support for, Bush and his cronies, and their disastrous, reckless policies.
Perhaps this list -- and ones you will devise on your own, and pass around to your friends -- can be helpful in keeping that momentum building. It's time to get America back on its track. And to do that, one way or another, Bush&Co. must go. This nightmare must end -- before they take us all down with them.
If they resign right now, I say let's pardon them all. Anything. Just go!
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. has taught government & international relations at various universities, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, and now co-edits The Crisis Papers ( www.crisispapers.org) . Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Originally published at The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 6/28/05.
Copyright 2005 by Bernard Weiner.