|540,000 signatures to the President on June 16, 2005.
Also on June 16, 2005, Conyers assembled an unofficial meeting to receive evidence related to the Downing Street memo and to consider grounds for impeachment. Dozens of Members of Congress attended. Witnesses included Ambassador Wilson, constitutional attorney John Bonifaz, and CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
In July, Conyers along with Representative Frank (see below) asked for research into the impeachability of Karl Rove with regard to the disclosure of CIA Operative Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.
On December 20, the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff, at Conyers' request, filed its 273-page report, The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War. The report included copies of house resolutions to establish a bi-partisan Select Committee in the House - H.Res. 635; to censure the President - H.Res.636; and to censure the Vice President - H.Res. 637.
In comments on the report, Conyers said:
The report finds there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice-President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.
The Report concludes that a number of these actions amount to prima facie evidence (evidence sufficiently strong to presume the allegations are true) that federal criminal laws have been violated. Legal violations span from false statements to Congress to whistleblower laws.
The Report also concludes that these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable conduct. However, because the Administration has failed to respond to requests for information about these charges, it is not yet possible to conclude that an impeachment inquiry or articles of impeachment are warranted.
Conyers wrote a letter to President Bush advising him of his intent and invited citizens to join him in signing it.
Conyers filed the legislation on December 18, where it was referred to the House Committee on Rules. According to the Library of Congress' legislative information site, as of May 3, 2006 there were 36 co-sponsors of H. Res. 635, "Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment."
The cosponsors are: Abercrombie (D-HI), Baldwin (D-WI), Capps (D-CA), Capuano (D-MA), Clay (D-MO), Davis (D-IL), Farr (D-CA), Fattah (D-PA), Filner (D-CA), Hinchey (D-NY), Honda (D-CA), Jackson (D-IL), Jackson Lee (D-TX), Lee (D-CA), Lewis (D-GA), Maloney (D-NY), McCollum (D-MN), McDermott (D-WA), McKinney (D-GA), Moore (D-WI), Nadler (D-NY), Oberstar (D-MN), Olver (D-MA), Owens (D-NY), Payne (D-NJ), Rangel (D-NY), Sabo (D-MN), Sanders (I-VT), Schakowsky (D-IL), Solis (D-CA), Stark (D-CA), Tierney (D-MA), Vel?zquez (D-NY), Waters (D-CA), Woolsey (D-CA), and Wu (D-OR).
In addition, Lofgren (D-CA) signed on as a co-sponsor on December 22, 2005, but withdrew support on January 31, 2006.
On December 19, 2005 Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) issued a press release], saying that she had written four undisclosed legal scholars, asking if there were grounds for impeachment, citing the December 16, 2005 New York Times disclosure of Bush's authorization of the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor Americans without warrants and Nixon counsel John Dean's comments on December 18, 2005 that this constituted an impeachable offense, though in a December 20, 2005 CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer, Boxer stated she was not ready to call for Bush's impeachment.
An Associated Press report on December 20, 2005, said that Representative John Lewis (D-GA) told an interviewer at WAOK-AM News radio that the President should be impeached for authorizing the NSA's actions. A news release dated December 19, 2005 posted on John Lewis' official United States House of Representatives website says, "In my opinion, the President has violated the law, and the House and Senate must pursue their inquiries into this illegal program. The President must stop using the threat of terrorism and the tactics of fear to invade the privacy of American citizens. George W. Bush is the president. He is not a king. He is not above the law," and concludes, "There is no question that the U.S. Congress has impeached presidents for lesser offenses."
On January 21, the Detroit Free Press reported in a story, "Call is Out to Impeach Bush," that the previous day, at an unofficial hearing of Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee called by Conyers, Scott and Van Hollen, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), called for the committee to explore whether Bush should face impeachment for alleged high crimes and misdemeanors stemming from his decision to authorize domestic surveillance without court review. The proceedings had no legal authority, as committee chairman, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, (R-WI), rejected Democrats' requests for an inquiry. Nadler is a senior Democrat on the committee's panel on the Constitution.
One unusual approach that is being considered by prominent Democrats in Vermont is based on parliamentary guidelines from "Jefferson's Manual", a supplement to U.S. House of Representatives rules. Its section on impeachment specifically allows a state legislature to transmit charges to initiate impeachment proceedings. The state Democratic committee has called a special meeting for April 8 to decide whether to pursue this possibility. Gaye Symington, a Democrat, and Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives, which would have to act on any such resolution, has said that the state legislature should keep its attention focused on matters concerning the state of Vermont.
Vermont State Legislature
Vermont impeachment resolution
Twelve Vermont state representatives (Democrats, Progressives, 1 Independent) have endorsed a resolution to ask Congress to impeach President George W. Bush and to investigate alleged "high crimes and misdemeanors" in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The resolution was introduced by Rep. David Zuckerman, P-Burlington, on Tuesday, 25 April 2006
Illinois State Legislature
On April 20,2006, the Illinois state legislature, citing the same rule used by Vermont Democrats (Section 603 of Jefferson's Manual of the Rules of the United States House of Representatives), began to consider Resolution 125 (HJR0125), which brought five specific charges against President Bush. The synopsis of the bill reads:
"Urges the General Assembly to submit charges to the U. S. House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States, George W. Bush, for willfully violating his Oath of Office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and if found guilty urges his removal from office and disqualification to hold any other office in the United States."
Among the charges in HJR0125 is that "President Bush authorized violation of the Torture Convention of the Geneva Conventions, a treaty regarded a supreme law by the United States Constitution". Per US Code Title 18,2441 (the War Crimes Act of 1996): "[Any US national who] commits a war crime [including any 'grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United states is a party'] ... if the victim dies, shall ... be subject to the penalty of death."
If the bill passed it would request the U.S. House of Representatives to begin impeachment hearings. On April 25 over a dozen members of the Illinois house co-sponsored the bill, and referred it to the Rules Committee.
Joining Illinois, California has become the second state in which a proposal to impeach President Bush has been introduced in the state legislature. The resolution:
"bases the call for impeachment upon the Bush Administration intentionally misleading the Congress and the American people regarding the threat from Iraq in order to justify an unnecessary war that has cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives and casualties; exceeding constitutional authority to wage war by invading Iraq; exceeding constitutional authority by Federalizing the National Guard; conspiring to torture prisoners in violation of the 'Federal Torture Act' and indicating intent to continue such actions; spying on American citizens in violation of the 1978 Foreign Agency Surveillance Act; leaking and covering up the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, and holding American citizens without charge or trial."
There are many other individual towns, cities and organizations across the United States which have resolutions supporting impeachment which have either passed, failed or are pending.
White House reaction
The January 23-29 January 2006 issue of Insight on the News self-described as "a sister publication" of the conservative Washington Times, included an article, "Impeachment hearings: The White House prepares for the worst." This article said administration sources regard Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy as "a prelude to the impeachment process." The article quotes an anonymous source as saying, "Our arithmetic shows that a majority of the committee could vote against the president. If we work hard, there could be a tie." An anonymous source also criticized Congress, saying, "We will tell the American people that while we have done everything we can to protect them, our policies are being endangered by a hypocritical Congress."
In October of 2005, After Downing Street commissioned a poll by the independent Ipsos Public Affairs Research, which found that by a margin of 50% to 44% Americans say that President Bush should be impeached if he lied about the war in Iraq. 39% strongly agreed and 30% strongly disagreed with the statement, "If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable by impeaching him." 72% of Democrats favored impeachment, compared to 56% of Independents and 20% of Republicans.
A Zogby International poll from October 29 to November 2, 2005 found that by a margin of 53% to 42% (+/-2.9%) Americans say that "If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment." This was supported by 76% of Democrats, 50% of Independents, and 29% of Republicans. A November 2, 2005 Washington Post -ABC News poll found 55% of Americans believe the Bush administration "intentionally misled the public" in making its case for war.
December 15, 2005, Rasmussen Reports released a poll that showed that 32% of the 1,000 Americans polled would support an impeachment of Bush and 35% would support an impeachment of Cheney. This survey was also commissioned by After Downing Street.
A March 16, 2006 poll by American Research Group showed that 42% of Americans favored impeaching Bush. The same poll showed that a plurality of Americans favored the Senate censuring Bush regarding his authorization of wiretaps without court orders.
An informal website poll MSNBC (April 14, 2006) asked whether there was justification to hold a formal impeachment trial, insufficient justification, nothing done wrong, or don't know. Roughly 250,000 votes were reported, 86% voting yes for impeachment. (note that web polls are not scientifically conducted, and can be criticized on the grounds they may be unrepresentative of popular opinion)
Media response to polls
The major media have largely ignored these opinion polls and protests. Several columnists have endorsed impeachment. Eleanor Clift on The McLaughlin Group predicted on 6 November 2005 that "if the country, according to the polls, believes by a margin of 55 percent that President Bush misled us into war, the next logical step is impeachment and I think you’re going to hear that word come up and if the Democrats ever capture either house of Congress there are going to be serious proceedings against this administration."
When the Washington Post's chief pollster Richard Morin was asked by readers why the Post has not polled on impeachment he responded, "This question makes me angry". According to Media Matters, the Washington Post asked about impeachment in a poll conducted a few days after the revelation of President Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky in 1998. Frank Newport, the director of the Gallup Poll has said he would only run a poll on the subject if it starts to gain mainstream attention and not until then.
The rally held in Crawford, Texas, by Cindy Sheehan and her supporters in late summer of 2005 featured frequent calls for impeachment.
A march in Washington, DC on 24 September 2005 attracted over 100,000 people. The march included calls for impeachment and for investigations leading to impeachment.
On November 2, 2005, The World Can't Wait mobilized marches across the country that called for the ousting of Bush. News reports cited thousands of protesters in each of New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and 500 in each of Washington, DC, Chicago, Atlanta and Seattle.
Rep. Maxine Waters founded the Out of Iraq Caucus in the House of Representatives. It has 66 members (as of August 31, 2005). An Out of Iraq event hosted by Rep. Waters in Inglewood, California, attracted 1200 supporters who loudly chanted "Impeach Bush" in response to a speaker explaining high crimes and misdemeanors.
Response to groups formed to support impeachment
Numerous groups have been created to support impeachment. The ImpeachBush.org website claims to have collected 715,000 signatures (as of May 4, 2006) on a petition to impeach Bush. None are known to have been created to oppose it (as MoveOne had been created to oppose the impeachment of Clinton).
On December 20, 2005, The AfterDowningStreet.org website mounted an effort to support Representative Conyers' legislation to censure Bush and Cheney and to investigate the administration's lead-up to the Iraq war, in possible preparation to impeachment. Within the first three days, the site reported that over 17,000 people had used the site to write to their congressional representatives requesting that they support Conyers' measures.
Endorsements of impeachment
Politicians and government officials
- Rep. John Conyers of Michigan has authored the introduction to John Bonifaz's book outlining a case for impeaching Bush.
- Ralph Nader's 2004 presidential campaign also promoted the cause of a Bush impeachment by raising public awareness of the numerous alleged crimes of the Bush Administration. Nader also wrote an op-ed, (along with Kevin Zeese, director of DemocracyRising.US) favoring impeachment in the May 31, 2005 Boston Globe.
- Patrick Buchanan called for a bill of impeachment "charging George W. Bush with a conscious refusal to uphold his oath and defend the states of the Union against 'invasion'" in regards to issues with illegal immigration.
- Dennis Morrisseau, a candidate for the Vermont House of Representatives seat has said he will campaign for impeachment against George W. Bush. Although Morrisseau is campaigning for the Republican nomination, he has previously run for public office only as a Democrat, and says he voted for John Kerry for president in 2004.
- Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration stated, "The Bush administration is insane. If the American people do not decapitate it by demanding Bush’s impeachment, the Bush administration will bring about Armageddon."
- Former Clinton Administration Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury J. Bradford DeLong has called for Bush's impeachment.
Viewpoints of some legal and academic professionals
- John Dean, convicted Watergate felon and former White House Counsel to President Richard Nixon, and an early advocate of a Bush impeachment, believes that President Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in order to get the United States into a war with Iraq. Dean believes this is an impeachable crime. In a talk before Writers Bloc in Beverly Hills, CA on December 18, 2005, Dean "remarked that Bush is the first President to ever willingly admit to an impeachable offense." (referring to the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy)
- Ramsey Clark, United States Attorney Generl under Lyndon Johnson, and current lawyer for Saddam Hussein, has set up a website, VoteToImpeach.org, in which he lists some of the reasons he believes Bush, as well as Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, should be impeached.
