Who can be impeached?
The president, vice-president and any civil officer. This would include any
cabinet member such as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft,
How does the impeachment process work?
It starts from the House Judiciary Committee, then the House Of
Representatives votes to impeach(indict), the trial is held in the Senate
and is overseen by the Chief Justice. A 2/3-majority vote in the Senate is
needed for a conviction. The most severe punishment that can be given is
removal from office.
Where in our constitution does it talk about impeachment?
Article I, sections 2 and 3; Article II, sections 2 and 4
"The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers;
and shall have the sole power of impeachment."
"The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When
sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the
President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside:
And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds
of the members present.
Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal
from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or
profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be
liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according
"The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the
United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the
actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing,
of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any
subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have
power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States,
except in cases of impeachment."
"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." (This is the biggest focus
of our attention)
What are high crimes and misdemeanors?
There's debate over what constitutes a high crime but
According to Grolier:
"The conclusion reached by most scholars is that clear criminal law violations
represent impeachable offenses, whereas misconduct that is not necessarily
criminal but that undermines the integrity of the office (such as disregard of
constitutional responsibilities) may rise to the level of an impeachable offense."
(Both of which apply to President Bush)
What 'high crimes' has President Bush violated?
There is much debate about violations of oath of office. However, The
constitution states quite clearly that international
treaties, once entered into, become the supreme law of the land:
"This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in
pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the
authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land;"
Several international treaties have been violated by the invasion of Iraq.
The U.N. Charter, The Nuremburg Principles, and the International
Covenant On Human Rights.
Can the Invasion of Iraq Be Considered A 'Just' War?
The just war doctrine has three possible justifications:
2. Helping another sovereign nation that has been invaded.
3. Extreme necessity.
It's important to understand that even if one were to ascribe to that doctrine,
the invasion of Iraq would not fall under any of the three conditions that
warrant it. I've found the most articulate argument in that regard made by
right-wing legal analyst and columnist David Pyne. He wrote several articles
before the invasion in an attempt to dissuade the administration from invading
Iraq. I've written to him to see if his opinion has changed.
"Pre-emptive and unprovoked attacks are presumptively illegal under
international law and with very few exceptions cannot be justified."
"Applying the principles of America's just war tradition to the planned
unprovoked war against Iraq then, it is clear that a new US invasion of Iraq
would not meet any of the requirements for being a just war. An invasion of
Iraq would not be in our national self-defense, as Iraq has never attacked our
country. It would not be waged in defense of another, as was Operation Desert
Storm, as Iraq has not invaded any of its neighbors since 1990. It would not
be conducted in response to any extreme necessity or danger to the US, let
alone any necessity since Iraq lacks either or both the will and the capability to
attack US territory and kill US civilians by any means. Iraq possesses neither
nuclear weapons nor the long-range missiles needed to deliver them against
the US. It has possessed Chemical Biological Radiological (CBR) weapons for
two decades, but has never even threatened to use them against the US. In
addition, President Bush has all but admitted that Iraq has not sponsored any
terrorist attacks against the US by failing to cite any in his speech to the UN
so a US invasion would not be in response to any Iraqi terrorist attack."
The invasion of Iraq was clearly not a 'just' war, thus there is no way that it
can be considered anything other than a violation of the 'supreme law of the
land' and thus a high crime.
There's a whole slew of other impeachable offenses, Ramsey Clark has written
17 articles of impeachment, from illegal detentions,
the deprival of constitutional rights through the Patriot Acts, condoning
assassinations, media manipulations, falsification of data etc.
I've chosen to focus on just the invasion of Iraq for the
purposes of this discussion because it's egregious enough in itself to warrant
impeachment, and the evidence is clear and undeniable.
Did H.J. Res. 114 authorize the invasion of Iraq?
From U.N. Res. 1441 :
(a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces
of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate
in order to--
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing
threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions
Section 3(c)(2):      Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any
requirement of the War Powers Resolution.
From the War Powers Resolution Act:
(d) Nothing in this joint resolution--
(1) is intended to alter the constitutional authority
of the Congress or of the President, or the provision of existing treaties
Bottom Line: H.J.Res 114 authorizes force only if existing treaties are upheld.
This means that the U.N. Charter, The Nuremburg Principles, The International
Covenant On Human Rights, The Pact Of Paris can't legally be tossed aside.
Why bother wasting our energy on impeachment?
We owe it to the thousands of innocents killed, and to their families
to call for the cathartic process of impeachment.
Our country had no legal right to invade and occupy Iraq, to take the law into
our own hands, to become vigilantes. It's too important to the future of our
country to let this go unchallenged. We wouldn't let a lynch mob kill innocent
people to get at a despicable murderer in our own country. We owe it to
ourselves and to the honor and integrity of our country to call for
impeachment. Voting in a new political party or voting out one we don't like
is no substitute for justice; it would only hide this deed under the rug. We can
show the world and ourselves that ours is a solid form of government, a
government containing checks and balances, with a viable mechanism for
dealing with leaders who abuse their powers.
If we want to live in a just world, we must make our decisions and act as if we
already lived in one. The result of our actions may or may not lead to
impeachment. Our success won't be defined by the results of our actions
but by the actions themselves. If we live and act by our words and our
beliefs, without being attached to the results, the results will take care