Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Downing Street Memo and Impeachable Offenses

I've joined the Big Brass Blog Alliance, a group of bloggers supporting After Downing Street, itself a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups that have formed to urge that the U.S. Congress launch a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war.

We can't let this stuff get swept under the rug, I don't care if you're sitting there thinking to yourself how little it matters now that the Bush Administration may have cooked the books on the evidence for war because "we're there now so let's worry about that". No, no, let's worry about both. I can multi-task.

Not bothering to hold our elected officials responsible for possible impeachable offenses committed in the context of a war -- which is a great and terrible step for a nation to take, ever -- means the next time some politician does something, we've set the "worth bothering impeaching over" bar so high that no one will ever be held accountable for their political acts again.

Or, it'll be a variable bar of blowjobs for Democrats and whatever's worse than falsifying evidence to go to war for Republicans. I don't want to know what's worse than the latter. I really don't.

This is not the first time I've written about the "Downing Street Memo", and it won't be the last. I'm going to quote from the same section of it I did last time. This memo is the minutes of a Prime Minister's Meeting held in July of 2002.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

Now, if the President of the United States deceived Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq, that constitutes a High Crime under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, which is pretty clear on what to do: "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors".

We have an obligation as American citizens to examine the actions of our elected officials, to hold them responsible for their actions, and to remove them from office if their behavior in their official capacities has been so egregious as to warrant it. Lying to the Senate, one of the three co-equal branches of government (and thus a partner, not a subordinate, to the President) is something that the Founders specifically describe as an act warranting impeachment. The Executive is not supposed to lie to Congress. The Bonifaz memo to Rep. Conyers describes this in some depth, but that's the nutshell.

If the evidence revealed by the Downing Street Memo is true, then the President’s submission of his March 18, 2003 letter and report to the United States Congress would violate federal criminal law, including: the federal anti-conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371, which makes it a felony “to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose...”; and The False Statements Accountability Act of 1996, 18 U.S.C. § 1001, which makes it a felony to issue knowingly and willfully false statements to the United States Congress.

This is the possibility of falsified evidence for a war. By comparison, Nixon resigned over breaking into a fucking *office* in the context of running for re-election.

One of these is much worse than the other.

So, the question that I want answered, is a pretty simple one: did my President lie to my Congress?

Deceive, Inviegle, Obfuscate? Vote Them Out
Downing Street Memo
Bonifaz Memo to Conyers

No comments: