Yes, He’s Still Running, Thank Reason.

by matttbastard

Now that Keebler Kucinich has dropped out of the race, my main man Mike is the only (ahem) major US presidential candidate left who is in favour of impeachment:

Impeachment Statement by Presidential Candidate Senator Mike Gravel

While I’ve been outspoken in favor of the Impeachment of Vice President Cheney and President Bush since last July, today I’m announcing my very strong and unqualified support for Impeachment.

I want to very clearly and emphatically affirm the imperative of Impeachment as the Presidential Campaign begins to move into high gear and as the media is busy anointing the “front runners.”

As a Candidate for President, and most importantly as an American, I firmly believe that our most important and highest priority, both as individual American citizens and as a whole Nation, is to protect, defend, and nourish the foundation of American Democracy: the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Every other issue is of secondary importance.

I’ve chosen to run for President to effect what I consider to be much needed change. When people go to Internet websites that match them with the candidates that best reflect their own concerns and priorities, a very large number of voters find that I am the candidate best advocating the issues they most care about.

However, today I want to unequivocally state: without Impeachment first, what I or any other worthy Presidential candidate wants to accomplish is very unlikely to happen. Our words will in fact become another empty campaign promise and another sad political fantasy.

Why am I making such a statement?

Let’s review a few supremely important and disturbing facts:

Without Impeachment before we choose the next Administration, we as a Nation will be setting a legal precedent. We will saying yes to the systematic destruction of the Constitution and Bill of Rights engineered by Vice President Cheney and President Bush, and will be formally agreeing to the end of American Democracy. We, as Americans, will be giving our approval and consent to the idea that the Vice President and President are indeed above the law, that they are in fact a law unto themselves.

The Cheney and Bush Administration has openly boasted about their supposed right to break the law. This administration has claimed that it has the right to spy on Americans without a warrant. This administration has decided that it has no obligation to respond to any lawful subpoenas from Congress, and that it may invoke Presidential signing statements to declare its right to ignore any Federal Law. This administration thinks it has the authority to arbitrarily strip any American of his or her citizenship.

This administration has illegally declared that it has supreme overriding authority. The Vice President and the President have accumulated and consolidated unprecedented power that has replaced the co-equal system of checks and balances mandated by the Constitution with a new Imperial Presidency. This imperialism has given the President far-reaching powers that our founding fathers would quickly recognize as tyranny.

The illegitimate authority of this newly constructed imperial Presidency – this Supreme Commander-in-Chief created by Cheney and Bush has replaced the Rule-of-Law based on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Our system of co-equal branches of government, the unique and revolutionary principle of American Democracy, the great leap of faith that people could actually govern themselves, has been subverted. It is now almost dead.

America, the world’s oldest Democracy, is an astonishingly brilliant system of government based on carefully crafted and refined checks and balances between co-equal branches of government. The civil liberties given birth by this revolutionary form of government over 200 years ago are rapidly ending.

Our political elite, those we have entrusted to be the people’s representatives, have failed. Their oath of office, to protect and defend the Constitution, has been disregarded in the light of political power.

When we have a Vice President and President who openly declare they are above the law of the land, above the Constitution, how can we as Americans pretend that we live in a Democracy?

If We The People do not take action to demand accountability in the form of Impeachment, we become passive accomplices to the silent overthrow of American Democracy.

It is now time for the People to become leaders. We must teach our elected representatives to act in accordance with their oath of office and effect immediate impeachment of those who have committed these crimes against the Constitution.

If we do not act now we are all personally endorsing, sanctioning, and indeed celebrating, the end of the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus and all other fundamental civil liberties and democratic values. Such values have been the foundation of American Democracy for over 200 years.

The media-anointed “front-running” Presidential Candidates simply do not have the courage to tell the American public the truth.

If we elect any candidate from any party without first impeaching this outlaw Administration, we endorse and elect a new Imperial President of the United States. This cements into place a failed Democracy whose citizens have passively chosen to relinquish the cherished freedoms millions have fought and died to protect.

Do we really believe that we can trust the next President to give back the dramatically expanded power of the Unitary Executive? Once absolute power has been granted, it is never relinquished voluntarily.

We need to stop kidding ourselves. Let us summon 1% of the courage that those who landed on the beaches of Normandy had and recognize what is painfully obvious to the rest of the World: we are rapidly losing every fundamental freedom we thought we were fighting the “terrorists” to protect.

In six short years, the Vice President and the President have actively conspired to commit the most grievous crimes against our Constitution and the personal freedoms it guarantees. America has gone from being perhaps the most admired and respected nation on the planet to becoming the ultimate rogue state. The world’s only remaining superpower is now feared as the greatest threat to world peace.

