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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says the House has so much to do that impeachment proceedings against Dick Cheney and George W. Bush would be a distraction.
John Conyers (D-Mich.), chair of the House judiciary committee, says there aren’t enough votes to impeach the President or Vice-President and that he would rather "propose comprehensive oversight of these alleged abuses."
Both Pelosi and Conyers are right. There are at least a couple of dozen reasons not to initiate impeachment proceedings, and only one reason to do so. Because it’s right.
It’s right because the two men who swore to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States have violated that oath, and caused others to violate that oath for whatever reasons they may or may not have had. It’s right because a failure to hold them accountable would be a failure to hold any elected federal official now and in the future accountable.
The actions of Cheney and Bush over almost seven years have damaged the strength of six amendments-the First (free expression), Fourth (unreasonable searches), Fifth (right against self-incrimination), Sixth (due process), Eighth (reasonable bail and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment), and Fourteenth (equal protection guarantee for both citizens and non-citizens).
Conyers and Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) had filed resolutions during the 109th Congress to seek impeachment, but both resolutions died at the end of the session. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) filed a resolution in May to impeach Dick Cheney. Kucinich, one of the few elected officials who courageously spoke out against the impending war in Iraq, and who has been vigorous in his opposition to Constitutional abuse, filed HR 333, now with 11 co-sponsors, to help assure that impeachment against Bush won’t leave the nation with Oil-Drip Dick as president.
With each Bush-Cheney action, lie, and stonewalling, the movement for impeachment has gained credibility and strength. National opinion polls show anywhere from one-fourth to one-half of all Americans favor impeachment. Eighty cities in ten states and the state of Vermont have passed resolutions calling for impeachment. There have been hundreds of mass rallies, all of them poorly covered by the nation’s mainstream media, which have called for impeachment.
Dozens of organizations have been formed not only to energize Americans to push for impeachment, but to give reasonable explanations why impeachment is necessary. ImpeachBush.org has collected almost one million signatures on a petition for impeachment. Impeachforpeace.org has a Do It Yourself kit that shows how, in the absence of Congressional action, citizens can initiate impeachment charges. Among those calling for impeachment are a wide range of Americans of every ethnic, religious, social, and political demographic. Writers, singers, and musicians have wrapped up calls for impeachment in 32 bars of powerful music, and YouTube has hundreds of videos showing why impeachment is now necessary. Among advocates for impeachment are former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark; John Dean, Richard Nixon’s White House counsel; conservative columnist Pat Buchanan, and even the right-wing John Birch Society.
Among major books, which have methodically outlined reasons and legal precedent for impeachment are Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush by the Center for Constitutional Rights, The Case for Impeachment by David Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky, The Impeachment of George W. Bush, by Cynthia L. Cooper, and Warrior-King by John C. Bonifaz.
On only the flimsiest of reasons, the Republican Congress impeached President Clinton. Despite elephantine roaring, their reasons had nothing to do with protecting the Constitution, and everything to do with political greed, vindictiveness, and the desire to mute the progress President Clinton gave the nation, while they paved a path for a Republican takeover of the White House.
The Democratic leadership-late in coming out against the war in Iraq, late in opposing the PATRIOT Act, late in recognizing and publicly opposing the mistreatment of prisoners-stared into space until they felt the winds of change generated by the people. Once again, it’s time for the people to push their leaders, to demand more than bluster and empty rhetoric. Gandhi was once asked, "Where are you going?" and answered, "There go my people; I must run to catch up with them for I am their leader." He understood that social revolution begins with a small group of people, and that leaders must be willing to run to that group to help give direction in order to attain a greater good. Unlike what seems to pass among America’s elected officials, whose concerns seem to be raising money to get re-elected and then pandering to those who could re-elect them, Gandhi was a true leader.
It would be nice to see American leaders running to be ahead of the masses, leaders who realize that to be leaders they must first lead. Until that happens, it will have to be the masses who lead. Pursuing Articles of Impeachment to protect what our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor would be the patriotic way to honor them and our nation.
WALTER BRASCH, professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University, is an award-winning syndicated columnist and the author of 15 books, most of them about social issues, the First Amendment, and the media. His latest book is America’s Unpatriotic Acts; The Federal Government’s Violation of Constitutional and Civil Liberties (Peter Lang Publishing.) You may contact Brasch at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.walterbrasch.com