A newly-released book, Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, lays out the legal case against the president. Written by experts at the Center for Constitutional Rights, the book makes four main allegations; “warrantless surveillance, misleading Congress on the reasons for the Iraq war, violating laws against torture, and subverting the Constitution’s separation of powers.” Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution provides that the president may be impeached for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
When Richard Nixon resigned in 1974, he had been accused of violating several articles of the constitutional oath, including vows: 1) to faithfully execute the office of the president; 2) to protect and defend the Constitution; and 3) to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. As the book puts it: “He did this by means of false and misleading statements, withholding information from Congress, condoning false statements, misuse of the CIA, and deceiving the people of the United States, as well, with false or misleading statements.” The accusations against Nixon draw into question whether our current president is guilty of obstruction the same oaths.
The book asks its readers whether the initial reactions of the Bush administration after 9/11 laid the groundwork for constitutional obstructions. On September 20th 2001, the president declared:
you are either with us or you are with the terrorists…. We will direct every resource at our command — every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war — to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.
That speech essentially laid the foundation for the pattern of illegal activity that came later. The United States is now using “every instrument of law enforcement” — including the gruesome interrogation methods employed in Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. And despite breaking the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, illegal wiretapping is a way to employ “every tool of intelligence.” So why are we so surprised? The president continues to break the law and circumnavigate Congress and writes it off as doing what he said he would do after September 11.