15 Things Learned About Bush&Co.: An Impeachment List
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
Though my degrees are in government and international relations, I hadn't been
part of the political arena in an activist way since "The Sixties" --
roughly the Civil Rights Movement late-'50s through the anti-Vietnam War
mid-'70s. Instead, after years of college teaching, I found myself more engaged
in cultural work as a playwright, poet and newspaper reporter, and, for nearly
two decades, as a theater critic.
When 9/11 arrived, something snapped open in me, as it did for many Americans.
The world indeed had changed, not just the fact that the U.S. was attacked in
such a horrific way and had to respond but also, and perhaps more significantly,
in the brazen, power-hungry way the Bush Administration had chosen to use those
My political instincts and intuitions were re-activated, along with a desire to
talk about what I saw happening, and I began writing political analyses for a
wide variety of internet websites. If one examined those early columns, one
could see a moderate progressive struggling, along with everyone else, in trying
to make sense of what was going on politically, socially, economically.
After a year or so of writing for other publications, co-activist philosopher
Ernest Partridge and I in November of 2002 founded our own website The Crisis
where we not only would publish our political analyses but also link to the best
writing we found out there on the Web, and help the fledgling resistance gain
Two years later, just prior to the 2004 election, we found we were receiving
close to a half-million hits a month. We were able to share our own ideas and
stimulate our readers' thoughts about the Bush Administration, the "war on
terrorism," the various scandals, the torture policy established from the
top, and, especially, the unwise, dishonorable, illegal invasion and occupation
of Iraq, etc.
CLARIFYING THE CRIMES
Below is a quick list of fifteen things that I -- and maybe half of my fellow
Americans -- have learned since George Bush first moved into the Oval Office
four-plus years ago. Don't know about you, but making such lists helps me sum-up
and clarify my thoughts, giving me something to chew on when figuring out what
to do next, including the possibility of moving on some of these items as
grounds for impeachment. See what you think.
1. I've learned that while many of us in the late-'80s and early-'90s were
celebrating the implosion of Soviet-style communism and the end of the Cold War,
others already had been drafting aggressive plans to exploit the fact that the
U.S. was now the sole Superpower on the planet. If you want to know why America
is in Iraq, you need look no further than the theoretical writings of the
neo-cons associated with The Project for The New American Century, who
essentially run Bush Administration foreign/military policy. Among the founding
members: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz. For an
introductory primer, see "How We Got Into This Imperial Pickle" ( www.crisispapers.org/essays
2. I've learned that these neo-cons realized their aggressive views were way out
of the mainstream and thus that their goal of assuming "global
hegemony" would have to be put on hold "absent some catastrophic and
catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor." Their wish came true on
September 11, 2001; then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said 9/11
presented the Bush Administration with "an enormous opportunity" for
the implementation of its agenda in the world. (Note: All the words inside
quotation marks are theirs, not made up by me.)
By the way, it seems overwhelmingly apparent that Rice, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld,
et al., were quite aware weeks ahead of 9/11 that a spectacular terrorist attack
was coming from Al Qaida, but, for their own reasons, chose to look the other
way and do little or nothing to prepare themselves or the country for what was
about to come down.
3. I've learned that Karl Rove, et al., taking note of how so many presidents
(especially Bush the Elder) plunged in the polls after successful foreign
adventures, realized that while Americans rally around a president during
wartime, other concerns often take precedence once the hostilities cease. So
Rove and Rumsfeld and Cheney and Wolfowitz decided to make sure that hostilities
They reacted to 9/11 by declaring a never-ending "war on terrorism,"
thereby ensuring that the U.S. would be kept on a permanent war footing, and
Bush would be a "wartime president" during his entire residency in the
White House. (Note: There definitely are bad guys out there anxious to do more
damage to the U.S., and those murderous thugs need to be dealt with, but what
we're talking about here are the reckless, imperial measures chosen by the Bush
Administration that just happen to coincide with fulfilling their agenda.)
TORTURE AS STATE POLICY
4. I've learned that Bush toady Alberto Gonzales, then White House counsel, used
this "permanent war" rationale as a justification for instituting the
closest thing to a dictatorship in the U.S. since Richard Nixon, except that the
Bush Administration makes Nixon's crimes look fairly puny in comparison.
