The impeachment train is starting to roll.
Last week, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), started things off by filing a three-article bill of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney. Initially largely ignored by the mainstream media, and even ridiculed by some leading Democrats in Congress, that bill, HR 333, today garnered two co-sponsors, Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), the latter a deputy whip and senior member of the House congressional leadership.
The two co-sponsors signing on to the bill give it a much stronger chance of being taken seriously in the House Judiciary Committee headed by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and follow a week of intense impeachment activities across the country.
A week ago, dozens of impeachment activists gathered on the steps of the main entrance to the Cannon House Office Building in a group press conference calling on Congress to back Kucinich’s impeachment bill, and to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Bush.
That same week, delegates to the annual convention of the California Democratic Party, the largest state chapter of the Democratic Party, overwhelmingly passed a detailed resolution calling for the impeachment of the president and vice president. The resolution received the highest vote total of all the resolutions offered at that convention, and was a powerful message to California’s top Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents a district in San Francisco, that her own party wants action on impeachment, not a political dodge.
A few days later, on Saturday, Aug. 28, impeachment groups across the nation held demonstrations, many of which featured protesters assembling to form giant letters spelling out the word “Impeach.” While the mainstream media largely ignored those protests, the message was not lost on House Democrats. The following day, Rep. John Murtha, a leader of the Democrats’ campaign to end the Iraq War, speaking on the CBS News program “Face the Nation,” declared that impeachment was one of the tools Congress has to influence the president. Lest his statement be misconstrued as a slip of the tongue, Murtha, who is known to be a close political ally of Pelosi, repeated the statement on NPR the following day, this time saying pointedly that impeachment was “on the table” in Congress.
His choice of words was particularly significant, since Pelosi has been insisting for almost a year that under a Democratic Congress, impeachment of the president would be “off the table.”
It remains to be seen whether more members of the House will sign on to Kucinich’s bill, or whether other representatives will add new bills of impeachment of their own against the vice president. Kucinich’s bill is narrow in scope, only citing three impeachable offenses: lying about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, lying about an alleged link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, and illegally threatening war against Iran, a country that poses no imminent threat to the U.S. Certainly there are plenty of other grounds for impeaching Cheney, ranging from conspiracy to commit kidnapping and illegal torture of prisoner of war detainees and war profiteering to lying to Congress and orchestrating the theft of national elections.
Thirty-nine members of the House in the last Congress were co-sponsors of a bill submitted in late 2005 by Rep. Conyers that called for an investigation into impeachable crimes by the president and vice president, and impeachment activists are now lobbying those members–nearly all of whom were returned to office last November–to join as co-sponsors of HR 333. Both Reps. Clay and Shakowsky had been co-sponsors of the earlier Conyers bill, signing on in January 2006.
With frustration with President Bush’s insistence on endless war in Iraq, and with grassroots pressure for impeachment building, it is going to be harder and harder for the mainstream media to keep ignoring the impeachment story. It is also going to be harder and harder for Democratic Party leaders to hold deter their more progressive members in the House from filing impeachment bills.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is “The Case for Impeachment“,
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org