Cheney, Torture & the Chance to Restore the Rule of Law By John Nichols (Action Alert)

Dandelion Salad

By John Nichols
ICH
04/14/08 “The Nation”

The Constitution of the United States is absolutely clear when it comes to matters of torture.

Amendment 8 specifically states that, ”Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Acts of torture are by definition and common understanding — certainly at the time of the drafting of the nation’s essential document and arguably even in this less-enlightened era — cruel and unusual punishments

Vice President Dick Cheney, when he assumed the second most powerful office in the land after the disputed election of 2000, swore an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

Any reasonable reader of that oath would conclude that Cheney bound himself to abide by the Constitution — and thus to avoid any involvement with the promotion of acts of torture upon detainees of the United States government.

Yet we now know from revelations made by former senior intelligence officials to ABC News and the Associated Press that Cheney and other members of the administration — who apparently took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods were discussed — authorized the use of waterboarding and other generally recognized torture techniques.

There is no question that Cheney violated his oath of office, which bound him to support and defend a Constitution that he disregarded.

The question is: How will responsible Americans respond?

The power to hold Cheney to account rests with Congress.

The power to get Congress to act rests with the American people.

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, a respected lawyer who has been working with a number of other Constitutional experts and activists, has responded — not just to Cheney’s trashing of the Constitution but to the long list of Bush administration wrongs.

Anderson is circulating a letter that reads:

As patriotic Americans, we believe in knowing the truth about our government. Regardless of political affiliation, we believe in our constitutional democracy. We believe in the rule of law – that no person, regardless of position, is above the law.

We believe in respecting basic human rights – and have been proud to distinguish our nation from those countries where people are kidnapped, disappeared, and tortured.

We believe that in a democracy likes ours, citizens are entitled to know whether government officials are living up to their oaths to defend and preserve the Constitution, and whether they are abusing the human rights of people here or elsewhere in the world.

This is not a partisan matter. It is a matter of responsible citizenship.

Recently, several conscientious members of the House Judiciary Committee, including the Chair, Congressman John Conyers, have indicated support for public hearings to investigate and disclose the facts concerning claims of illegal conduct and other abuses of power by members of the Executive Branch. If misconduct has occurred, the American people are entitled to know. If misconduct has not occurred, hearings will determine and disclose that as well.

By showing that the American people – without political partisanship – support the disclosure of the truth through public hearings, we can make a difference, together standing up for the truth, the rule of law, and our Constitution.

• We are entitled to know whether members of the Executive Branch misrepresented the facts and withheld crucial information, thereby deceiving our nation and the international community before the invasion of Iraq.

• As American citizens who value the system of checks and balances among the three branches of government, we are entitled to know whether that system has been seriously undermined. We are entitled to know whether the courts and Congress have fulfilled their important constitutional roles in investigating and disclosing the misuse of Executive power.

• Our nation has engaged in the unprecedented, illegal, and immoral kidnapping, disappearance, and torture of human beings around the world (some of whom have been proven to be innocent of any wrongdoing), with no due process, in complete secrecy, and with no accountability. Even US citizens have been held in prisons indefinitely, with no legal counsel, no trial, and no charges filed against them. As Americans, we are entitled to know what has occurred in connection with these human rights abuses. In our democratic system of government, there must be full accountability.

Speaking out together, as concerned, patriotic Americans, we can send a clear message to Congress: In the United States, the rule of law must prevail, our Constitution cannot be disregarded, and the fundamental morality to which our nation has always laid claim will be restored.

Anderson asks that Americans who support the principles outlined in this letter — as I do — go to his Restore the Rule of Law website and sign on.

Signing this letter, says Anderson, who has opened an important dialogue about the Constitution and White House accountability with Conyers and other key players on the Judiciary Committee, “indicates to Congressman Conyers, other members of the House Judiciary Committee, and Congress as a whole that you support efforts to investigate and disclose any illegal acts and abuses of power by the President and others in his administration. Declare to the world, and to our posterity, that, as a US citizen:

  • You proudly support our long-held constitutional principles.
  • You are speaking out to reaffirm our democracy.
  • You demand accountability for those in our government who have disregarded our Constitution, violated statutory law, or engaged in immoral human-rights abuses.”

Anderson’s is an authentic patriotic response to the latest revelations about Dick Cheney’s disregard for the Constitution.

Go to the Restore the Rule of Law website and sign on and do what Cheney did not: support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

John Nichols’ new book is The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders’ Cure for Royalism. Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson hails it as a “nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the ‘heroic medicine’ that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to ‘reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.’”

***

Restore The Rule of Law
April 9, 2008

PLEASE HELP BUILD A NATIONAL GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT FOR CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS – FORWARD THIS WEBSITE TO BLOGS, WEB SITES, AND EMAIL ADDRESSES OF ALL FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND ASSOCIATES.

Please add your name to the letter below, indicating to Congressman Conyers, other members of the House Judiciary Committee, and Congress as a whole that you support efforts to investigate and disclose any illegal acts and abuses of power by the President and others in his administration. Declare to the world, and to our posterity, that, as a US citizen:

* You proudly support our long-held constitutional principles.
* You are speaking out to reaffirm our democracy.
* You demand accountability for those in our government who have disregarded our Constitution, violated statutory law, or engaged in immoral human-rights abuses.

Thank you for your commitment, your willingness to take a firm stand, and for your authentic patriotism.

Take Action

The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Chair, Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives
2426 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Conyers:

We are writing out of deep concern for our nation. The President and members of his administration have violated, and continue to violate, our Constitution, significant and numerous treaty obligations, customary international law, and laws passed by Congress. However, the federal courts and Congress (even with a Democratic majority) have utterly failed to hold the President and his administration accountable and to put an end to the egregious violations of law and abuses of power.

When the President abuses and exceeds the powers vested in the executive branch, the people of our nation have reason to expect, and our Constitution contemplates, that the other co-equal branches of government – the courts and Congress – will rein in the President, not only holding him to account, but also making it clear that such abuses and excesses will not be tolerated, now or in the future, in our constitutional democracy. When the courts and Congress fail in their duties to challenge and repair abuses of executive power, they condone the abuses and are thereby complicit in undermining our Constitution, our international standing, and our nation’s commitment to the rule of law.

Our nation and our constitutional form of government are at a crucial crossroads. Either we condone and thereby encourage unlawful misconduct by our President and his administration, or we hold them to account and put an end to the illegalities. We can make it clear to the world, including all U.S. citizens, present and future, that we are a nation of laws, that we will support and uphold our Constitution, and that we will not tolerate the undermining of the carefully structured system of checks and balances among three co-equal branches of government. To challenge, disclose and censure the abuses of power by the Bush administration would also serve to uphold our nation’s proud history of support for fundamental human rights, which has distinguished our nation, until now, from those totalitarian, human-rights abusing nations that have kidnapped, disappeared, and tortured people, and deprived them of any semblance of due process.

In a constitutional form of government, which is committed to the rule of law, the courts are a safeguard against unlawful conduct by government officials, including the President. The courts are intended to be a safeguard against tyranny and dictatorship, both procedurally and substantively. Alarmingly, that is no longer the case in the United States.