The Constitutional system of checks and balances that are the foundation of our civil liberties have been gutted. America has become the only “civilized” state to declare its right to arbitrarily imprison, torture, and spy on anyone it chooses to, including its own citizens. We are also the only state to officially declare a right to wage lethal preemptive war on any nation that dares to threaten its exclusive superpower status.

Every democratic nation has the government that is created by active participation of its citizens. Impeachment is the only option for us, as Americans, to effectively wake ourselves up from this collective nightmare. It is the only way for us to demonstrate to ourselves and the rest of the world that we are the Americans we like to believe we are. We need to demonstrate that we actually can summon the courage to live up to our self-proclaimed ideals.

Enough is enough. This is NOT allowed.

There is a lot of very good news that makes me tremendously hopeful that we as a nation are starting to wake up and insist our Congressional representatives act to make Impeachment happen now.

Our corporate controlled media works very hard to portray impeachment as a fringe issue not worthy of serious consideration, even though polls show the negative approval ratings of this administration have surpassed all historic records. Reputable national polling shows that 54% want the Vice President impeached and 45% of voters favor Impeachment for the President.

We The People
are indeed waking up – we have learned not to rely on the old top-down corporate media dinosaurs to tell us what they have decided is “the news.” Fortunately, We The People have an amazing network of online alternative information sources. These rapidly evolving reality-based, user-driven, independent media sites have made us our own news editors.

We The People are now realizing that we must act now to take the initiative to demand that our elected representatives in Congress initiate immediate Impeachment hearings. From the bottom-up, we have begun the process to restore the Rule-of-Law in America.

Here’s what we can all do now to take effective action:
Join your fellow Americans and Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), a member of the House Judiciary committee, by signing his petition that asks all other members of the Judiciary Committee to join his call for immediate hearings on the Impeachment of the Vice President.

Support and donate to these Impeachment Groups:

Impeach Bush

The World Can’t Wait

Code Pink

Support and donate to my campaign and tell your friends.

Support and donate to the other Presidential candidates who are also publicly and courageously calling for Impeachment.

Let the other Presidential Candidates know why you are not willing to support or contribute to their campaign: that you refuse to support anyone who isn’t willing to tell the truth to the American people about what has happened to their Democracy.

Join together to organize and petition your Congressperson to be true to their oath office: to uphold their most fundamental and sacred duty to protect and defend the Constitution by Impeaching the Vice President and President. Together we will restore the Rule-of-Law in America.

Senator Mike Gravel
Candidate for President

Related: Via Jon Schwarz, The Real News on impeachment; my Yankee brethren can still sign the Wexler Wants Hearings petition.

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A Sharp Reversal

by matttbastard

My, how things can change in 2 years (to say nothing of one monthnice try, Deadeye). With the most recent US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) now saying that Iran is not actively seeking a nuclear weapons program (as the Grey Lady puts it, “[r]ather than portraying Iran as a rogue, irrational country determined to join the club of nations that possess a nuclear bomb, the estimate says Iran’s “decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs”–ZOMG you mean they AIN’T CRAAZY?!!11), the foreign policy debate about dealing with the Supreme Council has been turned on its head:

The impact of the National Intelligence Estimate’s conclusion — that Iran had halted a military program in 2003, though it continues to enrich uranium, ostensibly for peaceful uses — will be felt in endless ways at home and abroad.

It will certainly weaken international support for tougher sanctions against Iran, as a senior administration official grudgingly acknowledged. And it will raise questions, again, about the integrity of America’s beleaguered intelligence agencies, including whether what are now acknowledged to have been overstatements about Iran’s intentions in a 2005 assessment reflected poor tradecraft or political pressure.

Seldom do those agencies vindicate irascible foreign leaders like President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who several weeks ago said there was “no evidence” that Iran was building a nuclear weapon, dismissing the American claims as exaggerated.

The biggest change, though, could be its effect on President Bush’s last year in office, as well as on the campaign to replace him. Until Monday, 2008 seemed to be a year destined to be consumed, at least when it comes to foreign policy, by the prospects of confrontation with Iran.

There are still hawks in the administration, Vice President Dick Cheney chief among them, who view Iran with deep suspicion. But for now at least, the main argument for a military conflict with Iran — widely rumored and feared, judging by antiwar protesters that often greet Mr. Bush during his travels — is off the table for the foreseeable future.

As Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, put it, the intelligence finding removes, “if nothing else, the urgency that we have to attack Iran, or knock out facilities.” He added: “I don’t think you can overstate the importance of this.”

[…]

Senator Hagel said he hoped that the administration might in its final year in office show the kind of diplomatic flexibility it did with North Korea over its nuclear weapons or with the conference in Annapolis, Md., last week on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has previously called for the United States to open direct and unconditional talks with Iran to end the state of enmity that has existed since 1979.

He said Iran’s halt of weapons activity had created an opening for such talks, indicating, as the assessment does, that Iran’s government may be more rational than the one that Mr. Bush said in August had threatened to put the entire region “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.”

“If we’re wise here, if we’re careful, I think we have some opportunities,” Mr. Hagel said.

As Senator Hagel says, perhaps it’s time to rethink the present (un)diplomatic approach on the part of Bush administration officials (ahem). Zbigniew Brzezinski (writing in an op-ed published prior to the release of the latest NIE) thinks China could prove to be an effective partner for negotiations with Iranif the US ratchets down the hawkish rhetoric and brinkmanship. Fat chance, sez an ever-defiant Dubya:

George Bush today ruled out a change in Washington’s Iran policy following the declassification yesterday of a US intelligence report that concluded Tehran had abandoned its nuclear weapons programme in 2003.

The US president denied the national intelligence estimate (NIE) – which said Tehran’s determination to develop nuclear weapons “is less … than we have been judging” – had undercut his administration’s repeated assertions that Iran was building nuclear weapons.

“Iran was dangerous. Iran is dangerous. And Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” Bush told his first White House press conference in nearly seven weeks.

He said the US would continue to work to “isolate” Iran, claiming the NIE was a “warning signal” to the international community.

“I think it is very important for the international community to recognise the fact that if Iran were to develop the knowledge that they could transfer to a clandestine program, it would create a danger of the world. “And so, I view this report as a warning signal that they had the programme, they halted the programme. The reason why it’s a warning signal is they could restart it.”

As recently as October, Bush was invoking the threat of a third world war in relation if Iran was not prevented from obtaining the necessary knowledge to make a nuclear weapon.

Asked if he had been “hyping” the threat from Iran, Bush said he was only made aware of the NIE last week and insisted it had changed nothing. “I still feel strongly that Iran is a danger. I think the NIE makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously as a threat to peace. My opinion hasn’t changed.”

Of course, as noted by BBC News, despite the lack of repentance in the president’s still-bellicose rhetoric, the urgency has been muted, with the president having “gone from raising the spectre of World War III, to saying that Iran could be a danger to the world if it had the knowledge to develop nuclear weapons.

The most entertaining (if not at all unexpected) hawkish responses to the report come from Michael Ledeen (shorter: “they is TOO batshit crazy!!11”) and Norman Podhoretz, who at some point apparently purchased stock in a tinfoil manufacturer:

I must confess to suspecting that the intelligence community, having been excoriated for supporting the then universal belief that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, is now bending over backward to counter what has up to now been a similarly universal view (including as is evident from the 2005 NIE, within the intelligence community itself) that Iran is hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons. I also suspect that, having been excoriated as well for minimizing the time it would take Saddam to add nuclear weapons to his arsenal, the intelligence community is now bending over backward to maximize the time it will take Iran to reach the same goal.

But I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations. As the intelligence community must know, if he were to do so, it would be as a last resort, only after it had become undeniable that neither negotiations nor sanctions could prevent Iran from getting the bomb, and only after being convinced that it was very close to succeeding. How better, then, to stop Bush in his tracks than by telling him and the world that such pressures have already been effective and that keeping them up could well bring about “a halt to Iran’s entire nuclear weapons program”—especially if the negotiations and sanctions were combined with a goodly dose of appeasement or, in the NIE’s own euphemistic formulation, “with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways.”

Yes, how dare the (liberalcommieterrorist-appeasing) US intelligence community undermine the long-standing scheme to bomb bomb Iran by nefariously reporting that, despite the best efforts of the VP’s office, (half-assed) diplomatic measures have actually proven to be effective!

One hopes this nonsense still isn’t being whispered into the President’s ear.

Yeah, well, wish in one hand, shit in the other. As John Bolton puts it, “[w]hile I was in the administration, I saw intelligence march up the hill and down the hill in short periods of time with no reason for them to change their mind… . I’ve never based my view on this week’s intelligence.” In other words, diplomacy is dead–buy my new book! surrender is still not an option.

Last word goes to Glenn Greenwald:

In a minimally rational society, the Fred Hiatts and John Boltons and Norm Podhoretzs and Rudy Giulianis and Joe Liebermans would be considered laughingstocks. In light of this track record, what rational person would trust a single thing they say? Yet as always in our political culture, those hungry for American wars — both old and new — are, by definition, Serious and Respectable, and those who try to stop such wars (such as ElBaredei) are losers and “apologists” whose judgment and allegiances are equally suspect. Just compare the Very Serious Fred Hiatt’s fact-free, war-pursuing attacks on Mohamed ElBaradei in both 2002 and 2007 with the fact that ElBaradei — both times — was absolutely right on the most vital matters of the day, and one finds all one needs to know about how sad and broken our political establishment is.

More on the NIE fallout from Cernig, Dave @ the Beav, Steve Taylor, Eric Martin, Brad Plumer, Blake Hounshell and many, many more @ Memeorandum

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