US Constitution in Crisis

The Constitution in Crisis
By House Judiciary Committee Minority Staff

Tuesday 20 December 2005

The Downing Street minutes and deception, manipulation, torture,
retribution, and coverups in the Iraq war.
Full Report:

Executive Summary

This Minority Report has been produced at the request of
Representative John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary
Committee. He made this request in the wake of the President’s failure
to respond to a letter submitted by 122 Members of Congress and more
than 500,000 Americans in July of this year asking him whether the
assertions set forth in the Downing Street Minutes were accurate. Mr.
Conyers asked staff, by year end 2005, to review the available
information concerning possible misconduct by the Bush Administration in
the run up to the Iraq War and post-invasion statements and actions, and
to develop legal conclusions and make legislative and other
recommendations to him.

In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the
President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush
Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the
decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence
information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced
torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal
violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against
critics of their Administration.

There is a prima facie case that these actions by the President,
Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violated a
number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the
United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War
Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and
international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and
degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against
witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations
concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence.

While these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable
misconduct, because the Bush Administration and the
Republican-controlled Congress have blocked the ability of Members to
obtain information directly from the Administration concerning these
matters, more investigatory authority is needed before recommendations
can be made regarding specific Articles of Impeachment. As a result, we
recommend that Congress establish a select committee with subpoena
authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush Administration with
regard to the Iraq war detailed in this Report and report to the
Committee on the Judiciary on possible impeachable offenses.

In addition, we believe the failure of the President, Vice President
and others in the Bush Administration to respond to myriad requests for
information concerning these charges, or to otherwise account for
explain a number of specific misstatements they have made in the run up
to War and other actions warrants, at minimum, the introduction and
Congress’ approval of Resolutions of Censure against Mr. Bush and Mr.
Cheney. Further, we recommend that Ranking Member Conyers and others
consider referring the potential violations of federal criminal law
detailed in this Report to the Department of Justice for investigation;
Congress should pass legislation to limit government secrecy, enhance
oversight of the Executive Branch, request notification and
justification of presidential pardons of Administration officials, ban
abusive treatment of detainees, ban the use of chemical weapons, and ban
the practice of paying foreign media outlets to publish news stories
prepared by or for the Pentagon; and the House should amend its Rules to
permit Ranking Members of Committees to schedule official Committee
hearings and call witnesses to investigate Executive Branch misconduct.

The Report rejects the frequent contention by the Bush
Administration that there pre-war conduct has been reviewed and they
have been exonerated. No entity has ever considered whether the
Administration misled Americans about the decision to go to war. The
Senate Intelligence Committee has not yet conducted a review of pre-war
intelligence distortion and manipulation, while the Silberman-Robb
report specifically cautioned that intelligence manipulation “was not
part of our inquiry.” There has also not been any independent inquiry
concerning torture and other legal violations in Iraq; nor has there
been an independent review of the pattern of coverups and political
retribution by the Bush Administration against its critics, other than
the very narrow and still ongoing inquiry of Special Counsel Fitzgerald.

While the scope of this Report is largely limited to Iraq, it also
holds lessons for our Nation at a time of entrenched one-party rule and
abuse of power in Washington. If the present Administration is willing
to misstate the facts in order to achieve its political objectives in
Iraq, and Congress is unwilling to confront or challenge their hegemony,
many of our cherished democratic principles are in jeopardy.

This is true not only with respect to the Iraq War, but also in
regard to other areas of foreign policy, privacy and civil liberties,
and matters of economic and social justice. Indeed as this Report is
being finalized, we have just learned of another potential significant
abuse of executive power by the President, ordering the National
Security Agency to engage in domestic spying and wiretapping without
obtaining court approval in possible violation of the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act.

It is tragic that our Nation has invaded another sovereign nation
because “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,”
as stated in the Downing Street Minutes. It is equally tragic that the
Bush Administration and the Republican Congress have been unwilling to
examine these facts or take action to prevent this scenario from
occurring again. Since they appear unwilling to act, it is incumbent on
individual Members of Congress as well as the American public to act to
protect our constitutional form of government.


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