13 June 2008

Impeachment more critical than elections

In yet another rebuke to the Bush administration’s War on Terror, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the prisoners being held at Guantánamo Bay have the right to challenge their imprisonment in the United States.

“The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the 5-4 majority in Boumediene v. Bush. “Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part of that law.”[1]

“Habeas corpus, which has its origins in the Magna Carta of 1215, is the ‘Great Writ’ protecting people from arbitrary detention, disappearance and indefinite detention without charges,” explained analyst Liliana Segura. “The cornerstone of Western justice, it is essential to the idea that laws—not individuals, be they kings or President—govern a land.”[2]

The decision marks the third time the Supreme Court ruled against the Bush administration's handling of suspects at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. The first ruling by the Supreme Court over the treatment of the “Gitmo” prisoners was in the case Rasul v. Bush in June 2004. That decision, by a 6-3 margin, held that U.S. courts—not Bush, as commander in chief—had the jurisdiction to determine whether non-U.S. citizens were being rightfully held. Two years later, the Supreme Court ruled in the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that the Bush administration's system of military tribunals was unconstitutional.

Lest we forget, the second as well as the latest ruling against the Bush administration occurred after the president had successfully nominated Chief Justice John Robert and Justice Samuel Alito, who were confirmed in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

Earlier this week, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (who is too principled to be a Democrat yet inexplicably remains one), read 35 articles calling for the impeachment of Pres. Bush on the floor of U.S. House. The majority of the articles, each a separate reason for impeachment, stemmed from the administration’s conduct in the War on Terror, including, for example, creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq; falsely, systematically, and with criminal intent conflating the attacks of September 11, 2001, with misrepresentation of Iraq as a security threat; misleading the American people and Congress to believe Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction to manufacture a false case for war; invading Iraq without a declaration of war; reckless waste of U.S. tax dollars in connection with Iraq and U.S. contractors; illegal detention of both U.S. citizens and foreign captives; and secretly authorizing the use of torture.[3]

Or if that doesn’t sway you, how about spying on American citizens without a court-ordered warrant, in violation of the law and the Fourth Amendment; and directing telecommunications companies to create an illegal and unconstitutional database of the private telephone numbers and emails of American citizens.

Or, for conspiracy to violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965; failure to plan for the predicted disaster of Hurricane Katrina and failure to respond to a civil emergency; and misleading Congress and the American people by systematically undermining efforts to address global climate change.

You catch the drift.

The grassroots effort to impeach Bush, which can only be initiated by the House, has never lacked for sufficient grounds. I signed my first petition encouraging the U.S. House to pursue shortly after the GOP stole the Florida vote in the November 2000 election. In fairness, it should be noted that Bush, Cheney, Rove and company accomplished this theft of the public trust with the assistance of the U.S. Supreme Court and the gutless complicity of Democrat Al Gore and his campaign staff, who threw in the towel before their candidate had even been bloodied. To no one’s surprise, Nancy Pelosi, who became the new House speaker after the Democrats’ success in the mid-term elections in 2006, made it very clear that impeachment was “off the table” under her tenure.

The framers of the Constitution recognized that the impulse for one branch of government to consolidate power, or ignore its required separations, was immense and demanded an impeachment process that could be invoked when the normal system of checks and balances—or the individuals in power—were unable or unwilling to curb the destruction of the republic. We have been at that historical moment and treading water for more than seven years. In truth, the impeachment of the president and vice president are far more important to the future of the nation than the presidential elections. The survival of the Constitution is of greater consequence than which party occupies the White House. Failure to prosecute these gangsters is to thumb our noses at the rule of law and legitimize a dictatorship by the executive branch.

[1] Kennedy cited in Liliana Segura, “Supreme Court to Bush: You Are Not Above the Law, Gitmo Detainees Have Right to Habeas Corpus,” AlterNet at http://www.alternet.org/story/88007/
(accessed 13 June 2008).
[2] Segura, "Supreme Court to Bush."
[3] Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (website), “Articles of Impeachment of President George W. Bush,” http://kucinich.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=93581 (accessed 13 June 2008).