By David Swanson
Last December, when Congressman John Conyers released a huge report documenting the evidence that Bush and Cheney had lied us into a war, he also introduced a bill (H. Res. 635) to start a preliminary investigation of the matter and make recommendations on impeachment. This showed far more courage, not to mention long hours of work, than any other member of Congress had mustered at that time or since. But it was disingenuous. Impeachment is itself an investigation; a preliminary investigation is redundant. And any investigation is unnecessary when the impeachable offenses are part of the public record.
Last week, Conyers released an expanded report, including new superfluous evidence of proven crimes related to the war, plus a lengthy Section 2 focused on illegal spying programs. The evidence of blatant criminality and threat to the Constitution in this new section is devastating. And the crimes have been confessed to. Bush has merely offered a series of completely implausible claims that his actions are legal, a series of claims carefully refuted in this report. So, the situation of last December has grown more extreme. Impeachable offenses are public knowledge, backed by overwhelming evidence and public confession. But, rather than introducing articles of impeachment, Congressman Conyers has backed off promoting H. Res. 635. Not a single cosponsor has been added to that bill since Democratic “leader” Nancy Pelosi, some months back, ordered the Democrats in Congress to stay away from impeachment.
Ironically, Pelosi’s home turf is actively ignoring her. San Francisco and Berkeley have put impeachment on the ballot for voters this November, as have Champaign and Urbana in Illinois. These cities are likely to see an increase in voter turnout, especially among Democrats. In other words, they will model a winning strategy for a party that is nationally dead-set on losing. Dozens of towns and cities have already passed impeachment resolutions, and three state legislatures are working on passing resolutions. Only one state is needed to compel the U.S. House to begin impeachment proceedings. It would be nice to see Vermont or Illinois become that state. It would be even nicer to see California come through.
Now, I have yet to hear a single citizen lobbyist for H. Res. 635 report that their Congress Member, of whichever party, won’t support it because there’s not enough evidence of wrongdoing. Rather, Congress Members, of both parties, won’t support it because impeachment is “extreme” or “controversial” or “partisan.” The open secret here is that any investigation would lead inevitably to impeachment. Thus we have the current situation: a Congress that does not investigate.
All but 37 Democrats have refused to sign onto H. Res. 635, and many citizens now see the Democrats as complicit in Bush and Cheney’s crimes. About half the sting of “Democrat” as an insult just vanished along with Joe Lieberman, and he was driven out of the party because of his loyalty to Bush. Every analysis I’ve read suggests that Democrats can best win in November by identifying their opponent with Bush and Cheney. Between 80 and 90 percent of Democrats outside Congress favor impeachment, and most of them strongly favor it, as do a majority of Independents and a growing minority of those still willing to call themselves Republicans. There is not a shred of evidence that impeachment is somehow good for Republicans in this year’s elections. “Elect us or we’ll go to prison” is not an effective slogan. But you can’t tell that to Nancy Pelosi, who is following one of two paths: (1) tossing out the Constitution in order to follow a losing electoral strategy and avoid the possibility of becoming president by default, or (2) planning to do what is right and what the public demands after losing elections that would have made that possible.
Conyers’ strategy is clearly #2, and it is tragic to watch. This man of great courage and kindness has produced the evidence, but declines to push his party to act on it. If we as citizens do not step up and fill that hole and force the Democrats to act, they will not win, and Conyers will not chair the Judiciary Committee, and he will wish he had spoken up – but it will be too late. Unless the Democrats make the elections about saving the Constitution by removing criminals from office, they will not generate the excitement and support needed to win, much less that needed to fight when elections are stolen.
If you have any doubts about the evidence, or if you know anyone who does, I highly recommend reading Conyers’ report: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/constitutionincrisis
The new section on unlawful domestic surveillance is, in particular, worth a look, as it clarifies in very direct language the tangle of illegal spying operations underway and the laws they violate. The report also identifies six instances, separate from the NSA database program revealed by the USA Today in May, in which the Bush Administration was monitoring Americans on American soil, and instances in which, prior to public awareness of these crimes, Bush and others in his administration told the public and Congress that nothing of the sort was going on.
The media (corporate and progressive) have virtually blacked out any coverage of Conyers’ new report, which has left the door open for wingnuts to publish dishonest attacks on it, most prominently Byron York in the National Review. York’s article makes two points: Conyers really wants impeachment, and Conyers’ evidence is no good. The first point is, of course, true. The second point is made dishonestly by omitting any mention of most of the evidence cited in the report, and by distorting the few bits that are mentioned, or by simply implying that they are nutty claims without actually attempting any refutation. The only point York actually addresses with any substance is a claim that the Bush Administration outed a gay man. York claims the man was already out. York also attacks a couple of Conyers’ sources, without however addressing any of the information they provided.
You don’t need to read all 350-pages of the report to realize how far off York is. Just read the short summary and skim the rest. Chances are, though, that you’ll find yourself reading the whole thing or buying it in book form. One of the best things we can do to move impeachment forward, is in fact to put this report on the bestseller lists as a book, and buy it for friends and family members who are unaware of what is happening. The book is set to be released next month, but you can pre-order it. It comes with an Introduction by Ambassador Joseph Wilson that tells his story better than I’ve seen it told anywhere else, and a new Foreword by Congressman Conyers.
The book, titled “George W. Bush versus the Constitution,” is available here:
But there is something even more useful that you can do, something more demanding and more enjoyable: you can join us for Camp Democracy on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., beginning September 5th, when Cindy Sheehan brings her camp to the nation’s capital and we expand it to include demands for not just peace, but also justice and impeachment. We are organizing permits, tents, bathrooms, and activities at the camp, but we intend it only as a way to kick start a massive movement for justice. So, please show up on September 5, bring your friends, bring your ideas, and let’s use the force of nonviolent public resistance to turn this government around:
While Camp Democracy will have events related to impeachment every day, September 17th will be especially dedicated to that theme. Speakers that day will include John Nichols, author of “The Genius of Impeachment”; Dave Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky, authors of “The Case for Impeachment”; Marcus Raskin, George Washington University Professor and member of the special staff of the National Security Council in President Kennedy’s Administration; Elizabeth de la Vega, former federal prosecutor; Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst; Jennifer Van Bergen, author and professor; Michael Avery, president of the National Lawyers Guild; David Waldman, who blogs as Kagro X; Geoff King, President of Constitution Summer; and me, David Swanson, cofounder of AfterDowningStreet.org.
The day will include panel discussions, interactive workshops, a nonviolence training session, and a chance to do your own freeway blogging:
We’re encouraging local groups to hold impeachment vigils and planning meetings for Camp Democracy on September 1, the same day Impeachment will blanket the internet: