The 'I' word
THE IMPEACHMENT of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, should be part of mainstream political discourse.
Minutes from a summer 2002 meeting involving British Prime Minister Tony Blair reveal that the Bush administration was ''fixing" the intelligence to justify invading Iraq. US intelligence used to justify the war demonstrates repeatedly the truth of the meeting minutes -- evidence was thin and needed fixing.
President Clinton was impeached for perjury about his sexual relationships. Comparing Clinton's misbehavior to a destructive and costly war occupation launched in March 2003 under false pretenses in violation of domestic and international law certainly merits introduction of an impeachment resolution.
Eighty-nine members of Congress have asked the president whether intelligence was manipulated to lead the United States to war. The letter points to British meeting minutes that raise ''troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war." Those minutes describe the case for war as ''thin" and Saddam as ''nonthreatening to his neighbors," and ''Britain and America had to create conditions to justify a war." Finally, military action was ''seen as inevitable . . . But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
Indeed, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, nor any imminent threat to the United States:
The International Atomic Energy Agency Iraq inspection team reported in 1998, ''there were no indications of Iraq having achieved its program goals of producing a nuclear weapon; nor were there any indications that there remained in Iraq any physical capability for production of amounts of weapon-usable material." A 2003 update by the IAEA reached the same conclusions.
The CIA told the White House in February 2001: ''We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has . . . reconstitute[d] its weapons of mass destruction programs."
Colin Powell said in February 2001 that Saddam Hussein ''has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."
The CIA told the White House in two Fall 2002 memos not to make claims of Iraq uranium purchases. CIA Director George Tenet personally called top national security officials imploring them not to use that claim as proof of an Iraq nuclear threat.
Regarding unmanned bombers highlighted by Bush, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center concluded they could not carry weapons spray devices. The Defense Intelligence Agency told the president in June 2002 that the unmanned aerial bombers were unproven. Further, there was no reliable information showing Iraq was producing or stockpiling chemical weapons or whether it had established chemical agent production facilities.
When discussing WMD the CIA used words like ''might" and ''could." The case was always circumstantial with equivocations, unlike the president and vice president, e.g., Cheney said on Aug. 26, 2002: ''Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."
The State Department in 2003 said: ''The activities we have detected do not . . . add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing . . . an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons."
The National Intelligence Estimate issued in October 2002 said ''We have no specific intelligence information that Saddam's regime has directed attacks against US territory."
The UN, IAEA, the State and Energy departments, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center, US inspectors, and even the CIA concluded there was no basis for the Bush-Cheney public assertions. Yet, President Bush told the public in September 2002 that Iraq ''could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given." And, just before the invasion, President Bush said: ''Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."
The president and vice president have artfully dodged the central question: ''Did the administration mislead us into war by manipulating and misstating intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to Al Qaeda, suppressing contrary intelligence, and deliberately exaggerating the danger a contained, weakened Iraq posed to the United States and its neighbors?"
If this is answered affirmatively Bush and Cheney have committed ''high crimes and misdemeanors." It is time for Congress to investigate the illegal Iraq war as we move toward the third year of the endless quagmire that many security experts believe jeopardizes US safety by recruiting and training more terrorists. A Resolution of Impeachment would be a first step. Based on the mountains of fabrications, deceptions, and lies, it is time to debate the ''I" word.
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate. Kevin Zeese is director of DemocracyRising.US.