Kucinich Files Articles of Impeachment Against Cheney

Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced yesterday that he would file articles of impeachment against vice president Dick Cheney. The charges are among the most serious ever contemplated under either domestic or international law.

The resolution claims the Vice President "purposely manipulated the intelligence process" and "fabricated a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction" in order to "deceive the American public" and the Congress and launch a war of aggression against Iraq. It also accuses him of actively seeking to launch a second war against Iran. (You can download the complete text of the resolution here, or view a clip of Kucinich's press conference here.)

Not only do the charges constitute the "high crimes" that were contemplated by the founders as the basis of impeachment, they're also included in the principles set out during the Nuremberg Tribunal that followed World War II.

The judges that made up the Tribunal said that launching a war of aggression was "not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

Other legal precedents were established at Nuremberg. Principle Three is unequivocal: "The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law."

As the Kucinich resolution makes clear, Cheney's alleged crimes violate treaties ratified by the U.S. Congress -- meaning that they are also part of United States law -- second in force only to the Constitution itself.

In most of the world, this would be considered a grave matter. Given the enormous loss in blood, treasure and prestige that's resulted from the disastrous occupation of Iraq, it should be here, as well. But in Washington there seems to exist a perverse rule that's followed slavishly by the DC Press corps: the more serious the matter, the more one should treat it as a joke.

So it was that the news was greeted with the derision that only a city cloistered in a bubble like DC's could muster when discussing an illegal war that's killed more than a half-million human beings.

The trivialization started with the media quoting unnamed "Democratic aides" making statements like: "We'll see a Kucinich Administration before we'll see a Cheney impeachment."

Today, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank turned his middle-aged frat-boy analytical skills to taking Kucinich down a peg; his typically dismissive lede:

"I do not stand alone," Dennis Kucinich said as he stood, alone, in front of a cluster of microphones yesterday evening.
That passes for funny in Dana Milbank's mind. Milbank (who is himself a very, very short man) also got in a few crucially important thoughts about Kucinich's height:
Standing perhaps 5 feet 6 inches tall in shoes, he wore a solemn face as he approached the microphones, which nearly reached his eye level.
Contrast that with another president accused of lying about a sex act; in 1998, the Washington Post editorial board found that "The allegations against President Clinton are allegations of extremely serious crimes." One editorial from 1998 noted the "seriousness" of the charges against Clinton, and another said: "There is no question that President Clinton committed grave offenses and aggravated them by refusing to acknowledge either the offenses themselves or their seriousness."

The fact is that hacks like Milbank are ensconced in their own little world. When Kucinich said he doesn't stand alone he was absolutely right; a majority of Americans favor impeaching George W. Bush if he lied about Iraq's "WMDs"; that's been the case since late 2005. (Kucinich says he decided to impeach Cheney instead of Bush because he doesn't want Cheney to become president.)

Impeachment may be gathering steam in a way that the whispering ladies of the DC establishment can't stop. As John Nichols writes in The Nation:
When Nancy Pelosi announced last fall that impeachment was "off the table," official Washington accepted that the primary avenue for holding lawless Presidents to account had been closed off by the new Speaker of the House. But the Republic's citizenry has not been so inclined ... Outside Washington ... an "impeachment from below" movement is gathering steam.
In Montpellier this week, activists are bringing pressure on the Vermont House to follow the lead set by the state senate last week, which passed a resolution by a 16-9 vote calling on that state's Representatives to file articles of impeachment. Similar resolutions have been considered in Washington, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico in the past year.

In her book, The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens, former Representative Elizabeth Holtzman argues that DC's political elite, including most in the Democratic party, opposed impeaching Richard Nixon until they felt a groundswell of public sentiment behind the move.

That groundswell of support found voice in obscure legislators -- mostly young back-benchers like Bella Abzug and Robert Drinan -- who were also dismissed by the Washington cocktail party set.

Kucinich, like those before him, may simply be with the American people and way ahead of the DC curve.

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