As the dawn of the 110th Congress approaches, the issue of Impeachment hangs in the air for many on the left and right. In many ways it remains a trap for which Democrats are more than a little unwilling to fall into, for if they do aggressively pursue Impeachment of President Bush and/or Vice President Cheney how could it be seen as anything but partisan payback for the last six years?
The way out of that trap is to make the evidence compelling and complete enough - and the case laid out in a stark enough manner - that the neccesity of impeachment to change the direction of this country, this war, and to hold the criminal misdeeds of the Administration to account will be plain for all those with their eyes open to see.
Thus I present part one in a multiple part series: The Impeachment Case Against George W. Bush - Count 1 : Intelligence Fraud. President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney did, with malice of forethought, perpetrate a fraud upon the American People and the World by deliberately suppressing the truth about Iraq's lack of WMD, and did then use those false pretenses to begin an illegal and immoral War of choice.
With the announcement today by Sen Jay Rockefeller that the Senate's Phase II Investigation of Pre-War Intelligence will finally be moving forward to completion in 2007, the evidence on this count is certain to mount - but much of the key elements in this charge have already been disclosed through mainstream sources.
Starting with the article "The War they Wanted" by Vanity Fair which does a good job of tracking down how the WMD threat was sold to us.
First, we are all well aware of the PNAC demand for President Clinton to invade Iraq from 1998. This letter shows both motive and premeditation.
Next there are Bush's own words that "if I have a chance to invade [Iraq]. If I get that much [political] capital. I'm not going to waste it".
Then there's the Niger Yellowcake story, one that was discredited and debunked at over and over again but still remained one of the Bush Administrations must fervent claims long after the War.
Vanity Fair found at least 14 instances prior to the 2003 State of the Union in which analysts at the C.I.A., the State Department, or other government agencies who had examined the Niger documents or reports about them raised serious doubts about their legitimacy—only to be rebuffed by Bush-administration officials who wanted to use the material. "They were just relentless," says [Col Lawrence] Wilkerson, who later prepared Colin Powell's presentation before the United Nations General Assembly. "You would take it out and they would stick it back in. That was their favorite bureaucratic technique—ruthless relentlessness."So it's not that many in the Bush Administration didn't know or suspect that the relevent documents had been forged - they we're well warned - they simply refused to believe the truth (and/or allow the truth to be heard). Or to put it another way, they preferred to perpetuate a lie and a fraud.
Many of Bush's supporters have long claimed that "the entire world thought Saddam had WMD's" - as if to say it's not so bad that we were wrong if everyone else was too. But not everyone else was wrong - both France and Germany disagreed strongly with our claims that "Saddam was an imminent threat".
France's opposition is critical because they happen to own the Uranium Mines in Nigeria. If anyone would notice 1000 tons of missing Yellowcake, it would be France. They had external corroboration that the Niger/Yellowcake story was bogus. And they weren't the only ones who thought this story was a fish-tale.
Germany's opposition to the invasion is also crucial as they were the country that had direct access to Curveball, who was the prime source for allegations linking Saddam to continued WMD and WMD programs. Their intelligence operatives told members of the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) that he couldn't be trusted. Yet Rumsfeld didn't bother to tell this to Colin Powell before he used Curveball's erroneous info before the UN? Amazing.
To many W.M.D. analysts in the C.I.A. and the military, the initial reports sounded ridiculous. "The idea that you could get that much yellowcake out of Niger without the French knowing, that you could have a train big enough to carry it, much less a ship, is absurd," says Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff.
"The reports made no sense on the face of it," says Ray McGovern, the former C.I.A. analyst, who challenged Rumsfeld about the war at a public event this spring. "Most of us knew the Iraqis already had yellowcake. It is a sophisticated process to change it into a very refined state and they didn't have the technology."
Then of course there was Ibn Sheik al-Libi, the prime source of links between Saddam and al-Qaeda, who it turns out was tortured in an Egyptian Prison and where apparently gave a false confession and was considered a fabricator by - you guessed it - the DIA.
Colin Powell, who chose not to reference the Niger claims as being too questionable, never the less went before the UN in October of 2002 after viewing a video of al-Libi's confession and proceeded to put forward a false presentation. Powell was never told about the torture or the DIA doubts about al-Libi and Curveball's credibility. He was duped.
Update: George Tenet has also claimed to be unaware of Curveball's credibility problems...
"It is deeply troubling to me that there was information apparently available within CIA (search) as of late September or October of 2002 indicating that Curveball may have been a fabricator," Tenet said in a detailed seven-page rebuttal. "There is nothing more serious or galvanizing in the intelligence business than associating the word fabricator with a human source."
