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Congress Needs to Defend Itself

The last couple of weeks have brought confirmation—as if it were needed—even in the corporate media, that President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the gang of thugs and sycophants around them in the White House, engaged in a massive conspiracy to lie the country into a war in Iraq.

The release of a confessional book by former White House press spokesman Scott McClellan and the subsequent release of a long blocked report by the Senate Intelligence Committee make it clear that Bush, Cheney & Company deliberately lied to Congress and the American public back in 2002 and early 2003 about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein (there was none). McClellan also states that Bush and Cheney conspired to “out” CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame Wilson, as part of a compaign to prevent her husband from exposing a major part of that campaign of lies: the claim that Saddam Hussein was seeking to build nuclear weapons.

It would be hard to overstate the extent of or the damage caused by these crimes that are now exposed to the light of day.

Beginning in 2001, making the most cynical use of the tragic killing of nearly 3000 Americans in the 9-11 attacks, Bush and Cheney moved to aggrandize as much power as possible in the executive, and then, to consolidate that power grab, engineered a full-scale war against Iraq, enabling them to claim that any opponent of their dictatorial usurpation of power was a traitor to the nation.

It was all a lie.

Saddam Hussein had no links to Al Qaeda, and he had no nuclear program. He had no weapons of mass destruction. His country was broken, thanks to years of international sanctions and war.

As a result of these lies, we have a country that no longer even remotely resembles what the Founders had intended. The Congress has been shorn of its once exclusive authority to legislate, and even its Constitutional power to investigate the executive branch has been successfully defied. It is now an atrophied relic. The federal  judiciary, right up to the Supreme Court, has been packed with administration sycophants and Federalist Society advocates of unfettered executive power.

We also have been saddled with an unwinnable war in the Middle East that has claimed the lives of 4500 Americans, destroyed the lives of another 30,000—or perhaps several hundred thousand, if we add in all those suffering psychological damage, or genetic damage from exposure to depleted uranium weapons. That war has also killed over 1 million innocent Iraqis, including countless chiildren, destroyed their country, bankrupted this nation, and made the US a pariah and a rogue state in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Most Americans long since came to the conclusion that the Bush administration was a gang of idiots. Just watching their handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster unfold was enough to make that clear. But the new reports from McClellan and from the Senate Intelligence Committee should make it clear that this was not just stupidity. The disasters that have befallen this nation, or that it has brought on the rest of the world, over the past eight years have been the result of deliberate lying and deceit and of the conspiratorial policies of a cabal of leaders whose goal from day one was undoing the Constitution and establishing the presidency as a kind of dictatorship.

Most of the corporate media have been unable to bring themselves to state this clearly. They edge around the issue by talking about the White House having been “misleading” or “untruthful.”  And little is said about the lasting damage that has been done to the Republic and the Constitution, or about what is to be done about a still bloody war that never should have been fought in the first place.

The answer is clear. Impeachment proceedings should be initiated against both Bush and Cheney. These two arch criminals must not be permitted to leave office with their titles intact. They need to be tossed out in disgrace, and then indicted for war crimes and for crimes like perjury, conspiracy and perhaps treason.

We are already seeing the long-term damage that has been wrought. John McCain, the presumed Republican nominee for president, is saying that the president’s use of the National Security Agency to spy, without any court order, on tens or hundreds of thousants, or perhaps millions of Americans, is legal, and would continue under a McCain administration. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said that he would continue Bush’s use of “signing statements” to ignore Congressional legislation that he felt impaired his Constitutional powers as president.

The nation is at a dangerous crossroad. Either Congress reasserts its authority now, via impeachment, drawing a Constitutional line in the stand in defense of Article I of the Constitution—the article that defines the power of Congress as absolute in terms of passing legisation—or it forever surrenders that role, leaving us with what can only be called a dictatorship.

We clearly cannot count on the next president, whoever that may be, to surrender powers usurped by the current one. What leader in history has willingly and voluntarily surrendered authority, after all?

Such power must be wrested back by Congress, and the only way for that to happen is impeachment—a course laid out clearly by the authors of the Constitution for just such a crisis.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback edition). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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