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NY Congressman Won't Sign On For Impeachment Because of Political Baggage

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It started with my letter, seeking my Representative's position on HR 333:

Dear Honorable Rep Engel,

The current request for defense appropriations is excessive and almost certainly is budgeting for action in Iran. Because the President has become so emboldened by his recent support in Congress of previous appropriations, for ridiculous surveillance powers, and the failure to override the veto on child healthcare, he is now seeking billions more to continue the war in Iraq and possibly begin a new conflict in Iran. Defense contractors want to build bombs but our military has little more to give. My brother is leaving for Iraq any day now and I implore you to step up bravely against the continuation of this war. Additionally, Iran poses us no immediate danger. The threat from "terror" is real but the scare tactics from Washington are not proportional and only hamper our true readiness. The President must be STOPPED as must his Democratic and Republican cronies in Congress who are benefitting from continuing war profiteering.

With every indicator showing climate change accelerating, the time for representative democracy to return to the USA is now. We need strong leaders who will take a stand against duplicitous politicians. It is crucial to sign on to HR 333 and begin impeachment investigations. The President is currently bleeding the country dry economically, environmentally, militarily and ethically - so just imagine what he will try to get away with as his days in office dwindle. America needs a moral shot in the arm to signal a return to traditional values and that means renouncing and firing this out-of-touch corporatist torturer. I am ashamed of our current leadership and I hope you will stand tall for us and our children and sign on for impeachment without delay.

It was only a few days letter when I received the his standardized reply on the issue:

Subject: A Message from Congressman  Eliot L. Engel.
Thank you for contacting me regarding impeachment of President Bush.I appreciate knowing your views on this issue.

I share your outrage at the damage the Bush Administration has caused to our nation. The list of errors, misbehavior, and offenses is long, and it will take years before we recover. Most infamous among them was its use of faulty information and rhetoric to lead us into a misguided war in Iraq. While that might prove to be the most monumental of our time, the list of this Administration's transgressions runs much longer. From the use of torture to illegal wiretapping to so many other excesses, this Administration caused a serious fault in the bedrock of our democracy: the Constitutional separation of powers and limited government.

To be sure, we must get to the bottom of this Administration's decision-making process leading up to the invasion of Iraq and how they 'sold' the war to the American people and Congress. For this reason, I have co-sponsored the following legislation:
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H.Res. 505 requesting the President of the United States and directing the Secretary of State to provide to the House of Representatives certain documents in their possession relating to the White House Iraq Group, including all drafts of all white papers concerning Iraq's nuclear threat assembled in 2003 by the Group;
H.Res. 624 requesting the President of the United States and directing the Secretary of State to provide to the House of Representatives certain documents in their possession concerning U.S. policies under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Geneva Conventions toward individuals captured by or transferred to the United States or in U.S. custody as part of the Global War on Terror;
H.Res. 642 requesting the President and directing the Secretary of State to provide to the House of Representatives certain documents in their possession created in preparation for and during the Secretary of State's trip to Europe in December 2005, relating to: (i) U.S. policies under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment toward individuals captured by or transferred to the United States or detained in U.S. custody; and (ii) U.S. policies regarding any facility outside of U.S. territory for the detention of individuals captured by or transferred to the United States or detained in U.S. custody;
H.R. 3003 to establish an independent Commission to investigate detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib, and allegations of mistreatment, abuse, and torture of other detainees in U.S. custody; and
H.R. 4351 to create an independent commission to investigate any contracting fraud or improprieties that have come about in Iraq.
Most recently, I vehemently opposed the legislation (S. 1927) passed by both chambers of Congress to expand the government's ability to listen in on foreign conversations, without approval of the special court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). I am disheartened that my colleagues voted to pass this legislation on August 4, 2007. It sunsets after six months, and we should change it then.

Still, I remember well what Republicans did to President Clinton. I spoke out when they dragged him through the mud during their politically-inspired impeachment. This ugly, drawn-out process tore at the basic fabric of our nation.While I fully understand why many believe that impeachment of President Bush is warranted, I do not believe that our country should be put through an impeachment proceeding. That process would be extremely disruptive and would also fuel the notion that impeachment proceedings were simply another political maneuver to be used by partisans to cripple their opponents, much as the Republicans did with President Clinton.

Rather than impeachment, voters can and should make their feelings known in the 2008 elections. The public made it very clear in the 2006 elections that it did not like where the Bush Administration and the Republican Party were leading our country. Since then, Congressional Democrats have answered the call by passing important, common-sense legislation that reflects the priorities of the American people. Our legislative accomplishments to date include: a fiscal 2008 budget plan passed with new controls to ensure fiscal responsibility; homeland security measures proposed by the 9/11 Commission, such as broader screening of cargo bound for the United States, more support for cities at high-risk of attack, and improved communications systems for emergency workers so they can better coordinate during an attack or natural disaster; meaningful ethics and lobbying reforms; a far-reaching energy package designed to wean America off its dependence on oil; improvements to child health insurance coverage for low-income families; the first minimum wage increase in a decade; a measure allowing broader stem cell research; and legislation to help students handle soaring college costs and to crack down on misconduct in the student loan industry.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If I can be of any further assistance in the future please do not hesitate to let me know.

Sincerely, Eliot L. Engel, Member of Congress
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So there you have it - though Rep. Engel believes impeachment of this administration may be warranted, he refuses to sign on because the Republicans sought to impeach Bill Clinton. Well I don't remember the "fabric of our nation" tearing, I remember the press selling a lot of newspapers and Jay Leno making a lot of jokes. Is this why justice must elude the USA today for me and my children? Because Rep. Engel was upset at the Republicans' pursuit of Bill Clinton?

I think Mr. Engel may be a touch removed from the average American here. Surely the Republicans were hounding the Clintons for a host of reasons, including Whitewater, Filegate, Travelgate, the Pan-Asian Donor scandal - but it was only the sex scandals that enabled them to finally corner Bill. I'd suggest that the Clintons could have easily avoided all of the above by keeping their books transparent, following the law carefully, and keeping their wedding vows sacrosanct. Is this why my kids will have to pay for another year of Bush pillaging the treasury?

The impeachment process is ugly, indeed - it is the investigation of crimes committed by the President. It's SUPPOSED to be ugly, but it is supposed to repair the wrongdoing and punish the guilty. Mr. Engel would have us accept Bush's wrongdoing and wait till the 2008 elections to make our voice heard again. This is a sorry excuse from a member of a Democratic Congress with a disapproval rating lower even then Bush's and exactly because they have continued to appease the President, turn a blind eye to his crimes, and worse yet, ignore the voters of 2006 who clearly were sick of government corruption and wanted an end to the Iraq occupation. With the most important issues going ignored by the Democrats, why should we listen anymore?

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(OpEdNews Contributing Editor since October 2006) Inner city schoolteacher from New York, mostly covering media manipulation. I put election/finance reform ahead of all issues but also advocate for fiscal conservatism, ethics in journalism and (more...)

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