Recently, a federal court has ruled that the invocation of the “state secrets” doctrine by the Bush administration is sufficient to deny citizens the right to obtain information about whether their communications have been subjected to warrantless governmental surveillance, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and federal statutory law (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). Without the ability to obtain that information, the parties challenging the unlawful governmental surveillance have been held to lack standing to pursue their claims in court. Contrary to earlier false representations by President Bush that warrants were being obtained by his administration before electronic surveillance of communications was being conducted, the federal government is known to have continually and blatantly violated a criminal law passed by Congress and one of the most cherished rights protected by our Constitution. However, astoundingly, there is now no recourse in the federal courts.

The federal courts have even denied recourse to those who, pursuant to the “extraordinary rendition” program, have been illegally kidnapped, disappeared, and tortured by US agents and assignees in other countries. That dangerous lack of accountability has resulted from the indiscriminate acceptance by the courts of the assertion by the Bush administration of the “state secrets” doctrine. The Bush administration has invoked the “state secrets” doctrine 39 times, compared to a total of only six times by other presidents from 1953 to 1976, during the height of the Cold War.

Without action by Congress, these recent court decisions significantly undermine any notion that the rule of law prevails in the United States in instances of presidential abuse of power – and make it clear that no remnant of justice remains in relation to claims that such abuses have caused severe harm to innocent people. These decisions also call into question whether the truth about these abuses will ever be brought to light. All of this is leading our nation toward an unbounded and unaccountable tyranny, completely foreign to what many of us value most about our beloved country.

Because the courts are not providing a means of disclosing, or holding the Bush administration accountable for, serious violations of the law, it is particularly essential that Congress vigorously assume its constitutional prerogative and duty to thoroughly investigate and disclose the truth about the abuses of power and excesses of President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and others in the administration, all of which have caused extreme damage to our country.

Of course, the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives is best suited to conduct any inquiry into abuses of power by the President and others in his administration, particularly when violations of domestic statutory law, the Constitution, and treaty obligations have occurred. As Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, you have an historic opportunity and solemn responsibility, through the holding of hearings, to discover and disclose, and to bring the President and others to account for, the astounding abuses of power and violations of the law arising from the following misconduct, all of which have been severely injurious to our great nation:

Authorizing, permitting, and condoning the kidnapping, disappearance, imprisonment and torture of people throughout the world, in violation of the US Constitution, domestic statutory law, treaty obligations, and customary international law. (In connection with the investigation of the illegal “extraordinary rendition” program, the Judiciary Committee should consider recommending passage of a compensation bill for Khaled el-Masri, Maher Arar, and others who have been kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by U.S. agents and who have been denied any recourse to justice in US federal courts.)

Authorizing and permitting the arrest of US citizens without charges, and causing them to be held, indefinitely and incommunicado, without access to an attorney, without the right to challenge the lawfulness of their confinement through the great writ of habeas corpus, without a trial, and under inhumane circumstances.

• Authorizing, permitting, and condoning the electronic surveillance of US citizens’ communications, including emails and telephone conversations, without a warrant, in violation of the US Constitution and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Engaging in an illegal war of aggression against Iraq, in violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the Nuremberg Covenant, and the United Nations Charter (all international treaty obligations, which, under the Constitution, comprise the supreme law of the land), following a public campaign comprised largely of fictitious and fraudulent representations intended to persuade the people of the United States that the war was justified by self-defense. The fraud was comprised of outright misstatements of material fact and by withholding material information known to President Bush and members of his administration that was directly contrary to the representations of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and others in the administration to Congress and the American people.

Abusing and exceeding the executive power, and undermining the constitutional principle of separation of power, through the issuance of a record number of signing statements following the enactment of legislation by Congress. These signing statements have led to an unprecedented disregard by the executive branch, including administrative agencies, of federal statutory laws, and to the assertion of an unbounded dictatorial “unitary executive” presidential power, during the so-called “war on terror,” an undeclared “war” that is geographically and temporally unlimited.

In addition to inquiries into the above grave criminal misconduct and other gross abuses of power, we urge that Judiciary Committee hearings include an inquiry into the use of false propaganda by members of the Bush administration, which has served as the source for articles in the news media that misled many of the people in the United States and elsewhere concerning the supposed “threat” posed by Saddam Hussein and the execution of the war. When our government lies to the people, with the aid of an inept and credulous news media, our democracy is at grave risk.

Hearings on the matters described above could be held for the purposes of (1) disclosing serious criminal misconduct and egregious abuses of power, (2) accountability, and (3) deterrence. Crucial to our constitutional democracy and a commitment to the rule of law is a determination of the facts of abuse and illegal misconduct, then conveying that the outrages of the Bush administration are not reflective of American values, and that our proud nation will not condone the subversion of our values, our laws, or our Constitution by any president or members of his or her administration. Such a result would also vindicate Congress’s vital role as a co-equal branch of our government that will zealously protect its role, rights, and responsibilities under the Constitution.

We urge you, as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to commence hearings without further delay in connection with the above described violations of law and abuses of power by President Bush and members of his administration. To embrace the opportunity to discover and disclose the truth, and to provide for the sort of accountability, transparency, and openness due to any democratic people, will be an important step toward a national recommitment to the rule of law, a renewal of international respect, and a return to the national values we Americans have always cherished for ourselves and our posterity.

Respectfully,

George McGovern, Ralph Nader, Robert A. Feuer, Rocky Anderson, Blase Bonpane, Theresa Bonpane, Ramsey Clark, Mimi Kennedy, Andy Jacobs, Jr., James Abourezk, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Paul Findley, Kevin Zeese, John Nichols, Tim Carpenter, Marcus Raskin, Jonathan Kozol, Harry Belafonte

Add your name as a signatory by filling in the information at the top of the letter.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Too Much of Nothing: Crime Without Punishment, War Without End by Chris Floyd

John Yoo: Spearhead or scapegoat? By Glenn Greenwald

Activism: Appoint a Special Prosecutor!

John Yoo-4th Amendment-Torture

Dennis Kucinich’s Media Fight by John Nichols

Dandelion Salad

by John Nichols
The Nation
03/03/2008

Ohio voters head to the polls for a primary election Tuesday, and that can mean only one thing: The Cleveland Plain Dealer is griping about Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

There is nothing new, nor anything wrong, with newspapers holding members of Congress to account.

Continue reading

An Accountability Moment That Must Not End By John Nichols

Dandelion Salad

By John Nichols
After Downing Street
www.thenation.com

There have been far too few accountability moments since Democrats retook control of the U.S. House and Senate in January, 2007.

But one came Thursday, when the House voted 223-32 to hold former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas to testify before Congress in relation to the firing of nine United States Attorneys in 2006.

A pair of resolutions — one that directs the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. to bring criminal contempt charges against Bolten and Miers to a grand jury and another that authorizes the House general counsel to bring a civil suit against the White House to settle the question of whether the testimony of Bolten and Miers should be covered by executive privilege — received the backing of 220 Democrats and three anti-war Republicans (Ron Paul, the renegade presidential candidate from Texas; Wayne Gilchrest, who lost his seat in a Maryland primary Tuesday; and Walter Jones of North Carolina).

The move was opposed by 31 Republicans and one Democrat (Texan Henry Cuellar, who backed Bush for reelection in 2004 and this year backs Hillary Clinton.) At the behest of House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, 163 Republicans were recorded as “not voting.” Ten Democrats did the same.

Thursday’s House decision was historic, not just for its specific response to the lawlessness of two prominent members of the Bush-Cheney administration but for its broader message. With this action, Congress is beginning to reassert itself as a separate and equal branch of the federal government.

If the imperial presidency is to be ended, however, it will take more than an accountability moment.

The House Judiciary Committee and the House as a whole – which delayed the contempt vote for far too many months because of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s misguided caution about confronting the administration – must now aggressively pursue Miers and Bolten.

As American Freedom Campaign campaigns director Steve Fox correctly notes, “In order for our system of checks and balances to be effective, Congress must have oversight over the executive branch. When Bolten and Miers – with the encouragement of the President – refused to comply with the congressional subpoenas last summer, they were tacitly saying that this oversight power no longer existed. If they are not held in contempt — and prosecuted in the courts — our Constitution will have been defiled.”

But nothing that is wrong with the Bush-Cheney administration or the federal government began with Miers and Bolten. And no fix will be complete if it stops with them.

The Judiciary Committee must hold to account the president and vice president who encouraged Miers and Bolten to disregard the rule of law.

Miers and Bolten refused to testify not as individuals but as members of an administration that has assaulted the constitutionally-defined system of checks and balances at every turn. They acted always, and in every way, at the behest of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

It is important to hold the former counsel and the current chief of staff to account. Certainly, as People For the American Way Director of Public Policy Tanya Clay House says, “Congress has a responsibility to enforce its congressional powers, and moving forward with contempt citations is the appropriate response to this administration’s stonewalling and arrogance.”

But this “appropriate response” must not be seen as an end in itself.

For there to be accountability, more than a moment is required. And more than Miers and Bolten must be held to account for the high crimes and misdemeanors of an administration that has treated the Constitution and the Congress as afterthoughts.

“Members of the Bush administration have spent the last seven years pretending that the law doesn’t apply to them,” says House, who musters proper passion to add, “Congress has a responsibility to enforce its congressional powers, and moving forward with contempt citations is the appropriate response to this administration’s stonewalling and arrogance.”

John Nichols’ new book is The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders’ Cure for Royalism. Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson hails it as a “nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the ‘heroic medicine’ that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to ‘reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.’”
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

House GOP’ers Walk Out Of Contempt Vote + What Conyers Told the Rules Committee Re Contempt + Bono (vids)

http://democrats.com/crucial-week-for-impeachment

John Nichols For Kucinich 2008 Part 2 (video)

Dandelion Salad

msnoodlebrain

John Nichols in San Francisco for Kucinich Part 2.

Added: December 31, 2007

see
John Nichols For Kucinich 2008 (video)

John Nichols: Wexler’s profile rises with impeachment talk

Marjorie Cohn speaking on laws Bush has broken & Impeachment (video; Oct 07)

All I Want For New Years Is My Rights Back By Ward Reilly

It’s time to impeach our VP and Pres: http://www.wexlerwantshearings.com

Kucinich-Dennis

Impeach

John Nichols For Kucinich 2008 (video)

Dandelion Salad

msnoodlebrain

John Nichol, Author of The Genius of Impeachment speaks in San Francisco for Dennis Kucinich event on December 21, 2007.

Added: December 30, 2007

see

John Nichols: Wexler’s profile rises with impeachment talk

Marjorie Cohn speaking on laws Bush has broken & Impeachment (video; Oct 07)

All I Want For New Years Is My Rights Back By Ward Reilly

It’s time to impeach our VP and Pres: http://www.wexlerwantshearings.com

Kucinich-Dennis

Impeach

What Wolf Blitzer Should Have Asked By John Nichols

Dandelion Salad

By John Nichols
After Downing Street
The Nation

[only the question on Edwards’ vote on China trade actually got asked]

Questions for Each of the Debating Democrats

The Democratic presidential debate that will be held tonight in Las Vegas promises several things: Attacks on Hillary Clinton by challengers who recognize that she remains the clear front-runner in a race that could be decided in two months, meandering ruminations by CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer that will take up more time than candidate answers and another great one-liner from Delaware Senator Joe Biden, the one candidate who has come to recognize the value of adding genuine comic relief to an otherwise stilted discourse.

But what about the questions? Will there be a further parsing of New York State Department of Motor Vehicles regulations? More inquiries about Halloween costumes and UFOs? Another round of hedge-fund roulette?

Here are some questions that ought to be asked of each of the candidates:

FOR HILLARY CLINTON: Fortune magazine did a cover story with the headline: “Business Loves Hillary!” Your campaign contribution list reads like a Wall Street Rolodex. Your health care plan actually pumps tens of billions of federal dollars into the coffers of existing insurance and for-profit health care firms. If Democrats nominate you, won’t voters next November be left with a choice between two corporate candidates?

FOR BARACK OBAMA: You said when you ran for the Senate in 2004 that you planned to model yourself after U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin. Yet, when Feingold responded to the revelation that George Bush had authorized illegal warrantless wiretapping with a proposal that the Senate censure the president, you chose to stand with Bush rather than with Feingold. Why have you refused to join the man you identified as the conscience of the Senate in moving to rebuke the president for breaking the law?

FOR JOHN EDWARDS: You have sought to position yourself as the candidate of working people and a questioner of corporate excess. Yet, when you served in the Senate, you voted to remove barriers to free trade with China. That was a critical test and there was no mystery about what was at stake. Thousands of workers marched on the Capitol to urge a “no” vote. Labor unions from your own state of North Carolina pleaded with you to vote “no.” And consumer groups warned of the health and safety problems that are now so much in the news. Still, you sided with the corporate lobbyists and the Clinton administration against the interests of workers and consumers. Why, when the lines were so clearly drawn, did you break with the majority of Democrats in Congress to vote with Wall Street?

FOR DENNIS KUCINICH: You were once the chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and remain active in the organization of more than 70 Democratic members of the House who share many of your views. Why do you think it is that no CPC members are supporting your candidacy? What does this say about your ability to inspire confidence and build coalitions?

FOR CHRIS DODD: You are running as the candidate of the Constitution, promising to undo the abuses of the Bush era. So why did you vote for the Patriot Act when the ACLU and other civil liberties groups were lobbying against it and when Russ Feingold in the Senate and more than 50 members of the House – including several Republicans – had the foresight and the courage to vote “no” when it mattered most?

FOR JOE BIDEN: In an earlier debate, you proposed dispatching tens of thousands of U.S. troops to Africa as a means of addressing the Darfur crisis. You voted to authorize George Bush to send U.S. troops to Iraq. You were an aggressive advocate for stepping up U.S. military action in the Balkans. The list goes on. Shouldn’t Americans who have come to recognize the folly of the neo-conservative vision of using U.S. troops as cannon fodder in every fight on the planet be frightened by the prospect of you as commander-in-chief?

FOR BILL RICHARDSON: After you left the Clinton administration, you became a senior managing director of Kissinger McLarty Associates, a so-called “strategic advisory firm” headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. When President Bush moved to appoint Kissinger as chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Congressional Democrats demanded that Kissinger disclose the names of the firm’s clients. Rather than do so, Kissinger rejected the presidential appointment, citing conflicts of interest. As you seek the presidency, will you disclose the names of the clients of Kissinger McLarty Associates during the period when you were associated with the firm?