According to the twisted legal philosophy Gonzales and his aides came up with,
Bush can do whatever he likes whenever he says he is acting as
"commander-in-chief" during "wartime." Since it's a
permanent war they say we're in, it follows that under the guise of
"national security" and "the war on terrorism," Bush can do
pretty much what he chooses to do. It is permissible for Bush to make his own
law, or to ignore a law on the books, because his authority to do so is
"inherent in the President," the Gonzales theory claims. Astounding!
The Supreme Court shot down Nixon when he tried to assert something similar --
that when the President takes an action, it is ipso facto legal because he's the
President. We shall have to wait to see how the current Supreme Court will deal
with this much more expansive interpretation, especially if Bush can appoint a
few more HardRightists to it. The Supremes already fired a warning shot across
his bow, telling Bush last year that though the President is granted extra
powers during "wartime," he went way beyond the Constitutional pale by
refusing prisoners in U.S. care access to the legal system. But Bush simply
continues to delay implementation of the high court's ruling, or tries to go
around the decision.
5. I've learned that Gonzales and Pentagon lawyers, using the
-wartime" rationale, have attempted to legally justify use of "harsh
interrogation techniques" (read: torture) on those terror suspects by
inventing a new term, "enemy combatants," not used in the Geneva
Conventions Against Torture of Prisoners of War. Various watchdog groups,
including the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch
and the United Nations, have expressed grave reservations about the treatment by
U.S. forces of their detainees; indeed, Amnesty International urged governments
around the world to consider bringing war-crimes charges against American
6. I've learned that among the first actions taken by the Bush Administration in
early-2001 were those eliminating legal liability for U.S. officials or soldiers
from domestic criminal laws and international conventions regarding the torture
of prisoners in U.S. care. We didn't fully understand why the Administration was
taking these steps until a year or two later, when the extent of U.S. abuse (and
deaths) of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and elsewhere become evident.
The Administration made sure that only lower-level guards and officers were
charged with the deaths and abuse crimes, even though the orders and
"atmosphere" that winked at anti-torture laws had come down the chain
of command from the White House and Pentagon authorizing the use of "harsh
interrogation methods" of terrorist suspects.
"RENDERING" AND AMERICA'S SHAME
7. I've learned that the hardest prisoners to crack were either
"ghosted" -- i.e., kept off the rolls so that the International Red
Cross would not know they existed to check up on their interrogations and care
-- or were "rendered" to countries abroad (such as Uzbekistan, Egypt,
Saudi Arabia, et al.) where they could be severely tortured without running
afoul of U.S. laws and military regulations. The CIA uses special planes for
flying these high-profile prisoners to the severe-torture countries. Such
behavior makes me ashamed for my country. Note: Bush has never ordered an end to
all torture and "rendering" activities.
8. I've learned that torture and permanent war abroad have been linked to
police-state tactics at home -- mainly in controversial sections of the
so-called USA Patriot Act, barely read (if read at all) and passed in great
haste and fear after 9/11. The result is the creation of a militarist,
neo-fascist atmosphere within America. Those opposing this, or other policies of
this Administration are smeared with accusations of giving aid and comfort to
the enemy (Ashcroft), or being soft on terrorism (Rove/Cheney).
9. I've learned that much of the corporate-owned mass-media -- newspapers,
network news, cable pundits, radio talk-shows -- support the Bush
Administration, out of fear of reprisal or because they are ideologically or
economically in tune. This means that the broad base of the American population,
in a state of constantly-hyped fear, does not have adequate information to
counter the massive lies and propaganda barrage of the Administration. Though
there are a few voices of rationality and truth-telling in the maintream media,
in general citizens must seek out foreign news outlets and/or progressive
websites to access alternative points of view. Note: Currently, the
Administration is moving to neuter even moderate alternative voices, such as
might be found on NPR/PBS, and is devising ways of reining in critics on the
10. I've learned that the HardRightists are not content to control the
Legislative and Executive Branches, and much of the Judicial Branch and most of
the news media. They are moving to obtain near-total control of the Judiciary by
packing the important appellate courts with extreme rightwing judges, and Bush
is hoping to nominate at least two FarRight justices to the Supreme Court during
this second term, which could alter American jurisprudence for decades to come.