- Constitutional Law Professor Francis Boyle has written six draft articles of impeachment against Bush.
- Scholars Bruce Fein (constitutional scholar and former deputy attorney general in the Reagan Administration) and Norm Ornstein (scholar at the American Enterprise Institute) argued on the December 19, 2005 Diane Rehm show that, should Bush continue the controversial program (as he has indicated he will), Congress should consider impeaching him. Said Fein, "On its face, if President Bush is totally unapologetic and says I continue to maintain that as a war-time President I can do anything I wantI don’t need to consult any other branchesthat is an impeachable offense. It’s more dangerous than Clinton’s lying under oath because it jeopardizes our democratic dispensation and civil liberties for the ages. It would set a precedent that … would lie around like a loaded gun, able to be used indefinitely for any future occupant." Said Ornstein, "I think if we’re going to be intellectually honest here, this really is the kind of thing that Alexander Hamilton was referring to when impeachment was discussed."
- Constitutional Lawyer John Bonifaz has written a book on the case for impeaching Bush, is a co-founder of After Downing Street, and has spoken regularly in favor of impeachment.
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and a specialist in surveillance, spoke about Bush's admission that he authorized warrantless wiretaps, in an interview for an article, “Bush’s Impeachable Offense” by Michelle Goldberg, published December 22, 2005 on Salon.com. "The president has already conceded that he personally ordered that crime and renewed that order at least 30 times. This would clearly satisfy the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors for the purpose of an impeachment." Turley testified against Clinton in that impeachment hearing and added "Many of my Republican friends joined in that hearing and insisted that this was a matter of defending the rule of law, and had nothing to do with political antagonism. I'm surprised that many of those same voices are silent. The crime in this case was a knowing and premeditated act. This operation violated not just the federal statute but the United States Constitution. For Republicans to suggest that this is not a legitimate question of federal crimes makes a mockery of their position during the Clinton period. For Republicans, this is the ultimate test of principle."
- A rundown of authors talking about impeachment was published in Editor and Publisher on December 21, 2005.
- The National Lawyer's Guild has drafted an impeachment resolutiion).
- Numerous Democratic groups and writers for their websites, such as Democratic Underground, Daily Kos and Democrats.com, have called on Congress to impeach Bush.
- On March 1, 2006 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution 7-3 calling on the congressional delegates representing California to impeach George W. Bush. The mayor of the city has said he does not know whether he will sign it, and in either case, it will remain a low priority for him even if he does.
- The left-wing Green Party National Committee passed a resolution calling for impeachment of Bush and Cheney at its national meeting on July 21, 2003, citing a "pattern of making false statements to Congress, the American people, and the world to win support for actions by the American government and military forces", "[s]quandering the resources of the American people to serve the interests of transnational corporations"; and war crimes, including the use of depleted uranium and cluster bombs in the preemptive invasion of Iraq." This was the first known call for impeachment by a mass membership organization.
- At the most recent state convention, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin cited the Downing Street Memo in calling for the Impeachment of George Bush, Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
- The Progressive Librarians Guild has issued a resolution condemning the actions of President George W. Bush and calling for impeachment proceedings on the basis of the administration's “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which are as follows: Entering into an illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, based upon fabricated and erroneous information; Crafting of policies adopted since September 11, 2001, including provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56) and PATRIOT ACT II and related executive orders, regulations and actions, which threaten fundamental rights and liberties.
- BuzzFlash.com, a Chicago based news service, in a call for impeachment on April 4, 2004, editorialized that the administration had “deliberately ignored impending 9/11 hijacking attacks and led us into a disastrous war that has created more terrorism and united feuding religious sects in Iraq against us, that piles lies upon lies in an effort to prolong its stolen reign of power”
- AfterDowningStreet, an organization begun by liberal activists Bob Fertik and David Swanson and constitutional attorney John Bonifaz, advocates a congressional Resolution of Inquiry into evidence related to what has become known as the Downing Street memo, involving the Bush administration's military operations in Iraq. Such a resolution would be the first step toward a possible impeachment.
