By David Swanson
Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s resolution to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney now has more cosponsors signed onto it than any resolution to impeach President Richard Nixon ever had. But separate resolutions to impeach Nixon, some with a handful of cosponsors, many with no cosponsors at all, were filed by the dozens. Today, Kucinich’s resolution stands alone.
“Back in 1973,” Barbara Ellis wrote in a recent paper that has inspired a new strategy among advocates of impeachment, “nearly 90 Democratic House members banded together to hopper separate bills to impeach Nixon. Two-thirds of them were to investigate whether Nixon’s deeds rose to the level of Constitutional standards for impeachment; the other third were plain-vanilla articles of impeachment. In October alone, a flood of 40 bills were filed in that Democratic-controlled House.”
Today there are 50 or 60 members of Congress who openly or secretly support impeachment or impeachment hearings for Cheney. There are 26 who have signed onto actual articles of impeachment (Kucinich’s resolution), several others who have signed onto a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers urging impeachment hearings, several others who have made public comments suggesting they favor the hearings, and several more who signed on during the last Congress to Conyers’ resolution to create a “preliminary impeachment investigation.” Conyers has not reintroduced that bill.
A group of citizen activists from around the country has been meeting with members of Congress and their staffers to argue a case for recreating what they are calling the Nixon flooding plan. If, they argue, just the 30 or 40 members who are currently pushing for Cheney’s impeachment were to file their own resolutions, the impact would be far greater than simply adding more names to Kucinich’s bill or to a Dear Colleague letter. All that is needed, in other words, to move impeachment forward in the House might be for those who already claim to support it to put their printers where their mouths are and crank out a couple of dozen new bills.
In the Nixonian example, many of the bills introduced were very short and simple, and many were nearly identical to each other. Others picked out a few favorites from the list of available abuses by that president. In the case of Dick Cheney (or George Bush, for that matter), Congress Members could turn to the recent example of Congressman Jay Inslee’s short and simple resolution to open an impeachment hearing on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. (Thirty-two members got behind that bill, and surely more would have signed on had Gonzales not resigned. Now, Gonzales’ replacement is repeating his crimes and abuses of power, but impeaching Mukasey would just highlight the fact that Bush and Cheney are giving the orders and that the Senate approved a clone of Gonzales as his replacement.) Beyond Gonzales-style resolutions that simply create hearings, pro-Constitution congress members could pick from a select menu of those abuses in which (unlike most of the Bush-Cheney abuses) Congress has not been complicit. These include rewriting laws with signing statements and proceeding to violate numerous statutes, refusals to turn over information, misleading Congress, refusals to comply with subpoenas, ordering former staffers not to comply with subpoenas, refusals to enforce contempt citations, commuting the sentence of a former top staffer who obstructed an investigation that involved Cheney and Bush, exposure of an undercover agent as punishment for a whistleblower, running a secret energy task force in violation of open-government laws, profiting through no-bid contracts to a war profiteer, election fraud, and the criminally negligent response to Hurricane Katrina.
Barbara Ellis, the author of the paper excerpted above, is an impeachment activist in Oregon and a member of a group called the National Coalition of We the People. Three members of this group, Michael Greenman from Ohio, Marcia Meyers from Oregon, and Carl McCargo from Massachusetts, traveled to Washington, D.C., last week and met with 32 congressional offices, in some cases with members and in others with staff. They intentionally included among those they spoke with some of the leaders of the original Nixon Flooding Plan who are still in Congress: Pete Stark (CA-8), John Conyers (MI-1), William Lacy Clay (MO-1), David Obey (WI-7), and Charles Rangel (NY-19).
They brought along a packet of information that included Ellis’s paper:
A partial list of the bills introduced against Nixon:
Arguments in favor of this approach:
And a cover letter:
The group reported on their congressional visits: “The Nixon Flooding Plan was met with high interest from all of our 32 Congressional contacts as a practical strategy for helping them to live up to that oath of office. Using our networking knowledge of and confidence in the millions of Americans passionate about impeachment, we promised those who take up the Nixon plan national recognition and support and offered sample investigation/impeachment bills for their convenience in drafting such a bill. One constant heard from House members and/or their key staffers was their message: ‘We need to hear from our constituents’ about trying that multiple-bill approach.
“So the main effort we’re launching is a drive in the national impeachment movement for a “National Call for Impeachment Bills.” We’ll focus on the week of March 16 – 22 to flood House members with our support for either bills on investigations for impeachment or articles of impeachment.
“One message House members need to hear is that participants in that Nixon plan were re-elected in 1974 (five are still in the House). Only two participants were not re-elected, but not because of hoppering an impeachment bill against Nixon. Republican Paul McCloskey lost to a Democrat; and Bill Roy ran for Senate. Not only did the Democrats control the House in 1973-75 (242-192-1)), but they added nearly 50 more members (291-144) three months after Nixon resigned.”
Congressman Kucinich has drafted over 50 articles of impeachment against Bush, and he should be encouraged to introduce those soon. But he and every member of Congress should be encouraged to introduce their own favorite resolution with regard to Cheney, even if it’s simply a proposal to hold impeachment hearings.
The week of March 16-22 is a week when Congress Members are home in the districts. It’s also the five-year point in the occupation of Iraq. A number of impeachment groups led by Code Pink have already designated the 18th a day for impeachment events. Why not plan now to pay a visit to your congress member’s local office that week? More on what’s happening that week can be found at http://resistinmarch.org