Impeachment: Wyden would have "open mind"

It was buried in the second-to-last paragraph of a story on page 20 of Willamette Week, but Senator Wyden's comments regarding impeachment of the President are sure to raise eyebrows in the nation's capital.

It seems that local activist John Bradach (whose nephew was killed while serving in Iraq) has been pestering Oregon's congressional delegation to join his call for impeachment. From WW:

Since no pol answered Bradach's calls, we decided to give them a ring. And guess what? Of the seven politicians representing Oregon, plus one from southwest Washington, only two called us back to answer our questions about impeachment. ...

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) says he'd rather use the next year and a half to "enact universal health care, achieve energy independence and remove troops from Iraq" but would keep "an open mind" if the House of Representatives passed articles of impeachment, the first stage in impeachment proceedings.

David Wu was the other member to make a statement to WW:

One was Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), who last year supported House Resolution 635, which would have gathered information to see if impeachment was a viable option. He was the only Oregon congressman to do so. But the resolution never got out of committee, and Wu doesn't support starting impeachment without first gathering evidence to see if it's a viable option.

And the rest?

As for the other six lawmakers—Reps. Peter DeFazio, Darlene Hooley and Earl Blumenauer (all D-Ore.); Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.); and Sen. Gordon Smith and Rep. Greg Walden (both R-Ore.)—we're still waiting.

Discuss.

Comments

  • verasoie (unverified)
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    As I see it, the impeachment process starts with the gathering of evidence, holding trials, etc., and I'm sure that Conyers and Leahy agree.

    As they've said over on Dailykos, "if impeachment is off the table, then democracy is off the table." If high crimes have been committed, they have a constitutional obligation to follow through.

  • liberalincarnate (unverified)
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    Congress has a Constitutional obligation to do their duty. It is a shame that the American people are so far ahead of them on this. It will be the only way to end the war.

    As to Wyden's call for Universal Health Insurance, it is not going to happen with a Republican in the White House, least of all Bush. He is best to file that hope under "after 2008".

    This next year and a half should be focused on limiting Bush's power and/ or removing him from office even if he is removed from office one day early!

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    This site purports to have Blumenauer's response on impeachment. While he claims it's his "passion is to hold this administration accountable," he won't actually follow through, saying:

    I believe that an impeachment process on an administration that is already on its way out the door would hinder the time and efforts of our slim Democratic majority in congress.

    Blumenauer hits all the flat notes of the Democratic leadership surrender monkey retreat: it's a distraction and won't work anyway given the vote count in the Senate.

    How is this any different than the present situation where the Senate Dems don't even have enough votes to bring key legislation to a vote, much less override a Bush veto? (Last week, our dear Leaders couldn't even manage to end a filibuster of the Webb amendment which would have required troops have at least as much rest time as deployment. Pathetic.)

    It's beyond me why Blumenauer, who sits in such a safe (D) seat, would be such a milquetoast (as evidenced also by such previous votes as his in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act).

  • (Show?)

    I agree with first two here. Congress has a Constitutional obligation which is fundamentally more important than the party politics they are used to considering first. Some things are more important than that next election...

    Did anyone else catch the Bill Moyers Journal segment on Impeachment?

    It is time for progressives to start demanding more of their representatives. Letting Reagan-Bush off the hook for Iran/Contra wasn't helpful. Letting Bush-Cheney off the hook will only compound the damage.

  • MCT (unverified)
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    Yes yes yes we DID see Bill Moyers Journal!....our living room echoed with "damn right" & "exactly"...et al. Very well done, and a tribute to patriotism and our Constitution. A bright light in the darkness, erudite and articulate. I applauded the back to basics examination of what the founding fathers had in mind when they mentioned impeachment 4 times. And I was also tickled that congress, Pelosi, and the media did not come out of this discussion unscathed. (I immediately sent the PBS link to all my so-called radical friends who actually go through life with their eyes open.)

    AND Moyers closing words are blunt, bold, and chilling. He sees we are at a turning point in our history, and fears for the implications of NOT impeaching....the horrifying precedent it will set for the future of our nation.

    Congress needs to stop fence-sitting in consideration of their individual political careers, and use the process set out clearly more than 200 years ago. It's that simple. Ya know, with the internet such an easy and useful tool, I am convinced congressional members HAVE received many demands of "more" from constituents (they've sure heard an earful from me!)...they are simply ignoring them as they deadlock in dogma. This, folks, is called taxation without representation.

    You've got to watch the Bill Moyers piece. Or at least read the transcipts...tho watching the program is best.

  • Roux (unverified)
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    Since Bush/Cheney took office in 2001, I have viewed the actions of this administration with ever-growing horror and revulsion. After 9/11 I was scared stiff – of what Bush/Cheney would do, with most of the country rallying around them! The years since have been utterly demoralizing.

    Until last Friday, I would have agreed that it seems futile to begin the process of impeaching Bush/Cheney 18 months before they’ll be leaving office anyway. The arguments that I heard on Bill Moyers program convinced me otherwise. The Bush/Cheney administration has claimed unprecedented presidential powers, has flagrantly disregarded our constitutional system of checks and balances as well as international standards for the rule of law and, although their actions have generated plenty of denunciation in Congress and the public, they’ve pretty much gotten away with it. This is not a precedent for presidential power that we can allow to stand, because subsequent presidents will use it when push comes to shove. If we’re to have any hope for the survival of our country’s democracy, we must impeach Bush/Cheney.

  • randy davis (unverified)
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    The Multnomah County Democratic Precinct Committee Persons organized and elected Mr. John Bradach to represent us at the DPO. The Democratic Party of Oregon then passed RESOLUTION NO. 2007 – 777 calling for an investigation and impeachment.

    The fact that elected Oregon Democratic lawmakers have refused to discuss or even acknowledge this resolution is an arrogant slap in the face to all those who worked to make it pass.

  • Caelan MacTavish (unverified)
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    Although I can see Blumenauer's (and other dems') argument that it is futile to impeach an administration that's leaving anyway, it does indeed put "democracy off the table."

    The tough question becomes: Is the sacrifice of democracy worth Dem majorities in both houses, and the presidency?

    If the next 18 months are consumed by impeachment, us vs. them rhetoric, all during the election cycle, will we be more vilified? Or will we be able to regain control of government if we just let the Bushies continue to crash and burn?

  • Roberto (unverified)
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    The tough question becomes: Is the sacrifice of democracy worth Dem majorities in both houses, and the presidency?

    Is that really a serious question?

    Preserving the Constitution, the balance of powers and rule of law is more important than any election or any political party. In fact, it is of ultimate importance to defining who we are as a nation, and for keeping the beacon of liberty burning bright for the entire world to see.

    Besides, there is an argument to be made that impeachment proceedings could benefit the Democrats. Nevertheless, in light of the constitutional crises that we are now in the middle of, that should remain a secondary consideration.

  • MCT (unverified)
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    Letting the Bushies crash and burn without punitive action will further negate our Constitution. If you or I screw up in a minor, average citizen sort of infraction....we can expect to be prosecuted and receive our punishment. It will most likely not set legal precedents, or change the path of our democracy. But in the case of Bush & Cheney NOT being called on the carpet, not facing legal action...this situation would be a future-altering standard. A low-water moment in American history. We cannot allow our leaders to grasp powers they are not entitled to, and "rule" like monarchs or dictators. Once that door is opened we may not ever be able to close it again. A point well made on the Moyers program was that Rome did not fall because of one bad ruler. It fell because the citizens failed to hold leaderhip to legal standards, and began to act like subjects of the government, instead of "the people" who as voting citizens WERE the government. They began to accept graft, corruption and dictatorship as the standard. There's a lot of that going around today, too. We just have euphemistic names for it. Like campaign contributions, lobbyist & special interest groups, and pork barrel spending.

  • (Show?)

    If we are willing to sacrifice democracy on the alter of defeating Republicans then what exactly are we fighting FOR? Democratic control for the sake of Democratic control? Do the ends truly justify the means despite the overwhelming historical evidence to the contrary?

    Don't forget that today's NeoCons find their genesis within the Scoop Jacksonian Democrats. Maybe Scoop Jackson would have utterly rejected what they did with his philosophy as his son has strongly implied in recent years, but neither Scoop nor any other Democratic leader lives forever. At some point every founder of every philosophy loses control over the movement to it's accolytes. While their subsequent defection to the Reaganite GOP must have seemed like a bad thing to many Democrats after the Gingrich "revolution", just look at what rotten fruit they bore for the GOP.

    I submit that to achieve power at the cost of one's principles is to inherit the wind. As Franklin (or was it Jefferson?) said, those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither.

  • (Show?)

    I've gone back and forth a dozen times on this issue, but while it's true that needed and important legislation will be put off if we go into impeachment mode, the entire proper function of government may be damaged for a generation or more if we don't.

    But it needs to be done right. Start with Gonzo, go to Cheney next. That will serve up the big boss.

  • (Show?)

    it was indeed Franklin:

    QUOTATION: Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. ATTRIBUTION: BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor, November 11, 1755.—The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard W. Labaree, vol. 6, p. 242 (1963). This quotation, slightly altered, is inscribed on a plaque in the stairwell of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
  • Roberto (unverified)
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    For those who did not see the Moyer's impeachment show, you can watch the video of the entire Fein/Nichols interview here.

    Click the Watch Video link below the illustration.

  • Scott Jorgensen (unverified)
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    I asked Wyden about impeachment point-blank a couple of months ago, and he said he didn't support it at all. Maybe he's changed his mind, I don't know... Democrats have nothing to lose by calling for his impeachment, being that the public is overwhelmingly behind such action. I think that if they don't, they aren't representing their constituents.

