Monday, November 12, 2007

David Swanson: The Reverse Shock Doctrine

The Reverse Shock Doctrine
By David Swanson,

I wonder what would happen if the people and their representatives were to shock the powerful and their funders for a change? What if on November 16th, the Iraq Moratorium day, everybody together took major actions? What if everyone with a job took the day off work? What if everyone wore orange? What if everyone with a tax bill wrote to the IRS to say not to expect another dollar of that portion of taxes that goes to war? What if everyone who gives money to Democrats wrote to them to say not one more dime before impeachment? What if everyone left their homes in the morning and went straight to the nearest district office of their congress member, sat down, and picnicked on the floor, refusing to leave without two written commitments: 1. to vote no on any more money to occupy Iraq, and 2. to cosponsor articles of impeachment against Cheney and Bush? What if everyone brought cell phones and media lists and spent all day phoning the media from their congress member's office?

If everyone did these things, the congress members would be shocked, the police would be shocked, the media would be shocked, and the White House would be in a state of total panic. The risk to the millions taking action would be minimized by the numbers involved, and the agenda in Congress would be a blank slate for the public to write its will upon. Illegal reactions from the White House would aggravate the crisis, to the disadvantage of those in power.

If the people shocked the country, we would shock the political parties and the activist groups as well. We could divert the $100 million election funds now being pulled together to waste on Senator Clinton's electoral defeat into creating networks and media outlets that report the news without influence from corporate owners or advertisers. We could create funds to support members of the military who refuse illegal orders, members of the government who report illegal activities, and members of the military-industrial-media complex who quit their jobs. We could shift the political conversation in ways that impact every candidate, and we could legislate publicly funded clean elections with free and fair use of our airwaves. We could inspire lawyers to file civil and criminal cases against Bush and Cheney, as many of them as possible, case after case after case. We could inspire activist groups that claim to stand for justice to stand with us behind the Constitution and insist on impeachment.

On Monday, November 19th, Congress could hit Bush and Cheney hard with announcements from Pelosi and Reid that there would be no more funding for the occupation of Iraq, and that every troop, contractor, and mercenary must be brought home by New Year's. While the White House was swallowing that awesome announcement, Congressman John Conyers could hit it with this shocking one: Impeachment hearings begin in the full House Judiciary Committee today, beginning with the obvious charges for which investigations are not needed or possible, and proceeding to the more complex investigations, passing each Article of Impeachment in turn on to the full House of Representatives. Before lunch, Bush, Cheney, and Rice would be impeached for refusing to comply with subpoenas, and the trial in the Senate would be scheduled. Before Thanksgiving, we'd have impeachments for FISA violations, signing statements, a CIA agent outing, misleading Congress, misappropriating funds, torture, war of aggression, threat of war of aggression, detentions without charge or legal process, war profiteering, and election fraud. Hearings would be scheduled in an extended session of Congress to begin impeachment hearings on 9-11, Katrina, global warming, whistleblower protection, the production of phony news reports, the politicization of the Justice Department, and the long list of war crimes in Iraq.

Now the public's role would shift from blanket opposition to include support for those Representatives now acting on behalf of the public. It would become very clear to every congress member and senator exactly where they could stand if they wanted to turn intense opposition into adulation. Bush's and Cheney's days would be numbered. Congress would take back its Constitutional power and refuse to confirm replacements for Cheney (or Bush) who did not commit to faithfully executing the laws of the land. The November 2008 election would look very different from how it looks today. But waiting for that election to change the nation's course would miss the opportunity provided by the reverse shock of a democratic un-disaster. The next 12 months, even while Bush was still in office but now on the defensive, would be the time to push through legislation backed by the public that would be very hard to take away from us again. Social Security seems unimaginable today, but we have it and they have failed in every attempt to eliminate it. We need to be thinking on the scale of Social Security.

Before the dust settles, here's what we'll legislate: publicly funded elections with free air time and hand-counted paper ballots overseen in total transparency by non-partisan officials, the elimination of NAFTA, the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and all their children, the creation of single-payer health coverage, a green-energy jobs program, the right to card-check union organizing, fully funded pre-school and college, fair taxation of corporations and multi-millionaires, repeal of the PATRIOT Act and the Protect America Act, drastically tighter limits on monopolistic media ownership, and the elimination of large sections of the military and intelligence budgets, including a ban on all privatized military operations, and shifting a portion of the eliminated funding to diplomacy and foreign aid. Just watch them try to rebuild their plutocracy. It can't be done.

Neither can we accomplish our goals slowly. It's too difficult, and we don't have the time to spare. Now is the moment for reverse shock.

An activist in Florida, the scene of Bush's first presidential crime, recently proposed to me that citizens counter Bush with their own signing statements. His is posted here:

You can write your own and post it there as well. Write down what you intend to do and not do, and then get out there and do it, starting Friday, November 16th. And send this (and print it and hand it) to everyone you know, and ask them to do the same.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Only Way to Stop the Bush/Cheney Torture Program

The Only Way to Stop the Bush/Cheney Torture Program Is to Cut it out at its Rotten Core
Dale Tavris

It should be apparent by now that there is only one thing that will have much of an effect on Bush administration torture policies and actions. Confirmation fights over Attorney General or any other office are the equivalent of trying to restore a tree to life by cutting off its branches when the whole tree is rotten to the core. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are the rotten core of the most corrupt presidential administration in U.S. history. The only action that has any reasonable chance of terminating the Bush/Cheney torture policies is the impeachment and removal from office of the rotten core itself.

To make that point one need only consider how Bush administration torture policies have played out over time – how refractory they have been to any Congressional efforts to maintain oversight over them or reign them in. Under pressure from Congress the Bush administration has sometimes made temporary or superficial concessions in name only, while continuing on with its preferred barbaric policies in secret:

A timeline of Bush administration torture policies

The initial post-September 11th period
A recent New York Times article by Scott Shane, David Johnston and James Risen describes the initial post-9-11 rush by the Bush administration to initiate its illegal torture policies:

The debate over how terrorist suspects should be held and questioned began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the Bush administration adopted secret detention and coercive interrogation, both practices the United States had previously denounced when used by other countries. It adopted the new measures without public debate or Congressional vote, choosing to rely instead on the confidential legal advice of a handful of appointees.

February 7, 2002 – Presidential directive justifying torture
Bush administration torture policies were first given formal expression on February 7, 2002, with a presidential directive that described policies that clearly violated U.S. and international law and the U.S. Constitution. Some of the main points included in the directive were:
 The U.S. must treat prisoners humanely only “to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity.”
 The CIA and other non-military personnel are exempt even from the above limitation concerning military necessity.
 Limitations on torture do not apply at all to non- U.S. citizens outside the U.S.

