Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The DSM and Bush impeachment

This is my argument for linking investigation of the DSM and impeachment (as the petition does). It points out that there was abundant evidence of impeachable Bush crimes prior to the DSM (including Clinton's crimes also, but not those that the Republicans cared about). I also argue that impeaching Bush is possible and becoming more likely. I'm using a version of this at the September 24th anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC.

Bush Impeachment is Necessary and Possible (if we push for it)!

The Constitution gives the people of the United States, through our representatives, the legal power to stop officials who commit criminal or other dangerous acts. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, one of six places in the Constitution mentioning impeachment, says that the President and others can be impeached for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Calls for impeachment or threats of impeachment have been common throughout our history for various reasons. Definitions of impeachable conduct have ranged from only serious felonies to President Ford’s definition of it as being anything the majority of the House of Representatives defines it as.

Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark has called for the impeachment of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and Attorney General Gonzalez (see www.votetoimpeach.org). The following are some of the charges.

Waging a war of aggression against Iraq in violation of the Constitution, the UN Charter (which is part of the Law of the Land under Article VI, Paragraph 2 of our Constitution), and the rule of law in general. Bombing Iraq to generate a pretext for war (also proven by the Downing Street memos). Violating the sovereignty of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. Lying to Congress to justify this war. Bribing and coercing individuals and governments to make war. Knowingly allowing attacks on civilians, assassinations, and torture. Preparing and threatening to use nuclear weapons.

Ordering the illegal detention of citizens, in violation of the Constitution and of their human rights, and indefinite detention of non-citizens and foreigners. Refusing to disclose who is being held, and where, including in response to a Congressional request. Refusal to release INS detainees found to be wrongfully held by the judiciary. Spying on confidential attorney-client communications without court order or criminal charges being made. Domestic spying on citizens and groups because of their legal activities. Making racial and religious profiling common government practice.

Seizing the assets of organizations by Executive fiat. Not releasing information necessary for Congressional oversight of the Executive branch. Withdrawing from treaties and agreements without Congressional approval.

In 2003 the National Lawyers Guild charged the Administration with similar impeachable offenses (the detailed war-related charges are online at www.nlg.org/members/2003resolutions/impeachment.pdf). The Green Party, Veterans for Peace, Ralph Nader and others have called for impeaching Bush. According to John C. Bonifaz, a constitutional lawyer, if the Downing Street Memo is true then Bush violated a federal anti-conspiracy law, 18 USC 371 (making it a felony to “defraud” the government), and The False Statements Accountability Act of 1996, 18 USC 1001 (making lying to Congress a felony) in his March 18, 2003 letter to Congress. This letter invoked Congress’ October 2002 Joint Resolution on Iraq (this was when Congress ceded its responsibility for declaration of war), saying that the Resolution’s criteria to justify an attack had been met (which was untrue). According to Take Back the Media! (www.takebackthemedia.com) if Bush lied in his State of the Union speech, which was under oath and an official responsibility to the Congress, he broke the same laws. Others point to the Administration usurping Congress’ control of the Treasury when in late July 2002 it secretly moved $700 million dollars appropriated for Afghan operations to the bombing campaign to provoke Iraq. These charges refer to official acts or constitutional duties, making them serious, as well as having caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, the destruction of countries, and the waste of billions of dollars. There are many charges Bush and his partners could be impeached for, Congress just has to have the will.

Bush’s loss of popularity (below 40% approval for the first time according to an AP-Ipsos poll reported September 10th), splitting of the Republican Party over the Administration’s neo-conservative policies, and the outcome of the mid-term Congressional elections could give Congress the will. www.impeachbush.tv points out that a clear case for impeachment will force Congress to either expose itself as ignoring the Constitution or it will have to vote to impeach. The last three Presidents to have a second term were all tried for crimes or threatened with impeachment. Most or all of the Bush Administration can be impeached and any neo-conservatives left would be too exposed and illegitimate to do any major damage.

May 1st the Times of London printed the first of several leaked memos of meetings between British and American officials (see the memos at www.afterdowningstreet.org). Although the corporate media has largely ignored them, these memos show that the Administration planned to attack Iraq long before it claimed to be trying to find a peaceful solution, that it tried to create a pretext for war and that it “fixed” intelligence to argue for aggression. Many have taken this as proof that the Administration knew it was lying in its rationale for the Iraq War. A May 22, 2002 memo says that the Administration could not prove that Iraq was working with al-Qaida or making WMDs, making the Administration’s argument for war before Congress and the UN a deliberate lie. In Britain the leaked memos have created an uproar against Prime Minister Tony Blair.

June 16th Representative John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) held a hearing on the memos and presented a petition with over 540,000 signatures demanding answers from the Administration about the Memos. The questions of Conyers and 115 other members of Congress earlier in May were blown off by the White House as not worth answering.

The next step is for Congress to investigate these allegations and, if they are true, to do its constitutional duty and begin impeachment proceedings against Bush and his Administration. To impeach, the House of Representatives needs to pass a Resolution of Inquiry telling the House Judiciary Committee to look at the charges and see if they are impeachable offenses.

Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) submitted a Resolution of Inquiry, House Res. 375, to the House International Relations Committee July 21st, but it is not for impeachment. The Resolution required that the White House and State Department release all documents of communications with the UK between January 1 and October 16, 2002. The purpose was to find any American versions of the Downing Street memos. September 13th the Resolution failed by one vote, with 21 for and 22 against. It had 83 co-sponsors, including a Republican, Rep. Leach, and Republican Rep. Paul voted “present.” There were two absent members, who probably would not have affected the end result. There were no co-sponsors from North Carolina.