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    Scott,

    46% of the public is for impeachment. I don't know if I'd call that an overwhelming mandate from the people. One thing that I think everyone needs to do is sit back a bit and take a few deep breaths. Let the Democrats do some investigations. If that 46% for impeachment swings to 64% there are going to be a lot of Republicans changing their mind and impeachment proceedings will go forward. I think we can all agree that the Bush administration is very good at making the everyday public unaware of what it has done. The fact that the media isn't going after the administration isn't helping impeachment either. Maybe all these people that support impeachment should be calling up their local television stations and asking why their tv station won't call a crime a crime when it involves the Bush administration. How many people in this country only get their news from TV? How many people in the country know how to get factual news from the internet? Probably a good majority of that 46% that want Bush impeached. I wasn't alive when Nixon was about to be impeached so maybe someone else could chime in on this but my historical understanding is that a vast majority of the country was for impeachment. Unlike now where it is still split about 50-50.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    Hearing Thom Hartmann comment on this story and specifically reference this blog entry, i have to say that BlueOregon rather skews the WillyWeek story.

    Wyden would have "open mind" is not a headline that is causing eyebrows to raise "in the nation's capital." Instead it is a forced admission that causes my eyes to roll here on the east bank of River City. In the unlikely case that the House passes articles of impeachment Wyden is saying he <might> be cajoled into convicting the Son of a Bush.

    This isn't leadership. It's political fence sitting at its most spineless. Is it any wonder that Congress has a lower approval rating that the White House?

  • (Show?)

    Hmm... I'm not sure how we could have skewed the WW story as it relates to Wyden, since we quoted the entirety of the sole paragraph about him.

    Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) says he'd rather use the next year and a half to "enact universal health care, achieve energy independence and remove troops from Iraq" but would keep "an open mind" if the House of Representatives passed articles of impeachment, the first stage in impeachment proceedings.

    Yeah, our headline didn't include the "IF..." part of the story - but the story did. Perhaps that's the nature of life in Washington DC - but the fact that a US Senator says he'd have an open mind on impeachment is news.... at a time when most are dismissing it out of hand.

  • (Show?)

    Just wanted to take a little credit for the Hartmann mention…they may not have let me talk, but they let me on the air enough to mention Blumenauer's letter, which Carl Wolfson then read most of on the air. Blumenauer's out of step…I told some not-so-political friends about him not supporting impeachment over dinner last night, and they were pretty surprised. This is something that needs to be publicized.

    (Yes, I'm contacting Blumenauer's office later today. 202-225-4811 in DC if anyone wants to join me! Don't have the local number handy.)

  • John F. Bradach, Sr. (unverified)
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    I RESEMBLE THAT REMARK!

    "Pestering"?

    All my communications have been succinct and respectful efforts, to be sure our elected Representatives consider our duty under our respective oaths, to protect the Constitution of the United States of America.

    On the day after the November 2006 election, I faxed my first impeachment letter to my Congressman, Earl Blumenauer, with mailed copies to the rest of the Oregon delegation (including Rep. Walden and Senator Gordon Smith), as follows:

    Re: Impeachment of President George W. Bush

    Dear Congressman Blumenauer:

        I am a life-long resident of the State of Oregon.  I have resided in your Congressional District since 1962, and have been a constituent since I could vote in 1972.
    
        This letter to you, and by copy, to the rest of Oregon’s congressional delegation, is my sincere and motivated call for commencement of impeachment proceedings against the current President Bush, as soon as the new Congress convenes.
    
        As you know, on March 13, 2003. my parents died in a car fire on Mount Hood.  I think my Dad was worn out by the stresses of  world, national and local events, including 9/11, its economic and political aftermath, aggravated by the impending and by then certain Iraq War.  On March 13, 2003, my nephew Marine Corporal Travis Bradach-Nall was perched on the Kuwait border.  Within a week, his group of courageous, but so very young, Marines would be among the first into Iraq.
    
        Travis survived the “war”.  He volunteered to stay and help clear unexploded ordinance endangering our troops and the Iraqi people.  On July 2, 2003, Travis was killed near Karbala, Iraq, by an exploding U.S. cluster bomb.  That same day, in Washington, D.C., George Bush was taunting, “Bring them on!”
    
        On November 3, 2004, the President proclaimed that the “moment of accountability” for his decision to invade Iraq had passed, with the prior day’s election.
    
        Yesterday’s 2006 mid-term election results and today’s events show how wrong he was.
    
        On behalf of Americans, and other citizens of the world, harmed by the reckless fraud upon which the Iraq war was launched and prosecuted, I demand that the wrongdoers be brought to justice under the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.
    
        Please, do your duty.
    
        Very truly yours,
    
        John F. Bradach, Sr.
    

    JFB/lms

    c: Congresswoman Darlene Hooley Congressman Peter DeFazio Congressman David Wu Congressman Greg Walden Senator Ron Wyden Senator Gordon Smith

    <hr/>

    My email, fax and mail communications to my Congressmen and to some of the others have since been regular.

    I received no written acknowledgement or response to my many emails and letters advocating impeachment of the President and Vice President. I did receive two form letters regarding "the situation in Iraq", from Senator Wyden's office. I have discussed the impeachment issue, in person on two occasions, with Representative Blumenauer.

    The ember of impeachement glows faintly, 'neath the drying haystack of the Bush Administration's high crimes and misdemeanors.

    I am hoping that, with Co-sponsors of HR 333 to impeach Vice President Cheney now reaching 15, and the impact of the Moyers Friday PBS impeachement show, we now will see the Democrats in Oregon's Delegation step up to the plate.

    See, my intemittent blog on this process, "The War on Error", at http://john.bradach.net/

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    Hmm... I'm not sure how we could have skewed the WW story as it relates to Wyden, since we quoted the entirety of the sole paragraph about him

    Kari, it's like quoting everything Jesus ever said about homosexuality as part of a larger argument against gay rights and then saying, gee... I don't see how one could think I was twisting his words?

    the fact that a US Senator says he'd have an open mind on impeachment is news....

    I'm sorry, but Wyden's ambivalence just doesn't make me wet. I guess my threshold for political orgasm is slightly higher than yours. The inactivity of the Democratic "leadership" (and some would argue complicity) leaves me downright limp. What excites me instead are the actions of John and Pete above. Good on you, fellas!

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
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    The reason that the Oregon Democrats are keeping a wide berth of the current far-left impeachment frenzy is that they are smart politicians.

    They know, like Senator Wyden acknowledged, that impeachment is hopeless. They saw what a mess Clinton's impeachment did for the nation, and they saw that it didn't do the Republican party much good either. If it weren't for hanging chads and the United States Supreme Court Al Gore would have been elected President in 2000. In the 1998 midterms the Republicans actually lost a few seats, pretty rare for the non-Presidential party in an off-year election.

    The Democrats have an excellent chance to regain the Presidency in 2008, thanks to the political, economic, and moral bankruptcy of George Bush's administration. Nothing would revive the Republicans' chances in 2008 more than to turn off the Republican defectors with a vindictive, pointless, and politically doomed impeachment effort.

    I appreciate the outrage expressed by those such as Jon Bradach. I share a lot of that outrage. But the left in this couintry does not need to mimic the tactics and fanaticism of the right to win an election in 2008. In fact, such mimicking might actually lose the Democrats the election.

    Impeach George Bush! Elect Mitt Romney! Is that what you want?

    www.urbanplanningoverlord.blogspot.com

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    the left in this couintry does not need to mimic the tactics and fanaticism of the right to win an election in 2008

    Impeachment is not a tactic, it is a responsibility. Of all the arguments against impeachment, the most ignoble is the (unfounded) fear that bringing Bush to justice would result in a GOP political victory in '08. Even if such were the case, it would still be necessary to push for impeachment (whether or not it results in conviction). If the People do not repudiate the overreaching of this administration, the standards for the Office may be irreversibly torn asunder.

  • Himself (unverified)
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    The Democrats have an excellent chance to regain the Presidency in 2008, thanks to the political, economic, and moral bankruptcy of George Bush's administration.

    Yes, once again, Democrats are counting on the Republicans to hand them an election, offering no viable alternative themselves.

    Why can't Democrats stand for something — say, the constitutional rule of law — instead of timidly protecting the political capital handed them by Dubya?

    Impeachment doesn't have to result in conviction and removal from office to be an effective tool in defense of the constitution.

    It seems the Dems are so excited about actually winning an election they're willing to let the constitutional house burn down rather than try to put out the fire.

    It's cynical politics, and it's wrong. Shame on them.

  • (Show?)

    I wonder if he has an open mind on the restoration of habeas corpus, torture....er enhanced interrogation, the Geneva Convention, and salvaging the tattered remains of the US Constitution. (yeah, I rember some pro-forma handwringing over Gitmo a few months back, but that's about it).

    Over on Huffpost today, Bob Geiger had a list of D-Senators who have yet to sign on to either of the two habeas restoration bills.

    Both Patti Murray and Ron Wyden are on the list of "undecideds".

    I'm pretty sure that Ron and Josh and the rest of the sophisticates, view people like us as shrill crackpots.

    If that's the case, we need to start looking for a new junior senator to replace our current senior senator.

  • (Show?)

    Let's not jump to conclusions, shall we? Wyden's response:

    Along with twelve others, Sen. Wyden is a cosponsor of Sen. Dodd's Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007, which would restore habeas rights to detainees and address a whole host of other detainee-related civil liberties issues. Sen. Wyden remains hopeful the Senate will choose to take up the more comprehensive Dodd bill, but if Sen. Specter's bill is the chosen vehicle for habeas corpus reform, I anticipate Sen. Wyden will support it.

