Friday, August 11th I had the distinct privilege and honor, thanks to my friend and Impeach for Peach associate, Sgt. Daniel Fearn – self-proclaimed “Impeachment Grunt” – to be a speaker and a panelist on the Impeachment Panel at the Veterans for Peace annual Convention at the University of Washington in Seattle. Sgt. Fearn, David Swanson of AfterDowningStreet.org and Progressive Democrats of America and Bill Moyer of the Backbone Campaign were also panelists. Mike Ferner of Veterans for Peace was on house arrest for spray painting graffitti on freeway overpasses and couldn’t make it. It was an astounding experience to be there and to represent my fellow members of Impeach for Peace and World Can’t Wait.
I met and had discussions with Iraqi War journalist Dahr Jamail, ex-CIA official and Rumsfeld antagonist Ray McGovern, Recent Conscientious Objector (C.O.) Sergeant Camilo Mejia, President-Elect of the National Lawyer’s Guild Professor Marjorie Cohn, and C.O. Army Lt. Ehren Watada, among others. Of course many of the most impressive people were just members I happened to strike up a conversation with, including a gentleman who hasn’t cut his beard since Bush re-assumed the ‘residency in the White House in November of 2004.
A highlight was last night’s banquet at which Lt. Watada spoke. A full minute of applause followed his introduction, but before he could begin, the 30 or so members of Iraq Veterans Against the War silently walked onto the stage and stood behind him. I can barely hold back my own tears just thinking about it as I type.
It was one of the greatest honors and privileges of my 48 years to be an invited guest and to speak at such a gathering, and an even greater privilege to be a witness to that simple act of solidarity. There is a rally in support of Lt. Watada at Fort Lewis this Wednesday which I hope to attend. His pre-trial hearing is the next day.
If you don’t already know, Lt. Watada has evaluated his order to return to Iraq and acted on his conscience which would not allow him to return to service in this illegal and immoral war of imperialism and conquest based on lies to kill, torture and maim innocent Iraqis and those defending their country from its invaders and occupiers. I have an earlier blog entry dedicated to his honorable and courageous act.
Recreated from my notes and as best I remember, the following is what I said to an audience of about 50. There were about 500 registered for the convention, up from 350 last year. We were one of six simultaneous seminar options at 2 p.m. on Friday. Anyone who wishes to purchase a copy of the DVD of the session or any other sessions can do so by e-mailing: Veterans for Peace Convention.
I’d like to thank Veterans for Peace for inviting me to participate in this panel and Veterans for Peace Chapter #27, of which I am most proud to have recently become an associate member. I’d also like to thank the Vice President…
… of chapter 27, Sgt. Daniel Fearn for inviting me, the other distinguished members of this panel and all of you in attendance. I could make an issue of all the empty chairs, but they don’t matter at all. It is those of you who are filling chairs here that matter. Thank you for coming.
Who am I? I am just a guy. I am a citizen of the world and of the United States of America, of which I was never more ashamed than I was the day we invaded Iraq. I got sick to my stomach that day looking at an American flag for the first time in my life. Yet I have also never been more proud to be an American as I have in meeting the fellow citizens I have met recently in this struggle to retain and protect everything good about this country.
I am not a vet, although my father was in the Phillipines in 1945 ready to head north when atomic and nuclear power was used explosively for the first and only time in warfare… so far. I am a theatre professional who helped get John Kerry elected President in 2004, became the Minneapolis organizer for World Can’t Wait-Drive Out the Bush Regime shortly thereafter and then a co-founder of ImpeachforPeace.org, a non-partisan governmental accountability organization. We are dedicated holding elected officials accountable to the Rule of Law and have been working recently to network and link with like-minded organizations, such as Vets for Peace.
I’d like to open things up for a short discussion on the “why?” impeach…
… okay, great… Let’s get to the “how?”.
Seriously, as David Swanson eloquently laid out just a moment ago, the reasons are abundant. Spying, lying, dying, not trying, hiding and tyranny. The spying and lying are clear. Those of you here need no clarification of the dying.
