Impeachment is the constitutional remedy for extremely serious offenses that pose major threats to our democratic form of government. Maine Lawyers for Democracy, a statewide group of 65 lawyers, after careful analysis, has published a detailed report concluding the Bush-Cheney Administration's actions rise to this level.
The president and vice president must be held accountable. Impeachment is the Constitution's mechanism for accountability. Our representatives in Congress and the Maine Legislature must play their role in this process.
What has the administration done that is so radically wrong? Which of the continuing parade of untruths, scandals and abuses of power are so outrageous that they demand impeachment?
Foremost, the president and vice president misled this nation into the Iraq war and commenced the war in clear violation of law. They deceived Congress and the public about the "imminent threat" posed by Iraq.
Considerable evidence demonstrates that the decision to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein's government was made by the summer of 2002. The Downing Street memorandum, prepared by the head of Britain's intelligence service after a secret Washington meeting, revealed that the "intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy" of invading Iraq.
The American public and the Congress were the target of a very emotional and high-stakes sales pitch. The president, the vice president and administration officials spoke repeatedly of the grave threat posed by Iraq's alleged links to Al-Qaeda, and its possession of weapons of mass destruction, even evoking images of a mushroom cloud.
We now know that the intelligence upon which the administration's claims were based was neither solid nor credible in the eyes of professional analysts who were not influenced by the intense pressure applied by the White House.
These actions constitute not simply lying to Congress (which is itself a crime), and, quite possibly, a conspiracy to defraud the United States (also a crime), but abuse of power of the most extreme and serious kind, directly threatening the integrity of our constitutional system and the rule of law.
In addition, the commencement of such an unprovoked war violates the U.N. Charter and the Nuremberg Charter, both treaties adopted by the U.S. The consequences have been horrific on an unprecedented scale: loss of countless American and Iraqi lives, tens of thousands wounded, the suffering of millions of Iraqi civilians, and a cost of over $500 billion.
Another prominent example of the conduct demanding impeachment is the administration's illegal domestic surveillance program. The National Security Agency conducted a domestic wiretapping program from 2001-2006 without procuring any warrants in direct violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA"). This is a direct violation of a law enacted to prevent abuses of power and protect constitutional rights to be free of improper government surveillance.
Rather than following the simple legal path of obtaining warrants from the secret FISA court, they choose to ignore the law. This surveillance was strongly condemned by many of the nation's leading constitutional scholars as a flagrant violation of law and the Fourth Amendment.
The illegal detention and torture practiced or sanctioned by this administration also demands impeachment. The practices of holding detainees indefinitely without charges or trials, sanctioning torture of persons in U.S. custody, and rendering suspects to other countries who permit more severe forms of torture is a violation of U.S. law and treaties to which the U.S. is a party.
The president's and vice president's pattern of disregard of the Constitution and the rule of law is apparent. Based on our review of the administration's actions, Maine Lawyers for Democracy calls upon Rep. Tom Allen and Rep. Mike Michaud to introduce Articles of Impeachment and demand an impeachment inquiry. We also call upon the Maine Legislature to pass a resolution initiating impeachment to be submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives pursuant to the House's procedural rules.
The unprecedented abuses of this administration demand extraordinary action to preserve the integrity of our constitutional system of government.
Many Maine citizens are recognizing the need for impeachment, and the support for impeachment is growing. More than 8,000 have already signed the petition sponsored by maineimpeach.org calling on Allen and Michaud and the Maine Legislature to hold the Bush administration accountable through the Constitution's mechanism of impeachment.
John Kaminski resides in Topsham, practices law in Portland and is the chairman of Maine Lawyers for Democracy.
© 2007 The Times Record