Impeachment

Jan
02

Fantasies About Russia Could Doom Opposition to Trump

Tag: Impeachment, Political Ideas

To many Democrats for whom killing a million people in Iraq just didn't rise to the level of an impeachable offense, and who considered Obama's bombing of eight nations and the creation of the drone murder program to be praiseworthy, Trump will be impeachable on Day 1.

Indeed Trump should be impeached on Day 1, but the same Democrats who found the one nominee who could lose to Trump will find the one argument for impeachment that can explode in their own faces. Here's a "progressive" Democrat:

"In his dalliance with Vladimir Putin, Trump’s actions are skirting treason. ... By undermining further investigation or sanctions against the Russian manipulation of the 2016 election, Trump as president would be giving aid and comfort to Russian interference with American democracy."

There's a bit of a nod there -- in the word "investigations" -- to the lack of any evidence that Russia manipulated any U.S. election, yet that manipulation is stated as fact, and a failure to support further sanctions as punishment for it becomes "aid and comfort." What level of punishment exactly constitutes the absence of aid and comfort? And how does that level of punishment compare with the level likely to produce war or nuclear holocaust? Who knows.

Failure to sufficiently punish a foreign government, even for an actual proven offense, has never been a high crime and misdemeanor. The United States is in fact bound by the Hague Convention of 1899, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and the United Nations Charter to take any such dispute to arbitration and to settle it by pacific means. But that would require producing some evidence rather than mere allegations. Lawless "punishment" is much easier.

But further evidence can emerge to counter the claim. The lack of evidence for the claim can weigh ever more heavily on public opinion. And the dangers of creating further hostility with Russia can enter the consciousness of additional people.

Meanwhile, we have a man planning to be president later this month whose business dealings clearly violate the U.S. Constitution in terms of not only foreign but also domestic corruption. That's a perfectly overwhelming case for impeachment and removal from office that doesn't require opposing a single incident of mass murder or offending a single Pentagon contractor.

Beyond that, Trump is becoming president after election day intimidation, the partisan-based removal of voters from the rolls, and opposition to attempting to count paper ballots where they existed. He's arriving with the stated policies of unconstitutionally discriminating against Muslims, murdering families, stealing oil, torturing, and proliferating nuclear weapons.

In other words, Donald Trump will be from Day 1 an impeachable president, and Democrats will have already spent months building their campaign around the one thing that won't work. Imagine what will happen after all their hearings and press conferences, when their supporters find out that they aren't even accusing Vladimir Putin of hacking into election machines, that in fact they are accusing unknown individuals of hacking into Democrats' emails, and that they are then vaguely speculating that those individuals could have been sources for WikiLeaks, thereby informing the U.S. public of what was quite obvious and ought to have been widely reported for the good of the U.S. government, namely that the DNC rigged its primary.

By the time the Democrats beat themselves to the floor with this charade, more facts will likely have come out regarding WikiLeaks' actual source(s), and more hostility will likely have been stirred up with Russia. The war hawks have already got Trump talking up nuclear escalation.

Luckily there is an ace in the hole. There is something else that Democrats will be eager to hold Trump accountable for. And give Trump a month and he'll produce it. I'm referring, of course, to that greatest fear of Our Beloved Founding Fathers, the ultimate high crime and misdemeanor: the presidential sex scandal.

Dec
22

Yes, Dubya, Now I Miss You

Tag: Impeachment, Peace and War, Political Ideas

When George W. Bush made the case for attacking and destroying the nation of Iraq, he made claims that, if true, would have justified nothing. And he proposed as evidence for those claims fraudulent, implausible, and even ridiculous pieces of information. But he was expected to produce evidence. There was no assumption that he should simply be taken on faith.

Those standards are gone.

The common wisdom that Vladimir Putin hacked into Democratic and Republican emails and fed the Democratic ones to WikiLeaks which delegitimized an otherwise legitimate election, is not based on any public evidence, and none is asked for by most believers.

The premise that possessing weapons justifies being attacked was patently absurd in 2003. The U.S. openly possessed all the weapons it claimed Iraq had. The premise that (further) exposing a rigged primary harms, rather than facilitating, election integrity, is strictly nuts in 2016. WikiLeaks and any source(s) deserve our thanks.

But the standard of evidence has been altered. It's certainly possible the Russian government hacked the emails. It's even possible that Russia was the source for WikiLeaks, and that Julian Assange and Craig Murray are deluded or lying, that Bill Binney is mistaken, and that all the anomalies in the claims of Russian hacking can be explained away. But the expectation that some sort of evidence should be produced no longer exists.

Sep
14

Suing Saudi: Congress Is Right, Stephen Kinzer Is Wrong

Tag: Impeachment, Peace and War, Political Ideas, Prosecution

Now there you have two things that I never expected to write. How often is Congress right about anything or Stephen Kinzer wrong? Congress wants 9/11 victims' families to be able to sue Saudi Arabia for its role in those crimes. Kinzer does not.

Jul
07

Impeach and Prosecute Tony Blair

Tag: Impeachment, Peace and War, Prosecution

The Chilcot report's "findings" have virtually all been part of the public record for a decade, and it avoids key pieces of evidence. Its recommendations are essentially to continue using war as a threat and a tool of foreign policy, but to please try not to lie so much, make sure to win over a bit more of the public, and don't promise any positive outcomes given the likelihood of catastrophe.

The report is a confused jumble, given that it records evidence of the supreme crime but tries to excuse it. The closer you get to the beginning of the executive summary, the more the report reads as if written by the very criminals it's reporting on. Yet the report makes clear, as we always knew, that even in 2001-2003 there were honest people working in the British, as also in the U.S., government -- some of whom became whistleblowers, others of whom accurately identified the planned war as a crime that would endanger rather than protect, but stayed in their jobs when the war was launched.

Chilcot makes clear that the attack on Iraq was illegal, against the British public, against the international community and the UN Charter, expected to increase terrorism, based on lies about terrorism and weapons, and -- like every other war ever launched -- not a last resort. Chilcot records, as reality-based reporting always has, that Iraq claimed honestly to have no nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Chilcot fails to explain with any clarity that one cannot legally or morally attack another nation even when it does have such things.

Chilcot does make clear the extent to which France was pushing back against war, along with Russia and Germany and Chile and China. The key supporter of U.S. war plans was the UK, and there is some possibility that a UK refusal to join in this crime might really have done some good.

But Chilcot steers away from criminal responsibility, and from the damage done by the crime. It avoids the Downing Street Memo, the White House Memo, Hussein Kamel, the spying and threatening and bribing involved in the failed effort to win UN authorization, Aznar's account of Bush's admission that Saddam Hussein was willing to leave, etc. This is a report that aims for politeness and tranquility.

Not to worry, Chilcot tells us, as nothing like this will happen again even if we just let the criminals walk. Chilcot claims bizarrely that every other war before and since has been defensive and in response to some attack, rather than an act of aggression like this one. Of course, no list of those other wars is provided.

Even more bizarrely, Chilcot claims that Blair and gang literally never considered the possibility that Iraq had no "weapons of mass destruction." How you make all kinds of assertions, contrary to your evidence, that Iraq has weapons without considering the question is beyond me. But Chilcot credits with great significance the supposedly excusing grace of groupthink and the passion with which people like Blair supposedly believed their own lies. Chilcot even feeds into the disgusting lie that Blair pushes to this day that Iraqis chose to destroy their own country while their occupiers nobly attempted "reconstruction."

Despite itself, however, Chilcot may do some good. In the United States, when James Comey describes crimes by Hillary Clinton and assures us they should not be prosecuted, most people can be counted on to lie back and accept that blindly or even fervently. Yet our friends in Britain appear less than eager to accept the attitude with which Chilcot has reported on the supreme international crime.

Tony Blair may now be impeached as he needs to be. Yes -- sigh -- one can and should impeach people no longer in office, as has been usefully done in both British and U.S. history. Removal from office is one penalty that sometimes follows a conviction at a trial following an impeachment; it is not itself the definition of impeachment. Blair should be tried and convicted by Parliament. He should also be put on trial by the International Criminal Court or, better, by a special tribunal established for Iraq as for World War II or Yugoslavia.

The victors in World War II used the Kellogg-Briand Pact to prosecute the losers for the new crime of launching a war. Blair violated both the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the newer, yet never used, United Nations Charter, which also bans war. While Kellogg-Briand allows no exceptions, the exceptions in the UN Charter were famously not met in the case of the war on Iraq or, for that matter, any other recent western wars.

You can sign a petition urging Blair's impeachment and prosecution here. Of course the goal must be to build momentum for holding the chief (U.S.) war criminals accountable, pursuing truth and reconciliation, and making massive reparations to the people of Iraq and their region. What the U.S. needs is action, not a 7-year "investigation." Our own Chilcot report, better in fact, was written long ago.

The Chilcot report could, against its own wishes, move us in that direction.

Jun
27

Have a Chilcot Fourth of July

Tag: Impeachment, Peace and War, Political Ideas, Prosecution

This Fourth of July, U.S. war makers will be drinking fermented grain, grilling dead flesh, traumatizing veterans with colorful explosions, and thanking their lucky stars and campaign contributors that they don't live in rotten old England. And I don't mean because of King George III. I'm talking about the Chilcot Inquiry.

Oct
10

Video and Audio of Pilots Who Bombed Hospital

Tag: Impeachment, Peace and War, Political Ideas, Prosecution

There is video and audio. It exists. The Pentagon says it's critically important. Congress has asked for it and been refused. WikiLeaks is offering $50,000 to the next brave soul willing to be punished for a good deed in the manner of Chelsea Manning, Thomas Drake, Edward Snowden, and so many others. You can petition the White House to hand it over here.