FOR ALL THE CANDIDATES: You have all been highly critical of President Bush and even more critical of Vice President Cheney. Each of you has suggested that the president and vice president have engaged in dishonest and inappropriate actions that are at odds with their oaths of office and their duties as dictated by the Constitution. Last week, Dennis Kucinich tried last week to open a congressional debate on whether Dick Cheney should be impeached. Mr. Kucinich, why when American Research Group polling shows that 54 percent of voters surveyed favor impeachment of Cheney did Democratic leaders in the House oppose your move? For the rest of the candidates: Would you have joined Mr. Kucinich in voting to open up the debate on presidential and vice presidential accountability, or would you have voted to table the resolution?

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Wolf Blitzer Loses Democratic Debate By David Swanson

Dennis Kucinich Demands Impeachment Now! During Debate (video)

Dennis Kucinich’s replies @ 11-15-07 Dem. debate (video)

Nevada Dem Presidential Candidates’ Debate 11-15-07 (videos)

Daily Kos poll on the Las Vegas Democratic Candidates debate

BIDEN, KUCINICH, IRAN AND IMPEACHMENT… by John Nichols

Why Kucinich Should Concede Nothing By David Swanson

Dandelion Salad

By David Swanson
After Downing Street
Mon, 2007-11-05

When someone whose opinions I respect as much as John Nichols’ joins those who have been saying since 2003 that Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich should announce that he’s not REALLY running for president, I feel compelled to reply.

Nichols, like most Americans, supports the same policy positions that I do and that Kucinich does. Nichols would end foreign occupations, cancel NAFTA, create single-payer health coverage, invest in education and green energy, bust media monopolies, and impeach Bush and Cheney. Nichols believes, in fact, that Kucinich is too good a candidate to succeed in our electoral system. But he believes that Kucinich can have a major impact on the other candidates and on Congress if he continues to run while telling everyone that he does not intend to win.

Nichols lists Bill Richardson as one of the “more prominent and moneyed” candidates who is supposedly stealing Kucinich’s thunder, even though Richardson has been trailing Kucinich in the polls. In fact, the demand that Kucinich not be a real candidate has never quite held up even on its own terms, namely that candidates trailing in polls and cash should step back. If Kucinich were merely trailing in polls and cash, I doubt any progressives would be urging him to concede. What Kucinich has always decisively trailed in is support from the corporate media.

Imagine if G.E. and Disney and Viacom all shut Kucinich out, mocked and ridiculed him, and “reported” on his non-viability, exactly as they’ve done for the past four years, but that nobody who agrees with Kucinich played along. Imagine if labor unions backed the most pro-labor candidate. Imagine if peace activists backed the most pro-peace candidate. Imagine if health advocates backed the candidate with the best health coverage plan. Et cetera. And imagine if progressive media outlets and bloggers refused to take their marching orders from the corporate media. Of course, this is not the world we now live in, and that’s not John Nichols’ fault. But the progressive proposal that Kucinich concede is a reworking of the corporate demand that he concede and would not exist without it. Last time around, the New York Times asked Kucinich to quit the race before the race had started and before the New York Times had told anyone what Kucinich proposed for the presidency. The progressive demand that Kucinich back down is a direct descendant of that New York Times article.

Fox News would love for Kucinich to agree that he is not a real candidate, but Fox would hate for Kucinich to disappear altogether. Having him around to attack serves Fox’s purposes. Nichols would have Kucinich do exactly what Fox would have him do, announce that he is not running to win but running to influence others. Nichols and others who take his position do not see this as backing down, but as being smart and strategic. It’s probably neither.

Of course, for any given individual debating whether to send money to Kucinich or support him in any way, the primary motivation should be influencing the other candidates and the Congress. There is an urgent need to influence our national politics, and giving Kucinich’s campaign a boost would be one of the easiest and, indeed, most viable ways to do it. Flooding Congress with phone calls and Emails and faxes doesn’t work very well. Marching a half million people around the Capitol on a Saturday has no noticeable impact. Boycotting your most hated corporations tends not to change Nancy Pelosi’s mind on anything. Creative civil disobedience can work very well and requires minimal resources, but most people prefer to write checks, letters to editors, and blogs.

But here’s the thing: People who want to support Kucinich in order to influence Pelosi or Clinton or Reid or Edwards can do so RIGHT NOW. They always could. If Kucinich announces that he’s not trying to actually win, strategic support for him will gain nothing. But other support for him will be lost, including his own support. There are those, including the candidate himself, who are motivated by either the belief that he can win or the belief that our democracy can be defended through a principled refusal not to bow down to our televisions.

By all means, Kucinich should ask people to support him in order to impact the national conversation. But Kucinich reduced to a one-man activist organization would lose what little impact he has as a full-fledged candidate. How often do you see spokespeople for progressive activist groups on TV?

By all means, Kucinich should stop predicting with absolute certainty that he will be the next president. But he should not make the fatal mistake (fatal for our electoral system) of conceding that he will NOT be the next president. He should leave the predictions to the pundits, as we citizens should do as well.

Here’s something else we should do. Get up every morning and write a check for $5 to Kucinich for President. In the little note line in the corner, write “Thanks for Impeachment.” Photocopy the check and send the copies to Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Paul, Pelosi, Conyers, and Schumer. Then send the original check to Kucinich. Repeat daily until satisfactory results achieved.

Democracy for America (DFA) is a grassroots group closely tied to the Democratic Party and born out of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, many of the supporters of which favored positions like those of Kucinich. Kucinich is currently leading in DFA’s unscientific online poll. Last spring, Kucinich finished third in a DFA poll, third in a Moveon.org poll, and second in a poll at Democrats.com. If a good fraction of the people who say “I’d back Kucinich if he had a chance,” were to send him $100, he would indeed have a chance. He would also, more importantly and with greater likelihood, impact the agenda in Congress where Pelosi currently follows Clinton’s lead. But you don’t often hear people remarking “I’d back Kucinich if I thought Pelosi would notice.” That’s not how most people tend to think about elections.

People do, however, think (if that’s the word for it) strategically about backing the candidate who will win, rather than the candidate they agree with. And the corporate media sells them on the idea that right-wing “swing voters” decide everything. But, did you ever wonder why the Republicans seem so much less obsessed with swing voters? Chris Bowers has presented a strong case that these mythical creatures do not actually exist. [ http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/50646 ] Only 4.7% of voters changed their mind during the last election from Bush to Kerry or Kerry to Bush. Kerry may have been swiftboated, but hardly anyone changed their mind from backing Kerry to backing Bush. What did happen, of course, is that millions of supporters of Kerry (and of Bush too) didn’t bother to vote or to register to vote. What would it take for the Democrats to register and turn out likely Democratic voters in sufficient numbers to beat election fraud? It would take a candidate who wasn’t for the war before he was against it. The mushy middle turns potential voters away.

You can refuse to back Kucinich for fear of being teased for backing a loser. But backing a corporate Democrat who has voted to fund the occupation of Iraq is actually a good way to lose the general election. So is impeachment avoidance. As John Nichols lays out so brilliantly in his book “The Genius of Impeachment,” the party that brings impeachment wins. When the Republicans tried to impeach Truman they won. When the Democrats tried to impeach Nixon they won. When the Democrats refrained from impeaching Reagan they lost. When the Republicans impeached Bill Clinton against the will of the public, they won the White House and kept both houses of Congress.