“Not trying” could refer to Condileezza Rice shopping for shoes for three days while New Orleans residents drowned or Bush’s plentiful vacations, but in this context I am talking about “no trials”, the blatant disregard for the Rule of Law this administration has made a practice of in their treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Bahgram Air Force Base, Abu Gahrib and former Soviet gulags in Eastern Europe we are just beginning to find out about. When the Supreme Court recently ruled against the Bush Administration in saying that their designation of “enemy combatants” was a violation of American Law, the Geneva Accords and the Nuhremberg Principles – the original Japanese and German violators of which were presecuted, convicted and some put to death for – Tony Snow said on behalf of the President that he would take the ruling “under advisement”. “Under advisement!?!” The Supreme Court lays down the law of the land and the President says that he will take the decision “under advisement?!?”
In saying “hiding” I am referring to the most secretive administration this nation has ever known. Regarding the tragedies of 9/11, don’t you think there are at least 3,000 families who deserve the truth?, not to mention all the families who have lost loved ones since – based on lies. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories which is why I don’t believe the mother of all conspiracy theories, published by our government as the official 9/11 Commission Report. As Dr. Robert Bowman said at the Los Angeles 9/11 Truth Meeting (go to 9/11Truth.org for more information, please) which has shown many times on C-SPAN recently: “If this administration has nothing to hide, why are they hiding everything?”.
“Tyranny”? The Declaration of Independence makes abundantly clear that this kind of prince, who proves himself to be in every way a tyrant does not deserve to hold office any longer. I encourage you to do the little bit of research it takes to understand the fourteen tenets of fascism and decide for yourself how far down the road we already are.
Among those who agree are Representative John Conyers, Jr. and the signers of House Resolution 635 calling for censure leading to impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Conyers’ recently released: “Constitution in Crisis” lists over twenty crimes and violations and abuses of American law and international law by this administration.
Others who agree can be found on the webite of our parent organization World Can’t Wait. Go the Worldcantwait.org and read “The Call”. If you agree with what it says, please sign in agreement.
Garrison Keillor and the Chicago Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild are also in agreement, and… is there anyone here from the Seattle Library Workers Union? No? Let’s give a round of applause to the Seattle Library Workers Union for their resolution of impeachment!
The path to Peace runs through Justice. There is no avoiding it. The authors of the Project for a New American Century: Cheney, Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Perle, Wolfowicz, Jeb Bush and many other CEOs of defense contracting companies and now Bush cronie appointments made very clear years ago that they intended to gain a strategic economic “toehold” in the Middle East and that they only needed a “New Pearl Harbor” in order to get the American public to go along with their plan. Within the first year of Bush’s first term they conveniently got their “New Pearl Harbor” and now have invaded and occupied Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon by proxy. Iran and Syria are next and nukes are “on the table” according to the President.
In recent, completely unrelated news, Ned Lamont beat Joe Lieberman in Vermont, Bush and Blair spoke, and then, completely unrelated mind you, a “terrorist attack” in England was thwarted, we moved to Terror Alert Level Orange and I had to move my toothpaste and hair gel from my carry on to my checked baggage, thus keeping America safe for Democracy.
At the Minneapolis airport on my way here, the skycap saw my “Ask Me About Impeachment” button and asked: “Who are you going to impeach? Nixon? Clinton?” I replied: “From the top down – all who consider themselves above the Rule of Law”. He shook his head. When I offered him a tip a moment later he refused it. I said to him “Clinton had lipstick on his cigar. Bush has blood on his hands”. What I wished I had said to his original question was: “Every Democrat, Green, Independent, Libertarian or Communist Party official who considers themselves above the law and acts accordingly must be held accountable through impeachment and/or the courts. Oh… and Republicans too. Why do you hate the Constitution?”
“How?” do we impeach them? For those of us who enjoy the distinct privilege of being U.S. citizens and choose to live under the Rule of Law, our forefathers left us a means and a procedure by which to hold Federal Officials (other than Congress) accountable and most specifically to protect “We the People” from the theocratic tyranny from which we escaped from under the rule of the first King George: King George of Great Britain.
IMPEACHMENT! It is all we have. It is the only legal means be which to remedy this situation. There is nothing else. That is it. We don’t have any other options short of going over the White House fence with torches and pitchforks.
