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US Presidential Candidate Calls for Impeachment of VP Cheney

A House lawmaker, Dennis Kucinich, has introduced articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney, asserting that actions Mr. Cheney has taken have harmed U.S. national security and deceived Congress and Americans. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill, the Ohio Democrat rejects suggestions his move, which is opposed by leaders in his own party, is designed to help his presidential campaign.

Kucinich, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004, represents the far left of the Democratic party and has been among the sharpest critics of the Bush administration since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.

He appeared at a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday to outline his 18-page document.

"These articles are about the conduct of the vice president of the United States, that he deceived the people of the U.S. to take this country into a war [in Iraq], that he continues to exhibit a pattern of conduct that could take this country into another war based on false pretenses," said Dennis Kucinich.

Kucinich's articles of impeachment focus on what he calls the vice president's manipulation of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and his longstanding insistence on a connection between Iraq and al-Qaida.

But he also accuses Mr. Cheney of attempting to move the U.S. closer to an attack on Iran, despite what he says is the absence of evidence that Iran poses a threat to the U.S.

In the House of Representatives, a member's case for impeachment of an elected official must be reviewed by the judiciary committee which would decide whether to conduct an inquiry.

However, any go ahead for such an inquiry would have to come from the full House, and Kucinich faces formidable obstacles from leaders in his own party.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has long made it clear she will oppose any drive for impeachment proceedings, saying that to do so would divert energy from Democrat's most important agenda items, and play into the hands of Republicans.

Acknowledging he did not consult with Speaker Pelosi, Kucinich denies that political motivations underlie his move.

"As much as I admire the speaker, as much as I voted to support her, I feel that it is my obligation as a member of Congress to introduce these articles of impeachment, and I believe the American people will be the final arbiters as to whether or not these articles should go forward," he said.

A Cheney spokeswoman responded to Kucinich's move by saying the vice president is focused on the serious issues facing our nation pointing to what she called his 40 years of honorable service.

In a surprise appearance before reporters on Capitol Hill, the vice president said nothing about Kucinich's impeachment drive, but did use the opportunity to sharply criticize congressional Democrats, specifically the Senate majority leader Harry Reid, over legislation to fund the war in Iraq.

"It is cynical to declare that the war is lost, because you believe it gives you political advantage," said Dick Cheney. "Leaders should make decisions based on the security interests of our country, not on the interests of their political party."

The House is scheduled to take up a House-Senate conference report on Iraq-Afghanistan military funding Wednesday, with the Senate to follow the next day.