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Kucinich Comments on Impeachment

By Dennis Bernstein
June 17, 2008


Editor’s Note: Last week, Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced 35 articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush. Not surprisingly, the major U.S. news media, which has never taken Bush’s abuses of power too seriously, largely ignored Kucinich’s act.

Given that vacuum – and the seriousness of Bush’s offenses – we are publishing excerpts from an interview between Kucinich and “Flashpoints” host Dennis Bernstein:

Bernstein: Let’s cut to the quick and tell us what you see as being at the core of your call to impeach the President and the Vice President.

Kucinich: An attempt to destroy constitutional governance by violating numerous constitutional provisions, U.S. code and international law, taking us into a war based on lies, making a false case for the war, saying falsely that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that it had the intention of attacking the United States, that there was a readiness to imminently attack, pursuing policies of torture, illegal detention, wiretapping, spying, rendition.  I mean, there’s…you know these articles…

Bernstein:  When you say rendition, you are talking about kidnapping…

Kucinich:  Right.  Kidnapping someone against their will, moving them to another country, where they’re tortured. …  If you read the articles, you will see that a pattern has been laid out that gives plenty of information to the Judiciary Committee and gives rise to not just hearings, but I think we have provided enough evidence to lay the basis for the impeachment. …

I think that this resolution is seen as an opportunity for a re-establishment of the imbalance of power which has happened over the last six years in this country since 9-11, where the President, through deception, has seized enormous amounts of power and has diminished the role of the legislative branch through deception. This gives Congress an opportunity to re-establish itself as a co-equal branch of government, providing an effective check and balance to executive abuse of power. This is what the founders anticipated in putting in the Constitution, in seven different places, the impeachment power and in making the House the sole guardian of that power. And so this is really an attempt to re-establish democratic governance, have the principle of accountability and the rule of law made central again to our public affairs and to take America, return America to a condition of true democracy.

Bernstein:  What’s the talk of the town in there?  …  Are there reverberations you’re hearing about that we might not hear about?

Kucinich:  Of course, people are saying, this is a distraction. Yeah, we were distracted in 2002 by a President who said, “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. It’s going to attack us.” That was a distraction. He took us into a war that killed over 4,000 of our brave young men and women who served this country, as well as caused the deaths of over a million innocent Iraqis. So, there’s really a question here as to whether or not sound moral principles are going to be governing our conduct of office. If we have information and sufficient reason to believe that this President has committed crimes, we have an obligation, whether there’s an election around the corner or not, to enter, you know, to move forward. Not only for the sake of history, but also for the sake of informing the next administration that such abuses of power will not be tolerated, and that we have a government of laws, not men. 

Bernstein: And what do you say is the responsibility of those of your colleagues who know and turn a blind eye. Is there a special responsibility?

Kucinich:  Well, we need to open their eyes, and open their hearts to what’s happened to our country over the last seven years. We’ve lost our country to deception, to fear. We need to regain our country. We need to regain America’s moral standing, not only before the eyes of our own people, but before the eyes of the world. We need a program which will lead us to truth and reconciliation. Impeachment was put in the Constitution for the sake of protecting the democracy. And so, you know. what I believe is that this, this is a time where we need to, if we’re going to make a new beginning in January, let it be a new beginning that showed that we were dedicated to the law. Let it be a new beginning that showed that no executive in the future will ever be tolerated telling lies that take us into a war that resulted in such destruction and an imperial world.

Bernstein: These are obviously articles of impeachment that add up in your position to high crimes and misdemeanors. What about war crimes?

Kucinich:  Article VIII of the articles of impeachment establishes a very clear context for war crimes prosecution. The Geneva Conventions have, provide protections for civilian populations. Those protections have been suspended. The administration, on issues of torture and other things, has said that they don’t believe that they apply. They have essentially set aside the Geneva Conventions. There are various protocols that I cite in the, in Article VIII that relate to the responsibility, command responsibility of the President as a civil authority, as well as the Commander in Chief, for taking, for ordering the American armed forces to attack Iraq without just cause. If you read the Nuremburg principles, they seem to fit neatly with the condition that we’ve found ourselves. What I say is that under the Constitution, under Article 1, section 8, Congress has authority to cause the laws of nations in this country to be enforced. Article 1, section 8 also is the article that deals with the power of war. And so, what I’m saying is that the Congress of the United States should take action to bring this president into account. Because if we don’t, it’s very clear if you read article VIII that he’s put himself within the reach and scope of an international prosecution. We need to, we need to clean our own house here and do it in a way that shows the world that we are a citadel of democracy and that we prize respect for the law and that we put the highest accountability and responsibility onto the person who holds the highest office.

Bernstein: Back to your issue in terms of being accused of distraction. Now what they would also say is that we have a liberal who would say he’s going to end the war, Barack Obama. All energy needs to go to Barack Obama. What’s your response?

Kucinich: This has nothing to do with Barack Obama. I mean, you know, or the Democratic party, or the party’s hopes for an election. You know, you can not set that into, on the scale here. Because this is the scale of justice. The scale of justice cannot have partisan interest involved. It contaminates. And so what we have to do is proceed based on the law and the evidence, and, you know, we’re told that if we know the Truth, the Truth sets us free. What would it profit us to have a new president who felt that he was licensed to do the same thing that President Bush is doing? That’s why we can move now to establish a threshold of conduct for, a new threshold of conduct for a President, a President of the United States. And if we don’t do it now, then we cannot expect that the next president will be in a position of expecting to be held accountable for something that this president was not held accountable for.

Bernstein: Have you attempted to speak with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi?

Kucinich: You know, I have a great deal of respect for the Speaker. I consider her a friend. I voted for her for Speaker. And I did it proudly. This is a matter which, as a member of Congress, I brought to the floor of the House, under the privileges of the House, to impeach the President. I would ask the Speaker as I would as every other member of Congress to look at the evidence and to make a decision based on the evidence, not on any preconceived notion as to whether it’s appropriate with respect to an election. Because if we fail to stand for the Constitution because we’re concerned about whether it’s the politically correct thing to do, then we have failed in our obligation and in our oath of office. …

Bernstein: What is your next job in this context and what do you think people who want to support you or learn more or be a part of this, what role do you think they can play or should play?

Kucinich: Simply contact your member of Congress and ask for the Judiciary Committee to have hearings. You know, I’m not trying to put my thumb on the scale of justice here.  I put forward something that said that we ought to have hearings on this. And if they don’t have hearings, then we’ve got a problem. Have hearings. Make a decision. That’s what I’m trying to achieve.

Bernstein: They’ve got thirty days. They don’t do anything, what do you do?

Kucinich: I come back with another resolution, and vote for it again.

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