Iraq: Pure War, Pure Crime

By David Swanson

Remarks March 3, 2006, at City Club / Catfish Club of San Diego

The Iraq War is a pure war, a war for the sake of war. Congress is debating whether to spend another fortune on it, another fortune that could completely remake this nation if spent on useful projects, and Congress has no reason for the war. The reason is purely that the media won’t like you if you vote against a war, but there’s no actual reason for the war, not the weapons of mass destruction that Bush always knew weren’t there, not the ties to 9-11 that Bush always knew did not exist on behalf of a ruler who anyway is no longer in power, not reducing terrorism which has been increased by this war, not improving global relations when this war has driven global opinion of the US to a record low, not preventing a civil war which the US attack and occupation have created, not supporting the troops when most of the troops want to come home and almost half of them openly admit to pollsters that they don’t know why they’re there.

This is a pure war, but the vote for more funding will not be a pure vote. It will include nothing that the Iraqi people need, unless you think they’re longing for larger prisons. But it will include crumbs for all sorts of noble excuses to vote buckets of taxpayers’ money for war – things like Hurricane Katrina relief, VA benefits, etc.

But any Congress Member or Senator who claims to be voting for a war that neither Americans nor Iraqis want because of the crumbs for good things had better be signed onto Congressman Jim McGovern’s bill to simply end funding for the war. Otherwise that Congress Member or Senator is a hypocrite and a murderer lacking the nerve of a Texas idiot to stand up and say “I am a murderer, what are you going to do about it?”

Because, let’s be clear: an aggressive war without UN sanction, whether marketed on a mountain of lies or not is a crime and the legal equivalent of mass murder.

Of course we all know, and we should remember since we’ve been told enough, that Bush HAD NO IDEA that he and his staff had promoted lies about Iraqi weapons and ties to 9-11 and punished any officials who questioned the lies. Bush had no way of IMAGINING that so many experts who said the Iraqis would resist a foreign occupation would be proven right. And we know from recent reports that Bush couldn’t possibly have CONCEIVED of the damage that Hurricane Katrina would inflict.

Someone should have told Bill Clinton not to say “I did not have sex with that woman.” He should have said “I had no way of IMAGINING that would happen when she crawled under my desk.”

I wanted Clinton impeached, though not for sex or lies about sex. He too launched missiles and bombs that were not in self defense. I dearly wish his warmongering wife would leave the Senate and stay off television. I have no interest in revenge for Clinton’s impeachment or in promoting one political party over another.

But if Bush and Cheney are not impeached, removed from office, prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned, we will have removed impeachment from the Constitution and sanctioned aggressive wars in the near and distant future by this and other administrations.

The rest of the world understands this. Look at Bush’s welcome in India and Pakistan. Back in DC we hope to pack the streets with protesters on March 14th and you can read why at

You know, there are those who argue that Bush’s negligence before, during and after Katrina is enough reason to impeach.

Others say the same of the ports deal or of the leaking of classified intelligence or of the manufacture of phony news reports or of the retribution exacted on whistleblowers or of the pre-911 negligence or of the various war crimes (targeting civilians, using chemical and nuclear weapons). There’s also the ongoing manufacture of biological weapons and the refusal to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has laid out a comprehensive case for four articles of impeachment, and it does not include any of the crimes I’ve just mentioned. It doesn’t need to.

Instead it focuses on the spying without court approval, the use of torture, the imprisonment without charge or trial, the illegality and fraud of the war, and the numerous violations of the separation of powers.

Our impeachment cup runneth over.

And there are probably more crimes, more scandals, and more evidence of the old crimes that I don’t know about, since I’ve spent the past day traveling.

The question, again, is what are we going to do about it?

We’ve reached smoking gun fatigue. We have new memos and testimony on the war lies every week, and we’ve been collecting the evidence at

But I’m not sure I need to tell you. The 27 Congress Members currently cosponsoring John Conyers’ bill for an investigation into grounds for impeachment include a number of Californians, and not a single representative of my state – Virginia.

The Governor of Virginia has spoken up for impeachment, saying “Guilt wherever found ought to be punished.” Sadly that was Governor Edmund Randolph in 1787 arguing for making impeachment central to the system of checks and balances in the Constitution.

Two other Virginians, George Mason and James Madison, worked out the language: “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

My neighbor Thomas Jefferson thought that impeachment was central to giving the legislative branch the power to check the executive and judicial branches.

The legislative branch, of course, writes laws. 322 times in American history, prior to Bush, presidents wrote signing statements stating what they thought a law meant as they signed it. Bush alone has done that 435 times. And in doing so he’s rewritten the laws he’s signed. As a result, torture is self defense, war is peace, and dictatorship is democracy.

To those who think we can end the war without impeaching Bush and Cheney, I would ask “What will you do when Congress ends the war and Bush signs a statement clarifying that the war will not end?”

Let me close by mentioning that we’ve created a political action committee called ImpeachPAC to fund congressional candidates who are committed to impeaching Bush and Cheney. Please go to and contribute $20, $200, or whatever you can to help this effort. Thank you.

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