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February 21, 2008

Impeachment Critical to Set Standards for Future Administrations

Filed under: Related to Impeachment — Jodin Morey @ 11:00 pm, Nancy Sullo, Tom Moore, and Liz/Bruce Robinson — There seems to be considerable confusion as to what is being asked of the Boulder City Council regarding an “Impeachment Resolution.” It is not an “Impeachment Resolution.” To quote from the resolution:

“BE IT RESOLVED that the Citizens of Boulder and the Boulder City Council believe that there is sufficient evidence to commence hearings in the House of Representatives that may lead to impeachment of either or both President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney.”

In other words, the resolution simply urges that the House of Representatives perform its constitutional duty to investigate allegations of violations of our Constitution.

Boulder is hardly unique in this. More than 90 other cities ranging from Detroit and Cambridge to Chapel Hill, N.C., and Brattleboro, Vt., have taken action, many much stronger than what we’re asking. National public opinion surveys find that more than half of American voters believe that both Bush and Cheney have committed serious crimes against the Constitution.

This is not just a liberal sentiment. Among others, Bruce Fein, a constitutional scholar who served as associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, insists that the concerns are serious enough to be investigated.

We have been asked why bother when Bush and Cheney will be out of office soon.

Every future president could, and probably will, use and expand on the powers usurped by this administration. If the rule of law, truth telling, openness, and the Bill of Rights don’t count for Bush and Cheney, will those ideals be more sacred to Obama, Clinton or McCain? Will it be legitimate for future presidents to redefine terms like “torture?” Will it be okay to pull out fingernails or gouge out eye balls? Will it be okay to use signing statements to change laws that Congress has just passed? Bush has done so nearly 1,000 times, some with serious consequences. Other presidents have used signing statements to clarify language, but not to change the intent of the law.

To those who say we should get over it and move on, we ask you to consider the following: Could our children be falsely accused and not have the right of habeas corpus (the right to face their accusers and know the charges)? Or could they be disappeared as was done by Pinochet in Chile? Will they have the protections given us in the Bill of Rights and in the Constitution? Could they be arbitrarily defined as “enemy combatants” or “terrorists” with no legal rights, per Bush’s presidential directives?

Who wins the next election is of minor importance in comparison to the question of whether future administrations are bound to operate under the rule of law and to do so openly in full compliance with the Constitution.

We need to establish, once and for all time, that we are not to be dragged into war based upon lies, that we will not tolerate torture, that we expect full compliance with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and that we will not tolerate signing statements that change the meaning of laws. The purpose of impeachment is to set standards for future administrations. Even to begin impeachment hearings will serve notice that they will be held accountable.

Why Boulder City Council? Impeachment is a matter for citizens. It is important because it is mentioned in the Constitution six times. House rules make it clear that the House will accept petitions from local governments. Court cases point to the same conclusion. Our City Council should represent Boulder citizens in matters of public importance. In their oath of office, they promised to “support the Constitution of the United States”. There was nothing in that oath that gave “potholes” precedence over the Constitution. We should expect them to take serious interest in both.

Is Boulder so insular that we should not be concerned about the shredding of our Constitution and the loss of our civil rights? Do we really think it cannot happen here or will not affect us? (See Naomi Wolf’s book, “The End of America.”) Citizenship is not a spectator sport. Edmund Burke wrote: “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.”

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"I just want you to know that,
when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."
-Bush, June 18, 2002

"War is Peace"
-Big Brother in George Orwell's 1984

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Why Should Bush Have Been Impeached?Charges against Bush

Charges & Evidence


Bush's Defense
Arguments Against Bush Impeachment...

• If we impeach Bush, we’ll get President Cheney!
The first impeachment resolution introduced by McKinney included Bush, Cheney, and Rice. Although, even if we only initially pursue Bush, initiating the impeachment process will lead to an investigation that will implicate lots of people in the Bush administration who are guilty of committing crimes, including Cheney.

No matter who we get to replace Bush, we’ll be showing those in power that anyone who breaks the law will be held accountable.

