Top Democrat introduces bill to investigate Bush war powers
John Byrne
Published: Thursday January 8, 2009

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In a little-noticed move Tuesday, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr. introduced legislation aimed at creating a commission to investigate the "broad range" of "unreviewable war powers" enacted under the presidency of George W. Bush.

While providing few details in his press release, Conyers said the bill would "establish a Blue Ribbon Commission comprised of experts outside government service to investigate the broad range of policies of the Bush administration that were undertaken by the Bush administration under claims of unreviewable war powers."

The 79-year-old Michigan Democrat has been a staunch critic of Bush Administration policies. The bill to consider Bush's war powers was among five others he announced earlier this week, and was first reported on The Public Record.

Conyers filed a measure to investigate Bush's impeachment in 2005 and issued a report entitled "The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution and Coverups in the Iraq War." At times, his comments appear to have suggested impeachment as a viable course of action, though he tempered his stance after Democrats took control of Congress in 2006.

The report 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 in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration," Conyers wrote in December 2005.

"The Report concludes that a number of these actions amount to prima facie evidence (evidence sufficiently strong to presume the allegations are true) that federal criminal laws have been violated," he added. "Legal violations span from false statements to Congress to whistleblower laws."

"The Report also concludes that these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable conduct," Conyers continued. "However, because the Administration has failed to respond to requests for information about these charges, it is not yet possible to conclude that an impeachment inquiry or articles of impeachment are warranted."

Last year, after liberal Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced resolutions to consider impeachment, Conyers said, "We're not doing impeachment, but he can talk about it."