  • (Show?)

    Sorry, that's spokesperson Geoff Stuckart speaking there, on behalf of the Senator. I received it by email.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    Sen. Wyden is a cosponsor of Sen. Dodd's Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007, which would restore habeas rights to detainees

    Are these the same habeas rights that Wyden helped the Republicans to eliminate in the last Congress?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Here's another reason to support Kucinich's bill of impeachment [HR 333] - to prevent the next war.

    How Much Capital Will Cheney Have to Push War With Iran?

  • (Show?)

    I've actually been emailing with Bob Geiger, Pat. There are two bills, as you noted. The stronger Dodd bill and the weaker Specter bill. Senator Wyden is a co-sponsor of the Dodd bill.

    His office told me, as they told TJ above, that he'll vote for the Specter bill - but isn't co-sponsoring it. Why? Because he wants to move the language closer to the Dodd bill.

  • (Show?)

    Can someone please give me some high crimes and misdemeanors?

    The Geneva Convention is not US law. The habeas corpus provisions were passed by the US Senate.

    John's letter is a moving tribute to the outrage that this war has become, but there is nothing in there that stands as grounds for impeachment.

    Sadly but truthfully, this president won the 2004 election, and we'll have to endure this administration until December 2008. The best way to stop the war is to defund it. The best way to stop the administration is to continue investigations.

    Impeachment will get the party, and country, nowhere.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    Can someone please give me some high crimes and misdemeanors?

    How about the wiretapping Bush authorized in contravention if the FISA law?

  • David Dickey-Griffith (unverified)
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    I disagree with the notion that we should start impeachment proceedings just to make a point. The symbolic value of initiating impeachment proceedings is minimal and needs to be weighed against the real-world political consequences such a course of action might have. What would initiating impeachment proceedings right now achieve? Who would it convince? How many Iraqi lives would it save?

    Let's be honest with ourselves here. Impeachment wouldn't bring real accountability unless it actually met with success, which it wouldn't under the present circumstances. Impeachment has always been a political act in addition to being other things, and right now, as much as people hate Bush (and they do!) the political will just isn't there.

    I'd like to see the Bush Administration held accoutable as much as the next guy; "High crimes and misdemeanors" is a pretty vague sentiment, but I think there is a legitimate case to be made nevertheless. The problem is that right now impeachment won't work. Maybe if we weren't at war. Maybe if more hard evidence of the Andministration's shenanigans were to come to light. Maybe if the American public had a higher opinion of Congress...

    In the words of Otto von Bismarck:

    "Politics is the art of the possible."

  • Himself (unverified)
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    I disagree with the notion that we should start impeachment proceedings just to make a point.

    Defending the constitution is not just making a point.

    ...the political will just isn't there.

    Which is what some of us are complaining about. Why isn't it there? Because the Democrats are desperately clinging to their political dreams of finally winning a presidential election after badly botching the last two.

    Anyway, given the autocratic tendencies of the mainstream Dems, they're happy with the balance of power shifting toward the executive— assuming they'll be the ones wielding it next time around.

    History will not be kind to the Democrats of the early 21st century who let Bush/Cheney get away with constitutional murder even while their constituents cried foul. Shame!

  • mbraymen (unverified)
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    "The Geneva Convention is not US law.

    Not exactly true:

    "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." (emphasis added)

    And: Ratification/Accession Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949

    Although:

    Additional protocols have been issued including two in 1977 extending the 1949 articles to cover guerrilla combatants and to soldiers in wars of "self-determination." The United States signed the 1977 Protocols, but Congress refused to ratify them.

    What is the Geneva Convention? by Patrick Farrell

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
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    Himself: Look at your words closely:

    "Defending the constitution isn't about making a point."

    Compare to the words of Republicans in 1998

    "Defending the criminal justice system against a perjurious President isn't about making a point."

    By your standards Bill Clinton should have been impeached AND convicted in 1998.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    By your standards Bill Clinton should have been impeached AND convicted in 1998

    Considering impeachment as an indictment, i think there was enough evidence to do so in '88. Given however the mandatory "sentence" of a Senate conviction, the cases of Clinton and Bush are not to be compared. And even more important than removing Bush from office (which would have been a gross injustice against Clinton), Bush has done great harm to the Separation of Powers which in my opinion can only be corrected through Impeachment.

  • David Wright (unverified)
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    Defending the constitution is not just making a point.

    I absolutely agree.

    But my question is, if impeachment proceedings begin, and are not completed -- or if members of the administration are actually impeached but not convicted -- has the Constitution really been defended? Or would an acquittal actually do more harm than if the issue had not been raised in formal proceedings?

    I am reminded of an SNL skit immediately after the whole Clinton mess was over. A confident President Clinton (played superbly by Darrell Hammond) strides up to the podium for a press conference, grins at the camera, and says very slowly and deliberatly:

    "I..... am............. BULLETPROOF."

