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World out of balance
Impeach Bush and Cheney
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As we enter the eighth year of the Bush-Cheney administration, I have painfully concluded that the only honorable course for me is to urge the impeachment of the president and the vice president.
After the 1972 presidential election, I stood clear of calls to impeach President Nixon for his misconduct during the campaign. I thought my joining the impeachment effort would be seen as an expression of personal vengeance toward the president who defeated me.
Today I have made a different choice.
Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly "high crimes and misdemeanors," to use the constitutional standard.
American democracy has been derailed throughout the Bush-Cheney regime. The dominant commitment of the administration has been a murderous, illegal, nonsensical war against Iraq. That irresponsible venture has killed almost 4,000 Americans, left many times that number mentally or physically crippled, claimed the lives of an estimated 600,000 Iraqis and laid waste their country. The financial cost to the U.S. is now $250 million a day and is expected to exceed a total of $1 trillion. We borrowed most of that from the Chinese and others, raising our national debt above $9 trillion -- the highest in our history.All of this has been done without the declaration of war from Congress that the Constitution clearly requires, in defiance of the U.N. Charter and in violation of international law. This reckless disregard for the law has been accompanied by the abuse of prisoners, including systematic torture, in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
How could a once-admired, great nation fall into such a quagmire of killing, immorality and lawlessness?
It happened in part because the Bush-Cheney team repeatedly deceived Congress, the press and the public into believing that Saddam Hussein had nuclear arms and other horrifying banned weapons that were an "imminent threat" to the United States. The administration also led the public to believe that Iraq was involved in the 9-11 attacks -- another blatant falsehood.
The administration exploited the 2001 al-Qaida attacks not only to justify the invasion of Iraq but also to excuse such dangerous misbehavior as the illegal tapping of our telephones by government agents.
Another shocking perversion has been the shipping of prisoners scooped off the streets of Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other countries without benefit of our time-tested laws of habeas corpus.
Ironically, while Bush and Cheney made counterterrorism the battle cry of their administration, their policies -- especially the war in Iraq -- have increased the terrorist threat and reduced the security of the United States. Consider the difference between the policies of the first President Bush and those of his son. When the Iraqi army marched into Kuwait in August 1990, President George H.W. Bush gathered the support of the United Nations, the European Union and most of the Arab League, to quickly expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Instead of getting bogged down in a costly occupation, the administration established a policy of containing the Baathist regime with international arms inspectors, no-fly zones and economic sanctions. Iraq was left as a stable country with little or no capacity to threaten others.
Today, after five years of U.S. military occupation, Iraq has become a breeding ground of terrorism and civil strife.
In addition to the shocking breakdown of presidential legal and moral responsibility, there is the scandalous mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe. Any impeachment proceeding must include a careful and critical look at the collapse of presidential leadership in response to perhaps the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.
Impeachment is unlikely, of course. But we must still urge Congress to act. This, I believe, is the rightful course for an American patriot.
We have a chance to heal the wounds the nation has suffered in the opening decade of the 21st century. This recovery may take a generation and will depend on the election of a series of rational presidents and Congresses. At age 85, I won't be around to witness the completion of the difficult rebuilding of our sorely damaged country, but I'd like to hold on long enough to see the healing begin.
There has never been a day in my adult life when I would not have sacrificed that life to save the U.S. from genuine danger, such as the one we faced when I served as a bomber pilot in World War II. We must be a great nation because from time to time, we make gigantic blunders, but so far, we have survived and recovered.
Sudden Wealth Curse
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and the Netherland's Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, left, enter a hall for a signing of documents ceremony in the Moscow Kremlin, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007, with Dutch gas company Nederlandse Gasunie NV President Marcel Kramer, right, in the background. Russian and Dutch officials signed an agreement Tuesday to include Dutch gas giant Nederlandse Gasunie NV in the Baltic Sea pipeline designed to bypass several European countries and ship Russian gas directly to Germany.
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