By David Swanson
The House Judiciary Committee today, Friday, July 25th, will put impeachment squarely back “on the table” and restored to its prominent place in our Constitution.
Elliott Adams, President of Veterans for Peace, and a descendant of American revolutionary Sam Adams, will deliver this prepared testimony, in which, if his 5 minutes allow him to reach his conclusion, he will say:
“For us veterans, when our time came, we volunteered our very lives for this republic; for the principle of freedom for all, for equal opportunity for all, to defend the Constitution and the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence, and to guarantee the opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now, Congressmen, it is your time, and I hear there is not enough time! Now is your time, and I hear it will not be good for one party or the other party! Now is your time, and I hear there is not enough political will around you! When our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence they were not worried about political will, or how much time there was, or about any parties’ political future, they were just worried they were going to be hanged by the neck. But they did what was right. Now it is your time to standup. Einstein said – ‘The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.'”
Bruce Fein, Associate Deputy Attorney General, 1981-82, and Chairman of the American Freedom Agenda, will deliver this prepared testimony, which begins thus:
“If President George W. Bush had knocked to enter the constitutional convention in Philadelphia in 1787, presiding convention president George Washington would have denied him admission. Thereby hangs an alarming tale. The executive branch has vandalized the Constitution every bit as much [sic] the barbarians vandalized Rome in 410 AD. The executive branch has destroyed the Constitution’s time-honored checks and balances and raced the nation perilously close to executive despotism. The executive branch rejects the basic philosophical tenets of the United States. It does not accept that America was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that sovereignty in a republican form of government lies with the people; that there are no vassals or serfs in the Constitution’s landscape; that every man or woman is a king or queen but no one wears a crown; and, that the rule of law is the nation’s civic religion. The Founding Fathers fashioned impeachment as a remedy for attacks against the constitutional order.”
The first panel Friday morning will include Congressman Dennis Kucinich making a case for impeachment based on the articles of impeachment he has drafted against Cheney and Bush. Also on the first panel will be Republican Congressman Walter Jones who has sought to end the funding of the occupation of Iraq, and who has expressed support for former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s proposal to prosecute former President George W. Bush, once out of office, for murder. Congressman Maurice Hinchey, a supporter of impeachment, is also on the panel. The last witness is Congressman Brad Miller, but as the saying goes, “Three out of four ain’t bad.” And we’ve been mercifully spared Congresswoman Jane Harman, who at one point was scheduled to testify.
The second of two planned panels is even better, and includes Adams, Fein, Bugliosi, and six other witnesses. One of them, Elizabeth Holtzman, Former Representative from New York, will speak very persuasively for impeachment. Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson, Founder and President, High Roads for Human Rights, and the former Mayor of Salt Lake City, is likely to speak in support of impeachment too, while also supporting other alleged remedies. One chronicler of Bush and Cheney crimes who in recent months has opposed impeachment is John Dean; he had been scheduled to appear but did not make the final cut. However, there are four witnesses on the second panel who may not help the cause of impeachment. Frederick A. O. Schwarz, Jr., Senior Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, is a supporter of restoring the rule of law, but whether he’ll advocate restoration of the rule of the Constitution we shall see. The other three almost certainly will not. They are: Bob Barr, Former Representative from Georgia, 2008 Libertarian Nominee for President; Stephen Presser, Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History, Northwestern University School of Law; and Jeremy A. Rabkin, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law.
The big unknown is which members of the House Judiciary Committee, which has 40 members, will show up for a Friday hearing. A number of Republicans have already left town, and some of the most pro-impeachment Democrats have committed to being present. Watch Robert Wexler, Tammy Baldwin, and Sheila Jackson-Lee for the most likely statements in support of beginning a true impeachment hearing.
Some of the witnesses in the past couple of days had expressed frustration with congressional rules forbidding accusations against the president, rules deriving from prohibitions on speaking ill of the king of England. But witnesses have been able to work around those rules by referring to “the executive branch” and other similar locutions rather than “the president” or “the vice president.” While Chairman John Conyers almost certainly has every intention of preventing the commencement of a real impeachment hearing, he and his staff appear to have opened this one up significantly to the obvious and overdocumented case for impeachment. Our hope lies in the likelihood that Conyers’ calculation is wrong when he supposes that Democrats will benefit from publicizing the case for impeachment and not suffer for failing to pursue it. If the public makes clear its demand for action, not just talk, the door that is cracking open may be very difficult to shut. “Stop the preaching and start impeaching” is a cheer that may be heard at a gathering of impeachment activists outside the Rayburn Building immediately following the hearing.
The day before the hearing, some of those impeachment advocates gathered at the National Press Club, including myself, Ray McGovern, Bruce Fein, Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia Papermaster, and Crystal Kim. Videos of what they had to say, and their questions and answers with the media, are posted at http://youtube.com/afterdowningstreet