Saturday, July 23rd was a national day of action, DSM Day, to call for a Resolution of Inquiry. The call was made by Conyers and the After Downing Street Coalition (www.afterdowningstreet.org). July 23rd is the third anniversary of the meeting between British and American officials, recorded in the so-called Downing Street Minutes, a leaked secret British memo. There were over 350 events across the country, including two in the Triangle and one in Greensboro, and there were large events in New York, Northampton, Detroit, Seattle, Oakland, and Los Angeles. Congress members such as Conyers (with a national conference call at 4pm), Maxine Waters, Lee, Jim McDermott, and Maurice Hinchley presided over events. C-SPAN refused to cover any of the events, ironically on the grounds that it had received too many calls for coverage.

There was a house party in Raleigh that showed a DVD of the June hearing and protest, with twice the expected turnout. About 42 people came to a town hall meeting at the Community Church of Chapel Hill. A short DVD of the June events was shown, followed by an hour and a half of discussion. Congress members, including Rep. Price, and local officials were invited but did not attend. Along with the DSM and impeachment, subjects like what motivates supporters of the Iraq War, the September 24th anti-war protests in DC, and the recent re-authorization of the PATRIOT Act were brought up.

Organizers hope to build momentum from this meeting. It was suggested that people lobby Price to support a Resolution of Inquiry at house parties he attends and other events. A pre-existing petition to Price based on the After Downing Street Coalition’s demands was circulated. It is also available at the Durham Food Co-op, The Know Book Store, Internationalist Books, the Peoples Channel, and at the Chapel Hill peace vigils. There will probably be a strategy meeting in August or September before it is presented to Price. Price supported Conyers’ letter to Bush, so he might support an investigation. This blog was created and a Greensboro house party created a listserve for North Carolina action (DSMaction@lists.riseup.net).

Afterdowningstreet.org suggests several grassroots actions to take. Representatives should introduce or support a Resolution and thank Conyers for his efforts. Senators should call for a Resolution in the House, sign a letter being circulated by John Kerry, and thank Senator Ted Kennedy for his efforts. On September 24th the Vote to Impeach campaign will hold a protest for impeachment at 11am south of the White House, within the larger anti-war demonstrations. They also plan an email campaign the Monday after.

The war of choice launched by Bush, probably to dominate Iraq out of greed and hegemonic geopolitical reasons, has killed up to 100,000 Iraqis, more than 1800 US soldiers, as well as contractors and soldiers from other nations. It is time for the American people to stand up and stop this. There is also growing support for impeachment. An ABC/Washington Post poll June 23-25 found that 52% of Americans thought Bush lied in the lead up to the Iraq War, nine times more than three months earlier, and 57% believed the claims about WMDs were exaggerated. June 27-29 a Zogby poll found that 42% supported impeachment if Bush lied. Before Clinton’s impeachment hearings in 1998, only 27% of Americans supported the effort (according to www.afterdowningstreet.org).

All progressives should join in the effort to impeach Bush, starting with the petition campaign locally, which can unite all of those campaigning for the rule of law and social justice. A victory in impeachment would be a great success for every progressive movement and even without victory it will weaken the legitimacy of Bush and politicians who refuse to support impeachment.

Monday, September 19, 2005

More on the Resolution of Inquiry

Below is a more detailed article on the Resolution vote.

Downing Street Memos Resolution Fails in Committee

July 21st Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) submitted House Res. 375, a Resolution of Inquiry in the House International Relations Committee requesting that the White House and State Department release all documents of communications with the UK between January 1 and October 16, 2002. The purpose was to find any American versions of Downing Street memos, leaked British documents about Iraq strategy meetings between American and British officials before the War. September 13th the Resolution failed by one vote, with 21 for and 22 against. It had 83 co-sponsors, including a Republican, Rep. Leach, and Republican Rep. Paul voted “present.” There were two absent members, who probably would not have affected the end result. There were no co-sponsors from North Carolina.

There was an hour or more of debate and the vote happened after a long recess. The Resolution was debated along with related Resolutions, including H.Res 419 on the Plame investigation. It was argued that the basis for the War has already been investigated; Lee pointed out that “intelligence use” has not been investigated. Another argument was that the Lee Resolution would not turn up much because the documents would be classified or that it would produce too many documents. Opponents also advocated ignoring the reasons the US is in Iraq. For more information see thomas.loc.gov and www.afterdowningstreet.org.

The local Downing Street memo investigation/Bush impeachment petition will probably be presented to Rep. Price this month, following a community strategy meeting (campaign blog: downingstreetactionnc.blogspot.com). There will probably be announcements in the Independent Weekly and at nc.indymedia.org also. The buses to the anti-war demonstrations in Wshington next Saturday, the 24th, and maybe Durham's Centerfest will be good places to collect signatures.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Lee's Resolution of Inquiry Failed By One Vote

The House committee (I can't remember its name) required to vote on Rep. Barbara Lee's (D-CA) Resolution of Inquiry looking for American Downing Street memo-type documents voted it down today. There was a good debate it seems, and it would have passed with one more vote - all of the Democrats on the Committee voted yes, as did one Republican, and another Republican voted "present." The Resolution had 82 co-sponsors. This was a good effort and it had a lot of support, and even bipartisanship. We need to work on impeachment, but that will be even harder for now. Let's have a good showing in DC on the 24th! It looks like we will - there will be multiple buses from Chapel Hill I think, and I would assume from Durham also, and this level of interest is probably mirrored across the country.

On the petition campaign, I want to present it to Price in October and I hope we can get lots of signatures on the Triangle's buses on the 24th. Are there going to be Raleigh buses and does anyone know who's organizing those?