1. Cheney Led the Campaign to Attack Joe Wilson, which led to the Outing
of Covert CIA Operative Valerie Plame
The trial of Scooter Libby has produced overwhelming evidence that Vice President Cheney personally led the campaign to attack Joe Wilson through the media. This “get Wilson” campaign included telling numerous reporters that Wilson was sent to Niger by his wife Valerie Plame, a CIA operative. Cheney was told by the CIA that Valerie Plame worked as a covert agent in the CIA’s Nonproliferation Division, which is the critical division of the CIA responsible for stopping the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Cheney’s efforts to expose Plame actually exposed her entire covert network, at tremendous cost to the CIA’s secret war against terrorism. If Plame’s work had been exposed by a double-agent in our government like Aldrich Ames or Robert Hanssen, that person would face prosecution for espionage and treason. The evidence of Cheney’s role is more than enough to start an impeachment investigation.
2. There are many other reasons to impeach Dick Cheney.
The Scooter Libby trial also exposed the lead role of Vice President Cheney’s office in manipulating pre-war intelligence to defraud Congress into authorizing the invasion of Iraq. Sworn testimony revealed that Cheney’s office managed the evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, all of which proved to be lies. Cheney personally visited the CIA several times before the invasion to pressure the CIA to distort pre-war intelligence. And Cheney exerted “constant” pressure on the Republican former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee to stall an investigation into the Bush administration’s use of flawed intelligence on Iraq, according to the new chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller.
Dick Cheney also created the secret Energy Task Force which operated in defiance of open-government laws. Cheney’s lawyer, David Addington, advocated the “Unitary Executive Theory” which is used by the White House to defy laws duly enacted by Congress and thereby justify dictatorial action.
Dick Cheney also directed massive no-bid contracts to his company, Halliburton, and profitted from the same illegal war he defrauded the American public to launch.
3. Democrats are on politically safe ground impeaching Dick Cheney.
Even though George Bush’s approval ratings are among the lowest ever recorded by a President, Democrats are terrified of impeaching him. But Democrats should have absolutely no fear of impeaching Dick Cheney, because his approval ratings are much lower than George Bush’s.
4. If we impeach Cheney first, no one need fear a President Cheney.
A lot of people are understandably, if misguidedly, afraid that impeaching George W. Bush would somehow make Cheney president. Because Cheney is already running the White House, this change would not be as serious as people fear. But we can impeach Cheney FIRST and make all the fears go away.
5. This is about far more than selecting the next president.
It would benefit political opponents of the Bush-Cheney agenda for Cheney to be President, as he would shatter Truman’s record for unpopularity and help boost a Democratic landslide in 2008. The Republicans know this and will never allow Cheney to be president. He’ll resign before Bush is removed from office, and we’ll have a new Gerald Ford (a President Pelosi is no more likely than a President Cheney). We’ll have the same result if we impeach Cheney first and remove him from office. And we may get there faster this way.
Removal from office follows impeachment, which follows an investigation. A serious investigation of either Cheney or Bush will inevitably incriminate the other. In fact, the Libby trial has already shown this. Such an investigation would benefit our democracy whether or not it finally arrived at impeachment, and impeachment of both Bush and Cheney is richly merited, as is removal from office. But removal from office is an additional and difficult step. Merely impeaching Bush leaves us with President… Bush. Whichever of these two we impeach first, it is possible we will impeach them both before removing either from office.
We must impeach Cheney and Bush to establish standards for all future presidents, not to pick one. And ultimately we must stop fearing possible results of this in order to see it through. A President Cheney afraid of being held accountable by us is far preferable to a President Bush taking orders from a Vice President Cheney who believes he’s above the law.
Impeachment is not a way to pick a president, and if all you’re worried about is picking a president, you have no business monkeying around with something as profoundly significant as impeachment. Impeachment is a tool for removing a criminal president from office, thus establishing limitations on power for subsequent presidents. If we do not impeach Cheney and Bush, we will have established that it is acceptable for presidents to lie us into wars, to spy without warrants, to detain without charge, to torture, to reverse laws with signing statements, etc. These reasons go to the survival of our democracy, a matter of far greater significance than the person who next sits in the office of the presidency – or the office of the king if that is what it is to become.
It is not politically dangerous to impeach. It is politically dangerous not to impeach when the case is clear. The Democrats calculated that by letting the Iran-Contra gang off the hook, they could win the next elections. They then lost those elections. The Republicans tried to impeach Truman, won what they wanted from the Supreme Court, and then won the next elections. A dozen examples through history tell the same story. The only near-exception is Clinton. But that was an impeachment the public opposed. So, it ought to have had a reverse result from the other cases. Even so, the Republicans lost fewer seats than is the norm at that point in a majority tenure, and they lost seats mostly in the Senate which acquitted, not the House which impeached. The handful of fanatical Congress Members who imposed the Clinton impeachment on the rest of the Congress and the country won big in their next elections. Would that we had a few fanatics for serious justice in the House today.