- Impeach Central is dedicated to the impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for violating the laws of the United States. While the group says the Bush administration has violated the Constitution on numerous occasions, the group is focusing on what it sees as the lies they told the American people and Congress which led the country into the Iraq War.
- Veterans for Peace has called for the impeachment of George Bush.
- The Bulldog Manifesto blog founded a grass roots united coalition of bloggers for the impeachment of Bush with fellow blogger Martian Anthropologist. The coalition is now known as the Impeach Bush Coalition.
- The liberal group Gold Star Families for Peace sent a bus to Crawford, Texas, emblazoned with the words "Impeachment Tour" in August of 2005. The group is seeking to hold the president accountable for his actions in 2003 invasion of Iraq.
- In late January 2006, an organization called Students for Impeachment came into existence. The group is focused on mobilizing college students to fight what it perceives as numerous violations of the Constitution through protests, teach-ins, and petitioning.
- On January 3, 2006, the Green Party of the United States repeated its call to begin impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney as soon as possible, calling evidence that Bush has abused power "so overwhelming that failure to undertake impeachment would make Congress even more complicit in this administration's lawlessness."
Media editorials and opinion pieces
- Barron's, the conservative business journal published by Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones, published an editorial warning that the President December 26, 2005, "Unwarranted Executive Power: The pursuit of terrorism does not authorize the president to make up new laws." "Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as outraged at this situation. They ought to investigate it, consider it carefully and report either a bill that would change the wiretap laws to suit the president or a bill of impeachment."
- The Capital Times the progressive Madison, Wisconsin newspaper founded in 1917, editorialized on December 30, 2005, in an editorial entitled "Talking About Impeachment" noted “The dwindling circle of right-wing defenders of the Bush-Cheney presidency would have Americans believe that only the most reckless partisans would even consider the prospect of censuring or perhaps even impeaching the president and vice president. But the prospect of officially sanctioning Bush and Cheney, as has now been proposed by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, is gaining ground in unexpected quarters."
"The evidence shows that serious wrongdoing has occurred. And those responsible need to be held to account not just by academics, former White House aides and national publications but by the citizens who can persuade members of Congress to become the watchdogs on executive wrongdoing that the founders intended."
- The ultra-conservative John Birch Society magazine, The New American, published an opinion piece on January 9, 2006 in favor of impeachment, “It's Not Just a Piece of Paper”. Talking in the voice of Thomas Jefferson, were he alive today, it stated, "'When in the course of U.S. events it becomes necessary for Americans to demand that their duly elected representatives impeach and remove from office a president, a decent respect to the opinions of their fellow citizens requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to such a course of action.'" The piece enumerates the reasons for impeachment, with links to news articles, and concludes, again in Jefferson’s voice, "'A president, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be a leader of a free people.'" Then resuming its own voice, it states, “Mr. President, when you placed your hand over the Bible, raised your arm, and swore an oath before God to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States" (Article II, Section I), that wasn't ‘just a book’ you put your hand on. And it certainly wasn't a mealy-mouthed ‘agreement’ you made before your Makerwhose name you have no compunction about taking in vain. And Mr. President, the Constitution is not just a piece of paper.”
- Radio personality and syndicated columnist Garrison Keillor wrote a column on February 28, 2006, calling for impeachment, "What to do when the emperor has no clothes", citing reports of torture at Guantanamo Bay ("When Americans start pulling people's fingernails out with pliers and poking lighted cigarettes into their palms, then we need to come back to basic values."), 9/11 Commission findings that indicate to him that "...our country is practically as vulnerable today as it was on 9/10," and the failure of the Iraq war to provide security for Americans ("Our adventure in Iraq, at a cost of trillions, has brought that country to the verge of civil war while earning us more enemies than ever before.")
- Robert Scheer, columnist and contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times and The Nation has repeatedly called for impeachment.
- In an October 27, 2005 column, "Hold Bush Accountable," Richard Cohen, of the Washington Post, accused Bush of impeachable offenses and called on the American electorate to figuratively "impeach" Bush by voting against him.
Rationales for impeachment
Several advocates of impeaching President George W. Bush, assert that one or more of President Bush's actions qualify as "high crimes and misdemeanors" under which the president can constitutionally be impeached.
This article presents a list of rationales as suggested by proponents of the movement to impeach President Bush. These arguments have been offered by commentators, legal analysts, politicians of the Democratic Party and others. For example, the Center for Constitutional Rights, a civil rights legal advocacy non-profit organization based in New York, discusses some arguments in Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush.
Since impeachment is an inherently political, and not a legal process, there is no exact definition of what constitutes an impeachable offense, therefore this list is not necessarily accurate. Simply stated, it is up to Congress to determine if something rises to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors."
Proponents of impeachment based on warrantless surveillance controversy
Elizabeth Holtzman (served four terms in Congress, where she played a key role in House impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon), John Dean (former counsel to the president) and Jennifer van Bergen from FindLaw assert that by authorizing warrantless domestic wiretapping in some cases, President Bush violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act without legal basis, constituting a felony and as such an impeachable offense.
As a political matter, it should also be noted that President Bush did notify Congressional leaders of his decision to authorize warrantless wiretapping at the time of the decision. The fact that Congress was notified of the surviellance program may therefore affect any hypothetical Congressional debate over whether that program constitutes an impeachable offense.
Nalysis of legal basis of warrantless surveillance controversy as basis for impeachment
In the context of the "war on terror", President Bush ordered wiretapping of certain international calls to and from U.S. without a warrant. Whether this is legal is currently debated, since the program appears to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was adopted to remedy similar actions in the past (i.e. Operation Shamrock, Operation Minaret, Church Committee). Additionally, it allegedly violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits unlawful searches and seizures - this includes electronic surveillance. These allegations have been advanced by articles published in The Christian Science Monitor and The Nation. In its defense, the administration has asserted that FISA does not apply as the President was authorized by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) and the presidential powers as Commander-in-Chief inherent in the Constitution (unitary executive theory), to bypass FISA.
In January 2006, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service released two legal analyses concluding that "...no court has held squarely that the Constitution disables the Congress from endeavoring to set limits on that power. To the contrary, the Supreme Court has stated that Congress does indeed have power to regulate domestic surveillance... the NSA surveillance program... would appear to be inconsistent with the law." On February 13, 2006, the American Bar Association issued a statement denouncing the warrantless domestic surveillance program, accusing the President of exceeding his powers under the Constitution. Their analysis opines that the key arguments advanced by the Bush administration are not compatible with the law. In March 2006, New York Times reported that five former FISA judges have voiced their doubts as to the legallity of the program.
Some commentators, responding to the Bush administration's justification of the program, say that its interpretation of presidential power overthrows the Constitutional system of checks and balances and ignores other provisions of the Constitution mandating that the President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed" and vesting Congress with the sole authority "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces" and "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." The Senate Committee voted along party lines, and decided a detailed investigation into the matter was unwarranted.
2003 Invasion of Iraq
Consitutionality of Invasion
The case for impeachment, put forward by John Bonifaz in the book Warrior-King: The Case for Impeaching George W. Bush is the same as the grounds for his John Doe I v. President Bush lawsuit; namely, that Bush invaded Iraq without a clear Congressional declaration of war. The argument is that the Congressional resolution to authorize Bush to use military force in Iraq was unconstitutional because it "confers discretion upon the President to wage war", contrary to the War Powers Clause of the Constitution. Francis Boyle (professor of international law at the University of Illinois) also uses this argument as reason in his Draft Impeachment Resolution.
Justification for Invasion
Main articles: Iraq and weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda Downing Street memo Bush-Blair memo.
