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Bush should be prosecuted for lying to Congress

We went to war because of a lie. Several actually, but our clown-in-chief stood up before Congress and the American people and told a whopper and it could send him to prison. Which lie?

In an essay by John Dean written in July 2003, only a few days after Novakula’s column (that outed Valerie Plame), he noted that it’s a felony to misrepresent to Congress in a State of the Union address. That’s exactly what the Chimperor did. Dean fisked Bush’s SOTU “facts,” in the two-year-old essay, and in light of today’s headlines about Toad Rove leaking, dissembling and his role as the architect of the vindictive action by the White House against Joe Wilson, it’s sickening.

Looking at the larger picture — about who in the end is truly responsible for getting us into the Iraq war on the basis of lies, the buck makes stops in several places, and ultimately lands on Bush’s desk. Dean:

Purported Bush Fact 7: “The British government has learned Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Source: Media accounts have shown that the uranium story was untrue – and that at least some in the Bush Administration knew it. I will not reiterate all of the relevant news reports here, but I will highlight a few.

The vice president’s office had questions about the Niger uranium story. Ambassador Wilson was dispatched to learn the truth and found it was counterfeit information. Wilson advised the CIA and State Department that the Niger documents were forgeries, and presumably the vice president learned these facts.

The Niger uranium story was reportedly removed from Bush’s prior, October 7, 2002 speech because it was believed unreliable – and it certainly became no more reliable thereafter. Indeed, only days after Bush’s State of the Union, Colin Powell refused to use the information in his United Nation’s speech because he did not believe it reliable.

Either Bush’s senior advisers were aware of this hoax, or there was a frightening breakdown at the National Security Council – which is designed to avoid such breakdowns. Neither should be the case.

In fact, it is unconscionable, under the circumstances, that the uranium fabrication was included in the State of the Union. And equally weak, if not also fake, was Bush’s final point about Saddam’s unconventional weapons.

Dean goes on to speculate about what is really scaring the White House. It explains why, given the hot water Karl Rove is in about his leaks and alleged crimes, the White House prefers this diversion to the alternative. Rove is small potatoes compared to what could happen if enough noise is made by the mainstream press about Bush and his lie.

It Is A Crime To Make False Statements To Congress

Could Bush, and his aides, be stonewalling because it is a crime to give false information to Congress? It wasn’t a crime in President Polk’s day. Today, it is a felony under the false statements statute.

This 1934 provision makes it a serious offense to give a false information to Congress. It is little used, but has been actively available since 1955. That year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. Bramblet that the statute could be used to prosecute a Congressman who made a false statement to the Clerk of the Disbursing Office of the House of Representatives, for Congress comes under the term “department” as used in the statutes.

Two members of the Bush administration, Admiral John Poindexter and Elliot Abrams, learned about this false statements law the hard way, during the Iran Contra investigation. Abrams pled guilty to two misdemeanors for false statements to Congress, as did Robert McFarlane. (Both were subsequently pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.) Poindexter and Oliver North fought the charges, and won on an unrelated legal technicality.

Later, one of McFarlane’s lawyers, Peter W. Morgan, wrote a law journal article about using the false statements statute to prosecute executive officials appearing before Congress. Morgan was troubled by the breadth of the law. It does not require a specific intent to deceive the Congress. It does not require that statements be written, or that they be sworn. Congress is aware of the law’s breadth and has chosen not to change it.

Maybe presciently, Morgan noted that the false statements statute even reaches “misrepresentations in a president’s state of the union address.” To which I would add, a criminal conspiracy to mislead Congress, which involved others at the Bush White House, could also be prosecuted under a separate statute, which makes it a felony to conspire to defraud the government.

How can this story be blasted onto the media radar? This is all connected people — the Downing Street Documents, Rove’s criminal activitiesit must be broken down so that the media and the sheeple can digest this.

As long as these charges remain clouded in dense political discussion on the Left and not turned into simple, good sound bites, the Repugs know that they can hide their criminal activities from the sheeple. They will tune out and turn the channel to American Idol. We need a 30-second commercial outlining this Administration’s web of criminal behavior, lies and retaliation against its perceived “enemies.”

Hat tip to LilNubber, in Kid Oakland’s excellent diary, be unreasonable.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding