By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
After Bush signed his historic order, Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay were subjected to treatment outside the Geneva Conventions. That alone is an impeachable offense, argues McGovern, since the president authorized those soldiers to break Geneva and, therefore, the federal War Crimes Act. "This is really, really important -- Americans aren't supposed to torture people," he says. "[White House counsel] Gonzales says there is a reasonable basis in law where they can escape prosecution, but there isn't a decent lawyer that agrees with that."
Indeed, more than 130 prominent attorneys -- including 12 former federal judges and eight former presidents of the American Bar Association -- sent the president a letter last month denouncing his decision and alleging that the memos show that the administration sought "to circumvent long established and universally acknowledged principles of law and common decency." It went on to say that the White House and Justice Department "ignored and misinterpreted the U.S. Constitution and laws, international treaties and rules of international law."
"I think there very well may have been laws broken," says Neal Sonnett, a Miami lawyer who's involved in the ABA.
But it's the tie to Abu Ghraib that I believe makes the president's actions impeachable. And that connection was made crystal clear last month by an independent panel formed by Rumsfeld, of all people. The panel, led by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, determined that unlawful interrogation tactics "migrated" from Guantanamo Bay to Iraq. Most chillingly for the president, the so-called Schlesinger Report revealed that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez specifically used Bush's February 7 directive to justify the use of dogs and other unlawful techniques at Abu Ghraib. "Interrogators and lists of techniques circulated from Guantanamo and Afghanistan to Iraq," Schlesinger wrote in the August 24 report.
There you have it. Not only did Bush break federal law but his actions led to Abu Ghraib, creating a mess that will haunt this country long after Bush has vacated the Oval Office.
Yet the media, while sporadically reporting the facts, have failed to question whether the president's actions were legal (forget about any mention of the i word). But that isn't surprising, especially considering the mainstream media's failure to call Bush on the deception used in the buildup to war. And the media have never been known to let a gravely serious scandal get in the way of an election. Remember Watergate and Iran-Contra?
Democrats are even more to blame than reporters for letting Bush get away with his arrogant and costly decision. Impeachment, after all, is a legislative function. "We have a one-party government right now," McGovern complains. "We have a Republican majority in both houses of Congress and a Republican president and a Republican judiciary. Democrats don't want to be seen as retarding something that is necessary in the war on terror. But some gutsy Democrat should go for it."
And that's all it would take, one courageous congressman -- you listening, Robert Wexler? -- to file a resolution for impeachment. Even with all the damning facts on the table, the House would vote against it, just as surely as it voted to authorize the foolhardy debacle in Iraq.
But at least the people might hear the truth.