Shane, Johnston, and Risen describe the extent to which these policies were unprecedented in U.S. history, and yet of little or no value in combating terrorism:

The Bush administration had entered uncharted legal territory beginning in 2002, holding prisoners outside the scrutiny of the International Red Cross and subjecting them to harrowing pressure tactics. They included slaps to the head; hours held naked in a frigid cell; days and nights without sleep while battered by thundering rock music; long periods manacled in stress positions; or the ultimate, waterboarding.

Never in history had the United States authorized such tactics. While President Bush and C.I.A. officials would later insist that the harsh measures produced crucial intelligence, many veteran interrogators, psychologists and other experts say that less coercive methods are equally or more effective.

August 1, 2002 – John Yoo (Office of Legal Counsel) torture memo of August 1, 2002
On August 1, 2002, John Yoo from the Office of Legal Counsel distributed a memo that served as legal justification for the worst torture abuses of the Bush administration. Known as “the torture memo”, it was later leaked and found to include the following major points:
 Limitations on torture don’t apply to the “War on Terror”.
 Limitations on torture don’t apply to the president’s role as Commander-in-Chief.
 It is not torture if it was not the “precise objective” of the action, even if it was certain or reasonably likely to result.
 To constitute torture, pain must be akin to that accompanying “serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death”.

June-December 2004 – reversal of the John Yoo torture policy
However, after John Yoo left the Office of Legal Council in 2003, the new Office chief Jack Goldsmith began reviewing his work and didn’t like what he saw. Shane, Johnston and Risen describe what happened:

Then, in June 2004, Mr. Goldsmith formally withdrew the August 2002 Yoo memorandum on interrogation, which he found overreaching and poorly reasoned. Mr. Goldsmith, who left the Justice Department soon afterward, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee…

When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.

February 2005 – re-institution of harsh and illegal torture policies by Attorney General Gonzales
But it didn’t take long for the new attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, to get things back on track in accordance with the wishes of the Bush administration:

But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures…

Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, the Justice Department issued another secret opinion, one most lawmakers did not know existed, current and former officials said. The Justice Department document declared that none of the C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard….

Congress and the Supreme Court have intervened repeatedly in the last two years to impose limits on interrogations, and the administration has responded as a policy matter by dropping the most extreme techniques. But the 2005 Justice Department opinions remain in effect, and their legal conclusions have been confirmed by several more recent memorandums, officials said. They show how the White House has succeeded in preserving the broadest possible legal latitude for harsh tactics.

November 2005 – Torturer-in-chief explains his policies
In November 2005, as a consequence of international outrage over new revelations of secret CIA prisons, Bush was asked by a reporter whether the CIA was exempt from laws banning torture and whether or not the International Red Cross should have access to those prisons to ensure compliance with international law. Bush’s non-responsive answer was a masterpiece of Orwellian double talk:

Our country is at war and our government has the obligation to protect the American people. We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information on where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans.

Anything we do to that effort – to that end in this effort – any activity we conduct is within the law – We do not torture.

In other words, anything that George Bush declares to be legal is legal. BUT, even though torture is legal, we don’t do it.

July 2006 – Presidential executive order secretly authorizing “enhanced interrogation”
In addition to George Bush’s refusals to provide straight answers to questions about his torture policies, another reason why it’s so hard to pin down what the Bush administration is up to is that so many of its orders are secret. Shane, Johnston and Risen describe the clarification of Bush torture polices with a secret presidential executive order of July 2006:

In July, after a month long debate inside the administration, President Bush signed a new executive order authorizing the use of what the administration calls “enhanced” interrogation techniques — the details remain secret — and officials say the C.I.A. again is holding prisoners in “black sites” overseas.

December 2006 presidential signing statement declaring George Bush’s right to order torture
Following a battle between Bush and Congress, including even many Republicans, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which, despite several outrageous positions, at least made torture illegal.

But no matter. Bush simply issued a signing statement, which nullified the anti-torture provision of the Military Commissions Act, declaring that:

he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.

''The executive branch shall construe (the law) in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President . . . as Commander in Chief," Bush wrote, adding that this approach ''will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President . . . of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."

July 2007 executive order
Most recently, another executive order in July 2007 again made clear that the Bush torture policies remain intact. Jane Mayer explains:

Bush’s order pointedly did not disavow the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that would likely be found illegal if used by officials inside the United States. The executive order means that the agency can once again hold foreign terror suspects indefinitely, and without charges, in black sites, without notifying their families or local authorities, or offering access to legal counsel.

Widespread evidence of torture in practice by the Bush administration

It is also important to look at how the stated general policies of the Bush administration have translated into policies on the ground and into actual practice. I have described those practices in much detail in a previous post. Here is a brief summary of what several different sources have had to say on this subject, proving that torture of its prisoners by the U.S. government is widespread and systematic under the leadership of George Bush and Dick Cheney:

Torture at Abu Ghraib was definitely NOT the work of “a few bad apples”
In testimony before the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration, Janis Karpinski, former Brigadier General and Commander of Abu Ghraib Prison, made it known that the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib was anything but the work of “a few bad apples”. To the contrary, Karpinski said that:

General (Ricardo) Sanchez (commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq) himself signed the eight-page memorandum authorizing literally a laundry list of harsher techniques in interrogations to include specific use of dogs and muzzled dogs with his specific permission.”

She also testified that:

Major General Geoffrey was dispatched to Iraq by the Bush administration to “work with the military intelligence personnel to teach them new and improved interrogation techniques.” Miller told Karpinski that “It is my opinion that you are treating the prisoners too well. At Guantanamo Bay, the prisoners know that we are in charge and they know that from the very beginning. You have to treat the prisoners like dogs. And if they think or feel any differently you have effectively lost control of the interrogation.” Miller also told Karpinski that military police guarding the prisons were following orders in a memorandum signed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, approving “harsher interrogation techniques”.

Other testimony of torture of U.S. prisoners
Captain James Yee was a former U.S. Army Chaplain at Guantanamo Bay for several months. He wrote a detailed account of his observations in his book, “For God and Country”, which I summarize in a DU post. Here is Yee’s account of a common practice encouraged by the camp Commander, Major General Jeoffrey Miller:

General Miller had a saying…. “The fight is on!” This was a subtle way of saying that rules regarding the treatment of detainees were relaxed… Guards retaliated in whatever way was most convenient at the moment…. The troopers called it IRFing…. Carried out by a group of six to eight guards called the Initial Response Force…. put on riot protection gear…. Then they rushed the block, one behind the other, where the offending detainee was…. It sounded like a stampede…. drenched the prisoner with pepper spray and then opened the cell door. The others charged in and rushed the detainee…. tied the detainee’s wrists behind his back and then his ankles…. then dragged the detainee from his cell and down the corridor…. to solitary confinement.

