Sunday, November 25, 2007

'Impeachment: If not now, when?'

Lawmakers need to stand up for the Constitution and support impeachment
 
By LINDA BOYD
GUEST COLUMNIST
 
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. -- Article II, Section 4
 
On Nov. 6, Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney on the floor of the House of Representatives. For one shining moment the will of the majority of Americans and the promise of this nation's founders were truly represented.
 
The detailed charges were solemnly read from the House podium and televised on C-Span. House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer made a motion to table the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lobbied hard for votes to table.
 
In a stunning turnaround, House Republicans changed strategy and voted decisively to prevent tabling the impeachment resolution.
 
Pelosi was defied by 85 Democratic members who voted against tabling the impeachment resolution. This includes John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and six committee members. The resolution was quickly voted back to the Judiciary Committee, where it is not resting quietly.
 
Judiciary Committee member Bob Wexler wrote, "The American people are served well with a legitimate and thorough impeachment inquiry. I will urge the Judiciary Committee to schedule impeachment hearings immediately and not let this issue languish as it has over the last six months. Only through hearings can we begin to correct the abuses of Dick Cheney and the Bush administration."
 
Impeachment is squarely on the table, and momentum is building. A year ago, almost no elected official breathed the word impeachment. Now impeachment has hit the House floor, and our electeds have gone on record. Millions of Americans are demanding an end to executive abuse of power.
 
After six years of state of emergency, the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, continual war and occupations, our Constitution is deeply in crisis. Americans are in danger of losing our system of government and civil rights if they do not roll back the Bush administration's assault on the rule of law.
 
Allowing Cheney and George W. Bush to finish their terms without being impeached means future presidents are free to copy their lawless behavior. Of course many important issues deserve the attention of Congress. But the Constitution is the foundation of our democracy, not just an issue. Without the Constitution, we have nothing.
 
Polls show that 74 percent of Democrats and the majority of American adults support impeaching Cheney. "Never in our history have the high crimes and misdemeanors been so flagrant, and the people of our country know it," writes local author Richard Behan.
 
Kucinich has targeted Cheney first, but investigations will implicate the president as well. For the first time in the history of the Gallup Poll, 50 percent of respondents say they "strongly disapprove" of the president. Richard Nixon had reached the previous high, 48 percent, just before an impeachment inquiry was launched in 1974. With these numbers, why aren't Bush and Cheney gone already?
 
The vice president is accused of:
 
purposely manipulating intelligence to fabricate a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in order to justify an attack on Iraq;
 
deceiving Congress about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida;
 
threatening aggression against the Republic of Iran, absent any real threat to the United States.
 
These violations of the Constitution and international treaty are just the tip of the iceberg. More articles of impeachment can be added at any time, and ample evidence to convict is on the public record. Representatives need to introduce articles regarding:
 
illegal war, in violation of both international treaty and the Constitution;
 
widespread domestic wiretapping in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a felony. Bush already has admitted to this;
 
condoning torture in violation of federal laws and international treaties;
 
rescinding habeas corpus, the cornerstone of Western law since the Magna Carta;
 
obstruction of justice regarding U.S. attorney firings;
 
subversion of the Constitution, abuse of signing statements and rescinding habeas corpus.
 
It's astounding that our representatives to Congress carry on with business as usual knowing that Americans lack habeas corpus and a working code of law. I want my representative, Dave Reichert, to block the doors of the House until habeas is restored as a basic human right in this nation!
 
In light of Bush's steady drumbeat for war with Iran, Kucinich said he will consider an impeachment resolution against him.
 
"Impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran," he says.
 
"The most conservative principle of the Founding Fathers was distrust of unchecked power. Centuries of experience substantiated that absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Constitution embraced a separation of powers to keep the legislative, executive and judicial branches in equilibrium," Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, said in the October 2006 edition of Washington Monthly.
 
If Congress were serious about oversight, there already would be dozens of bills and resolutions calling for impeachment of Bush and Cheney. The "Unitary Executive Theory" violates the principle of balance of power in the Constitution. The president cites this "unitary" power in hundreds of signing statements that say he can ignore laws passed by Congress.
 
The First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments are all now subject to the caprice of government officials. The Military Commissions Act allows U.S. citizens to be detained without due process if they are declared enemy combatants. Without our permission, this country has become an exporter of torture.
 
Congress has failed to provide oversight and exercise its authority to rein in a criminal administration. Only swift action on impeachment can redeem it now. The people have done the heavy work of bringing impeachment forward. Representatives need only ask if the allegations are serious enough to warrant investigations.
 
