Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: Impeaching Bush and Cheney: Some thoughts about Justice and History.
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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Impeaching Bush and Cheney: Some thoughts about Justice and History.

























Impeaching Bush and Cheney: Some thoughts about

Justice and History.


A mistake was made in The Nixon Case by allowing him to simply slink and slither away in resignation without pursuing a post resignation Impeachment proceeding.


Justice was not done and the integrity of our Constitutional System, ignored, was critically wounded. We are paying the price for that failure of inaction. We dare not allow it to happen again!


Just as hindsight shows those Americans 30 years ago could have prevented the abuses of Bush and Cheney by prosecuting and imprisoning Nixon in 1974, we owe it to future generations of Americans to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their crimes and incompetence today.


We Humans Can Make Things So Complicated. There is right; there is wrong; there is legal; there is illegal.


Retributive justice is a theory of justice that proportionate punishment is a morally acceptable response to crime, regardless of whether the punishment causes any tangible benefits.


In ethics and law, "Let the punishment fit the crime" is the principle that the severity of penalty for a misdeed or wrongdoing should be reasonable and proportional to the severity of the infraction. The concept is common to most cultures throughout the world. Its presence in the ancient Jewish culture is shown by its inclusion in the Law of Moses, specifically in Deuteronomy 19:17-21, which includes the punishments of "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot." Many other documents reflect this value in the world's cultures. However, the judgment of whether a punishment is appropriately severe can vary greatly between cultures and individuals.


Proportionality requires that the level of punishment be scaled relative to the severity of the offending behavior. However, this does not mean that the punishment has to be equivalent to the crime. A retributive system must punish severe crime more harshly than minor crime, but retributivists differ about how harsh or soft the system should be overall.


Traditionally, philosophers of punishment have contrasted retributivism with utilitarianism. For utilitarians, punishment is forward-looking, justified by a purported ability to achieve future social benefits, such as crime reduction. For retributionists, punishment is backward-looking, and strictly for punishing crimes according to their severity.[1]


Depending on the retributivist, the crime's level of severity might be determined by the amount of harm, unfair advantage or moral imbalance the crime caused.


In the early period of all systems of law the redress of wrongs takes precedence over the enforcement of contract rights, and a rough sense of justice demands the infliction of proportionate loss and pain on the aggressor as he has inflicted on his victim. Hence the prominence of the "lex talionis" in ancient law. The Bible is no exception: in its oldest form it included the "lex talionis," the law of "measure for measure" (this is only the literal translation of middah ke-neged middah).


In the 19th century, philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote in The Metaphysical Elements of Justice of retribution as a legal principle: "Judicial punishment can never be used merely as a means to promote some other good for the criminal himself or for civil society, but instead it must in all cases be imposed on him only on the ground that he has committed a crime."[2]

Immanuel Kant regards punishment as a matter of justice. He states that if the guilty are not punished, justice is not done. (Rachels, James 2007) "The Elements of Moral Philosophy".


We have a Constitution, History and Common Sense enough to understand when Impeachment is in order. It’s just that simple. A Congress that does not act to serve the people and defend the Constitution because of self-serving motives of political expediency and re-election has no right to be re-elected as they are as guilty as the Bush Administration. Ne explanation they can offer me will satisfy as they are only excuses for their cowardice and their criminal betrayal of the people of this nation.


The right to impeach public officials is secured by the U.S. Constitution in Article I, Sections 2 and 3, which discuss the procedure, and in Article II, Section 4, which indicates the grounds for impeachment: "the President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."


Removing an official from office requires two steps: (1) a formal accusation, or impeachment, by the House of Representatives, and (2) a trial and conviction by the Senate. Impeachment requires a majority vote of the House; conviction is more difficult, requiring a two-thirds vote by the Senate. The vice president presides over the Senate proceedings in the case of all officials except the president, whose trial is presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. This is because the vice president can hardly be considered a disinterested party—if his or her boss is forced out of office he or she is next in line for the top job!


What Are "High Crimes and Misdemeanors?"


Bribery, perjury, and treason are among the least ambiguous reasons meriting impeachment, but the ocean of wrongdoing encompassed by the Constitution's stipulation of "high crimes and misdemeanors" is vast. Abuse of power and serious misconduct in office fit this category, but one act that is definitely not grounds for impeachment is partisan discord. Several impeachment cases have confused political animosity with genuine crimes. Since Congress, the vortex of partisanship, is responsible for indicting, trying, and convicting public officials, it is necessary for the legislative branch to temporarily cast aside its factional nature and adopt a judicial role.


The Infamous Sixteen


Since 1797 the House of Representatives has impeached sixteen federal officials. These include two presidents, a cabinet member, a senator, a justice of the Supreme Court, and eleven federal judges. Of those, the Senate has convicted and removed seven, all of them judges. Not included in this list are the office holders who have resigned rather than face impeachment, most notably, President Richard M. Nixon.


The Small Fry


The first official impeached in this country was Senator William Blount of Tennessee for a plot to help the British seize Louisiana and Florida from Spain in 1797. The Senate dismissed the charges on Jan. 14, 1799, determining that it had no jurisdiction over its own members. The Senate and the House do, however, have the right to discipline their members, and the Senate expelled Blount the day after his impeachment.


Judge John Pickering of New Hampshire was the first impeached official actually convicted. He was found guilty of drunkenness and unlawful rulings, on March 12, 1804, and was believed to have been insane.


Associate Justice Samuel Chase, a strong Federalist, was impeached but acquitted of judicial bias against anti-Federalists. The acquittal on March 1, 1805, established that political differences were not grounds for impeachment.


Other officials impeached were implicated in bribery, cheating on income tax, perjury, and treason.


The Big Fish



Two U.S. presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth chief executive, and William J. Clinton, the forty-second.


Johnson, a Southern Democrat who became president after Lincoln's assassination, supported a mild policy of Reconstruction after the Civil War. The Radical Republicans in Congress were furious at his leniency toward ex-Confederates and obvious lack of concern for ex-slaves, demonstrated by his veto of civil rights bills and opposition to the Fourteenth Amendment.


To protect Radical Republicans in Johnson's administration and diminish the strength of the president, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act in 1867, which prohibited the president from dismissing office holders without the Senate's approval. A defiant Johnson tested the constitutionality of the Act by attempting to oust Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. His violation of the Act became the basis for impeachment in 1868. But the Senate was one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict, and Johnson was acquitted May 26, 1868.


Senator Charles Sumner, witness to the proceedings, defined them as "political in character." Historians today generally agree with his assessment and consider the grounds for Johnson's impeachment flimsy—the Tenure of Office Act was partially repealed in 1887,and then declared unconstitutional in 1926.


Bill Clinton was ultimately dragged down—though not defeated—by the character issues brought into question even before his election.


An investigation into some suspect real estate dealings in which Clinton was involved prior to his presidency failed to turn up any implicating evidence. However, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr managed to unravel a tangled web of alleged sexual advances and affairs in Clinton's past.


The trail led to former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky. After months of denials, including in a videotaped legal testimony, Clinton admitted in August of 1998 that he had had a sexual relationship with the young woman during the time of her internship.


The infamous "Starr Report" outlining the findings of the Independent Counsel's investigation was delivered to the House of Representatives on Sept. 9, 1998, and subsequently made available to the public. Many felt the report, filled with lurid details of Clinton's sexual encounters with Lewinsky, to be a political attack against the President rather than a legal justification for his impeachment. Of the 11 possible grounds for impeachment cited by Starr, four were eventually approved by the House Judiciary Committee: grand jury perjury, civil suit perjury, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power.


On December 19, following much debate over the constitutionality of the proceedings and whether or not Clinton could be punished by censure rather than impeachment, the House of Representatives held its historic vote. Clinton was impeached on two counts, grand jury perjury (228–206) and obstruction of justice (221–212), with the votes split along party lines.


The Senate Republicans, however, were unable to gather enough support to achieve the two-thirds majority required for his conviction. On Feb. 12, 1999, the Senate acquitted President Clinton on both counts. The perjury charge failed by a vote of 55–45, with 10 Republicans voting against impeachment along with all 45 Democrats. The obstruction of justice vote was 50–50, with 5 Republicans breaking ranks to vote against impeachment.


The One That Got Away


Of thirty-five attempts at impeachment, only nine have come to trial. Because it cripples Congress with a lengthy trial, impeachment is infrequent. Many officials, seeing the writing on the wall, resign rather than face the ignominy of a public trial.