There are peace activists and other progressives who favor the creation of a third party, and who argue against backing Kucinich because they think he’ll lose and then endorse a less desirable candidate. Those worries would be bolstered by Nichols’ proposal. As soon as Kucinich says he’s not really running, the only question he’ll be asked will be “Who are you backing?” Sure, his answer could be used to nudge the other Democrats, but an honest answer based on his platform would include the possibility of not backing a Democrat. And that would be the end to Kucinich as any sort of candidate, as he would be locked out of Democratic debates.

Kucinich is less likely to lose and more likely to influence the other candidates if he refuses to concede and if those who agree with him support him. Supporting him now will serve primarily to help end the occupation of Iraq prior to the election. And supporting Kucinich will not make the task of building a third party any more or less daunting. A third-party peace candidate would need everything Kucinich has and much more in qualifications, and much, much more in money in order to have a chance. Not backing Kucinich because he’s not “viable” can lead only by the most twisted logic to backing the virtually impossible candidacy of a third party progressive.

And here’s something interesting about Kucinich. He supports all the reforms to our election and campaign finance systems that would make it possible for third parties to compete, and he does not go back on his word after he wins elections. When Kucinich was elected mayor of Cleveland at the age of 31 on a promise not to privatize the city’s electricity, he stuck to his word in the face of an all-out assault from the city’s media and corporate rulers. When his decision was vindicated years later by the fortune he’d saved the city, he re-entered politics. When the Democratic leadership pulled out every trick to pressure congress members to vote for the Supplemental war spending bill last spring, Kucinich voted no. Efforts to build decent third parties like the Green Party are to be applauded, but backing Kucinich is one way to do that. Check out Kucinich’s substantive and specific positions on a hundred and one issues facing this country: http://kucinich.us/issues
And remember: Kucinich’s height may be hard to change, but he doesn’t fall off everything he rides, give inappropriate shoulder massages, or shoot his buddies in the face. He may have seen a UFO, but he didn’t see any WMDs.
___

David Swanson is the Washington Director of Democrats.com and co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, and of the Backbone Campaign. He serves on a working group of United for Peace and Justice. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including Press Secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign. In April and May 2007, Swanson consulted part-time for Kucinich for President 2008. His website is www.davidswanson.org.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Dennis Kucinich for President – Contribute

Stop lying to yourself. You love Dennis Kucinich By Rebecca Traister

It’s Kucinich Time! By Scott Raab

Kucinich’s Challenge By John Nichols

Presidential Primary Pulse Poll (Kucinich in the lead!)

Kucinich Campaign update 11-05-07 with Dennis on Impeachment (video)

Kucinich’s Challenge By John Nichols

Dandelion Salad

By John Nichols
The Progressive
November 2007 Issue

If Presidential politics actually worked like it does in the movies—or in the imaginings of patriots—the hot August night would have been one of those epic moments when everything starts to change.

Fifteen thousand trade unionists had packed into Chicago’s Soldier Field to hear contenders for the 2008 Democratic nomination make their cases. While the frontrunners drew their requisite rounds of applause, it was the scrappy working class Congressman from Cleveland who wowed the AFL-CIO activists. Dennis Kucinich delivered applause line after applause line—connecting with the crowd on ideological, political, and emotional levels that the other candidates could not begin to reach.

“I want to see America take a new direction in trade . . . and that means it’s time to get out of NAFTA and the WTO,” shouted the Congressman above the thunderous applause that greeted his promise of “trade that’s based on workers’ rights: the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike.”

So powerful was Kucinich’s presentation that even the moderator, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, shifted his line of questioning from the usual soft media inquiries about “reforming trade policies” toward a blunt demand that the candidates say whether they would “scrap NAFTA or fix it?” After Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and the others struggled to answer the question without offending either the labor crowd or their corporate donors, Kucinich won the moment by declaring, “No one else on this stage could give a direct answer because they don’t intend to scrap NAFTA. We’re going to be stuck with it. And I’m your candidate if you want to get out of NAFTA. Let’s hear it. Do you want out of NAFTA? Do you want out of the WTO?”

The steel, auto, machine, and construction workers were on their feet, cheering wildly. Again and again, on industrial policy, on health care, on each issue that arose, Kucinich owned the argument. And when the Congressman turned to the signature issue of his insurgent Presidential bid, ending the war in Iraq, he distinguished himself from the cautious contenders to his right by speaking the truth that has been on the mind of everyone who has watched the sorry degeneration of this nation’s system of checks and balances. Instead of promising to end the war as President, Kucinich declared, “We shouldn’t have to wait for a Democratic President to do it. The Democratic Congress needs to act now.”

Continued…

h/t: ¡ Jose !

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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AFL-CIO: The Candidates Spar Over Lobbyist Money + Pakistan + Health Care + Parts 1-8 (video + links)

Kucinich on NAFTA + Digging a Hole to China (videos)

Kucinich’s replies @ AFL-CIO Dem. Pres. Debate (video)

The War On Working Americans – Part I by Stephen Lendman

The Transcript of the AFL-CIO Candidates Forum

Bush, Cheney, Rice and Kucinich on Iran By John Nichols

Dandelion Salad

By John Nichols
After Downing Street
The Nation

Those echoes that Americans are hearing in the noisy-and-getting-noisier debate about Iran are from 2002 and 2003, when members of the current administration were busy spinning the fantasy that the United States needed to attack Iraq.

George “Uranium From Africa” Bush sure sounds like he wants to attack Iran. Just last week, the president said, “I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (Iran) from (obtaining) the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

Dick “Greeted As Liberators” Cheney sure sounds like he wants to attack Iran. This week, the vice president declared: “Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza “Mushroom Clouds” Rice sure sounds like she wants to attack Iran. “Unfortunately the Iranian government continues to spurn our offer of open negotiations, instead threatening peace and security by pursuing nuclear technologies that can lead to a nuclear weapon…” Rice said on Thursday, as she announced drastic new sanctions against the country that serious analysts say poses little threat to its neighbors and no real threat to the U.S.

And, as in 2002 and early 2003, the most rational response is coming from Congressman Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio Democrat who says, “After the lies and deception used to lead us to war in Iraq, the belligerent Bush Administration cannot be given leeway with statements that suggest a preemptive attack on Iran is necessary,” says Kucinich, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nod who deserves a much better hearing that he has been afforded so far by the media and Democratic power brokers. “We are systematically destroying every available route to restoring peace and security in the Middle East,” he adds.

Kucinich may be running for the White House, but his message is most relevant to Capitol Hill. “Congress,” he says, “must take back its exclusive authority to declare war from the Bush Administration.”

He’s right.

But being right is not always enough in tenuous times.

Being heard is what matters.

It could well be that the American experiment’s best hope lies in the remote prospect that, having been proven right in 2002 and 2003, it will be Kucinich’s counsel — as opposed to that of Bush, Cheney and Rice — that is heeded in this new moment of peril.

The point here is not a political one. This is not about whether Kucinich becomes president, or the Democratic nominee, or even a strong contender in his race with cautious Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. This is about the most fundamental question in a democracy: At a time when talk of war is growing louder, will we hear a real debate or merely the exaggerated echoes of those who have never gotten anything right?