Here is Senator Durbin’s account of eye witness testimony from an FBI agent:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food, or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for eighteen to twenty-four hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold… On another occasion, the air conditioner had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion…. with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

Here is a summary from a report by Amnesty International:

Four years since the first transfers to Guantánamo, approximately 500 men of around 35 nationalities remain held at the detention facility unlawfully. Reports from the detainees and their lawyers suggest that many have been subjected to torture or other forms of ill-treatment in Guantánamo or in other US detention centres… There have been numerous suicide attempts and fears for the physical and psychological welfare of the detainees increase as each day of indefinite detention passes.

Here is a summary statement on Bush administration torture practices from investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, from his book, Chain of Command:

Public interest groups such as Human Rights Watch and the ACLU continue to churn out report after report… demonstrating that systematic military abuse of American prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo, Cuba, is widespread and tolerated…..

Thus, we are confronted with a gap between what we read and hear about what is really going on from prisoners and human rights groups and what the official inquiries tell us… We have a President who… assures us that there is no American policy condoning or abetting torture when, as we can see with our eyes, the opposite is true…

And, I also note in my other post 21 different torture practices documented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, from their book, “Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush”.

How widespread is the Bush prison system?

Estimates of how many prisoners have disappeared into the Bush administration’s Gulag system cannot be precise because of the secrecy. Estimates have varied from 8,500 to 35,000. An AP story estimated around 14,000:

In the few short years since the first shackled Afghan shuffled off to Guantanamo, the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law.

Colonel Larry Wilkerson, former Chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had put the blame on Dick Cheney for much of the administration’s “torture guidance”, claims that the number of “disappeared” approximates 35,000.


Rush Limbaugh and other right wing idiots have belittled evidence of torture by claiming, even when the photographic evidence at Abu Ghraib was publicized, that U.S. treatment of its prisoners is no different than fraternity “hazing” of pledges.

However, a 2005 analysis of 44 autopsies reported by the ACLU, of men who died in our detention facilities, exposes those claims for the lies that they are. That study found 21 of the 44 deaths evaluated by autopsy to be homicides:

The American Civil Liberties Union today made public an analysis of new and previously released autopsy and death reports of detainees held in U.S. facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom died while being interrogated. The documents show that detainees were hooded, gagged, strangled, beaten with blunt objects, subjected to sleep deprivation and to hot and cold environmental conditions.

Keep in mind that that study involved only a small fraction of the total number of detainees dying in the largely secret U.S. prison system since September 11, 2001. We will probably never know for sure the full extent of these barbaric homicides.

Bush administration claims that its prisoners are “the worst of the worst”

While repeatedly proclaiming that “we don’t torture”, the Bush administration has also repeatedly attempted to make the American people feel good about its “we don’t torture” program by claiming that our prisoners in George Bush’s “War on Terror” are “the worst of the worst”. But the facts tell a very different story from that:

Major General Antonio Taguba, charged with investigating the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, said that “A lack of proper screening meant that many innocent Iraqis were being detained (in some cases indefinitely) and that 60% of civilian prisoners at Abu Ghraib were deemed not to be a threat to society. And the International Red Cross said that between 70 percent and 90 percent of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake.

Furthermore, the Bush administration has no right to claim that its prisoners are “the worst of the worst” even if there isn’t a vast amount of evidence – or any evidence – to the contrary. The vast majority of its prisoners have neither been tried nor even charged with a crime. They are spirited away to remote corners of the earth, and the good majority of them have no contact with the outside world, including either families or legal counsel. They have no opportunity to tell their story. How does the Bush administration, which leads a country that espouses “innocent until proven guilty”, dare to make pronouncements on the guilt or innocence of its thousands of prisoners?


Thus it is clear that the Bush administration torture policies originate from the very top and are virtually impervious to attempts by anyone else, inside or outside the Bush administration, to change them. Those torture policies violate international law, U.S. domestic law, and the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

If the United States of America is to reclaim its place among the civilized nations of the world, half measures aimed at cutting off the peripheral branches of an administration that is rotten to the core will not do. Rather, the root of the problem must be attacked by impeaching and removing from office those who have propagated these barbaric policies for the past six years – George Bush and Dick Cheney. Their torture policies are just one of several impeachable offenses for which a multitude of evidence exists to convict them of “high crimes and misdemeanors”. There are several others to choose from.

Gallup: Bush Finally Tops Nixon - In Unpopularity

GALLUP: Bush Finally Tops Nixon -- In Unpopularity -- As Call for Iraq Pullout Hits New Peak

By E&P Staff

Published: November 06, 2007 2:50 PM ET
NEW YORK For almost two years, President Bush has been threatening to unseat Richard M. Nixon as the most unpopular president in the history of the Gallup poll, and it finally happened this week.

The latest USA TODAY/Gallup survey finds Bush with a 31% approval rating -- and for the first time ever in the polling history, 50% say they "strongly disapprove" of a president.

The previous high (or low?) was a 48% strong disapproval rating for Nixon at the worst moments of Watergate in 1974.

The telephone survey of 1,024 adults was conducted last Friday through Sunday.


Transcript of Kucinish Press Conference 11/06/07

Transcript: Kucinich Introduces Impeachment Articles Against Cheney

Written by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio
Wednesday, 25 April 2007

REP. DENNIS J. KUCINICH, D-OHIO: Thank you very much for being here.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the government; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.

These words from the Declaration of Independence are instructive at this moment. Because not only whenever any form of government, but whenever any government official becomes destructive of the founding purposes, that official or those officials must be held accountable.

Because I believe the vice president's conduct of office has been destructive to the founding purposes of our nation. Today, I have introduced House Resolution 333, Articles of Impeachment Relating to Vice President Richard B. Cheney. I do so in defense of the rights of the American people to have a government that is honest and peaceful.

It became obvious to me that this vice president, who was a driving force for taking the United States into a war against Iraq under false pretenses, is once again rattling the sabers of war against Iran with the same intent to drive America into another war, again based on false pretenses.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October 27 Video

David Swanson

It has been over 4 ½ years since the invasion of Iraq. Since that time we have discovered more evidence of what was already obvious: that the reasons we were given for going to war were lies. We have lost the lives of over 1 million Iraqi citizens, and
3,833 U.S. soldiers. Over $600 billion of US taxpayer money has been spent on this illegal occupation, and Bush is asking for billions more.

