Saturday, November 11, 2006

democracy now on impeachment

democracy now on impeachment:
Coalition of Antiwar, Veteran Groups Launching National Movement to Impeach Bush and Cheney

A coalition of groups are meeting near Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Saturday to announce plans to mobilize a national movement to impeach President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. We speak with former New York Congressmember Elizabeth Holtzman, who played a key role in the committee investigating Watergate, and we speak with Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.
While the pro-impeachment movement has received little media attention, polls show growing numbers support for Congress to take such action.

A recent Newsweek poll found 51 percent of all Americans - including 20 percent of Republicans - feel impeachment should be on the table.

AMY GOODMAN: There is support for impeachment in the House. Over the three dozen Democrats in Congress have publicly supported an inquiry into possible impeachable offenses by the Bush administration. The list includes John Conyers of Michigan, positioned to become chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
AMY GOODMAN: What’s your response to the Speaker in waiting, Nancy Pelosi, saying it’s off the table?

ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN: Well, it’s very understandable. It was off the table to the Democrats in 1973, when the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate, and you had Richard Nixon as president.

AMY GOODMAN: He had won by a landslide victory in 1972.

ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN: Correct. He had won by a landslide, and impeachment was off the table then. Nobody -- no Democrat was pushing for it. And, in fact, as the revelations came out, it still wasn't on the table. It took the American people, after the Saturday Night Massacre, sending a clear message to the Congress --
It’s understandable that congressional leaders, members of Congress, will be very reluctant to take this enormous step to protect our Constitution and our democracy. But the American people still -- we have a democracy. You saw what happened at the polls. Members of Congress will get it, if the American people want it.

AMY GOODMAN: ... But what are you talking about when it comes to Vice President Dick Cheney?

ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN: Well, my view right now is that I'm not sure we have the overwhelming evidence. That's not to say he hasn't committed impeachable offenses, just that we don't have the same level of evidence that we have with respect to President Bush. On the illegal wiretaps, for example, it’s President Bush who repeatedly and admittedly signed these orders directing wiretaps in violation of the explicit language of the statute. We don't have Dick Cheney signing that. I mean, that’s a very good example of how we have President Bush, but we don't see Vice President Cheney's fingerprints. That’s not to say he wasn’t part and parcel to this, but we don’t see that, so --

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to former Congress member Elizabeth Holtzman, who has written a book on impeachment. Daniel Ellsberg is also with us, perhaps the country’s best-known whistleblower. leaked to the press the Pentagon Papers, the 7,000-page top-secret study of U.S. decision-making in Vietnam that set in motion actions that would eventually topple Nixon. He recently published an article in Harper's magazine about Iran. It’s called "The Next War." How do you tie this in, what your campaign is now, which is not exactly impeachment, Daniel Ellsberg?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: I think the impeachment process, starting with investigations, is very important, but it’s not the only important thing right now. Actually, Maurice Hinchey introduced a bill on June 20th this year calling for Congress to cut off any funds, to deny any funds of the appropriation bill for an attack on Iran, unless that had followed, as in Article 1, Section 8, from a decision by Congress. And it was a very brief little discussion in the night of June 20th. Two hours later, there was a vote. He had 158 votes in favor of that, somewhat surprisingly. That is the way the Vietnam War was stopped. I don't think they’ll stop the Iraq war very quickly that way. It takes a long time for a congressman to face the charge that he’s taking money away from the troops, no matter how long, and whether they should be there or not.

But the Iran War has not yet started, and a measure to prevent it before it starts has, I think, a lot more promise, and I think that approach with the new Congress has real promise. But even so, you would need, I think, a crucial aspect of that would be information from inside the government, and this applies both to the impeachment process and to measures like this. If you rely entirely on the administration cooperating by providing the documents you're asking or the witnesses you're asking, that’s not going to happen. They’ve promised already. I think it’s Cheney who said “a cataclysmic fight to the death,” before they will let these documents get out.
Now, a process like that is what finally emboldened Congress or enraged Congress to the point where, in fact, they did begin to cut off the funds for the war and they did seriously begin to look at impeachment. If the President was going to totally subordinate their role, rule it out of the Constitution essentially, that finally got their backs up. That could happen here, as investigations start, on a variety of reasons, which should happen, including Cheney. You’ll get the facts on the table from leakers. The facts you’ll get will be unauthorized.

And now, an unauthorized disclosure, a leak, has a chance of being acted on by Congress, which in the last several years, people have gotten discouraged. They’ve put out the truth to Sy Hersh and to others, and we can all see, not much happens. Congress, the Republican committees are not interested in hearing that. They don't want to act on it. Now, it's a challenge. If somebody inside the government gives information either on criminal wrongdoing by their bosses, which bears directly, or, you know, terrible high crimes and misdemeanors, which bears directly on impeachment, if they give that to Congress and the press, Congress can’t -- Congress now led by the Democrats cannot just ignore it, at least not if we let them. We can demand that they do act on it, and that’s a great inducement to get.

JUAN GONZALEZ: So, what you're saying in essence is that another Daniel Ellsberg is needed, and then maybe even another John Dean, to come forward from the inner circle.

I don't suppose I’ve made Bush as afraid of me then, I’m sorry to say. If he has committed crimes against me, I don't know them yet. If I have been listened in on warrant-less wiretaps -- I imagine I have, but it may be a while before I learn it. But there are others who could supply the names of who -- which Specter was not able to get from the President. Republican head of the Judiciary Committee was not able to get the names or even the programs. There are people in NSA who could tell him that. And if a Democrat now wants to hear that, which Specter didn't, he can call those people, he can put them under oath, and he can hear their testimony, people like Sibel Edmonds, Russell Tice, and people in NSA, who know the crimes that have been committed.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both for being with us: Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon whistleblower, calling for whistleblowers today to come out, especially around plans for Iran; and former Congress member Liz Holtzman, she has written a new book. It’s called The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens. She will be speaking on Saturday in Philadelphia at a pro-impeachment rally this Veteran’s Day weekend.


notjonathon said...

I think that the best way to get rid of Cheney is through good old-fashioned criminal investigations into his relationship with Halliburton (information has surfaced that Halliburton bribed African officials when he was company president) or his role in the Plame affair. Then, like Spiro Agnew, he can be forced out through the regular legal process rather than impeachment, solving the problem of finding a smoking gun for impeachment.
As for the Resident, let the hearings begin!

lukery said...

notjonathon - good idea re CHeney - although i'm not sure that we need a smoking gun to impeach cheney. there's a prima facie case that cheney is as 'guilty' of 'high crimes & misdemeanours' as his purported boss is.

(it would be sweet to nail him on the plame affair though. EW is doing her damnedest to push that one fwd)

Simon said...

It was off the table...

A well chosen little phrase methinks, especially being as John Conyers has said precisely the same thing. Somehow it wasn't something I exactly expected him to say. A holding strategy then. How long does it take to prepare and put something on to a table when everyone has the same hunger for the delectation of the main course?

lukery said...

simon - i agree. 'off the table' seems to mean 'until our investigations determine otherwise' - i'm comfortable with that.