The answer could well be measured by the extent to which Dennis Kucinich and those who stood with him in 2002 and 2003 are afforded the forums that their record of having been able to cut through the spin of the past should afford them in the present.

h/t: Irishlass Wants Strength Through Peace!

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Kucinich: Bush Wants More War – This Time With Iran

Kucinich: Bush Close to Igniting WWIII by Monisha Bansal

John Nichols wants to Impeach Bush and Cheney! (video)

Dandelion Salad

davidcnswanson

Run time: 29:43 min

John Nichols, writer for The Nation a…

John Nichols, writer for The Nation and author of The Genius of Impeachment, discusses the history and reasons for the impeachment process as invisioned by our founding fathers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs_3sux8reA

Congress Quietly Approves Billions More for Iraq War by John Nichols

Dandelion Salad

by John Nichols
The Nation
Posted 09/28/2007 @ 11:48am

The Senate agreed on Thursday to increase the federal debt limit by $850 billion — from $8.965 trillion to $9.815 trillion — and then proceeded to approve a stop-gap spending bill that gives the Bush White House at least $9 billion in new funding for its war in Iraq.

Additionally, the administration has been given emergency authority to tap further into a $70 billion “bridge fund” to provide new infusions of money for the occupation while the Congress works on appropriations bills for the Department of Defense and other agencies.

Translation: Under the guise of a stop-gap spending bill that is simply supposed to keep the government running until a long-delayed appropriations process is completed — probably in November — the Congress has just approved a massive increase in war funding.

The move was backed by every senator who cast a vote, save one.

Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, the maverick Democrat who has led the fight to end the war and bring U.S. troops home from Iraq, was on the losing end of the 94-1 vote. (The five senators who did not vote, all presidential candidates who are more involved in campaigning than governing, were Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden and Republicans John McCain and Sam Brownback.)

Said Feingold, “I am disappointed that we are about to begin the 2008 fiscal year without having enacted any of the appropriations bills for that year. I am even more disappointed that we voted on a continuing resolution that provides tens of billions of dollars to continue the misguided war in Iraq but does not include any language to bring that war to a close. We need to keep the federal government operating and make sure our brave troops get all the equipment and supplies they need, but we should not be giving the President a blank check to continue a war that is hurting our national security.”

In the House, the continuing resolution passed by a vote of 404 to 14, with 14 other members not voting.

The “no” votes in the House, all cast by anti-war members, came from one Republican, Ron Paul of Texas, and 13 Democrats: Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer, Missouri’s William Clay, Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, California’s Bob Filner, Massachusetts’ Barney Frank, New York’s Maurice Hinchey, Ohio’s Dennis Kucinich, Washington’s Jim McDermott, New Jersey’s Donald Payne, California’s Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson and Lynn Woolsey.

That means that, of the 2008 presidential candidates, only Republican Paul and Democrat Kucinich voted against giving the Bush administration a dramatic — if not particularly well publicized — infusion of new money for the war.

“Each year this war is getting more and more costly — both in the amount of money spent and in the number of lives lost. Now this Congress is providing more funds so the administration can continue down a path of destruction and chaos,” said Kucinich, who noted the essential role of House and Senate Democratic leaders, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in passing the continuing resolution. “The Democratic leadership in Congress needs to take a stand against this President and say they will not give him any more money. That is the only way to end this war and bring our troops home.”

h/t: Malcolm

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Blackwater, Oil and the Colonial Enterprise By John Nichols

Dandelion Salad

By John Nichols
ICH
09/21/07 “The Nation

Blackwater USA’s mercenary mission in Iraq is very much in the news this week, and rightly so. The private military contractor’s war-for-profit program, which has been so brilliantly exposed by Jeremy Scahill, may finally get a measure of the official scrutiny it merits as the corporation scrambles to undo the revocation by the Iraqi government of its license to operate in that country. There will be official inquiries in Baghdad, and in Washington. The U.S. Congress might actually provide some of the oversight that is its responsibility. Perhaps, and this is a big “perhaps,” Blackwater’s “troops” could come home before the U.S. soldiers who have been forced to fight, and die, in defense of these international rent-a-cops.

But it is not the specific story of Blackwater that matters so much as the broader story of imperial excess that it illustrates.

If Blackwater, with an assist from the U.S. government, beats back the attempt by the Iraqis to regulate the firm’s activities — as now appears likely, considering Friday’s reports that the firm has resumed guarding U.S. State Department convoys in Baghdad — we will have all the confirmation that is needed of the great truth of the U.S. occupation of Iraq: This is a colonial endeavor no different than that of the British Empire against America’s founding generation revolted.

But even if Blackwater loses its fight to stay, even if the corporation is forced to shut down its multi-billion dollar, U.S. Treasury-funded operation in Iraq, the brief “accountability moment” may not be sufficient to open up the necessary debate about Iraq’s colonial status. The danger, for Iraq and the United States, that honest assessment of the crisis will lose out to face-saving gestures designed to foster the fantasy of Iraqi independence.

It is not enough that Blackwater is shamed and perhaps sanctioned. A Blackwater exit from Iraq will mean little if its mercenary contracts are merely taken over by one or more of the 140 other U.S.-sanctioned private security firms operating in that country — such as Vice President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton.

Whatever the precise play out of this Blackwater moment may be, the likelihood is that the colonial enterprise will continue. That’s because, in the absence of intense pressure from grassroots activists and the media, Congress is unlikely to go beyond a scratch at the surface of what is actually going on in Iraq.

The deeper discussion requires that a discussion about the substance that no less a figure than former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan describes as the reason for the invasion and occupation of this particular Middle Eastern land: oil.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. aptly observed that “colonialism was made for domination and for exploitation,” and there is no substance that the Bush-Cheney administration is more interested in dominating and exploiting than oil.

Thus, while it is right to pay close attention to the emerging discussion about Blackwater’s wicked work in Iraq, Americans would do well to pay an equal measure of attention to the still largely submerged discussion about an Iraqi oil deal that will pay huge benefits to the Hunt Oil Company, a Texas firm closely linked to the administration. How closely? When he was running Halliburton, Cheney invited Hunt Oil Company CEO Ray Hunt to serve on the firm’s board of directors. Hunt, a “Bush Pioneer” fund raiser during in 2000 who went on to serve as donated the tidy sum of $35 million to the Bush presidential library building fund.

The new “production sharing agreement” between Hunt Oil and the Kurdistan Regional Government puts one of the administration’s favorite firms in a position to reap immeasurable profits while undermining essential efforts to assure that Iraq’s oil revenues will be shared by all Iraqis. Hunt’s deal upsets hopes that Iraq’s mineral wealth might ultimately be a source of stability, replacing the promise of economic equity with the prospect of a black-gold rush that will only widen inequalities and heighten ethnic and regional resentments.

The Hunt deal is so sleazy — and so at odds with the stated goals of the Iraqi government and the U.S. regarding the sharing of oil revenues — that even Bush has acknowledged that U.S. embassy officials in Baghdad are deeply concerned about it. What Bush and Cheney have been slow to mention is the fact that Iraq’s oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, says the deal is illegal.

As with the Blackwater imbroglio, however, there is no assurance that the stance of the Iraqi government is definitional with regard to what happens in Iraq.

