Thursday, January 10, 2008

Impeachment can be quick & the Phony Persian Gulf Incident

Dear Impeachment Folk and Greens:
The following three messages are enlightening on our ability to
impeach and the need to impeach. Steve Fournier argues in detail that
impeachment need not take much time or energy at this point. It's
simply a matter of the willingness of Congress to do its clear duty.
The second article exposes a Bush Administration attempt to
manufacture an incident to justify attacking Iran modeled on the Gulf
Of Tonkin incident Johnson created to justify bombing Hanoi. Because
there's no telling, of course, when another of Bush's frauds will
succeed, we must impeach.
The third message comes from Stop War on Iran. It elaborates on the
faked incident in the Persian Gulf and gives us some simple actions to
I'm postponing the message on over-consumption.
Richard Duffee
1) Steve Fournier: Too Late for Justice?
From Current Invective *
Most people seem to be pretty much satisfied that the current
president and vice-president have acted criminally, but the citizenry
doesn't seem to be in a hurry to do anything about it. Some say that
with just a year left in their term of office, it's too late for
justice for these guys. Impeachment would take forever, they argue,
and nothing else would get done, and when it's over, Bush wins,
because Bush always wins. That's my congressman's view, anyway. I know
because I asked him.
Is it really too late? What sort of groundwork would have to be laid?
What processes would kick in, how long would they take, and what might
be pushed aside? What consequences might be anticipated?
The groundwork has already been laid. The charges against the
executive have been fleshed out in meetings and conferences across the
country. They have been presented to political committees, town
meetings, and state and local governing bodies, and they have been
summed up in articles of impeachment now pending against Richard
To proceed on the articles now pending in the House, the Judiciary
Committee would have to convene a hearing of some kind. In
Connecticut, when we impeached our governor a few years back, we had
evidence on the record before the corresponding state legislative
committee. The House committee can dispense with that step because it
has an ample public record, including sworn testimony in court and
before Congress.
For the top ten crimes committed by this executive, there is no need
for additional testimony. The evidence is on the record, and it could
be presented in narrative form by the committee's chief counsel,
presenting the work of two lawyers working hard for two weeks. In the
House, it's an accusation, remember, and not a trial.
There is little question that the committee would establish criminal
liability in connection with the stated rationale for war, the
politicization of federal prosecutions, spying on Americans, torturing
prisoners, holding prisoners without trial, malfeasance as
commander-in-chief, and any of the dozens of other crimes committed
openly and brazenly by our chief executive officers. I would expect a
unanimous vote, since the evidence is overwhelming.
This could all be accomplished quickly. A few committee staffers would
be occupied for a few short weeks putting together an iron-clad
indictment, using evidence on the public record. The committee would
hear the evidence in the form of a narrative for a day or two and
vote. Most likely, on a vote of the committee that the articles
against Cheney should be considered by the full House, the articles
would be amended to include Bush. If Cheney is impeached, Bush has to
be impeached on the same grounds, since there can be no doubt that
Bush had full knowledge of Cheney's activities and sanctioned them.
The full House would schedule a few days of debate, with Judiciary
Committee members leading the debate for and against the indictment,
and the House would vote on the articles. Each article that received a
majority vote of the full House would go to the Senate for trial.
Members of the Judiciary Committee would form the prosecution team in
the Senate. The Chief Justice presides as judge over a trial in the
Senate, and the trial takes as long as it takes to make the case on
each article. The president and vice-president would have an
opportunity to rebut and defend. The evidence would be presented much
as it was in the House, except that it might be reverified by live
witnesses. Figure a couple of weeks.
A few congressmen would be occupied full-time for some weeks putting a
coherent and compelling presentation together, but the rest of the
House could go back to other business, having spent a grand total of
three or four days on this. Nothing would have to be pushed aside to
make way for impeachment. As for the senators, they could busy
themselves with other matters in advance of the trial. They would be
acting as a jury, and there's nothing for them to do until they get
the evidence. Not long after the trial starts, it ends, and the Senate
votes. Two-thirds to convict. On the line is the rule of law itself,
and politics takes a back seat. Would the stock market go down? Maybe.
Would foreigners lose faith in the dollar? Maybe they'd get it back.
On conviction, the president and vice-president are removed, but the
Senate could suspend their removal until shortly before the expiration
of their term to ensure an orderly succession. It's win-win. In
Connecticut, we spent a summer impeaching our governor, and it was
worth it. He actually went to jail. He must be seething now--he was
removed and prosecuted for taking gifts from state contractors. The
guv had to do time for something a thousand times less serious than
what these thugs have done, and they're walking around free.
What are the consequences of doing nothing and allowing Bush and
Cheney to serve out their term? A strong precedent would be
established to exempt the president from all law. The next president
will almost certainly claim a privilege to imprison people without
trial if this president is allowed to get away with doing just that.
By compelling logic, a future president who wished to extend the
privilege to shooting people down in the street could cite the license
accorded by the House to the Bush administration in our time,
exempting the president from the criminal laws.
Your congressman would be happy if he or she were not the sole
prosecuting authority in the case of crimes committed by the
president. It's true that a federal prosecutor could bring criminal
charges against the president and vice president, but the president
happens to be in charge of all the prosecutors, and prosecutors don't
often prosecute their bosses. There could be an independent
prosecutor, but the president can fire that officer, too, as Nixon
proved the last time we removed a president.
And so it's left to the House to prosecute, and the House won't do it.
My member won't, and he wants me to think it's too late, so I'll stop
pestering him. It's not, and I won't.
From Current Invective *