    And simply walks offstage.

    Funny, in kind of a scary way. And my concern is that a failed impeachment trial (if it even got that far) would give Bush and company that attitude for real. Or rather, reinforce that attitude which they seem already to possess.

    So, yes, the whole question of impeachment certainly has far-reaching consequences. But I think an argument can be made that impeachment without conviction has far-reaching consequences as well that need to be considered carefully.

  • Himself (unverified)
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    By your standards Bill Clinton should have been impeached AND convicted in 1998.

    Comparing this to the Clinton impeachment is absurd, and you know it. Perjury about an extra-marital affair is not a constitutional crisis. Impeachment of Clinton was political. This is constitutional. Come on. Don't be daft.

    But my question is, if impeachment proceedings begin, and are not completed -- or if members of the administration are actually impeached but not convicted -- has the Constitution really been defended?

    Absolutely. Without question. Start shining a light on this administration, and all kinds of things will come out. Nixon was run out of town on a rail for far less. Are you really suggesting doing nothing is a better defense of the constitution?

    But really, we're skirting the issue here. Congress is sworn to uphold the constitution. They have a duty, far more important than their political duties, to hold this administration accountable.

    Democrats shirking their constitutional responsibility for political reasons is disgusting and shameful.

  • John F. Bradach, Sr. (unverified)
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    Tenet, George; At the Center of the Storm, Chapter 17, at 321:

    “The United State did not go to war in Iraq solely because of WMD.  In my view, I doubt it was even the principal cause.  Yet, it was the public face that was put on it.
    
    The leaders of a country decide to go to war because of core beliefs, larger geostrategic calculations, ideology, and, in the case of Iraq, because of the administration’s largely unarticulated view that the democratic transformation of the Middle East through regime change in Iraq would be worth the price.  WMD was, as Paul Wolfowitz was quoted as saying in Vanity Fair in May 2003, something that ‘we settled on’ because it was the ‘one issue that everyone could agree on.’”
    
        The Bush Administration could never have facilitated Congressional authorization for the invasion of Iraq, had they told the truth of Tenet’s second paragraph.  Surely, someone would have argued, that that might cost a Trillion dollars and untold lives of Americans and Iraqis.
    
        There are lots of impeachable offenses (including domestic spying, torture, ignorance of the Gulf coast post-Katrina, and the whole rendition and imprisonment of detainees system).  But, HR 333 presents at least two, which everyone, even Tenet, can agree upon: the Administration’s (1) misrepresentations of the existence or weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and (2) misrepresentations of Iraq’s having helped perpetrate 9/11.
    
        Let us get to the bottom of it.
    
        I am particularly interested in where the forged Italian letters about yellowcake uranium in Niger came from?  They oddly parallel the retyped Bush service records, that took down Dan Rather and John Kerry.
    
        While we are at it, I want the July/August 2001 vacation or TDY schedules for the top officials in the State Department (Powell and Armitage), Defense (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz), National Security (Rice and Hadley), and CIA (Tenet and Michael Morrell), and for Scooter Libby, in the Vice President’s office, after Tenet and his guys made the specially-scheduled briefing of National Security Director Condoleeza Rice on July 10, 2001.  At that conference, they warned of an imminent spectacular strike by al Qa’ida.  (See, Tenet, At the Center of the Storm, Chapter 8, at 150-54).  This is their greatest crime, taking the top level of Government on late-July and August 2001 summer vacation, rather than protecting the Country against the known threat.
    

    Please, write, call or visit Oregon's Democrats in the House to encourage them to jointly sign on to commencement of the impeachment process.

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    Based on my conversation with Blumenauer's staffer, now is an excellent time to call and urge him to reconsider his position.

  • David Wright (unverified)
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    Are you really suggesting doing nothing is a better defense of the constitution?

    No. I'm suggesting that it may be too late to actually defend the Constitution at this point in this particular case. And, furthermore, to attempt but fail to remove any member of this administration from office may do more harm than good with regard to the precedent that it may set.

    You say that Congress has a duty to hold the administration accountable -- by which I presume you mean, accountable to the Constitution. Removal from office via impeachment is the only constitutional remedy afforded to Congress in order to do so. I would argue that impeachment alone is not holding the administration accountable, only a successful conviction would do so. If you are unable to get a successful conviction and removal from office, even one day early as some have said, then the administration really would not have paid any price for their misdeeds.

    In other words, if you can't convict 'em, they really are constitutionally untouchable. Which bites the big one, no question, but that may be the reality whether we like it or not.

    By the way, comparing this to the Clinton impeachment is not at all absurd. Clinton's impeachment had to do with perjury and obstruction of justice. Now, I'll grant you that the particulars in Clinton's case are not as compelling or offensive as the particulars in the case of Bush. But really, if you're going to pick and choose which laws the President is expected to obey and which he may get a pass for breaking, aren't you doing just what Bush has done?