Powell didn't know, Tenet didn't know and Congress didn't know.
However it should be noted that the Yellowcake evidence was so weak that Tenet took personal action to have it removed the Bush's State of the Union Speech repeatedly, yet it found it's way back in supposed at the hand of Stephen Hadley.
The involvement of both Cheney and Rumseld in these events can not be discounted, as Larry Wilkerson has noted.
What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.We can see how these decisions affected the claims Powell did make to the UN such as the famous Aluminum Tubes with the special anondyne coating which the Bush Administration claimed were going to be used as centerfuges to process the yellowcake ore. That claim was debunked by both the Energy Dept and State Dept's INR and included in the classifed version of the National Intelligence Estimate provided to Congress that October, but was left out of the unclassified summary which most Congresspersons used to help determine their vote on HJ 141 - the Iraq Force Resolution.
Bush and his supporters have long claimed that Congress had the "same intelligence" information as the President. They did not. The truth of this was recently revealed when the President claimed that his own father - a former President - doesn't get the same information he does.
Colin worked closely with CIA Director George Tenet for weeks to develop his presentation, but even Tenet and the CIA had been kept in the dark.
So DIA knew the Al-Qaeda claim was bogus way back in February, but no one told poor Colin?
Today on Fox News Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeated the false assertion that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda had a relationship before the 2003 invasion, despite the recent Senate Intelligence Report that found U.S. intelligence analysts strongly dispute that claim.<>Rice tried to pin the blame on then CIA Director George Tenet, saying he said, “there were ties going on between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime going back for a decade.” But in July, Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the White House pressured him and that he agreed to back up the administration’s case for war despite his own agents’ doubts about the intelligence it was based on.”
Rice also tried to dismiss the Senate report as being after-the fact, stating, "Now, are we learning more now that we have access to people like Saddam Hussein's intelligence services? Of course." But as Wallace pointed out, a Defense Intelligence Agency report from Feb. 2002 -- before the U.S. invasion -- also concluded that Iraq and Al Qaeda had no relationship: "Iraq is unlikely to have provided bin Laden any useful CB, that's chemical or biological, knowledge or assistance." Rice said she did not remember seeing that report.
What's also interesting is that one month before Powel's presentation to the UN, in September of 2002, we had the head of CIA Operations in Europe, Tyler Drumheller, gaining access to the Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri who specifically told us they had no active WMD programs, a message which was relayed personally by Tenet to Cheney & Bush - and was ignored.
"ThePowell himself was diligent in putting together his presentation, but he never considered- he might simply be wrong.
group that was dealing with the preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they were no longer interested. And we said, 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said, 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.'"
Powell later recalled that most of their time was spent "trimming the garbage" of the White House's overwrought verbiage and uncorroborated specifics from the speech. Once that was done, Wilkerson concluded long afterward, "what we were all involved in -- groupthink isn't the right word -- it was a process of putting the data to points in the speech rather than challenging the data itself." As they probed for proof of Hussein's lies, no one thought of looking for evidence that might have raised questions about their assumptions that the weapons existed.Powell's presentation was succesful in passing UN Resolution 1441, and in helping the Congress pass HJ 141. Many have argued that voting for this resolution was a de-facto vote for war - but it is unfortunately not that simple. I some even question the Constitutionallity of the resolution itself.
Under the War Power Clause of the Constitution, the power to declare war rests solely with Congress, yet HJ 141 effectively delegated that authority to the President for the purpose of strengthing his hand diplomatically, not neccesarily allowing him to go to War on a whim. This is a point which was emphasized by Sen John Kerry when he made his decision on matter.
HJ 141 resolution required that the President show the Congress that he had "exhuasted all diplomatic means" to bring Saddam into compliance with all relevent UN Security Council resolutions before committing us to War. As it turned out - Saddam was already in compliance and any documents provided by the President to Congress to justify the invasion must have have been a fraudlent.
Just as fraudulent as Colin Powell's UN speech.
In December of 2002, Saddam released a Full and Complete Disclosure of the status of their weapons programs in accordance with UNR 1441 - which pointed out that these programs had been completely shutdown for over a decade, exactly as Sabri had claimed and as had been originally revealed in 1995 by an Iraqi Defector named General Hussein Kamel. (All of these claims were later completely confirmed by the Duelfer Report after the completion of "Major Combat Operations" in Iraq)
The Bush Administration ignored Saddam's declaration and called it a "more lies" based on the arguement that he "failed to explain where the Niger Uranium was"!!! Which of course, is the Uranium he never tried to buy.
During his 2003 State of the Union Speech Bush claimed...
Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade.No they didn't - WE did! Clinton pulled the inspectors out in 1998 just before he started bombing them again, not Saddam. (Note: Saddam did expell the American Inspectors Only in 1997, the Non-Americans followed them out in solidarity on their own)
This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors.
This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.No, he didn't - see Duelfer.
Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein faced the prospect of being the last casualty in a war he had started and lost. To spare himself, he agreed to disarm of all weapons of mass destruction.
For the next 12 years, he systematically violated that agreement.
He pursued chemical, biological and nuclear weapons even while inspectors were in his country.Actually, all of those worked!
Nothing to date has restrained him from his pursuit of these weapons: not economic sanctions, not isolation from the civilized world, not even cruise missile strikes on his military facilities.
It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened.No he didn't because he would have been overrun by the Kurds and Shia Militia, kinda like the way things are right now! He was bluffing them!
From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs.They lied.
These are designed to produce germ warfare agents and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.That's because they didn't exist.
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.Oh, really? How's Joe Wilson feel about that?
Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.Or regular missles exactly like the Italians use.
Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.Well, someone was definitely deceiving.
The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving.
Early in 2003 the second UN Resolution that the Brits had called for was blocked by Russia, China, France and Germany. All of whom were doubtful of the US claims of Iraqi WMD. (France and Germany in particular for very good reason obviously - claims that they were all bought off have been debunked.)
February of 2003 the UN inspectors had still found nothing and were growing frustrated with US WMD intelligence. "It's Garbage"
In April, with no WMD yet found, Bush decided "he can't trust Saddam", and orderd the inspectors out and the attack on Iraq to begin.
All of it, a fraud.
The DIA (and presumably Rumsfeld) clearly knew it was all a fraud all along. They had more than enough information to make the case that Saddam was innocent of these allegations. They knew the links to Al-Qaeda were bogus and that both al-Libi and Curveball were liars - but said nothing. Their conclusions were mysteriously missing from the NIE which was presented to Congress - which means the INTELLIGENCE DIDN'T "FAIL", THE DIA KNEW THE TRUTH AND KEPT IT HIDDEN.
The State Dept and Energy Dept. had dissented strongly over the aluminum tubes, and their dissent was also hidden beneath layers of false security (as well as being covered up by Steven Hadley and Karl Rove during the 2004 election). Many in the CIA doubted the yellowcake story and were ignored. Others who came forward later such a Joe Wilson who personally investigated the Niger claim at the behest of the CIA were vicously smeared. We had information voluanteered to us from fairly credible sources such as Gen. Hussein Kamel and Minister Naji Sabri- that Saddam had no WMD - a claim that was echoed by Saddam's own UN required declaration only to have it suppressed and ignored by the President while he claimed the exact opposite to the American people and the Congress.
If Bush didn't know what he was claiming were complete falsehoods - he should have known. It's HIS JOB TO KNOW. Whether he personally initiated the fraud isn't the point, he helped perpetrate it. He legitimized it. He is the one ultimately responsible. Further, if he was this mendacious (or just plain incompetent) in getting us into this War, exactly why should we have any confidence what-so-ever that he'll be able to successfully end it? The faster Bush is gone, the faster we can begin to fix what he has completely obliterated.
This isn't to say that having Saddam out of power isn't a good thing, but there is the question that if Bush had simply let the inspectors complete their jobs - and let them eventually come to the same conclusion as the Duelfer group, would Saddam's regime have tumbled out of control due to renewed unrest from the Kurds and Shia Militia who have been kept at bay since Saddam's 1991 chemical weapons attacks? If we hadn't invaded, and had simply remained on the diplomatic path we were required by law to follow might the Civil War that us trapped us have erupted on it's own and brought Saddam down?
Bush and his supporters have since claimed that we didn't go to Iraq just because of the WMD threat, that instead we went to spread Democracy and end Human Rights Abuses. Yet neither of these arguements were made in either his Oct 7th Cincinatti speech, or the 2003 State of the Union. "Human Rights" are also not included as a justification for Force under HJ 141. Yet again we have the perpetration of a fraud.
For these reason among many others Bush & Cheney should be Impeached and Removed and they along with Secretary Rumsfeld should be indicted for criminal fraud and negligence leading to the deaths of nearly 3000 Americans, and tens (possibly hundreds) of thousands of innocent Iraqis.
The only trick now is getting the American People to understand, believe and support it - or else it'll be seen as nothing but partisan payback for 2000 and '04.
But this issue is far too important for that to happen. the case has to be made - and it has to be air tight.
Update: Fixed some spelling and the Duelfer Report Link.