Death and Bases

By David Swanson

Yes, bases have replaced taxes as one of life’s two certainties. For plenty of corporations and even privileged individuals in the United States and elsewhere, taxes are no more. But U.S. military bases are everywhere. And you can call them enduring. You can call them lasting. You can call them substantial. You can even call them humanitarian aid missions. But the damn things are permanent, and there aren’t too many corners of the globe in which you can hide from them.

There are at least 6,000 U.S. military bases in the United States and its captured territories, plus at least another 1,000 in countries that theoretically belong to someone else. There are approximately 156 countries on the globe with bases occupied by U.S. troops, 70 with bases belonging to the United States and occupied by U.S. troops, and 46 countries (and shrinking fast) still outside the empire.

The Czech Republic is one of several countries where at the moment the political scene is in turmoil as a result of opposition to a proposed U.S. base. Activists all over the world plan to fast on June 22nd in opposition. You can learn more and sign a petition already signed by 119,000 people here:

Of course, Iraq is perhaps the one country where some significant percentage of Americans have actually heard about U.S. military bases. But how many are aware that Congress never approved or funded or even discussed their construction, that Congress has repeatedly banned the use of funds for their construction, that President Bush has signed such bills into law and ignored them — at times announcing his intention to ignore them with signing statements, and that Bush is trying to negotiate an illegal treaty with his puppet government in Iraq to allow dozens of permanent U.S. military bases to remain in that “country”. Finally, the great riddle of why the cheney we invaded Iraq is answered, and nobody’s listening.

Actually, Congressman Dennis Kucinich is listening. And he’s decided not to re-ban permanent bases yet again, not to hold a conference at which to whine about it, not to send a letter to the White House asking them to please stop violating the law if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. He’s decided to actually put the United States Constitution into practice. The following is the eleventh of 35 articles of impeachment that he introduced on Monday evening.

Article XI

In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed”, has violated an act of Congress that he himself signed into law by using public funds to construct permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.

On January 28, 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (H.R. 4986). Noting that the Act “authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, for military construction, and for national security-related energy programs,” the president added the following “signing statement”:

“Provisions of the Act, including sections 841, 846, 1079, and 1222, purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as Commander in Chief. The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.”

Section 1222 clearly prohibits the expenditure of money for the purpose of establishing permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. The construction of over $1 billion in U.S. military bases in Iraq, including runways for aircraft, continues despite Congressional intent, as the Administration intends to force upon the Iraqi government such terms which will assure the bases remain in Iraq.

Iraqi officials have informed members of Congress in May 2008 of the strong opposition within the Iraqi parliament and throughout Iraq to the agreement that the administration is trying to negotiate with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The agreement seeks to assure a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq of which military bases are the most obvious, sufficient and necessary construct, thus clearly defying Congressional intent as to the matter and meaning of “permanency”.

In all of these actions and decisions, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and Commander in Chief, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

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