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King George in Decline: The Misadventures of an Aging Prep-School Cheerleader
Volume 3: Kucinich and the Kingís Henchmen

By Chris Pepus
Monday, August 04 2008

On June 9, Representative Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) continued his battle against the Bush administration. Undeterred by the opposition of his partyís leadership, the congressman presented articles of impeachment against President Bush. (He introduced a resolution to impeach Vice President Cheney last year.) Restricting his resolution to thirty-five articles must have been a challenge, but Kucinich hit the key points. Article 1 accuses Bush of ďcreating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq.Ē Article 24 deals with ďspying on American citizens, without a court-ordered warrant, in violation of the law and the Fourth Amendment.Ē The GOPís misuse of the Justice Department and efforts at vote suppression are covered in Articles 28 and 29.

The House is not expected to take action on Kucinichís impeachment proposal, but new evidence keeps confirming that the Ohio congressman is right. On June 26, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee questioned John Yoo, a former Justice Department counsel, and David Addington, formerly Cheneyís legal adviser, about their roles in creating the administrationís policy on torture. ďSecretly authorizing and encouraging the use of tortureĒ is the way Kucinich put it in Article 18 of his resolution, and the hearing left little doubt that Bush and his advisers are guilty of just that.

Congressman John Conyers (D., Michigan) asked Yoo if there were any legal limits to the presidentís ability to authorize torture.

Conyers: Do you think the president could order a suspect buried alive?
Yoo: Mr. Chairman, my view right now is that I donít think a president wouldóno American president would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.

Is he allowed to do it or isnít he? Isnít the law designed to prevent actions society deems harmful, even if itís difficult to see why anyone would want to do such a thing? Luckily, the authors of the penal code didnít take Yooís approach and say, ďGee, we canít imagine why someone would want to commit murder, so we donít need to think about preventing it.Ē

As embarrassing as it was, Yooís performance at the hearing paled in comparison to that of his partner in crime, David Addington. After serving as legal adviser to Cheney, Addington took over as the vice presidentís chief of staff in 2005, when Scooter Libby resigned to concentrate on his new job as Bushís official fall guy. Addingtonís sneering and stonewalling offered a vivid picture of this administration in its natural state.

When asked whether he encouraged torture during a visit to the detention camp at GuantŠnamoBay, Cheneyís chief of staff followed the standard practice of Bush flunkies and said that he couldnít recall. To his credit, however, Addington tried to include some variety in his non-answers, unlike Bushís former attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez, who set a new indoor amnesia record during his appearances before congressional committees. For instance, Addington used this excuse: ďI canít talk to you. Al Qaeda may watch C-SPAN (the network that broadcasts Congress live).Ē

The Bushitesí claim that they canít answer questions because of national security expired when they revealed the identity of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame, as part of a political vendetta against her husband.[i] They didnít care that they might expose an entire network of intelligence operatives to our nationís enemies. So itís a little late for administration officials to pretend that their secrecy is motivated by concern for security rather than a desire to conceal their misdeeds.

Besides, Iím not sure that al Qaeda members watch C-SPAN. Oh, they probably mean to check it out, but while surfing the dial they get distracted by news footage of Iraq. By the time they finish laughing their asses off at the fact that Bush and Cheney were stupid enough to order an invasion of that country, theyíve likely forgotten all about watching the latest subcommittee hearing.

Another highlight of this hearing was an exchange between Rep. Steven Cohen (D., Tennessee) and Addington, concerning the latterís crackpot theory about the vice presidency. Addington conveniently believes that the vice president is neither a member of the executive branch nor the legislative branch, and is therefore subject to the rules of neither. (For more on that, see my last column here.)

Cohen: But (the vice president is) attached to the legislative branch?
Addington: Thatís the quote I read you.
Cohen: So, heís kind of a barnacle.
Addington: No . . . I donít consider the Constitution a barnacle.

Thatís quite a revealing mistake. The vice presidentís chief of staff apparently canít tell the difference between Dick Cheney and the Constitution of the United States. It makes you wonder whether Cheney struts around the VPís office dressed as King Louis XIV, proclaiming ďI am the stateĒ like old Lou did back in the day. Since conservative Christians havenít figured out that Bush isnít Christís representative on earth, I guess itís not surprising that GOP functionaries think Cheney is the law of the land. So Iíve provided this handy comparison in hopes of clearing up Addingtonís confusion.

The Constitution  Vice President Cheney 
Made of paper and ink Made of paper (corporate donations) and fear
Separation of powers Veneration of power
Survived Civil War Survived Vietnam War by hiding out in graduate school
Designed to keep the president under control Actually has the president under his control
Internal tensions:
Majority rule vs. individual rights

Internal tensions:
Gay-bashing politician with lesbian daughter

Much more popular than Charles Manson Somewhat more popular than Charles Manson (15% approval rating)

Even with such help, thereís no hope for Addington. You canít teach an old, monarchist lap dog new, democratic tricks. What we can do is make clear that the actions of the Bush-Cheney regime are unacceptable under our system of government. Thatís why thereís impeachment. Members of Congress seem to need the people to remind them of that fact.


[1] The administration leaked Plameís identity in order to retaliate against her husband, Joseph Wilson. Wilson had exposed one of the administrationís lies about Iraq and nuclear weapons. After being convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice during the leak investigation, Scooter Libby received a pardon from President Bush and is now in the process of living happily ever after.


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