The entire world thinks the U.S. military intentionally attacked a hospital because it considered some of the patients enemies, didn't give a damn about the others, and has zero respect for the rule of law in the course of waging an illegal war. Even Congress members think this. All the Pentagon would have to do to exonerate itself would be to hand over the audio and video of the pilots talking with each other and with their co-conspirators on the ground during the commission of the crime -- that is, if there is something exculpatory on the tapes, such as, "Hey, John, you're sure they evacuated all the patients last week, right?"

All Congress would have to do to settle the matter would be to take the following steps one-at-a-time until one of them succeeds: publicly demand the recordings; send a subpoena for the recordings and the appearance of the Secretary of "Defense" from any committee or subcommittee in either house; exercise the long dormant power of inherent contempt by locking up said Secretary until he complies; open impeachment hearings against both the same Secretary and his Commander in Chief; impeach them; try them; convict them. A serious threat of this series of steps would make most or all of the steps unnecessary.

Since the Pentagon won't act and Congress won't act and the President won't act (except by apologizing for having attacked a location containing white people with access to means of communication), and since we have numerous similar past incidents to base our analysis on, we are left to assume that it is highly unlikely that the hidden recordings include any exculpatory comments, but more likely conversation resembling that recorded in the collateral murder video ("Well it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.")

There isn't actually any question that the U.S. military intentionally targeted what it knew to be a hospital. The only mystery is really how colorful, blood-thirsty, and racist the language was in the cockpit. Left in the dark, we will tend to assume the worst, since past revelations have usually measured up to that standard.

For those of you working to compel police officers in the United States to wear body cameras, it's worth noting that the U.S. military already has them. The planes record their acts of murder. Even the unmanned planes, the drones, record video of their victims before, during, and after murdering them. These videos are not turned over to any grand juries or legislators or the people of the "democracy" for which so many people and places are being blown into little bits.

Law professors that measure up to the standards of Congressional hearings on kill lists never seem to ask for the videos; they always ask for the legal memos that make the drone murders around the world part of a war and therefore acceptable. Because in wars, they imply, all is fair. Doctors Without Borders, on the other hand, declares that even in wars there are rules. Actually, in life there are rules, and one of them is that war is a crime. It's a crime under the U.N. Charter and under the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and when one mass-murder out of millions makes the news, we ought to seize that opportunity to draw attention, outrage, and criminal prosecution to all the others.

I don't want the video and audio recordings of the hospital bombing. I want the video and audio recordings of every bombing of the past 14 years. I want Youtube and Facebook and Twitter full, not just of racist cops murdering black men for walking or chewing gum, but also of racist pilots (and drone "pilots") murdering dark-skinned men, women, and children for living in the wrong countries. Exposing that material would be a healing act beyond national prejudice and truly worthy of honoring Doctors Without Borders.

Apr
16

The Loss of John Judge Hits Hard

Tag: Impeachment, Peace and War

Our society has lost a great activist today with the death of John Judge.  No one spoke more clearly, strongly, and informedly on political power, militarism, and activism for positive change.  While John lived nextdoor to Dennis Kucinich -- and with one of the best views and one of the best collections of political books and documents -- in Washington, D.C., it was as staff person for Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney that he advanced numerous causes of peace and justice and accountability for the powerful on Capitol Hill.  On impeaching Bush and Cheney he was there first.  John's expertise reached back into history and across continents.  From the Kennedy assassination to conscientious objection to how-a-bill-becomes-a-law, he was a person to turn to for information and wisdom who was never anything but helpful, friendly, cheerful, and energetic.  He could describe the hiring of Nazis in Operation Paperclip and the creation of the Cold War and then suggest that perhaps the Nazis actually won World War II.  He could explain the creation of standing armies in such a manner that you knew without a doubt that either our society was insane or you were.  He could get you thinking and get you active.  And always with complete humility and good will.  He will be missed.

I just opened this small selection of videos of John all at once, and it wasn't enough:

Mar
12

The Lawlessness of the Enforce the Law Act

Tag: Impeachment

Not being mush of a masochist, I don't usually read emails from the Democratic Whip in Congress, but I opened one Tuesday night and was mildly excited to read that the U.S. House of Representatives would spend Wednesday debating the "ENFORCE the Law Act of 2014." Wow, I thought, which law will they pick? Will it be the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act? Would I, moments from now, be phoning a bunch of people to tell them jobs are on the way? Or ... wait a minute! Oh my god, would large corporations be paying taxes now? Or will it be the Kellogg-Briand Pact or maybe the U.N. Charter -- Are we about to announce to the world that the wars are over?  Perhaps, I thought, it's going to be the anti-torture statute -- hot damn!

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