REALITY-BASED VS. SELF-DELUSION
11. I've learned that this is an Administration that appears to be severely
allergic to fact and truth. For example: To delay the inevitable, Bush appointed
his own scientific panel to investigate the issue of global warming; when those
supposedly Administration-friendly scientists reported that the situation was
even worse than other scientists had thought and that immediate remedial action
was called for, Bush called their report the product of "government
bureaucracy" -- as if that epithet ended the discussion right there -- and
continued on his merry way. When confronted by truths in Iraq and elsewhere --
for instance, that the war is not going well on the ground -- the Bush
Administration just ups the decibel level on its lies and continues on with
rosy-colored optimism as if the truth on the ground just doesn't matter. Or, it
denounces the media that report what's really going on militarily in Iraq. In
short, Bush and his dozen or so most-trusted aides exhibit a bunker mentality,
letting nothing in that will interfere with their fantasies and delusions and
constructs of deception.
12. I've learned that the Bush Administration, which does everything to ease
law-enforcement pressure on polluting corporations, has the worst environmental
record in modern times. It permits the polluters effectively to write the
regulations of their industries; it opens up once-protected natural areas to
more logging, mining, mineral extraction; it even lied to residents of lower
Manhattan in the days and weeks after the 9/11 attacks about how it was safe for
them to return to their homes, schools and businesses. It wasn't until two years
later (!) that the EPA revealed it knowingly had withheld the truth about how
bad the air was; thousands of New York citizens now face long-term health
consequences as a result of this mendacity.
DEMOCRATS AS AN "OPPOSITION PARTY"
13. I've learned that the Democrats in the Senate and House too often are
complicit in helping Bush&Co. implement their plans and programs by rolling
over in the face of the Republicans' smash-mouth politics. The Dems are a bit
better now than they were in Bush's first term, but they still haven't figured
out that being an Opposition Party means acting like one, not trying to play
patty-cake with the Republicans, who mainly want to politically slash their
throats and eliminate them as an obstacle to seizing full control over
It is not too soon to seriously start thinking, and organizing, a broad
alternative party -- perhaps the Greens in association with a new entity (maybe
a reconstituted Progressive Democrats of America) -- if the Democratic Party
doesn't start developing a consistent spine in Congress. At the very least, it
would be good to have this new party gaining electoral ground on the local and
state levels, building the infrastructure and street-smart leaders for the
future, even if a national candidate is not put forward in 2008.
14. I've learned that America's voting system is thoroughly corruptible and
cannot be trusted to yield the actual results. It's not that I object because
Republican companies manufacture the voting machines and control the secret
software that counts the votes; I would feel the same way if Democrat companies
were in charge. We simply cannot have a privatized voting system, with secret
software, and with no certified way of checking that the votes are honestly cast
and fairly counted. And, even if the companies are not manipulating the tallies
-- and there are indications that they may have done just that -- it's been
demonstrated many times how absolutely easy it is for hackers (or company
technicians) to enter the vote-counting system, alter the numbers and exit
without anyone being the wiser.
Our country simply has to return to paper ballots, hand-counted, if we want to
be taken seriously as a nation dedicated to fair and honest elections. Right
now, even with (or because of) our high-tech computer systems, we're just about
on par with the most corrupt third-world country in terms of a transparent,
honest vote-counting system.
THE WHITE HOUSE HORRORS: IRAQ
15. Finally, there is Iraq, which (as was the case with Lyndon Johnson and
Vietnam) will be the death of Bush's legacy and which potentially could get him
impeached during his term, or put on trial domestically and in The Hague after
he leaves office. Thanks to insiders who have left the Administration, the
demonstrable facts, and now the so-called Downing Street Memos from England, I
have learned, we all have learned, that there were immense immoralities and
crimes perpetrated by our own government (and the Blair regime) in preparing
for, launching, and carrying out this war and occupation. And those crimes
continue to this day.