    And give me a break... ALL impeachment proceedings are political, to some extent. Claiming that the Clinton affair wasn't constitutional in nature is a bit revisionist. The fundamental question in both cases is, can the President (or other members of the Executive branch) ever be above the law? If the answer is yes, sometimes, if it's a relatively minor law or if he broke the law for a good reason or he broke the law in a way that the public doesn't particularly care about, then who can blame future administrations for pushing the boundaries of that nebulous standard?

    Again, I'm not saying that what this administration has done is not worthy of impeachment. I'm simply suggesting that as a practical matter, there may not be anything that Congress can do about it at this point. And I would suggest that Congress does not have a constitutional obligation to tilt at windmills. There's nothing in the constitution that says when Congress must impeach, only what happens when they do.

  • Dickey45 (unverified)
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    As much as I love him, I'll have to now vote against DeFasio to give him the message it is not OK to not investigate Bush /Cheney because it won't work:

    Dear Ms. Harris:

    Thanks for your message in support of impeaching the President, Vice President, or both. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

    I share your outrage at the administration's many transgressions over the last six-plus years. I have used my voice and my vote to oppose the administration on multiple fronts. I have always opposed the war in Iraq. I voted against the so-called USA PATRIOT Act. I voted against the legislation establishing military tribunals, which also included provisions retroactively immunizing administration officials for authorizing torture and provisions allowing the President to detain American citizens indefinitely without charge. I voted against legislation authorizing warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. I have led the effort to prevent the administration from attacking Iran without congressional authorization. Despite my long and vocal record of opposition to the administration's harmful policies, I believe that impeachment is a dubious strategy that will fail to bring about the change our country needs.

    Supporters of impeachment need to ask themselves a question: is the primary goal to attempt to personally punish the President and Vice President or is it to reverse the many detrimental policies that have been enacted over the last six years?

    If it is the former, then I can understand why individuals would believe an attempt to impeach is the best option. But, if it is the latter, which is what I think the goal should be, then impeachment will not work because even if Members of the House put aside all urgent issues and consumed the next six months with impeachment and then voted to impeach, the Senate will never vote to convict the President or Vice President and remove them from office, meaning at the end of the process they will remain in office with their policies unchanged and all that will have been accomplished is a 6-12 month delay in trying to overturn their harmful policies.

    The reason I draw that conclusion is based on the math in the Senate. Even with the Democratic takeover of Congress last November, there are only 51 Senators that caucus with the Democratic Party (including two independents, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont). Even if all of these individuals supported impeachment (an unlikely prospect given the large number of conservative Democrats, not to mention Senator Lieberman), it would still require 16 Republicans to vote to convict the President or Vice President (2/3rds of the Senate, 67 votes, are needed to convict and remove from office). There is no evidence that any Republicans, let alone the 16 or likely more that would be required, will consider voting in favor of impeachment.

    Just because an impeachment strategy is certain to end in failure doesn't mean Congress is impotent in terms of holding the administration accountable or reversing harmful policies.

    I have advocated for an aggressive strategy of hearings, investigations (including the use of subpoena power) and legislation to overturn the administration's harmful policies.

    This strategy is already bearing fruit. Although there are not yet quite enough votes in Congress to force a change in the President's Iraq policy, the President has been seriously challenged on Iraq since the Democratic takeover via both hearings and legislation. There have been multiple votes on bringing our troops home and establishing enforceable benchmarks for the administration's policy. This is something that did not happen under Republican control when the President was provided whatever he wanted with no questions asked. Further, the aggressive Democratic oversight has contributed to crumbling support for the President and his war even among members of his own party as evidenced by the recent public defections of key Republican senators.

    Further the investigation and hearings into the political firings of U.S. Attorneys (again, something that never would have happened under the prior Republican leadership in Congress) have led to the resignation of several senior Justice Department personnel and hopefully will force out the Attorney General as well.

    The Democratic takeover also led the administration to cave-in on its warrantless wiretapping program, agreeing earlier this year to subject future requests to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. Though, what the administration is actually submitting to the FISA Court needs further oversight.

    And, while the administration continues to try to obstruct various investigations, Democratic leaders have not been shy about threatening to issue contempt citations and to take the administration to court to enforce subpoenas for testimony and documents.

    Finally, I am concerned that pursuing impeachment would suck all of the oxygen out of Congress, bringing all other issues to a halt and making it impossible to make progress on other priorities, such as taking on the oil companies; reorienting our energy policies toward clean, renewable electricity and fuels, as well as conservation; reforming and funding the No Child Left Behind law; expanding access to health insurance and affordable health care; among many other issues you and I care about.

    Since impeachment will not succeed in the Senate, pursuing it will not actually do anything to hold the administration accountable or overturn harmful policies. It would be a hollow effort. So the choice is real action via hearings, investigations and legislation, or symbolic action that won't change anything via impeachment. I prefer real action.

    Thanks again for contacting me. Please keep in touch.