One of my Impeach for Peace co-founders, Jodin Morey, got frustrated one afternoon and spent a day researching the topic of impeachment, which dates to the 16th Century. The House Rules as ratified by the 109th Congress, and hopefully the 110th this January, are still based strongly on Jefferson’s Manual whose procedures carry strong legal authority. Jefferson’s Manual offers various means of initiating the process of impeachment, all by resolution to the House Judiciary committee.
The first and best known is a resolution intitiated by the House Judiciary itself, which is why H.R. 635 is poised and ready to go should the House turn Democratic in November, and with Democrats with spines.
The second is by the States. Illinois, California, Vermont, Wisconsin and other States have in place or in process resolutions calling for impeachment.
The third and least known of these is through a Grand Jury. Oklahoma and Nevada can impeach a federal official by getting enough signatures on a petition to empanel a Grand Jury. Muskogee County, Oklahoma has one in process.
Among other means mentioned with an established legal precedent is by an individual citizen’s “Memorial”. A single citizen by the name of Lawless filed a Memorial based on Jefferson’s Manual against a Federal Judge by the name of Peck, who was impeached but not removed.
We have on our website what we call a “Do It Yourself Impeachment Kit” which you can download as a .pdf, print, fill out and mail in to House Judiciary Committee Head James Sensenbrenner, who will throw it away but we ask that you also mail one to Conyers, who will not. Our “Petition of Memorial” has been evolving and we are presently adjusting it based on the work of Anthony St. Martin in Los Angeles, whose “Fifth Estate” blog has a similar plan that carries with it strong consequences for Congress ignoring our demands that we are working on combining with. The Portland Chapter of World Can’t Wait downloaded a .pdf, made 500 copies, got them all filled out and mailed them in to a contact they have in Conyers’ office one month and then did the same the next month so we know that Conyers has a thousand in hand. We have no way of tracking how many individual petitions of memorial they have received.
As Jodin has said, our victory will be one of “a thousand cuts”. It will take a combination of internal and external pressure. Outside pressure consists of protests and marches of which World Can’t Wait is at the cutting edge, letters to the editor, face-to-face and door-to-door meetings. I have a few copies of the Center for Constitutional Rights’ DVD for teach-ins, entitled “How to Impeach a President” for sale at my cost, less than you pay ordering them from the website. The blogosphere, chatrooms, MySpace, Forums, etc. Veterans for Peace has called for impeachment twice.
Financial support of AfterDowningStreet, the Backbone Campaign, and ImpeachforPeace is always needed and welcome.
All of this outside pressure is non-binding but critical in support of the inside pressure simply because politicians by nature are vulnerable to “We the People”. Lieberman is the first to fall. Poor Joe. I feel so bad for him. The Republicans are putting on a happy face, but they are whistling in the dark.
Pressure from within: Financial and campaign support for those who support impeachment and calls to Congress – I have the Congressional Hotline on speed dial on my cell phone and can give it to you afterwards if you like. Call your Representative every time you get ticked off about anything. We in Minnesota have three Representatives who are signers of H.R. 635, including my Rep. Martin Sabo. Is yours onboard? Letters, e-mails, every bit of pressure is good pressure.
Ultimately it is all about subpoena power. Only those who hold a majority in the House have subpoena power. If a miracle should occur and the Democrats regain or come close to regaining a majority in the House, what happens is that suddenly every secret this regime is holding from us opens up. A Pandora’s Box of information they are withholding is released.
In conclusion, as the movement grows and interlocks the question is where does the nexus or epicenter of the movement lie? Ultimately this is a political problem and the solution will involve lawyers, unfortunately. Because of that it must be based in Washington D.C. yet be national in scope. It must be non-partisan. I believe it is Camp Democracy which will be setting up outside the White House gates very soon.
This is absolutely crucial. If we don’t impeach this President, what will the next President look like who inherits these grossly expanded powers and rules without the checks and balances our Constitution was designed to enforce? Bush may not be Hitler but the next President could be. Will this election’s October Surprise be the smoking gun of a mushroom cloud? We are one “terrorist attack” away from martial law.
Thank you very much for having me.