FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Can the Anti-War Movement Impeach Bush?

by VIRGINIA RODINO

“Today is probably the happiest day of my life, since Casey’s death.”

Cindy Sheehan, founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, an advocacy group for families of soldiers killed in Iraq, voiced her satisfaction at a June 16 “Presidential Accountability” rally which focused on the Downing Street Memo and the crisis of the Bush Administration regarding its continued occupation of Iraq.

The rally followed a hearing led by Representative John Conyers, Jr., the ranking Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus. The hearing explored details of the “Downing Street Memo,” the leaked British document which shows that the Bush Administration planned the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq as early as July 2002.

At this hearing, which was denied a proper meeting room and was suspiciously in competition with 11 concurrently scheduled House votes called by Republicans, three dozen Democratic representatives joined with Conyers in a tiny basement room, declaring that the Downing Street memo was the first “primary source” document to report that prewar intelligence was intentionally manipulated in order to make a case for invading Iraq. Anti-war statements were also given by former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Boston lawyer John Bonifaz, a co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org., and Cindy Sheehan, of Vacaville, Calif., the mother of Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq in April 2004.

The Downing Street memo, disputed by Washington and London in some of its details but not its authenticity, gives the minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his national security advisors. The internal memo states that, in the opinion of “C” (Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service), “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the [Bush administration’s] policy. It “seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action.” Since then, several other British government memos have become public that also make the case that the White House was planning the war long before it admitted to doing so.

At the hearing, Sheehan said, “I think maybe I’m going to get some justice for Casey, and for the 1,713 other brave Americans and the tens of thousands, uncounted and countless Iraqi people who have been killed by lies and by the betrayal of our country.” She continued, “President George W. Bush doesn’t deserve our allegiance. He doesn’t deserve to go back to Crawford, Texas. He deserves to go to prison for what he did.”

Sheehan’s sentiments of prosecuting Bush and Co. were echoed at the rally by members of Congress. The deliberate misleading of Congress is an impeachable offense under the U.S. Constitution. In addition, under the precedents established at Nuremberg, Bush and other members of his administration such as Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Condeleeza Rice, and others, could be indicted and tried for war crimes under international law.

The Democratic representatives attending the earlier hearing asserted that if information contained in the Memo had been available to the Congress prior to the war, neither the House nor the Senate would have supported the Oct. 11, 2002, congressional vote empowering the president to order the invasion.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., asked simply, “Has the president misled, or deliberately misled, the Congress?”

Bonifaz, who served as lead counsel for a coalition of U.S. soldiers, parents of U.S. soldiers, and Members of Congress in a federal lawsuit challenging President George W. Bush’s authority to wage war against Iraq absent a congressional declaration of war or equivalent action, noted, “The recent release of the Downing Street Memo provides new and compelling evidence that the President of the United States has been actively engaged in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq. If true, such conduct constitutes a High Crime under Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution.”

The Downing Street Memo, has actually been published in its entirety by a number of U.S. newspapers. Meanwhile, polls show that support for the Iraqi War is rapidly declining in the country, and that at least one Republican member of Congress, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, has come out against the war.

On May 5, 2005, Rep. Conyers had sponsored a hearing in which he and 88 other congressional members demanded in a letter to Bush, that five questions related to the Memo be answered. Bush has not yet responded. A grassroots Internet initiative has solicited over 560,000 signatures of concerned citizens in support of Conyers’ letter.

Rep. Conyers, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Diane E. Watson (D-CA), Rep. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and other congressional members personally delivered these signatures to the guards at a White House gate after the June 16 rally in Lafayette Park.

Rep. Waters also spoke to the rally at Lafayette Park, “Today is a new beginning. We are now focusing on the big lie. The Congress has come alive. We are going to take on this president in a real way. We are going to take it to the streets.”

Waters emphasized that the president is “a liar,” re-emphasizing that “There were never any WMD.” Waters announced to the crowd that fifty members of the House have already signed on to the newly formed “Out of Iraq Caucus.”

Conyers, who was one of the keynote speakers at a massive March 15, 2003, anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., and has declared that it is the U.S., not Iraq, that needed “a regime change,” said at the June 16 rally, “This is a great, historic day in America. We have finally broken through the stonewalling that has been going on in the Congress. Now, we were told one thing in America, but in London they were planning a war all the time….We need more hearings, more questions and more marches and more protests. This is only a beginning, which is going to turn this sad and terrible war around.”

The recent hearing and rally and their aftermath has ushered in new energy and confidence to the anti-war movement. The excitement of the realistic possibility of the impeachment of Bush and the participation of elected officials will help to broaden the movement even further. What is absolutely crucial for U.S. anti-war and anti-imperialist activists at this juncture, is to not simply stop at the doorstep of the progressives in the Democratic Party.

The final conclusion to all of this energy to impeach Bush and Co, and try them for war crimes — the final conclusion was to vote Democrat, in order to “take back our Congress” and “take back our country.”

The call from the podium, the leaflets being passed around, the organizers were all working for the Progressive Democrats of America – most of these same people who were rallying against the war would not have come out if Kerry were across the street in the White House, increasing the number of troops in Iraq as he said he would. Elected officials of the Democrat Party and the DNC receive campaign contributions from the same companies in the military industry as the Republican Party (see Amy Goodman’s book “Exception to the Rulers.”

As uplifting as the June 16 events were, they demonstrated clearly the constant danger of American voters and activists buying into the least-worst “alternative.” The Congress, in a bipartisan manner, still recently voted for the $86 billion to fund the occupation of Iraq. True and complete societal change is endangered when we stop short of our ultimate goal by saying, “There are good individuals in this present party or system.” Was Bill Clinton a “better” individual, even though he presided over 8 years of sanctions against the people of Iraq, sanctions that killed over a million Iraqis?

In every corrupt system, there exist great individuals. There are “nice guy” CEOs, warm-hearted military generals, there were even conscientious people in the Nazi party who worked to do the right thing and subvert. The existence of great, progressive individuals is not in dispute — in fact, these individuals demonstrate clearly the indomitable human spirit and the reason why struggle is necessary. Even in the most desperate, cruel, and seemingly unsurvivable situations, people have resisted, and sometimes won (let’s look at the courage of the Intifadas and Insurgencies in Iraq and Palestine, for example). Great individuals, however, do not justify barbaric, unnatural, inhumane systems – they instead give evidence to why those systems need to be toppled, for without the repression and oppression of these systems, all of us, every one of us, could shine and be great individuals.

The task now is to remind ourselves that the progressive elected officials were pushed and dragged into action by the demonstrators in the street, by the deluge of calls, faxes, sit-ins by anti-war citizens to their elected representatives. We need to empower ourselves with the knowledge that it was our action in the streets that enabled the recent moves by the progressives in Congress. We then must take this energy, and empower the entire international movement with this new confidence and success. In this manner, we can truly work to end all wars, and the incessant drive of profit over the safety and welfare of the world’s people.

VIRGINIA RODINO is on the steering committee of United for Peace and Justice and a director of Democracy Rising. You can comment on this column at her blogspot www.DemocracyRising.US.

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail