I spoke Monday evening, June 18th at the Minnesota 5th District (Minneapolis) Central Committee meeting on the topic of impeachment. Two resolutions that I suggested were passed with only one dissenting voice out of the forty or so in attendance:
1). To issue a resolution supporting House Resolution 333 to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney with an addendum added to also impeach President George W. Bush (their suggestion).
2). To communicate to our Representative Keith Ellison that his 5th District DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party) Central Committee strongly encourages him to become a cosigner of House Resolution 333.
They also asked me to give my contact information to be on a speakers list for possible other engagements.
Fellow ImpeachforPeace.org member Dan Fearn joined me and we moved some stickers and buttons and I bought a shirt for one especially ardent supporter of impeachment.
Now if we can do the same in the 4th (St. Paul) to put pressure on Betty McCollum as well as in the other six Minnesota districts Minnesota could become the 18th State Democratic Party to pass an impeachment resolution. See ImpeachPAC.org/resolutions for a developing list of impeachment resolutions from around the country.
We need people to get letters endorsing impeachment from business owners in the wards of each Minneapolis City Council member to pressure them as well. Anyone?
The speech I gave was very close to the one I gave last week at the Green Party meeting with two Minneapolis City Council members. The basic text last night’s speech you can read below:
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend…”… what? Our borders from the Mexican terrorists? No. My political party, my staff?, tax breaks for the wealthiest and profit margins for multi-national corporations? No.
Article II Section 1 of the Constitution calls for the incoming President to swear on his or her honor to “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
All other civil servants swear an oath to do their job and most often “to support and/or defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic”.
oath: A solemn, formal declaration or promise to fulfill a pledge, often calling upon God, a god, or that which is held most sacred or valuable by the swearer.
To some, one’s word and name in and of themselves are regarded sacred – always being witnessed – as exemplified by the character of John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”, which means “A severe test, as of patience or belief; a trial.” Proctor simply had to lie to have his life spared from a witchhunt. Proctor did not lie, saying: “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!” and after continuing that he was “not worth the dust on the feet” of those of such character that they were hung for standing on principle and telling the truth in full integrity, Proctor said “How may I live without my name?” That, my friends, is an oath.
Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution states:
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, SHALL BE, – not can be, or could be – shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The definition of “high crimes & misdemeanors” is under continual debate, but it seems to be generally agreed upon that if a crime is committed, not able to be justifiably excepted on national security grounds, it by definition becomes a “˜high crime’ as an abuse of authority. But criminal activity is not the only impeachable offense.
Jon Roland of the Constitution Society wrote:
“Holding a particular office of trust is not a right, but a privilege, and removal from such office is not a punishment.” In other words, public office is a gift from the populace given daily. If no longer deserved, that gift should cease and that privilege should be revoked..
Roland went on to say: “…the appropriate subject matter for an impeachment and removal proceeding is the full range of offenses against the Constitution and against the rights of persons committed by subordinate officials and their agents which have not been adequately investigated or remedied.
(This was written in January of 1999 concerning the merits of a previous impeachment trial ).
1). The Supreme Court in Rosul v. George W. Bush ruled detainees were being wrongfully imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba. These policies and actions were ruled unconstitutional and illegal – in violation of Amendments V, VI &VII. The use of torture, legally justified by now Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others and henceforth condoned by Bush and Cheney is an additional violation to the 8th Amendment.
2). The Supreme Court again in Hamdan v. Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, et al.) ruled that the Military Commissions instituted by the Bush Administration violate the Universal Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions to which we are bound by American law. Again, the Bush Administration’s actions were found by the highest court of the land to be illegal and unconstitutional – again violating Amendments V, VI, VII
3). A Federal Court in NSA vs. ACLU found the NSA program of broad data-mining and warrantless wire-tapping of U.S. citizens illegal and unconstitutional – violating the Fourth Amendment.
One could argue that these were Administration policies and programs that temporarily pushed the envelope of questionable legality until the courts judged them illegal. However, each of these programs have continued in direct contravention of the law, spitting in the face of our nation’s highest courts, having their names and definitions changed or modified slightly like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich’ bill, House 333, to impeach Cheney, recently gained very significant 6th, 7th and 8th cosponsors, Maxine Waters – the Chair of the Out of Iraq caucus and the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee. The bill focuses on the manipulation of pre-war intelligence, lying about WMDs, lying about a connection between Iraq & Al Qaeda and lying about Iran posing an immediate and dire threat (Deja vu anyone?).
An argument for impeachment could be made about the legality of this self-appointed Unitary Executive Bush’s signing statements – more than all previous Presidents combined – thus largely taking upon himself the Constitutionally mandated law-making authority which rightfully belongs to Congress. Remember that impeachment is an investigation, so an argument could be made regarding possible criminal financial interactions with convicted felon Jack Abramoff, illegal profiteering – possibly involving that which could be construed as bribery given or recieved – by Cheney through Halliburton & subsidiaries and the Bush family’s Carlyle Group and especially the compromising of our national security with the “˜outing’ of Non-Official Cover CIA agent Valerie Plame in an act of political retribution against her husband Joseph Wilson who stood on principle to tell the truth. It is not hyperbole to consider this bootless, cowardly “˜outing’ coming during wartime as possibly high treason for various members of this “˜all hat and no cattle’ Connecticut Cowboy administration.
Even if not convicted of any direct wrong doing himself, Bush could and should be impeached and removed from office for neglecting to hold those under him accountable in violation of his oath of office.
Conversely, this President has bent over backwards shielding and protecting Karl Rove and Cheney from legal liability in the Scooter Libby case and especially now in protecting Gonzales from justice being served for his role in politicizing the Judicial Branch through wrongful firings of federal attorneys to be replaced by lock-step loyalists.
The most common argument against impeachment is that if we impeach Bush, we’ll get Cheney as President. Personally I fear impeaching Cheney might make Bush President, but actually nearly all resolutions of the hundreds passed or in process around the nation include both of them.
Most importantly, 17 state Democratic Parties – more than one third – have passed resolutions to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
The argument that such a resolution would be non-binding is specious as well. Since when are the opinions of the local citizenry as embodied by our local elected officials not of value?
Impeachment is not extreme. We are a nation of laws. No American is above the law, and those privileged to be granted the authority to lead should be held more stringently to the law, not less.
Is it too late? Impeachment hearings against Richard Nixon began on May 9th, 1974. Nixon resigned on August 8th – less than 3 months later. Nixon was to be impeached for obstruction of justice, abuse of power and defiance of subpoenas – all of which are coming to light in the “˜Attorneygate’ scandal.
When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decreed impeachment to be “off the table” and said Democrats were “ready to govern”, the nation – which had spoken clearly in the November mid-term election – was told to look forward to an end to the Iraq War, accountability for the Bush Administration and the passage of progressive domestic legislation to help so many damaged by this most atrocious administration. Instead, the national Democrats recently split, thus handing over another virtually blank check to Bush’s War. Modest yet decent gains such as a raise in the minimum wage only have come by making huge concessions to the corporate Republicans and some Democrats – and to Bush’s veto and signing statement threats.
Democrats gambling on waiting out the Bush term and expecting another landslide win in “˜08 take heed: Last week’s Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll says just 27 percent of Americans approve of the way the Democratic -led Congress is doing its job – down 9% since January – lower approval ratings than President Bush’s curent nadir of 29%. The possibility of at least the Senate returning to the GOP if not both Houses and the swearing in of President Fred Thompson, or whomever is a real concern, not some nightmarish fantasy if the Democrats continue to appear weak and divided
When one party has shown strength and integrity in holding the other accountable historically, they have made gains in the next elections. If impeachment evidence is brought to light in the House and Americans finally get the truth through every media outlet and then impeachment moves to the Senate, Republican Senators will be faced with a lose-lose choice: Distance themselves “˜with great pain and regret’ from these now-public criminals and their crimes, or go down with the sinking ship in the next election.
Thank you again for allowing me to speak tonight. I don’t have family in the Minnesota National Guard or currently serving “˜over there’, but it is my Constitution, my Bill of Rights, those are my freedoms and my liberties that are under comprehensive assault by these confirmed domestic enemies to the Constitution who took our White House by bloodless coupe d-etat in Florida in 2000 and extended their infestation of it in like manner in Ohio in 2004. If you have any doubts about this, grab a back issue of Rolling Stone with Robert Kennedy, Jr’s account of these election thefts.
An extremely dangerous precedent is being set if impeachment does not take place. Lying to congress to initiate a war of aggression, an ongoing occupation for war-profiteers of a country 80% of whose citizens want us to leave, 50% of whom feel violence against American troops is justified, whose parliament has passed a resolution asking us to leave, pervasive suppression of the press and free speech, false news reports… it goes on and on…
I celebrated my 49th birthday Friday. I am in pretty good health. Habeas Corpus – due process, the Great Writ, the very basis of the democratic ideal and dream since 1215 celebrated its 792nd birthday on Friday on life support in Washington D.C.
Congress is discussing… DISCUSSING… restoring habeas corpus.
And finally, on May 9th Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive 51, also called Homeland Security Presidential Directive/20. Did you miss it? No surprise since it wasn’t in the news.
Under this directive, President Bush entrusts himself with leading the entire government – not just the Executive Branch – during a “catastrophic emergency.”, to be defined, of course, by the Emperor himself.
What more do we need? If this President is not impeached, if this Vice President is not impeached, the impeachment clause should be lifted from the Constitution through Amendment.
I am calling upon you to fulfill your oath or promise to whatever you regard most sacred to (a) pass a resolution to Impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, to (b) send this resolution to the State Democratic Pary asking them to do the same, (c) send this resolution to the Minnesota State House and Senate asking them to do the same, and (d) to strongly encourage Rep. Keith Ellison to co-sign House 333.
America desperately needs leaders at this time, this crucible in our nation’s history. I am calling upon you to lead. Let the rest be followers. Justice must and will be served or there will be no peace.