by Nick Welsh
About 250 people crammed into the Faulkner Gallery in the downtown library last Tuesday to hear three speakers lay out the case for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Lisa Hajjar, a professor of law and society at UCSB, argued that the most compelling legal argument was Bush’s authorization of warrantless — and apparently illegal — wiretaps of thousands of American citizens. She also contended that the administration had lied to Congress about the reasons for waging war on Iraq, and that that deception constituted high crimes and misdemeanors. And she argued that the administration has knowingly and intentionally encouraged the systematic torture of suspected combatants in the “war on terror,” and in so doing has violated countless international treaties to which the United States is a signatory. Richard Falk, a Yale professor of international law, acknowledged that the impeachment process would be traumatic for the nation, but argued that even if Congress chose not to impeach, the exercise would help salvage American democracy. “Only by the activism of the American people will we be spared a future that will destroy all that is great about this country,” he said. Jim Lafferty with the National Lawyers Guild added a note of skepticism, arguing that even if the Democrats controlled the House and Senate, they would never impeach Bush. The real problem, he said, was not Bush but a national policy of imperialism to which both parties have actively subscribed since the end of World War II. Organizers of the event explained afterwards that they plan to take a resolution calling for impeachment of the president and vice president to the Santa Barbara City Council sometime in September.