The time has come for the occupation of Iraq to end. Congress is not doing anything, so it is up to us to make a difference. Over 100 groups have come together under the United For Peace and Justice banner to take a stand and have their voices heard. Those voices are saying loud and clear – END THE WAR!

Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Foundation has created a short video which will reach hundreds of thousands of people just like you who want to do something. You can be part of the effort by signing up to take part in one of 11 events taking place across the country this Saturday October 27th.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nancy, I AM your neighbor.

"You can just imagine my neighbors' reaction to all this. If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering. But because they have 'Impeach Bush' across their chest, it's the First Amendment. ... So I'm well aware of the unhappiness of the base." – Nancy Pelosi “has candid talk with reporters” 10-10-07

Nancy Pelosi needs an intervention. She is responding to her constituents in a manner that starkly resembles the behavior of an addict denying her family’s distress.

When, after being denied an audience with our elected representative, her constituents were forced to take their protest to her home, Nancy’s response was denial: “You aren’t my constituents.” But, we are, Nancy. We are. And denying that fact won’t move this discussion forward.

More recently, Pelosi makes an appeal to authority in response to popular voices in her district:”We are leaders, they are advocates” – an authoritarian response that may be aimed to quash dissent but which merely illustrates the growing disconnect between Pelosi and the electorate that sent her to Washington in the first place. I suppose that makes those of us who elected her and supported her a group of enablers.

The latest, the capper (I hope this is the capper because how much worse can this dysfunctional dialogue get without requiring court-ordered rehab) was her recent statement, wishing that she could have anti-war and pro-impeachment protesters arrested just like homeless people are arrested in San Francisco

San Francisco is a small town and that makes me Pelosi’s neighbor although I live in the Sunset District, not in Pacific Heights. In my immediate neighborhood, we keep track of our homeless neighbors. We look out for them, we don’t have them arrested to “clean up” our streets. My neighbor Keith is in a wheelchair. {He is also your constituent, Nancy.) My neighbor Charles does yard work for us because he’s clean now and because he wants to work. My neighbor Dave is having a hard time getting off drugs, but we don’t give up on him. Gavin Newsom’s window dressing that passes for a homelessness policy has never reached out to him a single bit. But here, my neighbors are looking out for Dave. He has bad days and good days. And I believe at the moment, he’s trying rehab again. We are so proud of him.

Why does it surprise me that the Speaker who is bent on continuing to fund the sacking of Iraq has no visible empathy for the homeless of her district? I must be an idiot.

There is a very simple way to save the people Pelosi manages to recognize as “neighbors” -- several of whom supported the vigils outside her home -- the inconvenience of those protests. And, that would be the town hall meeting which she has avoided for over a year now. If her neighbors are inconvenienced, the blame lies with Pelosi, not with her constituents who have the right to seek redress from their government and not with the voters that her willful myopia renames as “not my constituents”.

No outside agitator (Pelosi’s term, not mine) in their right mind would wade into this district at this moment. As it is, those of us who are here on the ground find Pelosi’s shunning a bitter lesson. Misplaced Trust 1A. So be it.

Nancy, we want you to end the sacking of Iraq. We want you to impeach the felons in the White House. And we will tend to our homeless neighbors as best we can without the help of Corporati like you and Gavin Newsom. Your massive disregard for your district will be redressed. Save yourself and the people you recognize as “neighbors” that shame and resign.

Please support the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness. Donate here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Warning: This video contains information proving Nancy Pelosi has been intentionally misleading

WARNING: This video contains information that Nancy Pelosi has been intentionally misleading the American people.

I RAN by Brian Narelle

So what has the idiot-king accomplished in 7 years?

Sunday, October 14

John Stroebel


*He corrupted the American election process even before he served a day.

*He read 'My Pet Goat' while being told we were under attack...gave the airlines a couple billion two days later (hush money) and tried to tell us it was a fire that brought down the two of the LARGEST buildings in the world. HE never DID tell us what hit the Pentagon or how Building 7 imploded.

*He invaded Afghanistan, which is not in the grips of violence worse then Oct 2001. They have had 2 record opium crops in the past two years, and the Taliban and al Quada are stronger than before we attacked.

*He told us Iraq had stockpiles of WMD, were building a nuke to use against us within one year, and we have since invaded and over one million Iraqi civilians are dead. This has cost us over 500 billion dollars, 3700 REPORTED US military deaths and over 50,000 wounded. Iraq is not in our control, the road to the Baghdad airport has never been secure, and we are paying mercenaries $1,000 a day to shoot whoever they please without any penalties. Baghdad has little or no running water and electricity after almost 5 years, Iraq is in the grips of a cholera outbreak, and there was never any WMD stockpiles or nuked being made. Last, we allowed the 'insurgents' aka resistance/freedom fighters, access to the Iraqi Army's weapons and ammo dumps which they emptied.

*Halliburton has been providing as much material and services as they are capable of, all on no bid contracts. Cheney's deferred stock options in Halliburton are still rolling over.

*Blackwater is now an 'SS'-style 'security force' that is out of control.

*All the costs of these activities are still unpaid, and China owns half our national debt of 12 TRILLION dollars, double what it was in 2001.

*It is harder for Americans to declare bankruptcy because of laws Bushco rammed through.

*New Orleans was allowed to be written off after the hurricane, and is still largely left as it is. This is the first time a US city was abandoned by the US government. Most of the citizens who were 'evacuated' have not returned. The real estate is soon to go on the block.

*Remember the manes: Rove. Rumsfeld. Gannon. Powell. Ashcroft. Gonzalez.

*The 'Patriot Act' literally canceled out the US Constitution.

*Even though OPEC is selling us all the crude we want, gasoline hit all time records time and time again.

*The "Medicare Prescription Plan"

*Remember the places: Gitmo. Abu Graib. Felujah.

*'God Damned Piece of Paper".

*6 to 9 billion dollars is still unaccounted for by Halliburton.

*Bush OK'd the largest cash transfer of 10 billion dollars from the Federal Reserve to Iraq, where it literally 'disappeared'.

*No Child Left Behind.

*The US dollar is now around 86 cents a piece. China has a huge supply on hand.

*The 'illegal alien' incident and the fence on the Tex Mex border.

*Wiretapping of Americans without warrant.

*Death of Habeas Corpus.

*'Extraordinary Rendition" aka drugging and kidnapping foreign citizens.

*Secret CIA prisons overseas.

*Torture of anyone 'suspected' of being a terrorist.

*Bush's new powers to dissolve Congress, declare Martial Law, deploy Federal troops and National Guard troops domestically without the approval of state governors.