George Bush and Dick Cheney promote an imperial presidency. They assert that the executive is the most powerful branch of government, undermining the judiciary and Congress in violation of the Constitution's bedrock principle of shared power among three co-equal branches. This subverts the very nature of our system of government.
 
"This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy. ... That's a big problem because that's essentially a dictatorship," Fein said.
 
Washington For Impeachment and Citizens to Impeach Bush and Cheney are working to inform the public, collect signatures to petitions, provide forums, and lobby representatives. Washington was the second state to sponsor a bill for impeachment in the state Legislature.
 
Washington State Democratic organizations have passed resolutions in 11 Democratic legislative districts, five counties and the Washington State Democratic Central Committee. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, has received impeachment resolutions from almost every legislative district within his congressional district. When will he represent the will of his constituents and honor his oath to protect the Constitution?
 
The national movement to impeach is a non-partisan effort to restore the Constitution and the rule of law. People across the political spectrum can unite to preserve the Constitution and civil liberties given to us by the founders. Impeachment is the peaceful, orderly, constitutionally prescribed way to rid ourselves of a lawless administration.
 
The issue is not about removing Bush and Cheney as much as it is about preserving the Constitution and redeeming the office of the executive. The Constitution is the contract of governance between the people and the government. What happens when major portions of the contract are violated?
 
Congress has failed to call the president and vice president to account, so citizens must turn up the heat. Members of Congress who fail to demand investigations are covering for criminals. Every elected official has sworn an oath to "support and protect the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic." Anything less than impeachment and a full repudiation of the Bush administration's crimes and violations of the law is a dereliction of duty and a betrayal of the public trust.
 
If we want our democracy back, we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work to clean out the House.
Linda Boyd is director of Washington For Impeachment, www.washingtonforimpeachment.org. Citizens to Impeach Bush and Cheney, in Olympia: www.citizensimpeach.org
 
~ link ~
 

Reverend Billy's Shopocalypse

What Would Jesus Buy?
- the movie: http://wwjbmovie.com/

- the trailer:

US steps up plans for military intervention in Pakistan

by Bill Van Auken
Global Research
22 Nov 2007

In the midst of public statements of support for "democracy" in
Pakistan and the recent visit to Islamabad by the American envoy John
Negroponte, Washington is quietly preparing for a stepped-up military
intervention in the crisis-ridden country.

According to the New York Times Monday, plans have been drawn up by
the US military's Special Operations Command for deploying Special
Forces troops in Pakistan's frontier regions for the purpose of
training indigenous militias to combat forces aligned with the Taliban
and Al Qaeda.

Citing unnamed military officials, the newspaper reports that the
proposal would "expand the presence of military trainers in Pakistan,
directly finance a separate tribal paramilitary force that until now
has proved largely ineffective and pay militias that agreed to fight
Al Qaeda and foreign extremists."

American military officials familiar with the proposal said that it
was modeled on the initiative by American occupation forces in Iraq to
arm and support Sunni militias in Anbar province in a campaign against
the Al Qaeda in Iraq group there.

According to the Times report, skepticism that the same strategy can
be adapted to the deteriorating situation in Pakistan centers on "the
question of whether such partnerships can be forged without a
significant American military presence in Pakistan." The newspaper
adds that "it is unclear whether enough support can be found among the
tribes."

While the Pentagon admits to only about 50 US troops currently
stationed in Pakistan as "advisors" to the Pakistani armed forces,
that number would swell substantially under the proposed escalation.
The Times cites a briefing prepared by the Special Operations Command
that claims the beefed-up US forces would not be engaged in
"conventional combat" in Pakistan. It quotes unnamed military
officials as acknowledging, however, that they "might be involved in
strikes against senior militant leaders, under specific conditions."

In other words, American Special Forces units would be used to carry
out targeted assassinations and attacks on strongholds of Islamist
forces.

In addition to the plan to recruit and train new paramilitary militias
in the frontier region, Washington has developed a $350 million
program to train and equip the existing 85,000-member Frontier Corps,
a uniformed force recruited from among tribes in the Pakistan border
region.

There is also considerable skepticism about the prospects for this
program. "The training of the Frontier Corps remains a concern for
some," the Times reports: "NATO and American soldiers in Afghanistan
have often blamed the Frontier Corps for aiding and abetting Taliban
insurgents mounting cross-border attacks. 'It's going to take years to
turn them into a professional force,' said one Western military
official. 'Is it worth it now?'"

There are growing concerns in Washington that the martial law regime
imposed by the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, at the
beginning of this month might unleash revolutionary convulsions that
could topple the military regime, which has served as a lynchpin for
American interests in the region.

