by Gabriel Packard
(IPS) NEW YORK --
impeaching President George W. Bush an unrealistic goal? Not according to former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, who believes that his 'Vote to Impeach' campaign has a genuine chance of succeeding.
"The probabilities may not be so high," concedes Clark, 75, in an exclusive interview at his office in Manhattan. "But I think we could be successful."
But political analysts think that the chances of success of this campaign -- and a range of other groups' legal and constitutional attempts to block the threatened war -- are very slim.
Still, long odds do not mean that it is not worth a try, some observers say. In fact, Clark says that impeachment "seems to be the minimum requirement for anybody who wants integrity in a constitutional government."
And that, he says, is his goal.
According to Clark, known as a progressive during his term as attorney general from 1967-69, Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft should be impeached for a range of alleged offences, including the president's threat to invade Iraq, U.S. actions in Afghanistan, and alleged breaches of civil liberties both at home and abroad.
For an impeachment bill to succeed, it must first be proposed by a member of the House of Representatives and then voted on by that body. Next, the Senate considers the House's verdict. Clark points out that, "ultimately Congress will have to draft their own articles: I wouldn't urge them to limit themselves (with regard) to who's impeached."
"They ought to look at the facts," he says.
The main aim of the 'Vote to Impeach' movement is to prevent a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. "If the war starts in two weeks, deterring it is very unlikely. But if it went over to the fall, I think the Vote to Impeach campaign could be a tremendous inhibition," says Clark, who had a famous showdown with FBI director J. Edgar Hoover when he tried to block Hoover's wiretaps of black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Impeachment is "something with potential and something that could happen. And even if it didn't, I think it's important to have the idea and the concern put as widely before the people as possible, before the fact (of war) rather than after it."
Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Jeff Fogel, agrees that making people aware of the opportunity to impeach is good, but he is less optimistic about the likelihood of success.
"It is an understatement to say that the chances of impeachment are limited," says Fogel. "It's highly, highly, highly unlikely with the present Congress."
But if enough people expressed support for the move, he adds, "I do believe that there are some people in Congress who have the courage to propose this kind of impeachment."
"Not many, though," he says.
But popular support for the campaign has been strong.
Within 10 days of the website being launched, 50,000 people had voted to impeach. (When people vote online they state the name of their congressman; all congressmen are notified of the total number of votes and the number of votes for their own district.)
In February, Clark spoke in front of 500,000 at the anti-war rally in Washington DC.
Various groups and individuals, including several Congressmen, are trying a range of legal and constitutional approaches to halt the threatened war.
A group comprising a dozen House Democrats, 15 parents of soldiers, and three anonymous soldiers have filed a lawsuit claiming that the president has no right to declare war on Iraq without Congress issuing a formal declaration of war.
The American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA) has called for Rumsfeld's resignation over alleged U.S. sales of biological weapons to Iraq in the 1980s.
In addition to Clark's, the other major impeachment campaign is organized by Francis Boyle, a professor of law at the University of Illinois Law School. The two impeachment campaigns are independent of each other, but both are headed by men with experience in the area.
In fact, Boyle collaborated with Clark in an impeachment campaign during the first Gulf War. In that instance, a resolution to impeach former president George Bush was introduced to the House by the late Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez.
The president was not impeached, but, Boyle says, "Bush Sr. in his memoirs says that in the run-up to the first Gulf War he did fear impeachment."
"I think we need to put the fear of God into Bush Jr.," Boyle adds. "So for that reason we launched this initiative."
Most of Boyle's articles of impeachment for George W. Bush are based on the ones used against his father. They are also similar to Clark's articles -- the only major difference is Boyle's second article, which alleges that Bush is violating the equal protection clause of the Constitution by "calling on the poor and minorities to fight a war for oil to preserve the lifestyles of the wealthy power elite of this country."
Both campaigns seek to prevent war. Both say that the threat of impeachment will be a deterrent. But both are still searching for a Congressman to propose the bill.
These campaigns follow a long history of impeachment attempts that stretch back to the administration of the first George to hold the presidency. Perhaps the most famous is the attempt against former president Bill Clinton after his sexual relations with a White House intern.
"The Republicans ratcheted up the stakes of impeachment with Clinton, and they did this for mainly political reasons," says Fogel. "Now Bush is committing what are, by most people's standards, much worse crimes than lying about extra-marital sex."
March 14, 2003 (http://www.albionmonitor.com) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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