Bush-Blair/Cheney/Rumsfeld, et al. tried to maintain that they went to war
against Iraq only because Saddam forced them to do so because of his supposed
stockpiles of deadly WMD about to be used against America and Britain and Iraq's
neighbors. However, it has long since been clear, and now is verified by the
leaked top-secret Downing Street Memos, that both governments were lying through
their teeth, about the supposed WMD and that Saddam "didn't allow U.N.
weapons inspectors in," and much more. (Here are the actual texts of these
top-secret minutes and memoranda.) ( http://thinkprogress.org/index
Both the Brit and the American governments knew that Iraq was a paper tiger,
devoid of imminent threat and any major weapons of mass destruction, and that
Saddam had no connection to 9/11; he was contained and, for the foreseeable
future, was going nowhere. But the desire of Bush and the neo-cons to attack
Iraq had been an obsession long before 9/11, because of their plans to control
the oil and to use Iraq as a base for altering the geo-political landscape of
the Middle East. Bush and Blair, in order to justify the war to their respective
populations, and to the international community, had to find "intelligence
and facts" that could be "fixed" around the already-agreed-to
policy of war.
Both in England and in the States, there were no such intelligence and facts; in
this country, as hard as Cheney leaned on them, CIA and State Department
analysts were unable to supply believable facts and intelligence to the White
House. The political window for attack was about to close. So Rumsfeld set up
his own "intelligence" unit, the Office of Special Plans, stocked it
with political appointees of the PNAC persuasion, and, surprise, got the
"intelligence" the neo-cons wanted, stovepiped it directly to the
White House (thus not having to run it by the professional analysts), and the
war was green-lighted.
The American and British peoples were simply lied to. The British were told that
chemical shells could hit U.K. bases within 45 minutes, Rice and Cheney and
others warned about mushroom clouds over U.S. cities, U.S. Senators were told
Iraq could launch drone planes to drop toxins along the East Coast, and so on.
(Note: Lying to Congress is a serious crime, an impeachable one.) Colin Powell
was dispatched to the United Nations and told some laughable whoppers based
supposedly on "incontrovertible" intelligence. The Congress, and the
mass-media, bought in to the lies; the U.N. Security Council, first wanting to
hear the final report from U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, didn't.
Ten million people in countries around the world demonstrated to try to stop the
coming war, convinced that it was illegal, that it was based on lies and
deceptions, and that it would open a Pandora's box of increased Islamist
terrorism around the world. Bush paid no attention; he began bombing Iraq long
before the invasion, in mid-2002, nine months before he received authorization
from Congress to launch a war as a last-resort. The "shock&awe"
ground invasion began in March of 2003. To date, more than 1700 U.S. troops are
known to have died in combat there (if that government figure is the correct
total; how can we be sure?), with tens of thousands of our soldiers maimed;
maybe as many as 100,000 Iraqis have died, most of those innocent civilians --
FORCED ENTRY & NO EXIT PLAN
Because of its Iraq invasion, occupation and tortures, the U.S. is a hated
pariah in most of the world, morally isolated, economically vulnerable, anathema
to Muslims worldwide (many of whom have not forgotten that Bush initially used
the term "crusade" to describe his mission), a magnet target for
terrorists everywhere. Our already-streched-thin troops are bogged down in a
bloody quagmire in Iraq now and presumably will be for years to come; Rumsfeld
the other day said a dozen years is not out of the question.
Bush and Rumsfeld, who have botched the Occupation from day one, have no plan
other than to keep repeating the mantra that the U.S. will "stay the
course." Clearly, to stay is to prolong the agony for all concerned; there
needs to be a major adjustment to "the course," but we see no evidence
of any thinking along those lines in the White House.
Well, I could go on and on with things learned since 9/11 about this arrogant,
greedy, power-hungry, bullying, ideologically blinded crew. But let's stop here.
The American people -- especially moderate Republicans, appalled at how their
once-proud party has been hijacked by extremists -- are waking up, shaking off
their political torpor and their real and manufactured fear. (Tom Ridge, for
example, admitted recently that he had been sent out regularly by the White
House to announce phony "terror"-alerts.) As recent polls indicate,
the American citizenry is voicing a demonstrable lack of faith in, and support
for, Bush and his cronies, and their disastrous, reckless policies.
Perhaps this list -- and ones you will devise on your own, and pass around to
your friends -- can be helpful in keeping that momentum building. It's time to
get America back on its track. And to do that, one way or another, Bush&Co.
must go. This nightmare must end -- before they take us all down with them.
If they resign right now, I say let's pardon them all. Anything. Just go! #
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. has taught government & international relations at
various universities, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco
Chronicle, and now co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org)
. Send comments to [email protected]
Originally published at The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 6/28/05.
Copyright 2005 by Bernard Weiner.