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Friday, July 25, 2008

Constitutional Limits

And Constitutional obligations
[Article I, Section 2; Article I, Section 3; Article II, Section 2; Article II, Section 4]

"Impeachment comprises both the act of formulating the accusation and the resulting trial of the charges"

It is not the removal from office or a guilty charge, but merely allegations - allowing for the pursuit of justice, setting the stage to take further action:
"A typical misconception is to confuse it with involuntary removal from office; in fact, it is only a legal statement of charges, paralleling an indictment in criminal law. An official who is impeached faces a second legislative vote (whether by the same body or another), which determines conviction, or failure to convict, on the charges embodied by the impeachment."

A great review of today's hearing on Executive Power and Constitutional Limits by The Nation's John Nichols:

• We have seen this Administration fabricate the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and allege, despite all evidence to the contrary, a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. These lies dragged our country into a preemptive and unjustified war that has taken the lives of more than 4,000 U.S. troops, injured 30,000 more, and will cost our nation more than a trillion dollars.
• We watched as this Administration again undermined national security by manipulating and exaggerating evidence of Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities and openly threatened aggression against Iran, despite no evidence that Iran has the intention or capability of attacking the U.S.
• We have looked on in horror as the Administration suspended habeas corpus by claiming the power to declare any person an "enemy combatant" – ignoring the Geneva Convention protections that the U.S. helped create.
• We have seen torture and rendition of prisoners in violation of international law and stated American policy and values, and destruction of the videotaped evidence of such torture, under the tenure of this Administration.
• We have seen this Administration spy on Americans without a court order or oversight in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
• We watched as U.S. Attorneys pursued politically-motivated prosecutions in violation of the law and perhaps at the direction of this White House.
• We watched as Administration officials outed Valerie Plame Wilson as a covert agent of the CIA and then intentionally obstructed justice by disseminating false information through the White House press office.
As we know, the framers of our Constitution called for impeachment only in the case of high crimes and misdemeanors. The standard is purposely set high because we should not impeach for personal or political gain – only to uphold and safeguard our democracy. Sadly, in my judgment, at least two high ranking administration officials have met that standard. Although the call to impeach is one I take neither easily nor lightly, I now firmly believe that impeachment hearings are the appropriate and necessary next step.

Part I (begins 19:00 in)

The text of Kucinich's statement:

Our country has been at war in Iraq, and has occupied the streets and villages of Iraq for five years, four months, and 6 days. The war has caused the deaths of 4,127 American soldiers and the deaths of as many as one million innocent Iraqis. The war will cost the American people upwards of $3 trillion and is the main contributing factor to the destruction of our domestic economy.

Mr. Chairman, I would ask unanimous consent to enter S.J. Res. 45 into the record. The primary justifications for going to war, outlined in the legislation which the White House sent to Congress in October of 2002, have been determined conclusively to be untrue:

• Iraq was not “continuing to threaten the national security interests of the United States”
• Iraq was not “continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability. . .”
• Iraq was not “actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability”
• Iraq did not have the “willingness to attack, the United States”
• Members of Al Qaeda were not “known to be in Iraq”
• Iraq had not “demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction. . .”
• Iraq could not “launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces”
• Therefore there was not an “extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack”
• The aforementioned did not “justify the use of force by the United States to defend itself”
• Iraq had no connection with the attacks of 9/11 or with al Qaeda's role in 9/11
• Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction to transfer to anyone
• Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and therefore had no capability of launching a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces and no capability to provide them to international terrorists who would do so

However, many Members of Congress relied on these representations from the White House to inform their decision to support the legislation that authorized the use of force against Iraq. We all know present and former colleagues who have said that if they knew then what they know now, they would not have voted to permit an attack upon Iraq.

The war was totally unnecessary, unprovoked and unjustified. The question for Congress is this: what responsibility do the President and members of his Administration have for that unnecessary, unprovoked and unjustified war? The rules of the House prevent me or any witness from utilizing familiar terms. But we can put two and two together in our minds. We can draw inferences about culpability.

Mr. Chairman, I would ask unanimous consent to enter H. Res. 333, H. Res. 1258, and H. Res. 1345 into the record. I request that each Member read the three bills I have authored, bills which are now awaiting consideration by the Judiciary Committee. I am confident the reader will reach the same conclusions that I have about culpability.

What, then, should we do about it?

The decision before us is whether to honor our oath as Members of Congress to support and defend the Constitution that has been trampled time and again over the last seven years.

The decision before us is whether to stand up for the checks and balances designed by our founding fathers to prevent excessive power grabs by either the judicial, legislative or executive branch of government.

The decision before us is whether to restore faith in government, in justice, and in the rule of law.

The decision before us is whether Congress will endorse with its silence the methods used to take us into the Iraq war.

The decision before us is whether to demand accountability for one of the gravest injustices imaginable.

The decision before us is whether Congress will stand up to tell future Presidents that America has seen the last of these injustices, not the first.

I believe the choice is clear.

I ask this committee to think, and then to act, in order to enable this Congress to right a very great wrong and to hold accountable those who have misled this Nation.

Much more to follow...


Part 2: the Testimonies

Part 3:

Part 4:

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