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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Please John Conyers: Impeach Bush NOW

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Please John Conyers: Impeach Bush NOW

On Thursday, Harper's Magazine held a truly outstanding forum on impeaching George Bush (photo by Kate Anne).

The panel could not have been more distinguished. It included former Rep. Liz Holtzman, who became famous through her diligent service on the House Judiciary Committee when it adopted Articles of Impeachment that forced Richard Nixon to resign; John Dean, Nixon's White House Counsel whose conscientious refusal to cover up Nixon's crimes played a crucial role in Nixon's downfall; Harper's editor Lewis Lapham, who has analyzed American politics with profound insight for decades; Michael Ratner, the passionate human rights lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is leading the legal battles to stop Bush's torture; and Rep. John Conyers, the civil rights legend who is Bush's most passionate and determined critic in Congress.

If anyone came to the forum doubting Bush deserves to be impeached, that doubt was dispelled immediately when all of the panelists emphatically agreed that Bush's war in Iraq, his torture of prisoners, his illegal wiretapping, and his assertion of dictatorial powers all rose to the level of High Crimes as intended by the Founding Fathers.

Sam Seder of Air America Radio, who was an excellent moderator, tried to play devil's advocate, but even he found it impossible to come up with a reason not to impeach Bush.

So the question for the evening was not whether to impeach Bush, but how - and when.

Obviously the primary obstacle is Republican control of Congress. Only Lapham thought a few Republicans might rise above partisanship to join Democrats. Salon's Michelle Goldberg described that idea as "a delusion almost as great as Bush's conviction that God, not William Rehnquist, made him president."

So the question shifted to whether Democrats could win a majority in Congress. Holtzman declared her faith in the voters, who will wake up to the enormity of Bush's crimes and demand impeachment - or sweep Republicans out of office for standing in the way.

As the panel wrapped up, those fired-up voters in the audience headed for the microphones. When my turn came, I echoed Holtzman's remarks by providing concrete evidence of the tremendous grassroots passion for impeachment.

I have good news: there is a grassroots movement for impeachment, and you can find it at We have raised over $60,000 to support pro-impeachment candidates, and we have endorsed two so far. But our main problem is that very few candidates are willing to call for impeachment. Mr. Conyers, why don't you introduce Articles of Impeachment so ImpeachPAC can endorse you?

My question was not meant as an attack on Conyers, who is far and away my favorite Member of Congress, and has done more than any other Member to make impeachment a genuine possibility, however remote it seems. But Conyers was a bit exasperated.

My goodness, please look at H.Res. 635, which calls for an investigation that could lead to impeachment. But I cannot call for impeachment now, before we have investigated all the facts.

My time was up, so I could not continue the debate. But if I could, these are the arguments I would make for the immediate introduction of Articles of Impeachment.

First, the Articles of Impeachment have been written. You can find them in Michael Ratner's brand new book. We don't need a committee to struggle for months over the wording; Conyers and his allies can simply "throw the book" at Bush.

Second, when House Republicans impeached President Clinton in 1998, they emphasized ad nauseum that "impeachment" is merely the equivalent of an indictment, the determination that there is sufficient evidence to charge a suspect with a crime. Impeachment, like an indictment, leads to a trial, in which a jury (in this case the Senate) determines whether the evidence is sufficient for conviction. The evidence we have in hand (as presented in Michael Ratner's book, as well as John Conyers' thorough report on the Iraq War lies, The Constitution in Crisis) is far more than is needed for an indictment. There is absolutely no reason for Conyers' proposed Select Committee to do the work of the Senate in weighing the evidence.

Third, Bush's criminal activity is ongoing and must be stopped. Our occupation of Iraq has already cost 2,300 American lives and at least 28,636 Iraqi lives, if not well over 100,000. We are committing war crimes by torturing and murdering prisoners, using chemical weapons and depleted uranium, and pushing Iraq to the brink of civil war. Bush is still wiretapping countless Americans without a warrant, in direct violation of the FISA law. And even though Bush's crimes are flagrant and obscene, the Republican Congress refuses to either investigate them or stop them.

Finally, as the panelists made clear, the American people are truly in a state of despair that George Bush is able to commit these unspeakable crimes without any effort to hold him accountable. By introducing real Articles of Impeachment - even if only a few Members do so - those Members will make a powerful statement that they are determined to challenge that despair and demand accountability. That act of leadership, in and of itself, would galvanize the 52% of Americans (when last measured in January, long before Dubai and the Katrina tapes) who support impeachment. And it would most likely persuade even more Americans that Bush's impeachment was both necessary and urgent. So if 55% or 60% or even 65% of Americans supported impeachment, Republicans in Congress would have a very difficult time standing in the way - especially as they faced a disastrous election in November.

After four distinguished decades in Congress, John Conyers is not a man who acts rashly. But all of us who have watched Bush shred the Constitution know that Conyers has tried to stop him every step of the way by sending urgent letters, filing Freedom of Information requests, and proposing Resolutions of Inquiry. Through those diligent efforts, Conyers has laid the most solid groundwork possible for impeachment.

So please John Conyers, I honestly beg you to introduce Articles of Impeachment now.

Action items:

1. Send this article with a few words of your own to

2. Urge your Representative and Senators to support Impeachment:

3. C-Span taped this outstanding forum but it does not appear on C-Span's schedule for Saturday, Sunday or Monday. Email and urge them to broadcast it.

4. The New York Times is one block from Town Hall, yet it did not even mention this historic event. Email Executive Editor Bill Keller and Public Editor Byron Calame and demand to know why.

5. Link to this article from your favorite blogs and ask the blog owner to join ImpeachPAC's Citizens Impeachment Commission.

6. Register to join in local protests:

7. Read the whole protest plan:

8. Organize your congressional district:

9. Support our efforts by contributing to ImpeachPAC.

Thank you for continuing your tireless efforts to save American Democracy!

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