Subpoena Dementia

By David Swanson

Subpoenas? What are those? Miers? Rove? Who are they? Are they from Chicago? Do they believe in change?

We interrupt this honeymoon to remember that there’s something we should be remembering.

Here is a list of some of the subpoenas issued by the 110th Congress and laughed at by the Bush-Cheney Justice Department:

Come January there will be a brand new Justice Department. And here’s the interesting thing: justice departments don’t do “looking forward.” Punishing crimes is always about looking backwards. Plus, back during the Pennsylvania primary, president-to-be Barack Obama promised a Philadelphia Daily News reporter that his Justice Department would look into the crimes of his predecessor. And people like Seymour Hersh claim that all sorts of insiders want to spill their guts come January 20th:

So Congress members must be chomping at the bit to reissue their subpoenas and finally see them enforced, right?

Well …

It turns out that Chairman Henry Waxman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who demolished several large forests just to print his voluminous letters to the Bush Administration requesting and re-requesting and subpoenaing and complaining, is interested in moving to the Commerce Committee since there’s no longer any need for oversight and — despite having his requests and subpoenas laughed at — considers his work complete.

While this attitude bodes very ill for the prospect of restoring powers to Congress during the tenure of a potentially law-abiding president, it tells us something even more damning as well. If the Democrats do not reissue the subpoenas and the contempt citations in January, they will be admitting that they never cared about anything other than electoral advantage, that every pretense of pursuing justice during the past two years was a political campaign at taxpayer expense.

This shouldn’t shock us. Remember that Congress voluntarily threw out the power of impeachment. When subpoenas were then mocked and ignored, Congress declined to use the power of inherent contempt and lock up recalcitrant witnesses. When contempt citations were not enforced, Congress sought their enforcement just slowly enough to maintain the pretense of trying to enforce them right through this week’s elections.

Another indication that the “investigations” as a substitute for impeachment were sheer farce will come if Congress puts up no resistance during the next three months to the pardons that many expect Bush to issue his subordinates for crimes he authorized them to commit.

A third indication will come if Congress fails to reintroduce and pass in January the sort of resolution introduced this past September by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin urging President Obama to pursue accountability for the crimes of his predecessor ( ) and if Congress fails to pursue that accountability itself.

If President Obama ceases to commit some of Bush’s crimes, declines to use signing statements, agrees to abide by most laws, signs reforms related to the PATRIOT Act, torture, etc., those will all be major positive steps, but warrantless spying, baseless detention, torture, and executive legislating were never ever remotely legal. And laws are not partisan or in conflict with unity or brotherly love. If future presidents know that the penalty for lawlessness is only that your successor will obey laws, how much deterrence will that offer? If future voters know that Congressional subpoenas, hearings, and press conferences are all just stunts and charades, how much civic capital will that create?

Let’s try, you and I, to have a slightly longer memory than Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, or perhaps to give some of the fine congress members with sharper minds a turn in the leadership slots.


Here’s one way to help on Monday, November 10th, from the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR)

In September organizers from NCNR sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey. In the letter we called for the indictment of Bush and Cheney for war crimes. We asked for a meeting with AG Mukasey to discuss this matter. We have not heard back from AG Mukasey, so on November 10 at 12 noon we will go to the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and demand a meeting, demand that Bush, Cheney and others are held accountable. If we are not granted a meeting, some of us will be led by our conscience to take action in the spirit of nonviolence where we may be risking arrest. We take this action knowing that we are doing what we are called to do, knowing that we are doing the only thing we can do as our leaders have continued to disobey the laws of the United States and to trample on and shred the U.S. Constitution for the last 8 years.

If possible, please join us in DC on November 10 for this action. If you are not able to make it to DC, we ask citizens all around the country to join us in solidarity through local actions on November 10.

First, call the Attorney General’s office on November 10 to encourage him to meet with the citizenry outside who want to discuss the indictment of Bush and Cheney: Department of Justice Main Switchboard – 202-514-2000 and Office of the Attorney General – 202-353-1555.

Second, if possible, hold a solidarity demonstration at your local federal building on November 10. During the demonstration, you would have a copy of the NCNR letter requesting a meeting. You would emphasize that the AG must meet with these concerned citizens and must consider an indictment.

It is time to bring the criminals of the Bush regime to justice. Please, wherever you are, do your part in joining us in this call for justice and truth.

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