Furthermore, the arguments put forward for the invasion of Iraq the possession and development of weapons of mass destruction and active links to al Qaeda have been found to be false, according to all official reports.. The Bush administration advocated that this was due to failure by the intelligence community. However, it has become clear that, prior to the invasion, these arguments had already been widely disputed, which had purportedly been reported to the U.S. administration. An in-depth investigation into the nature of these discrepancies by the Senate Intelligence Committee has been frustrated. Or, as a New York Times editorial states:
Mr. Roberts (chairman of the Senate panel) tried to kill the investigation entirely, and after the Democrats forced him to proceed, he set rules that seem a lot like the recipe for a whitewash.
ers of impeachment argue that the administration knowingly distorted intelligence reports or ignored contrary information in constructing their case for the war. The Downing Street memo and the Bush-Blair memo are used to substantiate that allegation.[ Congressional Democrats sponsored both a request for documents and a resolution of inquiry. A report by the Washington Post on April 12, 2006, corroborates that view. It states that the Bush administration advocated that two small trailers which had been found in Iraq were "biological laboratories," despite the fact that U.S. intelligence officials possessed evidence to the contrary at that time.
"The three-page field report and a 122-page final report published three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories."
Activists charge that Bush committed obstruction of Congress, a felony under 18 U.S.C. 1001, both by withholding information which he ought to have communicated, and by supplying information, in his States of the Union speeches, that he should have known to be incorrect. This law is comparable to perjury, but it does not require that the statements be made under oath.
John Conyers, Robert Parry and Marjorie Cohn -professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists- assert that this was not a war in self-defense but a war of aggression contrary to the U.N. Charter (a crime against peace) and therefore a war crime. Such would constitute an impeachable offense according to Francis Boyle, John W. Dean, from FindLaw, Marcus Raskin and Joseph A. Vuckovich, from the Institute for Policy Studies.
Geneva Conventions controversy
Further information: Extraordinary rendition
Further information: United Nations Convention Against Torture
Critics have accused the CIA of rendering suspected terrorists to other countries in order to avoid U.S. laws prescribing due process and prohibiting torture, calling this "torture by proxy" and "torture flights". Alberto Gonzales explicitly testified to Congress that the administration's position was to extradite detainees to other nations as long as it was not "more likely than not" that they would be tortured, although he later modified that statement. However, the Convention against torture states:
No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
Commentators, including the United Nations and Louise Arbour, have stated that, under international law, rendition as practiced by the U.S. government is illegal. Conyers has called for investigating whether these violations of international and US law constitute an impeachable offense, whereas Boyle thinks it does, and included this in his Draft Impeachment Resolution.
Treatment of detainees
Main articles: Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse Bagram torture and prisoner abuse, United Nations Convention Against Torture Command responsibility
As part of the war on terror several memos were written analyzing the legal position and possibilities in the treatment of prisoners. The memos, known today as the "torture memos," advocate enhanced interrogation techniques, but point out that refuting the Geneva Conventions would reduce the possibility of prosecution for war crimes.In addition, a new definition of torture was issued. Most actions that fall under the international definition do not fall within this new definition advocated by the U.S.
Several top military lawyers including Alberto J. Mora reported that policies allowing methods equivalent to torture were officially handed down from the highest levels of the administration, and led an effort within the Department of Defense to put a stop to those policies and instead mandate non-coercive interrogation standards.
Notwithstanding the suggestion of official policy, the administration repeatedly assured critics that the publicised cases were incidents, and President Bush later stated that:
"The United States of America does not torture. And that's important for people around the world to understand."
To address the multitude of incidents of prisoner abuse the McCain Detainee Amendment was adopted. However, in his signing statement President Bush made clear that he reserved the right to waive this bill if he thought that was needed.
Over the years numerous incidents have been made public and a UN report denounced the abuse of prisoners as tantamount to torture.Several legal analysts -such as Marjorie Cohn, Elizabeth Holtzman, Human Rights First- have advocated that writing these memos, not preventing or stopping the abuse could result in legal challenges involving war crimes under the command responsibility. These violations of US and international law could be an impeachable offense.
Allegedly leaking classified information
Alleged involvement in the CIA leak
Main articles: Yellowcake forgery Plame affair CIA leak grand jury investigation
In his 2003 State of the Union Address, President Bush cited British government sources in saying that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium. He referred to what ultimately turned out to be falsified documents. After Ambassador Wilson wrote an OpEd article in the New York Times denouncing the yellowcake basis and other justifications for the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. the identity of his wife as a CIA employee appeared in media reports for the first time. Wilson later made the allegation her identity was leaked in personal retaliation against him for his. An investigation into this by Patrick Fitzgerald led to an indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby on perjury charges, not for releasing information regarding Plame. At one point, Libby's indictment states:
"Prior to July 14 ,2003 Valerie Wilson’s affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community.
