By David Swanson
An astonishing 44 percent of Americans do not want President Bush impeached (Newsweek), 36 percent approve of the job he’s doing (AP-Ipsos), 33 percent support the Iraq War (CNN). What, you may ask, is the matter with these people? Well, primarily this: they get their news by watching television and occasionally glancing at a magazine or newspaper. They don’t know the things you know if you listen to progressive radio or search out news on the internet or read the ends of articles that begin on page 18.
What could change their minds? Well, picture this. Close your eyes and imagine it, and I think you will find it truly beautiful: for months the celebrity stories and corporate video news releases and pseudo-journalistic sycophants who saturate American living rooms with the stench of apathy and satisfaction will be displaced. In their stead will be an endless dramatic parade of the overwhelming evidence of crimes and abuses of power committed by Bush, Cheney, and their immediate subordinates. Picture heated interrogations and recitation of evidence all morning, followed by endless commentary and chatter all afternoon. For months. Picture every man, woman, and child in America knowing in intimate detail the Downing Street Memos, the purpose of Cheney’s energy meetings, the unconstitutionality of signing statements, and the history of habeas corpus from 1215 to 2006. OK, maybe not the whole history of habeas corpus, but what it is and who took it away.
What you’re picturing is a shift of political power that will make the recent election look like a warm-up. What you’re picturing is the key to passing legislation that will not be vetoed or signing statemented. What you are picturing is impeachment by Spring. And what can make it happen are Congressional “investigations.”
I put “investigations” in quotation marks because the primary purpose of these “investigations” will be to communicate what is already public knowledge to the third of the public that’s never heard of it. Much more may be uncovered, but no more is needed to completely remake American politics if people are only informed of it.
The Democrats, and any Republicans who want to stay in Congress, should “investigate” the illegal spying programs – criminal creations to which Bush has already confessed, but also the myriad other crimes for which he has not as proudly taken credit.
Imagine the public learning about the al Jazeera memo in which Bush advocated bombing a television station, and the White House memo in which Bush proposed painting planes with UN colors and flying them low over Iraq in hopes of getting them shot at and helping to start the war that he was publicly claiming he wanted to avoid. Think about that for a minute. Everyone’s television will show them what went on at that meeting, and then what Bush and Blair said at the press conference that followed. Then members of the media will interview the reporters who were so laughably lied to that day about their feelings of being used. Then other members of the media comment on that commentary. And so forth. Just as if an attractive white girl had been lost on a beach.
Imagine the American public hearing from the authors and participants in the various Downing Street memos and meetings. Imagine this: What if everyone, even the guy who bags your groceries and the woman who delivers your mail, even your father in law, knew what was in the memo from early 2002 that let Bush know there was almost no chance Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger? What if Doug Feith’s and Richard Perle’s careers were as well known as Oprah’s, and the Project for a New American Century was a household word? What if the whole collection of evidence that the war was based on lies was reviewed in televised hearings? What if Yoo Memos were the raw material for late night talk show jokes?
And what if there were hearings on the permanent U.S. military bases being built in Iraq? What if the companies building them, the Iraqis living near them, and the officials approving them were questioned? Would Americans be pleased to learn of such an enormous expense made without Congressional approval or media acknowledgment? We – you and I – know that the United States has been building permanent bases in Iraq. But what if everyone knew about it in excruciating detail and it was the topic of endless chatter on their TVs?
Rep. John Dingell has already committed to investigating war profiteering and Cheney’s energy task force. He should be encouraged in that, as should the many other incoming committee chair people who will do the needed “investigations.” And we should encourage Nancy Pelosi to name Rush Holt chair of the Intelligence Committee, because he can be expected to do investigations that we need.
Henry Waxman, Dennis Kucinich, Diane Watson, Jerrold Nadler, John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Bennie Thompson, Bob Filner, William Delahunt, Marty Meehan: they’re all chairing committees that can bring Bush and Cheney down and restore the rule of law in this nation if they only choose to do so. The same is true in the Senate for John Rockefeller, Jeff Bingaman, Joseph Biden, Patrick Leahy, Daniel Akaka, and Carl Levin – who has already pledged to “investigate” extraordinary renditions. Imagine if Americans knew what extraordinary renditions were! Imagine if videos like this one put out this week by the ACLU were shown on every news show on network and cable.
What can make that happen? Congressional “investigations.” Thus far the corporate media is still treating the Democrats as the meaningless minority party. But don’t imagine for a minute that the media will not show Republican leaders testifying under oath in hearings on the Hill. The ratings will be too high to resist. And that third of the country that disagrees with us will be quickly brought around. Bush will finally become the uniter he has always said he is.