    Sincerely,

    Rep. Peter DeFazio Fourth District, OREGON

  • Himself (unverified)
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    ALL impeachment proceedings are political, to some extent.

    In this case, the reasons for not impeaching are far more politically motivated than actually doing the right thing.

    All this mealy-mouthed talk of protecting political capital for the '08 election is disgusting. Why do you think the Democratic-controlled congress has worse poll numbers than the president?

    I'll tell you why: They're not doing what we elected them to do.

    If they're not going to stop this war and hold this president accountable right now, while they've got the chance, why should we care whether they win in '08?

    The American people want it, but the Democrats in congress don't have the stones to do it. Shame.

  • mbraymen (unverified)
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    Respectfully, Representative DeFazio is all wet in his use of political calculus. The question of impeachment should not be predicated on the outcome but in terms of the process. If The House of Representatives believes that high crimes and misdemeanors may have occurred, it should open an investigation. If it believes that evidence is sufficient (acting as a grand jury) it should impeach. The Senate then should try the case on it's merits. People seem to have forgotten that this is America and innocent until proven guilty is still supposed to be one of the founding cornerstones of our legal system. If the House chooses not to investigate, it sets the precedent that the President is above the law. DeFazio, as a Representative, should be concerned with the evidence, not if Senators will or will not act with integrity and put evidence and law above party affiliation (and I mean Democratic, Republican, and independent).

    Rep. DeFazio asks: "Supporters of impeachment need to ask themselves a question: is the primary goal to attempt to personally punish the President and Vice President or is it to reverse the many detrimental policies that have been enacted over the last six years?"

    My answer: Neither. The primary goal is to uphold the Constitution of the United States and ensure that the founders' vision of checks and balances remain. I believe that this administration has broken laws and ignored the Constitution, but I also believe that it is a disservice to them and to the country, to leave the question on the table. There are others that believe the President and his administration have acted appropriately. There are only two answers and the answer, unless convicted in impeachment trail, is that the President acted appropriately and any and all future President’s may act in the same way. That means the 44th President, the 45th President, and if we last that long, the 100th President. I recommend that Representative DeFazio review Bill Moyer’s Journal on impeachment.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    It is unfortunate that Peter DeFazio does not see beyond the tactical political situation. Of course it is important to repair the damage to US statute done by the PATRIOT Act and other ill-advised changes, but it is more important to reestablish constitutional controls over the executive. No legislation can do this if the executive holds itself above the law. If the Shrubbery is allowed to flout the Constitution, no later administration will respect it.

    Also important is citizen confidence in the workings of democracy. Political cynicism flowered in our nation when Nixon was pardoned and investigation into the Watergate crimes ended. Characterizing the pardon as a necessary step for national healing was a sham. What it really did was prevent healing of the body politic, sowing alienation throughout the land.

  • Dickey45 (unverified)
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    I seriously doubt Defazio (sorry for the misspelling) reads this.... :(

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    John, I am not trying to defend the administration, but on your points:

    1) Torture. First you'd have to find evidence that Bush knowingly approved of torture, and second, you'd have to prove that the techniques used were not sanctioned by Congress. Bush can easily point to opinions crafted by his Attorney General saying such acts are legal under US law. Sure, you think such opinions are bullshit, but are you going to impeach a president for following the legal advice of the country's chief law enforcement officer?

    2) Katrina? What impeachable offenses? Yes, in a metaphorical way, it is "criminal" the way they bungled that disaster, but we don't impeach for bungling.

    3) Imprisonment of detainees. This is working its way through the courts. The Administration does have a legal argument which may lose in Court. Gitmo has been a known issue for four years and both parties have closed their eyes. Congress passed a law that overturned a previous SC decision on the treatment of enemy combatants. I don't agree with one thing they are doing, but this is not impeachable by a long stretch.

    Tom mentions the Patriot Act but conveniently forgets that the Patriot Act was passed by a large majority in Congress? If is is unconstitutional, the SCOTUS will rule thusly, but impeaching the Administration for implementing a piece of legislation that was passed by Congress is beyond bizarre.

    Representative DeFazio is right. Impeachment is a sideshow and won't help us move the country forward.

  • Iris M (unverified)
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    Blumenauer IMPEACHMENT Blitz this Thursday author: Granny M. Impeachment tide is rising. Maybe Earl doesn't know we're serious. Maybe we need to tell him loud & clear.
    THIS THURSDAY:

    Invest two hours to save the country:

    Vigil to Impeach, noon to 2 pm. at Rep. Earl Blumenauer's Portland office, 729 NE Oregon St., Ste. 115.

    Invest two minutes: Call, FAX, e-mail - "IMPEACH NOW"

    E-mail: blumenauer.house.gov/about/Contact.shtml Phone: 503-231-2300 Portland 202-225-4811 D.C. FAX: 503-230-5413 Portland 202-225-8941 D.C.

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