"lying to the American people while delivering the
constitutionally mandated State of the Union
equates to lying while under oath in a court case. Bush tricked us into an unnecessary war, a war that is killing and
maiming members of our military”
The Case for
CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS
Posted January 19, 2004 thepeoplesvoice.org
By: Ted Lang
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.
- United States Constitution, Article II, Section 4
It seems that everyone who reads that phrase, “high crimes and
misdemeanors,” must know what it means, whether one experiences that
expression for the first time, or whether it serves as a tired and worn out
qualifier justifying the impeachment of a sitting president.
And it is doubtful that the average American even knows what
impeachment means – they assume it means removal from office.
But look again at the precise wording offered in Article II of our
Constitution; it clearly indicates that removal from office can occur only
after both impeachment and conviction.
The impeachment process begins in the House of Representatives.
It is a statement of charges against the office holder clearly
indicating conduct that can be described as treason, bribery, or “high
crimes and misdemeanors.” The
House votes on the articles of impeachment itemized by its judiciary
committee, and then the matter is referred to the Senate, the latter
deciding upon a trial by majority vote.
In the case of President Bill Clinton, the House formally declared a
statement of charges, but the Senate voted against the trial.
And conviction requires a two-thirds majority of the Senate.
This brings us full circle to the term “high crimes and misdemeanors,” a
curiosity of terms. How can a
crime and a misdemeanor be equated? A
high crime is obviously a much greater offense and at a higher level than any
misdemeanor, high or otherwise. It
would seem the term is a catchall to ensure that any modicum of illegal
behavior perpetrated by an office holder could qualify as an impeachable
offense, but this is not so. The
key to assessing whether or not official behavior is an impeachable offense
does not hinge upon whether an act is or is not a criminal offense; it is
dependent upon official misconduct such that it violates the public
trust. Violation of
criminal law is not an absolute basis for impeachment, but of course,
it can be, as in the case of bribery or treason.
It is clear that impeachment’s primary purpose is to remove from office,
an office holder that has violated the public trust such that lying to the
American people is construed as seriously damaging the government of the
United States. Much of this
information is available from Ann Coulter’s book, High Crimes and
Misdemeanors – The case against Bill Clinton [© 1998 – Regnery,
Washington]. Coulter, in what
is obviously a heavily partisan effort to pile on to the Clinton Impeachment
process, sought to inform and educate the public, and the first chapter of
her book does so in spades. But
it also provides some solid comparisons, comparisons that now cry for the
immediate impeachment of our current president, George W. Bush.
Coulter makes a solid case citing that Republican former President, Richard
M. Nixon, committed far less crimes that could be characterized as
endangering the security of the nation than did Clinton.
She offers: “While Clinton’s defenders act as if an impeachable
offense must be some immediate threat to the nation – such as the
discovery that the president was conspiring with communist agents to turn
over vital missile technology to Red China – impeachment was intended to
be used, and always has been used, to remove officers who simply ‘behave
amiss.’” Of course, as we
all know, Clinton was neither accused of transferring missile technology,
nor was it proven that he “conspired” to sell technology.
The sarcastic comparison was orchestrated to minimize Nixon’s
transgressions to that of Clinton’s by introducing “facts” that never
came out in the impeachment process.
But Coulter’s effort does lend heavily to an understanding of precisely
what impeachment is about, and one thing she readily admits, impeachment
cannot originate as a policy disagreement or a partisan attack,
which is precisely what her reference to a technology transfer tried to
imply. The most valuable
information offered regarding impeachment, is the laundry list provided
citing the “general categories of impeachable conduct that developed in
the four hundred years of use in Great Britain:”
Looking at these basics, the case for impeachment against President George
W. Bush becomes immediately clear. A
betrayal of trust screams for recognition as the most impeachable offense of
the Bush administration. Before
ascertaining why, let’s examine Coulter’s take on presidential lying:
“If Nixon telling one lie, not under oath, constituted the creation
of an ‘Imperial Presidency’ [Anthony Lewis – New York Times]
demanding the president’s impeachment, what has Clinton created by telling
repeated lies, not only to the public, but under oath?