*Any American 'suspected' of aiding al Qaida or helping resistance in Iraq...without charges or trial, can be arrested, imprisoned and all his possessions confiscated...without recourse.

*The abandonment of the Kyoto Agreement.


* The upcoming military strike on Iran.

*The rebirth of the Cold War with Russia, aka missiles in Poland.

*The 'nuclear material/technology' sale to India.

* The planned 12 trillion dollar trip to Mars.

*The soon-to-be-repayed, by US taxpayers, US debt on this so called 'War on Terror that just may bankrupt us.


Now these are simply the basics. You may add whatever you wish or argue any single point. My point is this:

WHY has this man and his entire crew, including Dick Cheney, NOT BEEN IMPEACHED AND TRIED IN CRIMINAL COURT?

WHY is America still standing for this?

WHY would we EVER think that allowing him to continue was even remotely wise?

WHY do we tolerate Nancy Pelosi to protect him by preventing a discussion of Impeachment to occur
on the floor of the House?

WHAT do you expect will happen when he leaves...IF he leaves..and all these precedents are left standing for the NEXT 'Decider'?

You may count on ONE THING being true. ALL THIS is NEVER going to get better until we confront it. It will just GET WORSE.

Impeachment: Is there any other Way to Restore the Rule of Law in our Nation?

by Dale Tavris

There is no doubt that if we lived in a police state it would be easier to catch terrorists… If we lived in a country where people could be held in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion… the government would probably arrest more terrorists or would-be terrorists… But that wouldn’t be a country in which we would want to live, and it wouldn’t be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that country wouldn’t be America
– Senator Russ Feingold, the only U.S. Senator to vote against the PATRIOT Act, in his dissent against that Act, October 11, 2001.

There are two polar opposite types of nations in which people can aspire to live. One type of nation is a democracy, in which the people directly or indirectly (through elected representatives) choose the laws under which they live, and where those laws are supreme. In such a nation the rule of law prevails, and it applies not only to ordinary citizens but to ALL citizens, including the elected representatives of the people.

The opposite type of nation is one where a king, tyrant, dictator, or whatever you want to call him, rules supreme. In that type of nation there is no rule of law in the sense that the rule of law prevails in a democracy. The law is whatever the dictator says it is.

Of course there are also many nations that fall somewhere in between these two opposite extremes. And nations can and have changed from one to the other.

Changing from dictatorship to democracy and from democracy to dictatorship

In 1776 our Founding Fathers, who then lived under the dictatorship of Great Britain’s King George III, proclaimed a new nation, along with the right of peoples to overthrow their government when they found their government to be destructive of their unalienable rights. Of course, that was much easier said than done. In our case it took a bloody revolutionary war and 7 years to make the United States of America, proclaimed in 1776, into a reality. And then it took another bloody war, beginning almost eighty years later, to begin to extend those unalienable rights to people of another race.

To guard against future tyranny our Founding Fathers created a Constitution, which provided the foundation in law for preserving the unalienable rights that so many of them fought so hard for. Paramount among the constitutional mechanisms for guarding against future tyranny were provisions for removing from office elected or appointed government officials who abuse their delegated powers by becoming destructive of the rights of the citizens whom they are elected to represent. The great value of this provision was that it would enable future generations to remove incompetent, abusive, or tyrannical governments without having to resort to violence, as was required for the birth of our nation.

The Nazification of Germany in the 1930s provides an excellent example of how democracies can retrogress back into tyrannies. Milton Mayer, who studied the thinking of ordinary lower level Nazis during Hitler’s rise to power, explained in his book, “They Thought They Were Free – The Germans 1933-45”, the gradual process by which Germans gave up their freedom to Hitler:

What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

A short summary of how the Bush/Cheney administration is destroying the rule of law in our nation

The Bush/Cheney administration has given a clear message to the citizens of our nation that, as far as they’re concerned, neither the Constitution of the United States nor the laws of the United States in general pose any limits to their actions. The following is a brief summary of evidence for this:

By appending “signing statements” to more than 800 laws enacted by Congress – more signing statements than all 42 previous presidents combined have used, George Bush has asserted his intentions be bound neither by the laws of the country he was chosen to serve nor by the Separation of Powers provided in our Constitution

By confining protesters to so-called “first amendment zones”; by tying up our airways, using tax dollars, with government propagandists pretending to be journalists; and by claiming the right to imprison journalists who expose administration crimes to the public, George Bush has repeatedly violated our First Amendment rights to free speech.

George Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program has deprived hundreds of thousands of Americans to their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.

George Bush has repeated violated our Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to due process of law, as detailed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in “Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush”, by:

violating the constitutional and international rights of citizens and non-citizens by arbitrarily detaining them indefinitely inside and outside of the United States, without due process, without charges, and with limited – if any – access to counsel or courts….

Also detailed in the same document, George Bush has violated our Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and inhuman punishment by:

allowing his administration to condone torture, failing to investigate and prosecute high-level officials responsible for torture, and officially refusing to accept the binding nature of a statutory ban on cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment….

By using his Justice Department to disenfranchise tens of thousands (or much more) voters who are unlikely to vote for him, George Bush has violated our Fifteenth Amendment right to vote.

By repeatedly lying to Congress and the American people about his reasons for invading Iraq George Bush has, as described by the CCR:

subverted the Constitution, its guarantee of a republican form of government, and the constitutional separation of powers by undermining the rightful authority of Congress to declare war, oversee foreign affairs, and make appropriations. He did so by justifying the war with false and misleading statements and deceived the people of the United States as well as Congress…

And, by repeatedly refusing to comply with Congressional subpoenas George Bush and Dick Cheney have put themselves above the law and violated the Separation of Powers required by our Constitution.

The role of fear and excessive trust in causing democracies to revert to dictatorships

The archetypal reason that democracies sometimes revert to dictatorships is fear and the related excessive trust that fear or laziness sometimes engender. Fear is a powerful emotion, which often clouds the reasoning process. Fear can therefore cause people to look for a savior to save them from their fear. Of course, the voluntary handing over of dictatorial powers to a tyrant requires a certain degree of trust that the tyrant is benevolent and will do whatever is in the best interest of his people. If their fear is great enough, however, people may be prone to handing over their freedom to a tyrant even if the tyrant has not done much to warrant their trust.

I believe that the people of the United States have already handed over a great deal of their freedom. This process did not begin under the presidential administration of George Bush and Dick Cheney, but it certainly has accelerated under it. The following issues of trust are highly pertinent to this process:

Trust that the balance of power required by our Constitution is no longer necessary because our President will not abuse his powers.

