copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
John Conyers put impeachment on the table. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi said to place such a ‘distraction’ on the table is tantamount to treason. Newly appointed, anointed Pelosi let it be known, there was business to be done and Democrats would do the deeds she deemed necessary. These did not include prosecution of the President or his Vice. Hence, Conyers removed censure from the agenda He had other concerns. His own appointment as Chair to the Judiciary Committee hinged on whether he honored the wishes of the recently selected Speaker.
Thus, Congressman Conyers declared . . .
No Rush to Impeachment
By John Conyers Jr.
Thursday, May 18, 2006; A23
As Republicans have become increasingly nervous about whether they will be able to maintain control of the House in the midterm elections, they have resorted to the straw-man strategy of identifying a parade of horrors to come if Democrats gain the majority. Among these is the assertion that I, as the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, would immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush.
I will not do that. I readily admit that I have been quite vigorous, if not relentless, in questioning the administration. The allegations I have raised are grave, serious, well known, and based on reliable media reports and the accounts of former administration officials.
But none of these allegations can be proved or disproved until the administration answers questions. For example, to know whether intelligence was mistaken or manipulated in the run-up to the Iraq war, we need to know what information was made available to -- and actually read by -- decision makers and how views contradicting the case for war were treated.
We need to know the extent to which high-ranking officials approved of the use of torture and other cruel and inhumane treatment inflicted upon detainees. We need to know whether the leaking of the name of a covert CIA operative was deliberate or accidental, as well as the identity of those responsible.
The administration's stonewalling, and the lack of oversight by Congress, have left us to guess whether we are dealing with isolated wrongdoing, or mistakes, or something worse. In my view, the American people deserve answers, not guesses. I have proposed that we obtain these answers in a responsible and bipartisan manner.
John Conyers professed we need answers. He forgets there was no evidence of wrongdoing against Richard Milhous Nixon until an impeachment investigation was underway. Most mused those in opposition to the Vietnam war wanted the President out. However, as Elizabeth Holtzman, a member of the Judiciary Committee during the Nixon proceedings writes much is the same and more differs. Subversion is similar. Evidence is now more abundant. Our own neglect may be our downfall. Perhaps, past disregard for Democratic principles allowed for the eventuality of what we see today. If we forego our responsibility to democracy again, what might occur in the future? Let us assess what we know.
Subverting Our Democracy
A President can commit no more serious crime against our democracy than lying to Congress and the American people to get them to support a military action or war. It is not just that it is cowardly and abhorrent to trick others into giving their lives for a nonexistent threat, or even that making false statements might, in some circumstances, be a crime.
It is that the decision to go to war is the gravest decision a nation can make, and in a democracy the people and their elected representatives, when there is no imminent attack on the United States to repel, have the right to make it. Given that the consequences can be death for hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of people--as well as the diversion of vast sums of money to the war effort--the fraud cannot be tolerated. That both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were guilty of misleading the nation into military action and neither was impeached for it makes it more, not less, important to hold Bush accountable.
Once it was clear that no weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq, President Bush tried to blame "bad intelligence" for the decision to go to war, apparently to show that the WMD claim was not a deliberate deception. But bad intelligence had little or nothing to do with the main arguments used to win popular support for the invasion of Iraq.
First, there was no serious intelligence--good or bad--to support the Administration's suggestion that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were in cahoots. Nonetheless, the Administration repeatedly tried to claim the connection to show that the invasion was a justified response to 9/11 (like the declaration of war against Japan for Pearl Harbor). The claim was a sheer fabrication.
Second, there was no reliable intelligence to support the Administration's claim that Saddam was about to acquire nuclear weapons capability. The specter of the "mushroom cloud," which frightened many Americans into believing that the invasion of Iraq was necessary for our self-defense, was made up out of whole cloth. As for the biological and chemical weapons, even if, as reported, the CIA director told the President that these existed in Iraq, the Administration still had plenty of information suggesting the contrary.
The deliberateness of the deception has also been confirmed by a British source: the Downing Street memo, the official record of Prime Minister Tony Blair's July 2002 meeting with his top Cabinet officials. At the meeting the chief of British intelligence, who had just returned from the United States, reported that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.
But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." In other words, the Bush Administration was reported to be in the process of cooking up fake intelligence and facts to justify going to war in Iraq.
