SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/349590_behan01.html

Let impeachment process begin
Last updated January 31, 2008 4:23 p.m. PT

RICHARD W. BEHAN
GUEST COLUMNIST

"The War on Terrorism" is a facade.

It was launched, we were told, to apprehend Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and to effect regime change in Iraq.

President Bush was handed opportunities to achieve each of those purposes quickly and without resorting to warfare, but he literally refused to do so.

Saddam Hussein offered in February 2002, a month before his country was invaded, personally to leave Iraq for exile in Egypt or Saudi Arabia. His offer was kept secret -- and rejected. Regime change was in fact a facade for a more ambitious objective: The Bush administration was already committed to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Also kept secret was a standing offer from the Taliban to the Bush administration to surrender Osama bin Laden -- an offer made long before the Trade Towers fell and the Pentagon burned. Three times before 9/11 and twice afterward, the administration refused the surrender. Bin Laden's capture was in fact a facade for a more ambitious objective: The administration already was committed to the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

The incursions into those countries were premeditated wars of unprovoked conquest and territorial occupation. They were undertaken to assure the geostrategic control of Middle Eastern oil and gas resources: Long suspected, this is now beyond dispute.

If you scrutinize the cumulative body of information about those wars -- scattered but robust -- you uncover a story strikingly at odds with the administration's narrative about a war on terrorism. You discover the administration, when it took office, brushed aside explicit warnings about al-Qaida and bin Laden. You unearth the administration angrily negotiating pipeline rights-of-way with the Taliban through the summer of 2001, finally threatening them with "a carpet of bombs." And then you learn Bush notified Pakistan and India in late August -- five weeks before 9/11 -- that he would attack Afghanistan "before the end of October." And he did.

You find the commitment to invade Iraq was formalized at the first meeting of the National Security Council on Jan. 30, 2001 -- seven months before 9/11. You read how the National Security Council was ordered to "meld" its work with that of Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force, which in March 2001 was studying maps of the Iraqi oil fields. (Copies of the maps can be downloaded from the Web site of Judicial Watch, a citizen's group.)

You come across a once-secret memorandum dated Feb. 3, 2001, discussing the "capture of new and existing oil and gas fields" in Iraq. You discover the State Department designing, at least a year before the invasion, the privatization of Iraq's nationalized oil industry. You are shown how the State Department's plan was written into a draft "hydrocarbon law" for Iraq -- by Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority, with the participation of U.S. and British oil companies. Then you watch Bush on television in January 2007 demanding enactment of the hydrocarbon law: He made it a mandatory "benchmark."

George Bush and Dick Cheney, in defiance of honesty, morality and law, orchestrated and prosecuted two wars of unprovoked conquest and territorial occupation.

With at least 935 instances of deliberate lying, the Bush administration persuaded Congress and the American people to support the illegal, immoral wars. Bush and Cheney must be impeached.

Passively waiting for their terms to expire is criminally negligent, a violation of justice and arguably of the Constitution itself. Fortunately, there are bills before the Washington Legislature asking for the process to begin. SJM8016, introduced by Sen. Eric Oemig, and HJM4027, introduced by Rep. Maralyn Chase, deserve the support of every patriotic Washingtonian. There is no more important issue before our Legislature today.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Richard W. Behan, Lopez Island, taught at the School of Forestry at the University of Montana in Missoula and was dean of the School of Forestry at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.

1998-2008 Seattle Post-Intelligencer