Trust that the war making power delegated to Congress by our Constitution can and should reside in the hands of a single man because that man will use that power more wisely and effectively than will Congress.

Trust that monopolization of our national news media is ok, because whoever has control of the news that we receive will responsibly exercise the role of providing us with the information we need to be a functioning democracy.

Trust that huge campaign donations from wealthy contributors are ok, because our elected officials will not be influenced by those donations to favor their contributors above everyone else.

Trust that electronic voting machines that count our votes in secret are ok, because nobody would use such machines to steal an election.

Trust that our First Amendment right to criticize our government is not necessary, because our government does not warrant much criticism, and criticizing our government provides aid and comfort to our enemies.

Trust that giving our president the right to determine the guilt of suspected criminals and detain them indefinitely without trial is ok, because our president will make sure that only the guilty are detained and punished.

Trust that giving our government the right to torture people is ok, because the infromation gained from that torture is necessary to protect us against our enemies.

Trust that giving our president the right to spy on us without warrants is ok because our government will not abuse that right by spying on its domestic opponents.

The United States at a fork in the road to democracy or tyranny

It should be obvious to anyone with a working knowledge of history and current events that the United States of America is currently going down a road to tyranny. It is up to us the citizens of the United States, and our elected officials, to decide whether we will continue down that road or instead take a fork in the road leading back to democracy.

When dictatorial practices are initiated and meekly accepted in a democracy, a precedent is set. The longer the situation continues the more locked in the precedent becomes. When it continues long enough people come to accept it as normal. As with the Germans of the 1930s, or the Romans of antiquity, most Americans don’t even recognize that their democracy is slipping away from them, because they have gradually become accustomed to their situation and therefore accept it as “normal”.

The Bush administration has made a mockery of our Constitution and the rule of law in general in our country. Our Constitution provides a very good remedy for that, and that remedy is impeachment. Impeaching our President and Vice President, and removing them from office, would not only rid our country of the worst and most tyrannical presidential administration we’ve ever had; it would also go a long way towards restoring the rule of law in our country because it would give a clear message to all future elected leaders of our country that lawlessness is not acceptable to the American people.

As a long time believer in the Democratic Party, I, like millions of other Democrats in my country believe that it is very important that we elect a Democratic President and solidly Democratic Congress in 2008. My reasons for feeling that way are largely related to the fact that the Democratic Party is much more devoted to the rule of law in our country than is the Republican Party.

I also understand that the reluctance of my Party to pursue impeachment probably has a lot to do with their belief that doing so could jeopardize their chances to achieve control of the Presidency and Congress in 2008. I strongly disagree with my Party’s assessment on this issue, for reasons that I have discussed elsewhere.

But even if it was true that impeachment would jeopardize the chances of the Democratic Party to gain control of the Presidency and Congress in 2008, there is another very important consideration to which our Democratic representatives should give much thought: Electing a Democratic President and Congress in 2008 could prove to be a pyrrhic victory for our nation if we cannot re-establish the rule of law here. Failing to send a message that lawless presidents are not acceptable in our democracy, the precedent of Bush and Cheney’s administration will stand. I don’t know how we can send that message if no steps are taken to make our current dictators accountable for their many crimes. In that case it seems likely that it will only be a matter of time before our country descends fully into tyranny.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Robert Parry: Why Not Impeachment?

Why Not Impeachment?

By Robert Parry
October 5, 2007

The disclosure that the Bush administration secretly reestablished a policy of abusing “war on terror” detainees even as it assured Congress and the public that it had mended its ways again raises the question: Why are the Democrats keeping impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney “off the table”?

After the Democratic congressional victory last Nov. 7, Washington Democrats rejected calls for impeachment from rank-and-file Democrats and many other Americans, considering it an extreme step that would derail a bipartisan strategy of winning over Republicans to help bring the Iraq War to an end.

That thinking got a boost on Nov. 8, the day after the election, when President Bush announced the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the appointment of former CIA Director Robert Gates, who had been a member of the Iraq Study Group and was believed to represent the “realist” wing of the Republican Party.

One Democratic strategist called me that day with a celebratory assertion that “the neocons are dead” and rebuffed my warning that Gates had a troubling history of putting his career ahead of principle, that he was a classic apple-polisher to the powerful.

The Democrats also missed the fact that Rumsfeld submitted his resignation the day before the election – not the day after – along with a memo urging an “accelerated draw-down of U.S. bases” in Iraq from a high of 110, to 10 to 15 by April 2007, and to five by July 2007.

In other words, Rumsfeld’s ouster didn’t signal Bush’s new flexibility on ending the war, as the Democrats hoped, but a repudiation of Rumsfeld for going wobbly on Iraq.

Even when the Rumsfeld memo surfaced in early December, the Democrats ignored it, sticking to their wishful script that the Rumsfeld-Gates switch marked a recognition by Bush that it was time to begin extricating U.S. forces from Iraq.

Those rose-colored glasses got smudged badly when Bush instead announced in January that he was ordering an escalation, sending more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

But instead of responding with their own escalation – and putting impeachment back “on the table” – the Democrats opted for a strategy of wooing moderate Republicans to mild-mannered legislative protests.

As an opening shot in this Nerf-ball battle, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fired off a symbolic resolution to express disapproval of Bush’s “surge,” a meaningless gesture that Republicans kept bottled up for weeks making the Democrats look both feckless and inept.

more at:

How Much Evidence Do they Need

How Much Evidence Do they Need Before Congress Begins to Remove the Cancer on Our Nation?

by Dale Tavris

Whether one believes that the U.S. Congress should proceed directly to the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney for their numerous crimes against the American people and our Constitution, or whether one believes that they should first formally “investigate” the Bush/Cheney crimes, it is important to ask how much evidence is needed before they ought to feel obligated to proceed with impeachment hearings.

A tremendous amount of damning evidence was already publicly available before the Democrats took over Congress this January, and Congressional investigations have turned up additional evidence since then. It seems to me that there is plenty more than enough evidence at this time to proceed with impeachment. In this post I briefly discuss eight areas of enquiry into impeachable offenses, any one of which, in my opinion, has turned up more than enough evidence to proceed with impeachment (Since I didn’t want to set a record for the longest DU post ever, I had to leave a great many impeachable offenses out of this post):

Covering up global warming

Congressional investigations into global warming have shown what we have known at least since NASA’s top climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, went public in January 2006 with claims that the Bush administration was trying to silence him. An account of the investigations concluded:

The Bush administration has consistently misled the public about the threat of global warming, said scientists who testified yesterday before a US House committee hearing into political interference with climate change science…

As one of several examples:

Dr Drew Shindell, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies for 12 years, testified that his press releases about the findings of climate change studies had been “delayed, altered and watered down.” He cited one example where a study explained that Antarctica would warm considerably over the next century, based on projections of continued greenhouse gas emissions, which had clear implications for rising sea levels. He said the original press release had been “softened” to the extent that it raised almost no interest and delayed the study’s entry into the wider public discussion regarding the scientific understanding of global warming…

Yet, we see a very familiar pattern emerging with respect to investigations into crimes of the Bush/Cheney administration:

The White House’s refusal to hand over documents requested by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has also raised a recurring issue attending federal investigations into the Bush administration…

Waste and fraud by Bush administration contractors to reconstruct Iraq

The vast scope of waste and fraud perpetrated on Iraq by the Bush/Cheney administration’s no-bid contractors has been known at least since October 2003, when it was reported that billions of dollars allocated to Halliburton went “missing”.

