A Congress of Hucksters and Pipsqueaks


How pathetic can it get?

140,000 American troops are stuck in the mess that a lying and endlessly deceitful president has made in Iraq, over half a million innocent Iraqis have been killed since the politically-motivated 2003 US invasion, a group of very Establishment, middle-of-the-road politicians of both parties has declared the war an unmitigated disaster and called for a pullout of troops, the president has nixed their call for withdrawal and regional negotiations, and what is Congress doing about it?

The House just voted by an overwhelming 368-31 (that’s only 36 abstentions), not to impeach the president, not to cut off funding for the war, not even to endorse the findings of the Iraq Study Group, butto condemn the naming of a street in France after Pennsylvania death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal!

This craven rush to line up and be counted in the condemnation of a man who has never had a fair trial to establish his guilt in the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was joined in even by most liberal Democrats in the House. It was primarily only black members of Congress who had the courage to vote no on the resolution that was submitted by Michael Fitzpatrick, a lame-duck Republican congressman from the Philadelphia area (Fitzpatrick was defeated by Democrat Patrick Murphy).

Ironically, as this group of political hucksters and moral cowards were casting their votes of allegedly righteous condemnation at the naming of a minor street in France, Abu-Jamal’s case was heading for a dramatic hearing in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, where judges with a better understanding of law and constitution had recently agreed to hear three separate arguments by Abu-Jamal on claims that his 1982 trial had been unconstitutionally compromised–among them that the prosecutor told jurors they didn’t need to worry about proof of guilt being “beyond a reasonable doubt” because there would be “appeal after appeal,” that the same prosecutor deliberately removed 11 qualified black jurors from the jury pool because of their race despite their having confirmed they could vote for a death penalty, and that the trial judge had been overheard, on the first day of the trial, telling his clerk that he would “help them fry the nigger.”

So where is the indignation of these leaders when it comes to a president who lied to them repeatedly about alleged grave and looming threats posed by non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, about non-existent “links” between Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and terror leader Osama Bin Laden? About a fraudulent allegation that Saddam was trying to buy uranium ore from Niger?

Where is the righteous indignation over the deliberate exposing by Bush and Cheney of the identity of a key undercover CIA agent whose outing destroyed a U.S. intelligence network monitoring weapons activities in Iran, and almost certainly led to the suffering and deaths of some of her sources in Iran and elsewhere?

Where is the outrage over Bush’s flagrant violation of the law in having the National Security Agency spy on Americans without first obtaining a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court?

Where is the outrage about the president’s assertion of the right to ignore acts (850 and counting) passed by the Congress?

Where is the righteous indignation over this president’s authorization of torture of U.S. captives in Iraq, Afghanistan, kidnapped from around the globe, and even picked up here in the U.S.–American citizens included?

Where is the disgust at word that Commander in Chief Bush oversaw the detention in Guantanamo of children from Afghanistan as young as seven and eight years old–some of whom remain in detention there to this day (and one of whom committed suicide last June after spending his teenage years in detention).

Where is the outrage that this president allowed some 2000 Americans to die in stagnant, toxic water in New Orleans while he played around on vacation in Texas?

Maybe more relevant to the current resolution, where is the outrage over military policies under Commander in Chief Bush that have made the killing of Iraqi boys as young as 12 part of the “rules of engagement,” that permit the collective punishment of entire towns and cities–most famously the flattened city of Fallujah–and that permit the use of banned weapons like napalm and white phosphorus, and the use of horrific, indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction, such as cluster bombs?

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the incoming speaker of a new Democratic-run House, has called for a new civility and bi-partisanship in Congress, but it seems her idea of civility and bi-partisanship is signing on to rabid, lame-duck, right-wing Republican resolutions, while ducking the heavy responsibility of calling a criminal president to account for his six-year assault on the Constitution, and for dragging the nation into a pointless, bloody and costly war.

Luckily for Abu-Jamal, his long battle for a fair trial will be fought not in the wretched and soiled halls of Congress, where any concern for justice and defense of constitutional rights and freedoms long ago vanished, but in an appellate courtroom, where some vestige of such lofty concerns may yet exist.

Unluckily for the rest of us, who thought we were taking a stand for freedom, the Constitution, and a restoration of national sanity when we voted last month, the struggle to revive the Bill of Rights and the concept of tripartite government, and to impeach a president run amok with mad dreams of imperial power, will have to be fought in those wretched, soiled halls–and in the streets.

Our task is to convince a bunch of political whores that they must act like the founding fathers intended, and as their oaths of office require, or the 110th Congress will be their last.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s new book is “The Case for Impeachment“,
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com



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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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