The litigation surrounding Libby has yielded court papers showing that Libby was authorized and instructed to disseminate formerly classified information by his superiors. No court papers have alledged that Bush or Cheney authorized the release of Plame's name. On April 13, 2006, Bloomberg.com reported Libby has testified that Bush and Cheney did not authorize the release of Plame's name. Libby's position is that he did not leak Plame's name. The actual first source of Plame's name to the media is in dispute. Also disputed is the fact that Plame was, at the time, classified as a covert agent.However, the attorney general's choice to appoint a special prosecutor would suggest she was.
Allegedly declassifying for political purposes
Main articles: Invasion of Iraq. Iraq and weapons of mass destruction . Downing Street memo, Bush-Blair memo.
Main articles: Yellowcake forgery. Plame affair, CIA leak grand jury investigation.
On April 06, 2006, court papers were filed in the CIA leak grand jury investigation, stating that Libby had testified that President Bush authorized the disclosure of select portions of the then classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq. The position of the Bush administration is that a Presidentally authorized release of material is not a "leak" in the sense that Presidents are authorized to de-classiffy material and the release of de-classified material is not leaking. Some argue that this contradicts previous statements by Bush in which he made clear that leaking information is unacceptable. According to the court filings by Fitzgerald:
“Defendant (Libby) testified that this July 8 meeting was the only time he recalled in his government experience when he disclosed a document to a reporter that was effectively declassified by virtue of the President’s authorization that it be declassified.
Elizabeth de la Vega, Ray McGovern and Greg Mitchell have noted that the Bush Administration's asserted motivation that this declassification was needed to counter misinformation spread by opponents of the Bush administration's casus bell is odd, since only an obscure part of the NIE, which supports the claims advanced by the US government, has been released, while the rest of the report, in which the CIA in 2002 allegedly dismissed that claim as unlikely, is still classified. Bush's alleged misrepresentations on this point and his declassifying of information for allegedly a political purpose, is seen by some as impeachable offense.
Main articles: Hurricane Katrina, Criticism of government response to Hurricane Katrina Political effects of Hurricane Katrina
The alleged responsibility of the George W. Bush administration in the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina has been used by Ramsey Clark, Francis Boyle, PopMatters, Green Party of Humboldt County and the Sunday Independent to suggest failure by the administration to adequately provide for the need of its citizens. And as such they hold that the allegations of incompetence amount to an impeachable offense.
The administration, and its supporters, contend that the principal responsibility lies with the local authorities. Therefore any accusation of inadequate handling of the disaster should be addressed at the Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.
Alleged abuse of power
Main article: Unitary executive theory
As Commander-in-Chief in the war on terror, President Bush has asserted broad war powers to protect the American people. These have been used to justify policies connected with the war. Elizabeth Holtzman, John Dean, Elizabeth de la Vega, AlterNet, the St. Petersburg Times and the Santiago Times have claimed that Bush has exceeded constitutional or other legal limitations on such war powers. The Draft Impeachment Resolution by Boyle advocates that this is an impeachable offense.
The Bush administration denies this allegation by explaining that the President is only asserting his Constitutional duty as Commander-in-Chief to protect the country.
Presidential Signing Statements
In a story broken by Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe, further allegations of abuse of power have come to light. In the article Bush challenges hundreds of laws, the author claims that the President has issued over 750 signing statements, which allow the President to select which parts of the laws will be enforced, based solely on his interpretation of constitutionality. Many legal scholars feel that this overrides the checks and balances afforded to the congressional and judicial branches of government. Judicial Review and Veto power are checks on Congress reserved for the Supreme Court and President respectively to ensure the constitutionality of laws.
Past DC response has been that this practice is not new, and that it has been used by many Presidents in the past. The Boston Globe article argues that while factually true, it has never been used on such a large scale as that of President Bush. The use of Presidential Signings to defeat certain portions of legislation amount to an end run against the unconstitutionality of Line item vetos. The President has never used his veto powers, instead, waiting until after signing the bill to issue Signing Statements that undermine the law.