By David Swanson
Advocates for impeachment can take some measure of encouragement not just from the 85 cities and towns and 14 state Democratic parties that have passed impeachment resolutions, or the 11 state legislatures that have introduced them (Maine was #11 on Tuesday), but also from comments made Tuesday evening in Detroit by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers.
For about a year now there have been two Congressmen Conyers, the defender of our Constitution and the follower of Nancy Pelosi in her ban on impeachment. Citizens in Detroit organized a town hall forum on impeachment and invited the Congressman. Both John Conyerses came on Tuesday, and they both left partway through the event. But, judging by the Associated Press story, Conyers the impeachment advocate was winning the internal battle.
There’s a very short version of the AP report posted on websites including http://www.wlns.com/Global/story.asp?S=6583728&nav=0RbQ and http://www.wtol.com/Global/story.asp?S=6583728
The report reads in its entirety:
“Detroit Congressman John Conyers says he supports a national effort calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. But he stopped short today of pledging to take action to back it. The veteran democratic [sic] lawmaker chairs the House Judiciary Committee, which would lead any impeachment hearings. Conyers did say that he encourages nationwide efforts to build support for impeaching Bush.”
Judging by that story, Conyers is not yet committed to acting, but he wants to be able to, and he wants to see an increase in public pressure to make it easier for him to move ahead. Let’s give it to him!
There’s a longer AP article posted on websites including
http://www.woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=6583653&nav=0Rcd and http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-44/11804846…
This longer article begins:
“U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said Tuesday he supports a national effort calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, but stopped short of pledging to take action to back it. ‘I’ve been supportive of that movement,’ said Conyers, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee that would lead impeachment hearings. ‘I encourage that nationwide.’ But Conyers, who left a Detroit church before a town-hall meeting attended by a standing-room-only crowd of about 250 people, remained noncommittal about lending his official backing for impeachment proceedings. Conyers had also convened a separate town-hall meeting in Detroit on Tuesday evening to discuss high gas prices. ‘The goal is whether to impeach or follow up on the defects and disabilities of an administration’ that has shut out Congress, he said.”
So far, the longer article gives about the same impression as the shorter one as to Conyers’ position. And, reading on, it continues to do so, but the reporter throws in material from other sources:
“A message was seeking comment were left [sic] Tuesday night with the Republican National Committee. Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, suggested Conyers was simply indulging old obsessions, adding, ‘It has no legs, it’s gaining no support in Michigan, let alone nationally.'”
This charge is called into question later in the same article by the report that Detroit City Council recently passed a resolution to petition the US House for impeachment. And pronouncements on public support for impeachment, or lack thereof, are almost always complete guesses or fabrications. The few polls that have been done show strong support for impeachment: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/polling but none of these polls are recent, none are focused on Michigan, and none are likely to be repeated anytime soon, since polling companies are refusing to touch the subject even for cold hard cash. The article continues:
“Anuzis cited the recent approval by Congress to fund the Iraq war, and he said there is serious analysis going on to determine how best to deal with the situation there. ‘This is moving along the way it should in the normal course of action and I think that the Democrats in Congress that are a little more reasonable are working with the president,’ he said.”
More reasonable than Conyers? Or more reasonable than the public? Or more reasonable than the Detroit City Council?
“Speakers and audience members expressed frustration and disappointment Tuesday that Conyers did not return by the event’s conclusion. The town-hall meeting featured panelists who took questions from the audience. Behind the panel, a large sign bearing handwritten signatures hung endorsing impeachment proceedings. On May 16, the Detroit City Council unanimously passed an impeachment resolution that claimed the two [presumably this means Bush and Cheney] had conspired to defraud the public to justify the Iraq war. The resolution was sponsored by Councilwoman Monica Conyers, the Democratic congressman’s wife. Nationwide, more than 70 cities and 14 state Democratic parties have urged impeachment or investigations that could lead to impeachment.”
Not 70, but at least 85: http://www.impeachpac.org/resolutions-list
Next the AP article simply quotes from a McClatchy article that came out Tuesday about the national movement for impeachment:
“‘There’s a lot growing in support [sic],’ Tim Carpenter, director of the liberal group Progressive Democrats of America, told McClatchy Newspapers for a Tuesday story. ‘Whether Congress will respond, that’s another question.’ On the Judiciary Committee, Conyers has been criticized by Republicans for his vocal opposition to the White House’s handling of the Iraq War.”
Yeah? What does the public think? Any idea?
“During the last session, when Republicans controlled Congress, he introduced a bill calling on lawmakers to determine whether there are grounds for impeachment over the government’s warrantless wiretapping program.”
In fact, Congressman Conyers introduced H Res 635 before the warrantless wiretapping program was first reported on. The bill would have created “a select committee to investigate the Administration’s intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, and retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.” http://afterdowningstreet.org/635
Conyers released a report at the time on some of the apparent crimes of Bush and Cheney, which his staff later updated to include the warrantless spying. http://afterdowningstreet.org/constitutionincrisis
Tuesday night’s AP article adds a final sentence that appears not to be a quotation or even to derive from Tuesday night. It reads:
“But amid pressure from party leaders, Conyers has said that he does not intend to move forward with any impeachment effort.”
Of all the things Conyers has said for and against impeachment, why pick this one to paraphrase? The people packed into the meeting in Detroit might have preferred a beauty like this one:
“I have a choice. I can either stand by and lead my constituents to believe I do not care that the president apparently no longer believes he is bound by any law or code of decency. Or I can act.”
Here’s a description of Tuesday evening’s event from the media advisory sent out beforehand:
Metro Detroiters to Hold Impeachment Town Hall Discussion
Congressman John Conyers, Jr., is expected to appear
Tuesday, May 29th @ 5 pm (Refreshments & Organizing 5pm; Panel Starts Promptly at 5:45pm; Parking Available at Church)
Central United Methodist Church
23 E. Adams Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
with Special Guests: Jazz Great Spencer Barefield & Friends
Panel & Discussion to Include:
*Jack Lessenberry: Detroit Metro Times editorialist.
*Bill Goodman: Former Legal Director of Center for Constitutional Rights, local Detroit NLG attorney.
*JoAnn Watson: Detroit City Council Member.
*Maureen Taylor: State Chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.
*Malik Rahim: Co-founder Common Ground, New Orleans; Green Party Candidate for NO City Council in 2002; former Black Panther Party member.
*Ann Wright: U.S. Army Colonel and diplomat who resigned in protest the day before the war began.
*Ray McGovern: Former CIA analyst who prepared the President’s Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates; Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity member.
*Debra Sweet: National Coordinator, World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime!
Initial List of Sponsors: National Lawyers Guild, Detroit & Michigan Chapter; MIImpeach.org; Veterans for Peace; Latinos Unidos of Michigan; Michigan Welfare Rights Organization; Democrats.com; AfterDowningStreet.org; Progressive Democrats of America; World Can’t Wait–Detroit Chapter; A28; Green Party of Michigan.
Reporting on recent passage of impeachment resolution by Detroit City Council:
The Detroit Free Press: http://tinyurl.com/2tp8gc
The Detroit News: http://tinyurl.com/32gu72
AfterDowningStreet.org, including full text of the resolution: http://tinyurl.com/3yvmdm
As more reports come in from Tuesday’s event they’ll be posted at http://afterdowningstreet.org/mi
To contact and encourage John Conyers and his colleagues, go here: http://afterdowningstreet.org/judiciarycommittee