During the Nixon impeachment proceedings, I drafted the resolution of impeachment to hold President Nixon accountable for concealing from Congress the bombing of Cambodia he initiated. But the committee did not approve it, probably because it might appear political--in other words, stemming from opposition to the war instead of to the President's abuse of his warmaking powers.
As Commander-In-Chief, President George W. Bush has used his influence and then some. He initiated, investigated, incited, inflicted, and inflated, all in an attempt to do as he desired. Americans sat idly by, as did Congress. Little has changed other than we know more about the manipulations. Today, the table turns, tilts, or is hidden from view, and the Speaker continues to hedge.
Thankfully, The Culture Project and Presidential hopeful, Congressman Dennis Kucinich move forward. The potential President Kucinich works tirelessly to ensure that censure is more than an option ignored. Kucinich brings the issue to the floor of the House in the form of a priveledged Resolution. The Culture Project takes the matter to center stage.
Naomi Wolf, Jackson Browne, Lewis Lapham, Phoebe Snow, Michael Ratner, Bruce Fein, and Sam Shepard are among the many scholars, artists, and activists that ask Americans to authentically consider A Question of Impeachment.
This series is meant to inform and inspire great minds, those that have been fast asleep for too long.
The masses once actively participated in government. Long ago, the media investigated and spoke to sources outside the White House. Now, each hibernates, and the Administration obstructs justice. The Constitution was torn to shreds. Habeas corpus is no more. Executive Powers are infinite; although, apparently, according to the Vice President there is no Executive Branch under Bush.
As Americans sit silently, absorbed in apathy . . .
[The] Culture Project brings crucial and timely concerns to the fore once again with a new, unique series that gathers some of the most brilliant and visionary minds of our time to explore and debate the case for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
You may wish to review the full impeachment schedule, or tune in for just a few discussions. The forum begins and ends in the month of December. Might we, the people work as quickly in support of the Constitution or will we continue to ignore the provisions that ensure no President has, uses, and abuses absolute power?
Sunday, December 2 12:00 p.m. A screening of special cuts of New Home Movies from the Lower 9th Ward, Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme's new documentary drawn from the stories of residents of New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Monday, December 3 7:00 p.m. Article III: Criminal Negligence and Hurricane Katrina. Participants include attorney Bruce Fein, journalist Lewis Lapham, actor and activist Alec Baldwin, New Orleans public housing organizer Sam Jackson, Judith Browne-Dianis, from the Advancement Project, and Tiffany Gardner from the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. Performers include Bobby Cannavale, Callie Thorne, Tracie Thoms, Denis O'Hare, Jodie Markell, Bradley White, Nana Mensah, and Chris McKinney.
Sunday, December 9 7:30 p.m. Vanessa, Lynn, Corin, and Jemma Redgrave make a very special appearance to read Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak, a collection of poems written by detainees held in the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Marc Falkoff, attorney and editor of Poems from Guantanamo, will also be with us.
Monday, December 10 7:00 p.m. Article IV: Warrantless Surveillance. Participants include former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, attorney Joshua Dratel, attorney Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Aziz Huq of NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, and journalist Richard Valeriani. Performers include Kristen Johnston, Michael Mastro, Nana Mensah, Gerry Bamman, Chris McKinney, and Sarah-Doe Osborne.
Sunday, December 16 CLOSING DAY 2:00 p.m. Article V: Expansion of Executive Power. Participants include Harper's contributor and human rights attorney Scott Horton, author David Lindorff, and attorney Marjorie Cohn. Performers include Josh Hamilton, Tracie Thoms, Ned Eisenberg, Grace Zandarski, and Tom Bower.
7:30 p.m. Closing celebration includes performance and commentary from John Nichols, author of The Genius of Impeachment, Jackson Browne, Jorie Graham, Naomi Wolf, Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, Peter Matthiessen, Kathleen Chalfant, Aasif Mandvi, and others.
Perchance, after each performance you, dear reader will reflect and realize, the time is now. You may be encouraged to dream what some think absurd. I invite you to explore. Before you venture out on Election Day certain January 2009 is your last hope. Please consider there are possibilities more profound and perhaps, if we are to preserve the Constitution, necessary.
Sources and Censure . . .