2) From The Lede, New York Times:

Jan10, 2008, 9:40 am
Degrees of Confidence on U.S.-Iran Naval Incident
Updated, 5:48 p.m. Eastern. Scroll down for the latest.
The list of those who are less than fully confident in the Pentagon's
video/audio mashup of aggressive maneuvers by Iranian boats near
American warships in the Strait of Hormuz now includes the Pentagon
Unnamed Pentagon officials said on Wednesday that the threatening
voice heard in the audio clip, which was released on Monday night with
a disclaimer that it was recorded separately from the video images and
merged with them later, is not directly traceable to the Iranian
That undercuts one of the most menacing elements from the Pentagon's
assertion that Iranian forces threatened the Navy ships: The voice on
the radio saying, "I am coming to you. … You will explode after …
Here's an excerpt from an article in this morning's New York Times on
the Pentagon's assessment of the audio:
The audio includes a heavily accented voice warning in English that
the Navy warships would explode. However, the recording carries no
ambient noise — the sounds of a motor, the sea or wind — that would be
expected if the broadcast had been made from one of the five small
boats that sped around the three-ship American convoy.
Pentagon officials said they could not rule out that the broadcast
might have come from shore, or from another ship nearby, although it
might have come from one of the five fast boats with a high-quality
radio system.
Update, 3:36 p.m. ABC News just reported more details from the
spokesperson for the U.S. admiral in charge of the Fifth Fleet, who
confirmed the above and explained why they concluded that the threat
came from the Iranian boats:
"It happened in the middle of all the very unusual activity, so as we
assess the information and situation, we still put it in the total
aggregate of what happened Sunday morning. I guess we're not saying
that it absolutely came from the boats, but we're not saying it
absolutely didn't."
Update, 5:48 p.m. At a news conference this afternoon, a reporter
asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates about his level of "confidence in
the U.S. military version" of the incident. He was unequivocal:
I have no question whatsoever about the report on this incident from
the captains of the ships and also from the video itself.
Earlier on Wednesday, a reader posted a comment on The Lede claiming
to be a former Navy officer with experience in the Strait of Hormuz
and offering an explanation for how easily a mistake could have been
made by Navy personnel trying to sift through radio transmissions
filled with chatter:
All ships at sea use a common UHF frequency, Channel 16, also known as
"bridge-to bridge" radio. Over here, near the U.S., and throughout the
Mediterranean, Ch. 16 is used pretty professionally, i.e., chatter is
limited to shiphandling issues, identifying yourself, telling other
ships what your intentions are to avoid mishaps, etc.
But over in the Gulf, Ch. 16 is like a bad CB radio. Everybody and
their brother is on it; chattering away; hurling racial slurs, usually
involving Filipinos (lots of Filipinos work in the area); curses
involving your mother; 1970's music broadcast in the wee hours
(nothing odder than hearing The Carpenters 50 miles off the coast of
Iran at 4 a.m.)
On Ch. 16, esp. in that section of the Gulf,
slurs/threats/chatter/etc. is commonplace. So my first thought was
that the "explode" comment might not have even come from one of the
Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore
The commenter, who signed his posting "SWO officer," went on to say,
"I hope everybody exercises great caution here and doesn't jump to
President Bush was criticized today for doing the opposite. According
to The Washington Post, "some diplomatic and military officials in
Washington" said that Mr. Bush's statements on arriving in Israel
Wednesday "inflated the significance of the brief incident" in the
In his remarks, Mr. Bush warned Iran that "all options are on the
table to protect our assets."
Meanwhile, the video images that were released by the Pentagon came in
for some more contradiction from Iran, which has contended that the
United States was exaggerating a workaday encounter between two naval
powers in the Persian Gulf: A competing video purporting to show
Sunday's incident from the Iranian side was broadcast today on Iranian
Here is how the semiofficial Fars News Agency described it:
The four-minute video showed an Iranian commander in a speedboat
contacting an American sailor via radio, asking him to identify the
U.S. vessels and state their purpose.
"Coalition warship number 73 this is an Iranian patrol," the Iranian
commander is heard to say in good English.
"This is coalition warship number 73. I am operating in international
waters," comes the reply.
That would seem to be a much less aggressive interaction between the
American and Iranian forces, of course. But the timing of the
recording could not be confirmed, and as Iran itself has said, these
types of exchanges happen all the time.
Agence France-Presse noted one way that Iran's video seemed to match
up with the United States account of the encounter: all three U.S.
vessels involved in the incident are seen in the video.
But The Associated Press was skeptical, saying that "the short clip
likely did not show Sunday's entire encounter."
Update, 11:37 a.m. The Iranian video is now online.
A reader using the name Hamid Pasha sent The Lede a link to an
English-language Iranian web site,, that has posted the
Iranian video.
The clip is a bit over 5 minutes long. The first few minutes are views
of coalition warships shot from smaller boats (if you thought the
motorboats seemed to be moving fast in the American video, wait until
you see the bow waves on the warships). In the latter portion, we see
an Iranian on the boat using a microphone handset to hail "coalition
warship 73″ by radio, in fairly clear but accented English, and we
hear responses in an American voice.
The video clearly covers only part of an encounter — perhaps the
encounter, though there's no obvious way a layman would be able to
know — and it cuts off abruptly after the American voice is heard
answering several inquiries from the Iranian by saying simply that the
coalition ship is operating in international waters. We don't see or
hear what happened next.
Patrick J. Lyons contributed to this post.