That is why it is disturbing that, for the most part, members of Congress — even members who say they do not want the United States to have a long-term presence in Iraq — have been slow to start talking about Hunt’s oil rigging.

One House member who has raised the alarm is Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich, who in his capacity as a key member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has asked the committee’s chairman, California Democrat Henry Waxman, to launch an investigation into the Hunt Oil deal.

“As I have said for five years, this war is about oil,” Kucinich, who is mounting an anti-war bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, declared on the floor of the House this week. “The Bush Administration desires private control of Iraqi oil, but we have no right to force Iraq to give up control of their oil. We have no right to set preconditions to Iraq which lead Iraq to giving up control of their oil. The Constitution of Iraq designates that the oil of Iraq is the property for all Iraqi people.”

With that in mind, Kucinich explains, “I am calling for a Congressional investigation to determine the role the Administration may have played in the Hunt-Kurdistan deal, the effect the deal will have on the oil revenue sharing plan and the attempt by the Administration to privatize Iraqi oil.”

Waxman has been ahead of the curve on Blackwater, seeking testimony from the firm’s chairman at hearings scheduled for early October.

But Waxman needs to expand his focus, and the way to do that is by heeding Kucinich’s call for an investigation into the Hunt deal.

That inquiry should begin with two fundamental questions:

Who runs Iraq — the Iraqis or their colonial overlords in Washington?

And, if the claim is that the Iraqis are in charge, then why is Ray Hunt about to start steering revenues from that country’s immense oil wealth into the same Texas bank accounts that have so generously funded the campaigns of George Bush and Dick Cheney?

Copyright © 2007 The Nation


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:

Blackwater Accused Of Illegally Smuggling Weapons Into Iraq (video)

 

Of Battered Wives and the US Congress by Stephen P. Pizzo (impeachment)

Of Battered Wives and the US Congress

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen P. Pizzo
Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Is it just me, or have you noticed it too? Something is afoot — maybe. All of a sudden I am reading and seeing on TV individuals who wear suits and can quote the US constitution from memory, talking about the impeachment of George W. Bush and his sidekick.

My first clue was when I read last week that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a radio station, “We can’t take impeachment off the table.”

Holy whiplash, Batman, isn’t that exactly the opposite of what she’s been saying since crowned Speaker last January?  What happened there?

Then there was the extraordinary interview Bill Moyers did last week with John Nichols of The Nation magazine and Bruce Fein, a former Justice Department official during the Reagan administration who drafted articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton.

(If you missed it, you shouldn’t have. Here is the video.)

Neocons may dismiss Nichol’s views as those of a “known liberal,” but what about Fine? No lib there. Fine is the guy conservatives tapped to craft and pen the case against Clinton. Now he wants to do the same thing for Bush – and for precisely the same reasons.

Both men explained that impeachment, always framed by mainstream media as a “constitutional crisis,” is actually precisely the opposite. Impeachment, they explained, is the solution to a constitutional crisis. The real constitutional crisis occurs when Congress fails to protect and maintain the balance of power the Founders enshrined in the constitution.

“The Founders gave congress the power to impeach as the remedy to an imperial presidency,” Fine noted.

Of course those on the right will claim that any talk of impeaching Bush and Cheney is purely political – as though that were something bad. Hello! Of course it’s political. It’s a political process created and delineated by the cornerstone political document – our US constitution. You remember that the document, the user manual for our democracy. (Maybe it would be more popular if the Founders had entitled it, “Democracy for Dummies.”)

Back when Republicans pushed to impeach Bill Clinton for perjury Democrats screamed, “politics,” too. But Fine explained that Bill Clinton got himself in that jam by trying to put himself above the law.  Never mind that what he lied about was hardly a matter of national security, all Fine cares about it that he lied, committed a crime – perjury. The rest is simply back-story.

Fine says that there is now plenty of evidence that Bush and Cheney too have lied — more than once and about matters far more serious than Clinton’s little walk on the wild side. Fien says that is why Congress should have begun impeachment hearings long ago. Not so much to remove Bush and Cheney from office, but as way of laying down constitutional markers, lines in the sand over which Congress was not about to allow the executive branch to simply ignore.

Fien adds that even now that their term in office is short, Congress should still proceed with impeachment hearings in order to reestablish and reinforce the constitutional balance – the whole “co-equal branches” business – as the Founders intended.

But Congress still has not done so. Will they?

Democrats worry that trying to impeach Bush and Cheney would blow back on them in the 2008 elections, by making them appear petty and politically motivated. A perception which is, of course  their own damn fault. If they hadn’t spent the last six years acting like such a pack of conniving little weasels maybe we’d be less likely to jump such a conclusion.

Now that they’ve richly earned that reputation they’ll have to undo it. And the only way to do that is to start talking to us straight from the heart. Believe me, we do know the difference. We can feel it, even more than we hear it. We know when you’re just jerking us off – again. We and, while far and few between, we know immediately when a pol has had it and suddenly starts blathering truth. And we love it when that happens.

If Congress proceeds with impeachment hearings all they need to do is honestly explain why they’ve come to that point. That they are not attacking a Republican administration, but rather circling the wagons around the US Constitution, under attack by that administration.

Republicans too need to sober up and get on the right side of this fight – just as they did when another Republican president, Richard Nixon, believed he could do whatever the hell he wanted to do, legal or otherwise – too often otherwise.

The sobering agent for Republicans should be evident. In about two years the next occupants of the White House will likely be Democrats. Do Republicans want to have to face four or eight years of being dissed, ignored and further marginalized by a Democratic administration, simply because they allowed Bush and Cheney to set such precedents?

Some also warn that the US Supreme Court, now in conservative hands, could actually validate the Bush administration’s expansive view of executive powers. Not likely. While the Supreme Court may have been able to fix one national election for conservatives they can’t count of being handed the same extraordinary opportunity again, any time soon. Therefore the Supremes, like Republicans in congress,  are not going to want to hand a Democratic president imperial power. (Besides, once congress is neutered, might not the Court itself be next?  Sure, why not. A compliant congress might be asked by the president to pass a constitutional amendment clipping the wings of the judges all the way up to the Supremes themselves. “Mission Accomplished.”)

While it’s refreshing to see and hear accomplished, articulate and sane adults suddenly talking right out   loud about impeachment, nothing is going to happen unless the idea catches fire in Congress. So far it has not, and I have a theory why. Since last November’s switch of control in Congress to Democrats, Congress been treated by this administration like the classic battered wife.

For the first six years of the Bush presidency he hardly had to raise his voice. During that period Congress was a perfect Stepford wife, obedient, deferential and which spoke only when spoken to. Then came the 2006 elections and the new Congress got restless. (Call it the Seven Year Itch.) Congress suddenly started talking back, demanding her “rights” and questioning the head of the household.

That’s when the real abuse began, and it’s gotten progressively worse ever since. Like most abusive relationships the abuser  in this case, Bush, et al, have succeeded in keeping the abused off balance, scared, confused and, most important, powerless.

If called to investigate, here’s how the police report might read:

Police Report

Incident: Domestic Violence

Suspect(s): George W. Bush, Richard “Dick” Cheney.