• Promoting impeachment will seem too “extreme.”
Demanding that crimes be investigated is NOT extreme. Some previous impeachment attempts were considered extreme because they were pursued for actions that didn't rise to the level of a Constitutional crisis, which is what the impeachment tool is meant to be used for. Nixon's impeachment, however, was bipartisan.

  • We should wait to impeach...
Wait to impeach? We've waited 3 or more years too long already. We had enough evidence to impeach years ago. Remember, an impeachment only means you have enough evidence to warrant a trial, just like an indictment. Our congress people didn't take an oath to bipartisanship. They took an oath to the Constitution. Besides which, our troops, Iraqi civilians, and our own civil liberties are all waiting for this.
• Before we impeach, we should get some legislation passed...
And with unconstitutional Presidential Signing Statements, veto power, and the power of "Commander in Chief" at his disposal, how do you think Congress is going to get anything accomplished without first impeaching Bush?

If your tire blows while you're driving, do you stop to fix it? Or do you continue driving on your rim because to stop would take too much time?

• It hurts the democracy to go through a presidential impeachment. And Bush is a lame duck anyway.
Holding government officials accountable for their actions strengthens our democracy. Letting lawlessness stand weakens it.

Sometimes reprimanding a child (president) doesn't make the family (Washington) a happy place. But you still have to do it so the child and his siblings (future presidents) learn about accountability. Impeachment is horribly UNDERUSED, which is part of why there's so much corruption at the top. Politicians must learn to fear it. People think things are better because we improved the make-up of our law-making body, Congress. But Bush is BREAKING LAWS. So, it doesn't matter how many laws Congress passes if they don't serve their OVERSIGHT duties as well by impeaching. They swore to defend the Constitution. What are laws without enforcement?

Besides, considering Bush's track-record of breaking laws, he can still do a lot of damage. Our troops, Iran, and our Supreme Court are all endangered so long as he remains in office. Waiting until Bush is out of office will leave us complicit in any further crimes he commits. The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated that the death toll from a "tactical" nuclear weapon of the kind Bush is contemplating using in Iran would be at minimum 3 million men, women, and children. The path of death would stretch across country boundaries into India.

Perhaps worst of all, we set a terrible precedent by allowing Bush to stay in office after he's broken so many laws. Impeachment will stop future presidents from using Bush's actions as justification for even more lawbreaking and erosion of civil liberties.

• I'm a Democrat/
Republican. If we support impeachment it will lower the chances of my party winning in 2008.

So, your party would rather win elections than do what's right for the country? I hope you're wrong. I also hope the public is willing to throw additional support to any party that holds our elected officials accountable for their actions. This has been historically true with every single impeachment effort launched. And this impeachment effort would begin with majority support (unlike most past impeachments including Nixon).

• Impeachment will never happen. Congress members will block it.
Well, all we need is a majority of support in the House. And 2/3rds vote in the Senate to remove Bush from office will happen once the evidence gets aired on the floor of the House, and subsequently the national media outlets. The political pressure will become too great.

Today's impossibility is tomorrow's reality. Congress members will realize that tying their political future to Bush reduces their chances of getting elected. Remember, one way or another, Bush is gone by 2009— but members of Congress may retain their offices beyond that date. Bush's poll numbers are extremely low, and most Americans support impeachment. This is a bipartisan movement. This means that if we make the pressure unbearable for Members of Congress, they'll turn on him to keep their own seats (like they did with Nixon). It's already starting to happen. While many Members of Congress have behaved unethically in the last few years, it's important to understand that this is related to their warped view of what's in their self-interest. Let's wake them up to their true self-interest (impeaching the president), by showing them our support for impeachment.

And even if we only impeach, and the Senate fails to do their duty and remove him from office, it will only implicate the Senators who fail to do their sworn Constitutional duty.

• But Speaker of the House Pelosi said that Impeachment was "off the table."

Pelosi most likely said this to remove any appearance of conflict-of-interest that would arise if she were thrust into the presidency as a result of the coming impeachment. What we need to do is to pressure Pelosi not to interfere with impeachment maneuverings within her party. Sending her Do-It-Yourself impeachments legitimizes her when she joins the impeachment movement in the future.

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