The Bush administration has repeatedly demanded that Musharraf take
action against Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the areas bordering
Afghanistan. Residents on both sides of the border are ethnic
Pashtuns. The latest US National Intelligence Estimate released last
July charged that Al Qaeda had reestablished "safe havens" in
Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Taliban-aligned forces have been able to extend their influence from
the Waziristan region along the Afghan border further into Pakistan,
establishing control to the north over a large portion of the Swat
valley in the North West Frontier Province.

According to press reports, over 1,000 civilians, members of the
security forces and Islamist fighters have been killed in fighting in
the region over the past five months.

Senior Pakistani military officials announced over the weekend that
the army had massed nearly 20,000 troops backed by tanks and artillery
for a major offensive in the Swat district aimed at wresting control
from militias loyal to Mullah Maulana Fazlullah, a pro-Taliban cleric.

Such offensives have proven ineffectual in the past, however, in no
small part due to the support that the Islamists enjoy within
influential sections of the Pakistani military and intelligence
apparatus, a relationship that was solidified during the CIA-backed
war against the Soviet-supported regime in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

These forces have also gained strength as a result of popular
hostility to the slaughter unleashed by the US occupation in
neighboring Afghanistan, combined with resentment over the poverty and
social inequality produced by the economic policies of the Pakistani
regime.

A clear indication of the depths of concern in Washington over the
unraveling of its client regime in Pakistan came Sunday in the form of
an op-ed piece published by the New York Times under the bylines of
Fred Kagan and Michael O'Hanlon. Kagan, a member of the right-wing
American Enterprise Institute, is a longstanding supporter of the US
war in Iraq and was a signatory of the Project for a New American
Century letter in 2001 demanding that the Bush administration invade
the country in response to 9/11. He drafted a document that served as
a blueprint for the recent "surge" that sent 35,000 more US troops
into Iraq.

O'Hanlon, a member of the supposedly more liberal and
Democratic-oriented Brookings Institute, has also emerged as a
prominent supporter of the "surge" in Iraq and last April co-authored
a paper with Kagan setting out a "grand strategy" for US imperialism.
This envisioned a war against Iran as well as interventions in North
Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The document urged
"finding the resources to field a large-enough standing Army and
Marine Corps to handle personnel-intensive missions."

The Times piece, entitled "Pakistan's Collapse, Our Problem,"
advocates the immediate consideration of "feasible military options in
Pakistan."

It states: "The most likely possible dangers are these: a complete
collapse of Pakistani government rule that allows an extreme Islamist
movement to fill the vacuum; a total loss of federal control over the
outlying provinces, which splinter along ethnic and tribal lines; or a
struggle within the Pakistani military in which the minority
sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda try to establish Pakistan as a
state sponsor of terrorism."

The article cautions against complacency that the Pakistani military
command and the country's ruling elite will manage to maintain
stability. "Americans felt similarly about the shah's regime in Iran
until it was too late," it warns.

The two military analysts lay out alternate "scenarios" for US
interventions. The first, consisting of a full-scale intervention and
occupation, would, they say, require more than a million troops,
making it politically and militarily unfeasible.

Instead, they suggest a possible Special Forces operation aimed at
seizing control of Pakistani warheads and nuclear materials.

They put forward an additional "broader option" that would involve the
deployment of "a sizable combat force" with the mission of propping up
the Pakistani military and waging war on the pro-Taliban forces in the
border regions.

"So, if we got a large number of troops into the country, what would
they do?" the article asks. "The most likely directive would be to
help Pakistan's military and security forces hold the country's
center?primarily the region around the capital, Islamabad, and the
populous areas like Punjab Province to its south."

It adds: "If a holding operation in the nation's center was
successful, we would probably then seek to establish order in the
parts of Pakistan where extremists operate. Beyond propping up the
state, this would benefit American efforts in Afghanistan by depriving
terrorists of the sanctuaries they have enjoyed in Pakistan's tribal
and frontier regions."

Whatever limited lip service the US State Department gives to the call
for ending the martial law regime imposed by Musharraf in Pakistan,
the real aims and methods of the American ruling
establishment?Democratic and Republican alike?emerge clearly in the
Kagan-O'Hanlon article.

What is now being seriously contemplated is yet another colonial-style
war in a region that stretches across the Middle East and Central and
South Asia, from Iraq to Pakistan, with the objective of salvaging,
with or without Musharraf, the Pakistani military?the corrupt and
repressive instrument with which Washington has been aligned for
decades.

The crisis in Pakistan is symptomatic of the ever-widening instability
created by the two wars?in Afghanistan and Iraq?which Washington has
waged to tighten the US grip over the region's energy resources.

Now, with open and simultaneous discussions of possible military
interventions in Iran and Pakistan, what is emerging is the growing
threat of a global military conflagration.


Bill Van Auken is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global
Research Articles by Bill Van Auken
 

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