Lying to the American people is a clear betrayal of trust.”
But Coulter further builds the case by citing the charges handed down by the
House Judiciary Committee against Nixon:
In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his
trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great
prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the
people of the United States.
Wherefore, Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and
trial, and removal from office.
It can be argued that Clinton lied under oath in a court case, but as
Coulter correctly points out, Nixon did not!
But his televised lies, as well as his attempted cover-up of the
Watergate break-in, are what did him in.
But certainly, lying to the American people while delivering the
constitutionally mandated [Article II, Section 3] State of the Union
equates to lying while under oath in a court case.
Bush tricked us into an unnecessary war, a war that is killing and
maiming members of our military. The
“yellowcake” fraud was just that, and Bush was warned by the CIA not to
use that in his SOTU speech. Even
if Bush made an honest mistake here, and that’s a real difficult
assumption to make, he did so with an obvious reckless disregard whether or
not it was true.
The non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the ability on the part of
Saddam to readily access them in 45 minutes for the defense of his nation,
are now all established as bald-faced lies.
And Secretary of State Colin Powel’s promise to produce a white
paper proving al Qaeda’s involvement in 9-11 never materialized either.
The revelation by former Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O’Neill,
this past week that the Bush administration’s first and most critical
order of business was bringing down Saddam, puts additional focus on 9-11,
especially in light of the fact that President George Bush was warned of
the possibility of an al Qaeda terrorist attack one full month BEFORE 9-11.
Precisely what precautionary and preventive measures did the Bush
administration take to protect American lives?
Did Bush and his neoconservative PNAC cabal act after 9-11 to
help justify “regime change” in Iraq?
What proof of a connection is there that would tie Iraq to 9-11?
Coulter again: “Article I charged Nixon with, among other things, making
or causing to be made false or misleading statements for the
purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a
thorough and complete investigation had been conducted…” Can that
“false investigation” now be compared to the Kean 9-11 commission that
Bush has stonewalled, and from which 28 pages of a preliminary report was
redacted? What of the funding
blocks thrown up by Bush concerning this investigation, the purpose of which
was to report the events of 9-11 to the American people?
And as concerns requested answers to the commission relative to the
National Security briefing one month before 9-11, this joint committee,
set up by both the Congress and the White House and precluding the
invocation of “executive privilege,” has been continually denied answers
from the Bush administration.
Bush’s proven lying, especially during the State of the Union, his
cover-ups, and refusal to provide important information on 9-11 to the
people and its Congress, constitute a betrayal of trust, encroachment
of Congressional prerogatives and abuse of power.
His beforehand knowledge of an imminent terrorist attack on 9-11, as
well as his failure to do anything to either mitigate or prevent the
terrorism, constitutes a neglect of duty.
Although nothing can be identified per se as corruption other than
the Halliburton and Bechtel contracts in violation of federal procurement
law, combined with the totally unnecessary war initiated unconstitutionally
via the compliance of Congress, a misled Congress it should be added,
it would seem that blatant corruption is not a readily recognizable
shortcoming of this presidency. Bush
has misapplied funds somewhat in terms of refusing to fund the Kean
Commission at times, as well as failing to follow through on funding
applications approved by Congress. But
as cited in Article I of the Nixon Impeachment, Bush has perpetrated severe
transgressions and assaults causing activities “subversive of
constitutional government” via his administration’s U.S.A. Patriot Acts
I and II, rushed through Congress based upon his lies, cover-ups and neglect
of duty relative to 9-11.
Realistically, Bush won’t be impeached.
Republicans control the government, and only a unified act on the
part of a disunited populace could bring sufficient pressure to bear upon
their representatives to force the much-needed impeachment process against
Bush and his PNAC neoconservative cabal.
And even if Democrats did do the right thing and at least begin
an impeachment process, talk radio would offer this as an election year
tactic. And to be sure, the
Democratic hopefuls do not want to be seen as invoking such a cheap,
partisan attack upon a sitting president during an election year.
THEODORE E. LANG 1/18/04 All rights reserved. Ted Lang is a political
analyst and a freelance writer.