Saturday, May 20, 2006

 

Time to Defend the Constitution

We are all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. Based on the following facts, I believe that Americans have a duty to investigate the Bush administration's abuses of power and follow the evidence to wherever it may lead, including the impeachment of George W. Bush and others in his administration responsible for shredding the U.S. Constitution, lying to the public, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.

  1. Former Bush Secretary of Treasury, Paul O’Neill, who was there, said that Rumsfeld and Cheney pushed the idea of invading Iraq in Bush’s first cabinet meeting, some 8 months before 9/11.
  2. The Bush administration deliberately conflated 9/11 with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in an effort to build support among Americans traumatized by 9/11 for a “pre-emptive” war on Iraq The bipartisan 9/11 commission conclude that there was no/no evidence linking Hussein to 9/11.
  3. As the U.S. pulled important assets out of Afghanistan during the run-up to the Iraq war, the Bush administration delayed it’s “marketing” of the Iraq war until after August 2002 because, as former Chief of Staff Andy Card said, "you don't introduce new products in August."
  4. The White House cherry-picked intelligence to make the case for war, putting forward claims that were either in dispute among intelligence experts or had already been refuted (e.g., the allegation that Iraq sought to purchase uranium from Niger). Bush and Rice raised the spectre of “mushroom clouds” in asserting that Iraq posed an imminent threat. Rumsfeld said that “we know where the WMD is.” The U.S. has yet to find any WMD in Iraq and the president’s handpicked chief inspector, David Kay, later told Congress that “we were flat wrong” about WMD.
  5. Before the war, the Bush administration said the U.S. would be greeted by Iraqis as “liberators.” To date, 2,439 U.S. soldiers have been killed and more than 17,800 have been wounded. The vast majority of these casualties came after Bush declared “mission accomplished.”
  6. On September 15th 2002, White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsay estimated the high limit on the cost of the Iraq war to be 1-2% of GNP, or about $100-$200 billion. Mitch Daniels, Director of the Office of Management and Budget later discounted this estimate as “very, very high” and stated that the costs would be between $50-$60 billion, most of which Bush officials said would be paid back quickly through Iraqi oil revenues. Lindsey was subsequently fired. So far, the war has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $280 billion (enough to fully fund global hunger efforts for 11 years), with no end in sight. Congress has thus far appropriated more than $350 billion. A recent study estimates that the direct budgetary cost to the U.S. could reach $750 billion to $1.2 trillion, with up to another $1 trillion more in indirect costs to the economy.
  7. The Bush administration has opted out of the Geneva conventions and claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture. This has been documented in U.S. gulags located in several countries around the world, not only Abu Ghraib. Interrogation experts maintain that torture is ultimately an ineffective means of obtaining useful information. No high-level administration official has been removed based on the torture scandal.
  8. Bush has referred to the U.S. Constitution as just a “goddam piece of paper.”
  9. As president, he has asserted that he has a previously unrecognized inherent power to seize and imprison any American citizen that he alone determines to be a threat to our nation, and that, notwithstanding his American citizenship, the person imprisoned has no right to talk with a lawyer. He claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.
  10. Bush has never vetoed a bill. But he has signed some 750 “signing statements” when signing a bill into law in which he chooses to interpret certain aspects of those laws as he sees fit. In essence, arrogating unto himself what amounts to a “line item veto,” but without ever having to subject such a veto to Congressional consideration.
  11. The Bush administration has asserted the “unitary executive” theory of governing, claiming that the president's authority when acting as Commander-in-Chief or when making foreign policy cannot be reviewed by the judiciary or checked by Congress. Bush has consistently invoked his role as Commander-in-Chief, perhaps not as often as he has invoked “9/11” itself.
  12. Bush administration officials have penalized as “disloyal” those career military officials, intelligence analysts, scientists, and diplomats who have dared to present information that conflicts with the official “party line” or to express dissenting views in private, official channels.
  13. The White House denied that Bush officials played any role in leaking the identity of an undercover CIA operative, Valerie Plame, whose husband went public in 2003 with information that undermined Bush/Cheney’s assertions about Hussein’s alleged effort to buy uranium from Niger. A special prosecutor appointed by former Attorney General John Ashcroft has indicted Cheney’s top aide, Scooter Libby, for perjury and obstruction of justice in this case. Bush’s top advisor, Karl Rove, remains under investigation for similar charges. It recently came to light that the disclosure of Plame’s identify torpedoed an undercover operation that had enabled us to track the sale of nuclear materials to Iran.
  14. Prior to the facts coming to light, Bush said that the administration only wiretapped after getting court orders. On Dec. 17, however, he admitted that the NSA has engaged in eavesdropping on the phone calls of American citizens without seeking the warrants required under long-standing law. He said that it would continue to do so. The White House has not denied the most recent claim that several major U.S. telephone companies have (for a fee) given the NSA access to their databases of all calls made by their millions of American customers. One company – Qwest – declined to do so after NSA officials refused to produce either a court order or a written statement from the Justice Dept. attesting to the program’s legality.
  15. After 4-1/2 years, the U.S. has still not found Osama bin Ladin, a 6’6” Arab believed to be hiding out in the Afghan/Pakistan border area.
  16. The president took an oath in which he solemnly swore to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

I, too, took an oath over a decade ago. I solemnly swore “that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and “that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” Accordingly, when I see our own leaders taking action that arguably violates the Constitution, that arguably undermines the very fabric of our democracy, and that arguably jeopardizes the very freedoms that Americans hold dear, I cannot and I will not remain silent. I refuse to trade the “rule of law” for the “whim of man” and it is my earnest hope that we, as Americans, could return to the founding ideals of the republic, lest we allow our nation to become that which we fear and loathe.


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