The most famous of these cases is of course that of President Richard Nixon, a Republican. After five men hired by Nixon's reelection committee were caught burglarizing Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate Complex on June 17, 1972, President Nixon's subsequent behavior—his cover-up of the burglary and refusal to turn over evidence—led the House Judiciary Committee to issue three articles of impeachment on July 30, 1974.


The document also indicted Nixon for illegal wiretapping, misuse of the CIA, perjury, bribery, obstruction of justice, and other abuses of executive power. "In all of this," the Articles of Impeachment summarize, "Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as president and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States." Impeachment appeared inevitable, and Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974. The Articles of Impeachment, which can be viewed at http://watergate.info/, leave no doubt that these charges qualify as "high crimes and misdemeanors," justifying impeachment.


Just as hindsight shows those Americans 30 years ago could have prevented the abuses of Bush and Cheney by prosecuting and imprisoning Nixon in 1974, we owe it to future generations of Americans to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their crimes and incompetence today.


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Hagel: Bush Might be Impeached ‘Before This is Over’ ... Justice requires not only impeachment but also prosecution for war crimes. Posted by ken March 7, ...
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Just as hindsight shows that Americans 30 years ago could have prevented the abuses of Bush and Cheney by prosecuting and imprisoning Nixon in 1974, we owe it to future generations of Americans to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their crimes and incompetence today.


The Impeachment of George W. Bush

by ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN

http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20060130&s=holtzman


Do You Remember When These Words Lifted The Movement?

[from the January 30, 2006 issue]


Finally, it has started. People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush--not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I believe they are right to do so.


I can still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach during those proceedings, when it became clear that the President had so systematically abused the powers of the presidency and so threatened the rule of law that he had to be removed from office. As a Democrat who opposed many of President Nixon's policies, I still found voting for his impeachment to be one of the most sobering and unpleasant tasks I ever had to undertake. None of the members of the committee took pleasure in voting for impeachment; after all, Democrat or Republican, Nixon was still our President.


At the time, I hoped that our committee's work would send a strong signal to future Presidents that they had to obey the rule of law. I was wrong.


Like many others, I have been deeply troubled by Bush's breathtaking scorn for our international treaty obligations under the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions. I have also been disturbed by the torture scandals and the violations of US criminal laws at the highest levels of our government they may entail, something I have written about in these pages [see Holtzman, "Torture and Accountability," July 18/25, 2005]. These concerns have been compounded by growing evidence that the President deliberately misled the country into the war in Iraq. But it wasn't until the most recent revelations that President Bush directed the wiretapping of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Americans, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)--and argued that, as Commander in Chief, he had the right in the interests of national security to override our country's laws--that I felt the same sinking feeling in my stomach as I did during Watergate.


As a matter of constitutional law, these and other misdeeds constitute grounds for the impeachment of President Bush. A President, any President, who maintains that he is above the law--and repeatedly violates the law--thereby commits high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional standard for impeachment and removal from office. A high crime or misdemeanor is an archaic term that means a serious abuse of power, whether or not it is also a crime, that endangers our constitutional system of government.


The framers of our Constitution feared executive power run amok and provided the remedy of impeachment to protect against it. While impeachment is a last resort, and must never be lightly undertaken (a principle ignored during the proceedings against President Bill Clinton), neither can Congress shirk its responsibility to use that tool to safeguard our democracy. No President can be permitted to commit high crimes and misdemeanors with impunity.


Just as hindsight shows those Americans 30 years ago could have prevented the abuses of Bush and Cheney by prosecuting and imprisoning Nixon in 1974, we owe it to future generations of Americans to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their crimes and incompetence today.


But Like A Timex; He Keeps On Ticking and America Takes The Licking!


Or Like The Energizer Bunny; He Just Keeps Going and Going!


Iniquities of War, Inequities of Life (And What We Going To Do?)
Bush has tried to justify the Iraq war in the past, he has now clumsily — if inadvertently — admitted that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was aimed primarily at seizing predominant influence over its oil by establishing permanent ...


Just as hindsight shows those Americans 30 years ago could have prevented the abuses of Bush and Cheney by prosecuting and imprisoning Nixon in 1974, we owe it to future generations of Americans to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their crimes and incompetence today.


Have I made my point?


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