Victim(s): US House of Representatives, US Senate

Accusation(s):

1. Suspect GB has consistently refused to allow victims H and S to participate in decisions involving  family matters. GB perpetrated this offense through the use of extra-legal instruments he refers to as “Presidential Signing Statements.” (Claims that GB’s associate, DC, shouted at victims, “Shut up bitch, we decide the rules under this roof,” could not be immediately confirmed.)

2. GB and associate, Alberto Gonzales, have repeatedly lied when victims inquired into their actions.  (“There hasn’t been a single violation of US law in the application of the Patriot Act.”) Said lying appears to have begun almost seven years ago and has continued and expanded to include a broad sweep of issues, including but not limited to possible perjury. These matters include lying about issues critical to the health, safety and security of the family, including but not limited to science, the environment and national security.

3. Possible obstruction of justice and/or destruction of evidence: GB, DC, AG and a number of unnamed associates, when made aware of this investigation, began hiding and destroying evidence and other community property, rather than sharing it with victims as the law requires.  (“Oops, seems we deleted a 5 million – executive branch emails.”)

4. Refusal to communicate and/or obstruction of justice: When victims H & S tried to make inquiries into suspects’ abusive behavior, suspects GB, DC and others in their employ, refused to communicate with victims, claiming they didn’t have to. This extraordinary claim was later extended to cover friends, associates and former employees of suspects as well.  (“Harriet Meirs has been told to ignore the Congressional subpoena.”)

5. Alienation of Association. When asked to follow certain laws that cover suspects GB and DC, DC claimed he was not member of that branch of the family after all, and therefore did not have to follow said laws. DC’s accomplice, GB, subsequently backed DC’s alibi. DC continues to maintain this position, continues to violate said laws and rules and continues to refuse to communicate with victims regarding this ongoing abuse.

The result of all the above abuse of congress and the constitution by this administration has rendered Congress cowed, confused and afraid to act in it’s own interest or that of the family as a whole. The remaining Stepford Republicans continue making excuses for their abusive leaders, while Democrats fain action through procedural, “non-binding,” symbolic legislation.

What do we need to do in order to empower these poor, pathetic battered representatives of the people? Are they afraid to act because they no longer feel safe in their own houses? Must we set up a safe house for them somewhere somewhere on Capitol Hill where their batterers can’t get at them?

Are members of congress so far gone that we need some kind of national intervention? Do “we the people” need to descend on Washington en mass, drag these legislative basket cases out of their offices one at time and give them the “remember us,” lecture?

Wait! Come to think of it we don’t have to go to Washington to intervene after all. Because they are coming to us this August. They’ll be back in their home districts (at least when not playing golf or raising money) and that’s the perfect time for us to let them know that, if they stand up to their abusers, we’ll stand with them.

And, if they won’t then we won’t be there for them come November 2008.

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see:
Bill Moyers: Tough Talk on Impeachment (video link; Fein; Nichols)

My Call to Speaker Pelosi Demanding Impeachment by Ratman (video)

Bill Moyers: Tough Talk on Impeachment (video link; Fein; Nichols)


Dandelion Salad

July 13, 2007

LINK

A public opinion poll from the American Research Group recently reported that more than four in ten Americans — 45% — favor impeachment hearings for President Bush and more than half — 54% — favored impeachment for Vice President Cheney.

Unhappiness about the war in Iraq isn’t the only cause of the unsettled feelings of the electorate. Recent events like President Bush’s pardoning of Scooter Libby, the refusal of Vice President Cheney’s office to surrender emails under subpoena to Congress and the President’s prohibition of testimony of former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers in front of the House Judiciary Committee have caused unease over claims of “executive privilege.” In addition, many of the White House anti-terror initiatives and procedures — from the status of “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo to warrantless wiretapping — have come under legal scrutiny in Congress and the courts.

Bill Moyers gets perspective on the role of impeachment in American political life from Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who wrote the first article of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, and THE NATION’s John Nichols, author of THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT.

“The founding fathers expected an executive who tried to overreach and expected the executive would be hampered and curtailed by the legislative branch… They [Congress] have basically renounced — walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check.” — Bruce Fein
“On January 20th, 2009, if George Bush and Dick Cheney are not appropriately held to account this Administration will hand off a toolbox with more powers than any President has ever had, more powers than the founders could have imagined. And that box may be handed to Hillary Clinton or it may be handed to Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or someone else. But whoever gets it, one of the things we know about power is that people don’t give away the tools.” — John Nichols

Bruce Fein

Bruce Fein is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on Constitutional law. Graduating from Harvard Law School in 1972, Fein became the assistant director of the Office of Legal Policy in the U.S. Department of Justice. Shortly after that, Fein became the associate deputy attorney general under former President Ronald Reagan.His political law career would take him to various outlets, including general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission, followed by an appointment as research director for the Joint Congressional Committee on Covert Arms Sales to Iran. Mr. Fein has been an adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, a resident scholar at the Heritage Foundation, a lecturer at the Bookings Institute, and an adjunct professor at George Washington University.

Fein has also penned a number of volumes on United States Constitution, Supreme Court, and international law, as well as assisted three dozen countries in constitutional revision, including Russia, Spain, South Africa, Iraq, Cyprus, and Mozambique.

Fein currently writes weekly columns for THE WASHINGTON TIMES and CAPITOL LEADER, and a bi-weekly column for the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER devoted to legal and international affairs.

Recently, Fein has been in the national spotlight after his editorial in the online newsmagazine SLATE called for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, in which he outlines the various cases against the Vice President. Fein also testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on June 27, 2007 about President Bush’s use of “signing statement.”

    According to Fein, Cheney has:

  • Asserted Presidential power to create military commissions, which combine the functions of judge, jury, and prosecutor in the trial of war crimes.
  • Claimed authority to detain American citizens as enemy combatants indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay on the President’s say-so alone.
  • Initiated kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture in Eastern European prisons of suspected international terrorists.
  • Championed a Presidential power to torture in contravention of federal statutes and treaties.
  • Engineered the National Security Agency’s warrantless domestic surveillance program targeting American citizens on American soil in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
  • Orchestrated the invocation of executive privilege to conceal from Congress secret spying programs to gather foreign intelligence, and their legal justifications.
  • Summoned the privilege to refuse to disclose his consulting of business executives in conjunction with his Energy Task Force.
  • Retaliated against Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, through chief of staff Scooter Libby, for questioning the administration’s evidence of weapons of mass destruction as justification for invading Iraq. (Read Fein’s SLATE article)

John Nichols

John Nichols, author and political journalist has been writing the “Online Beat” for THE NATION magazine since 1999. Nichols also serves as Washington correspondent for THE NATION, as well as the associate editor of the CAPITAL TIMES, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin and a contributing writer for THE PROGRESSIVE and IN THESE TIMES.Along with fellow author Robert McChesney, Nichols co-founded the media-reform group Free Press. Nichols has also authored several books, including JEWS FOR BUCHANAN, which analyzed the recount vote of 2000, and DICK: THE MAN WHO IS PRESIDENT, his best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Nichols most recent book, THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT, argues that impeachment is an essential instrument of America’s democratic system. Nichols’ argument also bases the power of impeachment in the hands of the people, rather than the congress. In his recent article, “In Praise of Impeachment,” Nichols argues “While the Constitution handed Congress the power to officially check such despotism, Jefferson and his colleagues fully expected the American people to be the champions of the application of the rule of law to an errant executive.”

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.