3) From Stop War on Iran:
U.S. war provocation against Iran: Another Tonkin Gulf?
Take Action NOW to Stop War on Iran!
The Bush Administration has initiated an extremely dangerous war
provocation just off Iran's coast, in the Strait of Hormuz. With Bush
on his way to the Middle East to mobilize a collection of oil-rich
U.S. client states against Iran, the U.S. government is working
overtime to create a public-relations incident to heighten tensions
in the region and threaten a new war. We must take action now to Stop
War on Iran.

On Jan. 6, the U.S. Navy alleged that a "confrontation" took place
between three massive guided-missile U.S. attack vessels and five
small, open Iranian speedboats at the entrance to the Persian Gulf in
the world's most important and busiest sea lanes. The Navy even
produced a video purporting to show the Iranian speedboats approaching
the U.S. warships.

NO Phony Provocations!

In the coming days, we must mobilize like never before to Stop War on
Iran! We need your help to do this. Please consider making an
emergency donation at

But the Iranian media on Jan. 9 quoted an Iranian official as saying,
"Images released by the U.S. Department of Defense about the Navy
vessels were made from file pictures, and the audio was fabricated."

Nearly five years ago, the Bush Administration, with active
collaboration from Congress and the media, led the U.S. into war,
claiming that Iraq possessed chemical and nuclear weapons and that the
people of Iraq were behind the attacks on 9/11. Now the Bush
Administration is clearly grasping for some excuse - any excuse - to
attack Iran. Once the National Intelligence Estimate revealed that
Bush has been lying about Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, the
hawks in his Administration have begun looking for any justification,
real or fabricated, to sell a military attack they have been planning
for years.

