Over the past six years as president, George W. Bush has attempted to guide our nation through perilous times. Prior to 9/11, Americans like you and I witnessed horrible acts of terrorism occurring in other countries on CNN, but believed that we ourselves were far removed from the impact of these attacks.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the American public’s invulnerable sense of tranquility and security had been shattered. For the first time since the attack on Pearl Harbor, genuine fear swept throughout the nation.
If there is one positive that we as American citizens can take out of the 9/11 atrocities, it is this: In the weeks and months that followed the attacks, the American public united as one. During this “unipolar moment,” Bush was confronted with a choice: to pursue policies, which would ensure that the nation remained united and secure, or to allow his personal predilections to override the national interest in protecting the citizens of our great country.
To my personal dismay, it is clear that our president has neglected the former course of action in favor of the latter. In performing his duty as president to faithfully execute the laws of the nation, Bush has effectively marginalized individual rights in the name of providing for national security.
While it may be necessary for the president to assume increased powers during wartime, the Constitution forbids the president from being provided with a blank check to do as he pleases. Due to Bush’s active circumvention of numerous national and international laws in conducting the War on Terror, the Democratic Congress has several grounds with which to bring up impeachment charges against Bush.
First, Bush knowingly misled the nation into an unnecessary war with Iraq by at best distorting (and at worst outright lying) about the evidence of weapons of mass destruction possessed by Saddam Hussein. The administration’s two primary sources for believing that Saddam possessed these weapons were Ahmed Chalabi and an informant codenamed Curveball.
Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, provided the bulk of the evidence that the administration relied on in the run up to the war. Furthermore, Chalabi informed the administration that once the American troops reached Baghdad, an underground army of over 100,000 Iraqis would rise up and join them.
However, none of this intelligence turned out to be true. The intelligence provided by Curveball, an Iraqi defector, was immediately discredited by CIA analysts. A week after the intelligence was discredited by the CIA, Bush continued to rely on the faulty intelligence, as evidenced by his reference to Curveball during one of his speeches.
Thus, the administration’s reluctance to conduct an adequate inquiry into the validity of these two primary sources of intelligence goes to show that Bush had made up his mind about the war long before the attacks of 9/11. Bush effectively molded the weak evidence he had in order to justify finishing the war which his father had started a decade before.
Second, Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping program is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. The amendment explicitly states that no search can be conducted unless it is pursuant to a warrant. Realizing that under extraordinary circumstances it would be necessary for the government to conduct a search prior to obtaining a warrant, Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978. This act allows the government to initially wiretap without a warrant and then obtain one within 72 hours before a judge.
Bush refused to adhere to the provisions of this act by refraining from even retroactively obtaining these warrants. Bush’s justification for doing so is that he believes the act to be outdated. Simply because the president disagrees with a law does not give him the authority to nullify it. If Bush wants the law changed, then he has only one course of action under the Constitution: to lobby Congress to amend it.
Last month, Bush announced in a memo that he has the right to open up any piece of first class mail which he so desires. This arbitrary infringement on the privacy rights of ordinary American citizens is unprecedented in a country supposedly founded on democratic principles.
Third, Bush has created military tribunals to try terrorists which violate the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments and the Geneva Conventions. Any person labeled an enemy combatant by Bush can be held in prison indefinitely. Furthermore, enemy combatants lose their right to see the evidence against them and thus have no method with which to attempt to undermine that evidence in court. This arbitrary judicial system inverts the usual American system of justice based on the rule of law.
While my opponents may try to undermine my argument by stating that these enemy combatants are “bad” people and effectively view them as guilty until proven innocent, in reality this is not so. We need to remember that these people are not terrorists; they are suspected terrorists.
One example of the arbitrary nature of this system can be seen in the case of Nazer Gul. After experiencing immense pain from an infected molar, Gul (a Pakistani baker) spent the night in a doctor’s office located in Afghanistan. On a tip provided by the Pakistani government, Gul was arrested during a raid of the doctor’s office during the middle of the night. During his two years at Guantanamo, Gul was not charged. In 2004, the U.S. government discovered that it had mistaken Gul for someone else, an Afghan military commander named Chaman Gul. Even after this was discovered, the U.S. government still refused to release Gul for another year.
Finally, Bush has condoned the use of torture during interrogation proceedings. After the systematic abuse of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, Bush attempted to distance himself from the actions of what he described as a few unruly soldiers.
However, as evidenced by a Justice Department memo approved by Bush which stated that physical torture could be used by interrogators as long as their primary goal was to elicit incriminating information, Bush was at least partially responsible for what happened at Abu Ghraib. Furthermore, when a Senate Appropriations bill was placed on his desk in December 2005, Bush signed the bill with a catch; he illegally suspended an amendment to the bill which stated that the United States must abide by the Geneva Conventions when conducting the interrogation of foreign prisoners.
Thus, while Bush himself may not have directly condoned torture, he at least laid down the framework for the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib to occur. Furthermore, by refusing to adhere to the torture provisions of the Geneva Convention, Bush has effectively invalidated the treaty.
The danger is that this treaty serves as the only tangible protection for our brave troops when they are captured abroad by our enemies. If our own government is unwilling to abide by its terms, then why would our enemies when they capture our troops?
Besides these four aforementioned examples, there are several other reasons for the House to impeach Bush in the near future. These include violating separation of powers by issuing presidential signing statements, helping to disclose the name of a secret CIA operative and several other “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The only way to restore our credibility in the international community is for Congress to impeach Bush. Even though it is unlikely that he will be removed from office by the Senate, impeachment can serve as a symbolic gesture to the rest of the world that the vast majority of American citizens do not adhere to the “principles” articulated by our leader.
If President Bill Clinton could be impeached for simply getting a blow job in the Oval Office, I think it would be appropriate to impeach Bush as well for allowing 3,000 courageous Americans to die in a war that he led us into under false pretenses.