John Dean, the former counsel to President Richard Nixon, made a case last year for impeaching President George W. Bush if the president intentionally misled Congress and the public into backing a war with Iraq.
“To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked,” Dean wrote in a June 6, 2003 column for findlaw.com. “Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be “a high crime” under the Constitution’s impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony “to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.”
On Wednesday, a 918-page report released by the Iraqi Survey Group, headed by former United Nations weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, said Iraq eliminated all of its illicit arms programs in the mid-1990s, shortly after the first Gulf War. In other words, Iraq wasn’t a threat; Bush’s dire warning turned out to be misleading and, as we now know, factually wrong, and, even worse, lies. That’s grounds for impeachment.
“Presidential statements, particularly on matters of national security, are held to an expectation of the highest standard of truthfulness,” Dean wrote in a June 6 column. “A president cannot stretch, twist or distort facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnson’s distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from reelection. President Richard Nixon’s false statements about Watergate forced his resignation.”
Some of Bush’s most frightening statements about Iraq’s non-existent weapons program:
“We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons — the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.”
(Radio Address, October 5, 2002)
“The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.”
“We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas.”
“We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We’re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States.”
“The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his “nuclear mujahideen” – his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.” (Cincinnati, Ohio Speech, October 7, 2002).
“Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.” (State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003).
Remember, this a government that impeached a president for accepting sexual favors in the oval office and lying about it. You would think that the punishment for taking a country to war on false pretenses would be worse.
JASON LEOPOLD is the former Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires where he spent two years covering the energy crisis and the Enron bankruptcy. He just finished writing a book about the crisis, due out in December through Rowman & Littlefield. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org