Congressional investigations have documented such problems. As noted by a former intern working for another Bush/Cheney contractor, the Lincoln Group:

Stacks of cash, some filling entire transport crates, are pictured alongside grinning contractors in Iraq. The images have been made public today in a report for a congressional oversight committee, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., which is investigating financial improprieties in the Iraq war. While American taxpayers see grinning contractors who are well paid by badly regulated contracts, Iraqi citizens see foreigners living in luxurious compounds while they struggle without regular electricity.

What was all this money for?

The Lincoln Group was paid tens of millions of dollars for covertly planting stories – written by American soldiers – in Iraqi newspapers, and the stacks of cash were necessary to pay off newspaper editors, television executives and security guards around Baghdad.

And in testimony reported by the Guardian regarding another $12 billion:

The US flew nearly $12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq, then distributed the cash with no proper control over who was receiving it and how it was being spent. The staggering scale of the biggest transfer of cash in the history of the Federal Reserve has been graphically laid bare by a US congressional committee….

However, evidence before the committee suggests that senior American officials were unconcerned about the situation because the billions were not US taxpayers' money… They are Iraqi funds…. Bremer's financial adviser, retired Admiral David Oliver, is even more direct… Asked what had happened to the $8.8 billion he replied: "I have no idea. I can't tell you whether or not the money went to the right things or didn't - nor do I actually think it's important."

Doesn’t this just make you hate those ungrateful Iraqis for wanting us out of their country?

Presidential “signing statements”

George Bush’s use of Presidential “signing statements” to avoid enforcing laws that contradict his ideology has been known for a long time. That well known bastion of liberal ideology, the American Bar Association, said in July 2006 that Bush’s use of the signing statements undermine the separation of powers provided in our Constitution. And House Judiciary Chairman, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), said regarding his Congressional investigation into this issue:

Bush's widespread use of the signings challenge at least 800 provisions in laws passed while he has been in office… The administration has engaged in these practices under a veil of secrecy… This is a constitutional issue that no self-respecting federal legislature should tolerate.

Grossly negligent medical care provided to veterans at Walter Reed Veterans Hospital

The scandal at Walter Reed Hospital has been investigated by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Waxman tried to:

… ask Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman about a contract to manage the medical center awarded to a company (a Halliburton subsidiary) that had documented troubles fulfilling a government contract to deliver ice to victims of Hurricane Katrina…

According to a letter from Waxman to Weightman posted on the committee's Web site, the chairman believes the Walter Reed contract may have pushed dozens of health care workers to leave jobs at the troubled medical center, which he says in turn threatened the quality of care for hundreds of military personnel receiving treatment there…

Waxman charged that the Army used an unusual process to award a five-year, $120 million contract to manage the center to a company owned by a former executive of Halliburton, the scandal-prone government contractor once operated by Vice President Dick Cheney.

However, once again we see the Bush administration trying to obstruct the investigations:

The Pentagon has refused to allow Weightman to testify. Waxman's staff has confirmed the congressman planned to issue his first subpoena as a committee chairman this session to legally compel Weightman's testimony if the Pentagon did not relent.

And worse yet, Weightman was discharged from his post, the same fate meted out to so many other whistle blowers or potential whistle blowers who had damaging information to report about the Bush administration.

Fired federal prosecutors

Congressional investigation into the apparent political firing of several federal prosecutors is heating up:

Democrats are in an uproar over the firings and are looking into whether the Justice Department was trying to stall ongoing corruption cases involving Republican politicians, particularly when Republican corruption figured into the party’s election losses. Democrats say the dismissals appear to be based on politics since most of the fired prosecutors apparently had good job evaluations.

“This administration either originally hired incompetent attorneys in the first place, or hired competent U.S. attorneys, but incompetently fired them,’’ said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “Given the performance reviews of these U.S. attorneys - proving them to be leaders in prosecuting violent criminals, illegal immigrants and officials who violated the public trust - it appears they were fired for purely political reasons.”

And indeed, the testimony of the prosecutors has served to justify those suspicions:

Six fired U.S. attorneys testified on Capitol Hill yesterday that they had separately been the target of complaints, improper telephone calls and thinly veiled threats from a high-ranking Justice Department official or members of Congress, both before and after they were abruptly removed from their jobs.

In back-to-back hearings in the Senate and House, former U.S. attorney David C. Iglesias of New Mexico and five other former prosecutors recounted specific instances in which some said they felt pressured by Republicans on corruption cases and one said a Justice Department official warned him to keep quiet or face retaliation.

Torture and other abuse of the human rights of Bush administration prisoners

The Bush administrations abuse and torture of its prisoners has been known since shortly after the opening of its prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. In Rep. John Conyers’ 2006 investigative report, “The Constitution in Crisis – The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, Cover-ups in the Iraq War, and Illegal Domestic Surveillance”, Conyers found:

… The Bush administration has not only countenanced but has also paved the way for torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and other violations of international treaties…

The U.S. military’s own investigation, by Major General Antonio Taguba found at Abu Ghraib:

… Numerous instances of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees. This systemic and illegal abuse was perpetrated by several members of the military police guard force… The allegations of abuse were substantiated by detailed witness statements… and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence… The report details… punching, slapping and kicking detainees, rape, use of military dogs to intimidate detainees…

Conyers also goes on to detail descriptions of torture from numerous human rights organizations, including Human Rights First, the ACLU, Amnesty International and the International Red Cross. Conyers’ report continues…

Human Rights First has uncovered at least 16 detainee deaths in Iraq… that the military itself has found to be homicides… Many of those victims were found to have been tortured to death….