The real provocation here doesn't come from Iran. The U.S. currently
has half of its Navy off the coast of Iran, including nuclear-armed
aircraft carriers, guided-missile destroyers, frigates, cruisers and

Meanwhile, Bush is spending eight days visiting Kuwait, Bahrain, Abu
Dhabi, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. The purpose of his trip is to convince
these corrupt, feudal regimes, which are dependent U.S.-client states,
that Iran represents a dangerous threat, in preparation for a U.S.
U.S. warships a constant threat

The U.S. Navy has again and again held major war games to plan for and
stage just such a confrontation with Iran. The Pentagon has announced
that it has already set targets on thousands of sites in Iran.

Even the video released to the media - if looked at closely- belies
the very story that is being drummed up by the Bush administration. It
shows five small open-air Iranian speedboats buzzing in the distance,
far from the USS Hopper. Iranian boats have every right to patrol and
defend their own coastal waters.

It should be noted that, according to the Pentagon's own description,
the USS Hopper is a guided-missile destroyer. It carries an M240
machine gun that can fire 10 armor-piercing projectiles per second and
is capable of carrying nuclear missiles that can destroy whole cities.
This high-tech ship weighs 8,373 tons and measures 504 feet in length.
It was traveling in convoy with the USS Port Royal--a guided-missile
cruiser that weighs 9,600 tons fully loaded and has a length of 567
feet and is also capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles--and the
guided-missile frigate USS Ingraham, weighing 4,100 tons and measuring
445 feet in length.

These three deadly ships are just a small part of the U.S. Navy armada
arrayed off the Iranian coast.

We Must Act Now to Stop War on Iran
No New Tonkin Gulf!

Even after 16 of the top U.S. spy agencies publicly released a
National Intelligence Estimate concluding that Iran has no nuclear
program, at least since 2003, nor nuclear weapons, the Bush
administration has continued to threaten Iran.

It is important to remember that the massive U.S. bombing of Vietnam
and the Johnson administration's escalation of the war was preceded by
reports of an attack on a U.S. destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin off the
coast of Vietnam - which years later was finally admitted to be phony.

On Aug. 2 and 4, 1964, the Pentagon claimed that small Vietnamese
boats had fired on the USS Maddox and another destroyer in the Gulf of
Tonkin. Lyndon Johnson used this "attack" as pretext for ramming a
resolution through Congress giving him the power and funds to wage war
on Vietnam.

Johnson's own papers later revealed it was a fraud, and later Defense
Secretary Robert McNamara admitted in the film "Fog of War" that the
whole incident had been phony.

Nearly all the Republicans and Democrats in both houses of Congress,
including the present major contenders for the presidential
nomination, voted for resolutions against Iran. In a staged or
fraudulent confrontation with Iran, with wild charges from the
corporate-owned media, Congressional opposition is highly unlikely.
The only force that will stop an attack on a Iran is a massive,
grassroots campaign.

It is more urgent then ever that we raise a global alert.

We must continue to mobilize and act to Stop the War on Iran BEFORE it
starts! It is essential that the anti-war movement denounce this
latest provocation by the Bush Administration.
The Stop War on Iran campaign was the first international campaign
launched to oppose Bush's plans to attack Iran. Since our founding
in 2006, with initiators including George Galloway, MP; Ramsey Clark;
Tony Benn, MP; Dennis Halliday; Harold Pinter, 2005 Nobel Laureate in
Literature; Margarita Papandreou, former First Lady of Greece; Ervand
Abrahamian, Prof. ME History, Author, Between Two Revolutions; and
David N. Rahni, Professor and scholar; and dozens more, we have now
generated more than half a million petitions sent to President Bush,
Congress, and major media.
But we must do more. In the coming days, we will be mobilizing like
never before to stop another bipartisan rush to war. We need your
help to do this. Please consider making an emergency donation at .
We must join forces to demand:
U.S. Navy Out of the Gulf!
U.S. Troops Out of Iraq!
We need Jobs, Health Care and Housing, Not Endless War!
1. Sign the Petition -
2. Print out and circulate Stop War on Iran petitions -
3. DONATE to continue the Campaign to Oppose U.S. War on Iran -