The ACLU has used Freedom of Information Act requests to collect thousands of pages of internal documents, confirming the physical and sexual abuse of detainees by military personnel in Iraq and elsewhere…

Amnesty International has reported that acts of torture have not only occurred at detention sites but also continue to be perpetrated against Iraqis during house raids and arrests…

After detailing numerous other atrocities, Conyers’ report then notes that the Bush administration has totally failed to hold any upper level personnel accountable for any of them, and that the Bush Justice Department has condoned torture by creating a definition of torture that is exceptionally restrictive and contrary to international law.

Congressional investigations found that:

… The ACLU released a CIA letter confirming the existence of “a directive signed by President Bush granting the CIA the authority to set up detention facilities outside the United States and outlining interrogation methods that may be used against detainees.” This confirms a May 2004 e-mail from the FBI’s “On Scene Commander” in Baghdad stating that U.S. military officials in Iraq assured him that a secret presidential Executive Order permitted using extreme interrogation techniques considered illegal by the FBI…

But once again we see the same obstructionist pattern by the Bush regime:

The Justice Department has so far blocked release of the actual document, but a federal judge may force the feds to cough it up. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is also demanding to see the document. If this Bush letter does hit the streets, it may be akin to a 1972 memo from Richard Nixon specifying the exact methods of lock-picking the Watergate burglars should use. Bush’s involvement in the torture scandal may be far deeper than Nixon’s involvement in Watergate.

Illegal warrantless wiretapping/spying on American citizens

The Center for Constitutional Rights, among other organizations, has urged in their book, “Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush”, that George Bush be impeached for, among other things:

.... authorizing the National Security Agency and various other agencies within the intelligence community to conduct electronic surveillance outside of the statutes Congress has prescribed as the exclusive means for such surveillance, and to use such information for purposes unknown but unrelated to any lawful function of his office; he has also concealed the existence of this unlawful program of electronic surveillance from Congress, the press, and the public…

This crime should hardly need any investigation at all, given that Bush has publicly admitted to it numerous times. But he claims a good reason for doing it. His excuse has been (like his excuse for every other law that he breaks) that he needs to bypass the request for a warrant in his efforts to spy on American citizens so that he can act quickly enough to catch terrorists. However, given that the current law allows the warrant to be requested retroactively, that explanation makes no sense. Therefore, the only plausible conclusion is that the purpose of much of his spying activities is so unrelated to a legitimate function of government that even the conservative FISA judges wouldn’t approve them.

As explained here:

This program was not intended to catch terrorists - it was intended to give the White House access, invisibly, to information about private citizens which it wouldn’t otherwise be allowed to have… The goals of this program are political. There’s just no other plausible reason to conduct the program this way.

Further evidence for that conclusion is provided by accounts from knowledgeable sources, who note that of the thousands of warrantless wiretaps conducted annually by the Bush administration, fewer than ten have “aroused enough suspicious during warrantless eavesdropping to justify interception of their domestic calls.”

Lying to the American public about the reasons for war and perpetrating war against international law

Of all the crimes that George Bush and Dick Cheney ought to be prosecuted for, let alone impeached for, dragging our country into war with Iraq by lying to Congress and the American people about the need for that war, heads the top of the list. The evidence that Bush and Cheney lied to the American public and to Congress in order to justify that war is overwhelming, and has been abundantly documented. Many of George Bush’s assertions made to justify the war were known on the basis of publicly available knowledge to be false at the time he made them.

Furthermore, this issue is thoroughly covered in Rep. Conyers’ investigative report, in which he concludes:

The report finds there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people … The Report concludes that a number of these actions amount to prima facie evidence that federal criminal laws have been violated… The Report also concludes that these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable conduct.

If any additional “investigation” is needed to make the case that Bush and Cheney committed impeachable offenses in lying us into war, it seems that all that should require is a gathering and presentation to the American people of available evidence.

So how much longer should Congress wait?

This administration needs to be impeached and removed from office far more than any other in the history of our country. Bush and Cheney use presidential privileges as if they were their God given right, for their own pleasure and entertainment and accumulation of power and wealth, with no feeling of obligation whatsoever to be held accountable by ordinary American citizens for their actions. Quite simply they believe and act as if they are above the laws of our nation. Even if they were 100% innocent of all the charges described in this post, they should still be impeached for subverting the Separation of Powers mandated in our Constitution by refusing to cooperate with Congressional investigations. The claim of “Executive Privilege” is meant to be reserved for issues that impinge on national security, not for preventing Congress and the American people from knowing what the Executive Branch does in their name.

Glenn Greenwald explains why the U.S. Senate has been so slow to move thus far:

Senators, including large numbers of Democratic Senators, remain petrified of challenging the President in any meaningful way on national security issues generally…

There have been two principal reasons the Bush administration has been able to break the law with impunity and to continue to govern with no accountability – (1) a listless and compliant press which has done very little to reveal and make Americans aware of the true nature and extent of these abuses, and (2) the administration's obsessive maintenance of a wall of secrecy which has concealed its behavior from the public and thus prevented the public (and the media) from really understanding what their Government has been doing.

Most important:

You can't convince Americans of the need to stop abuses until you demonstrate to them in a dramatic and undeniable way that those abuses are being perpetrated and that they are harmful and dangerous… what we urgently need are compelled, subpoena-driven, aggressive hearings designed for maximum revelation and drama. Hearings are able, in a dramatic and television-news-friendly environment, to shed light on how extreme and radical this administration really has been in all of these areas. Democrats in Congress need to realize right now that the administration will not produce or disclose any meaningful evidence unless and until they are truly forced to do so.

The choice is not whether to provoke a constitutional crisis. The real choice is whether to recognize that we have one and to act to end it, or continue to pretend that it does not exist by acquiescing to the President's ongoing abuses and fundamental encroachments into every area… Democrats have to internalize that this administration does not operate like previous ones. No rational person can doubt that they are limitless in their contempt for legal restrictions or notions of checks and balances.

And televised, highly publicized confrontations over the administration's hubris and arrogance and utter contempt for our legal institutions and political traditions is not something to be avoided. It is something we desperately need as a country…

I believe that Greenwald hit the nail on the head. The corporate news media is not on our side, and it never has been. But when people watch hearings on TV they can judge matters for themselves. Even with the corporate news media covering up for Bush and Cheney for six years, various polls show that almost half and in some polls more than half (depending on how the question is worded) of Americans are in favor of impeachment hearings. After a few weeks of TV coverage of hearings into the many crimes of the Bush/Cheney administration, public outrage will mount so high that the American people will demand that they be removed from office. What better way to ensure full public airing of those crimes than to begin impeachment hearings? It seems to me that the evidence against Bush and Cheney is now so overwhelming that not to aggressively pursue impeachment would be a grand dereliction of Congress’s responsibility to the American people.