Date: November 16, 2007
|Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House||202- 225-4188|
|Rep. John Conyers, Chair, House Judiciary Committee||202- 225-0072|
|Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Subcommittee Chair, Constitution, |
Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Committee
|Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Democratic Majority Leader||202- 225-4300|
|Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Sponsor H. Res. 333||202- 225-5745|
|Rep. Yvette Clarke, (D-NY 11th), Cosponsor H. Res. 333||202- 226-0112|
|Rep. Edolphus Towns, (D-NY 10th), Cosponsor H. Res. 333||202- 225-1018|
|Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)||202- 228-3027|
|Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY)||202- 228-0282|
|Rep. Rahm Emanuel, DCCC Chair||202- 225-5603|
|Howard Dean, DNC Chair||202- 863-8174|
Dear Speaker Pelosi, I am blessed to live in Brooklyn, NY. I was honored to be involved in meetings earlier this year with two of our Brooklyn Congressional representatives, Yvette Clarke and Ed Towns. As a result of our meetings, both of these reps stepped up to co-sponsor H. Res. 333.
My fellow citizens and I prepared diligently for these meetings. We knew the resolution’s three articles of impeachment against Cheney. We studied the supporting documentation available on Kucinich’s website. As Americans paying attention well before H. Res. 333 was introduced, we knew the Downing Street Memo, Henry Waxman’s Iraq on the Record, Elizabeth Holtzman’s The Impeachment of George W. Bush and of course John Conyers’ The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War, and Illegal Domestic Surveillance. We also knew our history regarding both Watergate and the Clinton impeachment. We were quite prepared to make the case and fight for it in each of our meetings with Representatives Clarke and Towns.
However, to these representatives’ great credit, we did not have to fight them to represent us. We only had to quote the exact language of the resolution. In Articles I and II, Cheney stands accused of having “purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States” regarding Iraq’s nonexistent WMD’s and mythical ties to Al Qaeda. In Article III, Cheney is called to account for his illegal threats and warmongering against Iran. As per the resolution, “the Vice President is legally bound by the U.S. Constitution's adherence to international law that prohibits threats of use of force.” Both Clarke and Towns listened attentively to us, their constituents, and agreed on the spot to cosponsor H. Res. 333.
Speaker Pelosi, you know as well as anyone that we are now in Iraq and apparently can’t get out because of the lies told by this administration, and in the case of Cheney, so well documented in H. Res. 333. It is because of these lies that as of today 3,866 of our soldiers are now dead, leaving their families shattered. 28,424 of our soldiers have been wounded, some horrifically maimed. Over 1 million Iraqi civilians are dead, over 2 million are refugees, and another 2 million Iraqis are internally displaced, all because of the lies told by the Bush Administration and left unchallenged by complicit members of Congress.
Representatives Clarke and Towns are committed to specifically holding the Vice President (and by extension, the entire Bush Administration) responsible for the lies that resulted in the catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq. What do Representatives Towns and Clarke understand about demanding Executive accountability that the rest of you Democrats don’t?
The arguments against impeachment are shameful, ridiculous and demeaning. Our NYC representative Jerrold Nadler, a man I once held in great respect, says over and over again that “we don’t have the votes”. As the chair of the subcommittee that is now purposefully blocking H. Res. 333 from ever seeing the light of day, his statement is breathtakingly cynical and disingenuous. As you both know, impeachment hearings are the beginning of the investigative process, not the end. Until and unless the Judiciary Committee begins asking the questions, issuing subpoenas, compelling testimony and examining documents and other evidence, it is impossible and intellectually dishonest to presume to know what the evidence would finally show if the Committee bothered to look for it. Therefore, neither Congressman Nadler nor anyone else can count votes regarding a case the Judiciary Committee refuses to make. (It is useful to remember that the Watergate hearings were well underway before Butterfield revealed the existence of the Nixon tapes. No one on the 1972 Judiciary Committee knew about the tapes before the hearings began. Similarly, no one knows what today’s Judiciary Committee would find this time, but by all indications a real investigation into the details of the run up to war would not present Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld or other members of the Bush Administration in an especially positive light.)
Nadler essentially echoes other “leading Democrats” who oppose impeachment on the grounds that it would be “a distraction”. This is pure Orwell – the truth of course is precisely opposite. Impeachment would be an intensely focusing event. Impeachment would focus both the Congress and the public as to how we got into in this war to begin with, which of course would be the first step in getting out. Impeachment would also focus on the erosion of our Constitutionally mandated system of checks and balances. Only by restoring our government’s balance of power, and by dismantling the Unitary Executive, will we avoid another illegal war such as with Iran.
Of course, holding impeachment hearings would also focus public attention on the complicity of the Democratic Party as well, which common sense would suggest is one of the prime reasons “the leadership” is against it. This fear reaction is both morally contemptible and politically suicidal, as Congress’ subterranean poll numbers show. It just is beyond your imagination, apparently, that leadership requires taking responsibility, admitting your mistakes, and resolving to learn from them. These are hard won life lessons my nine year-old daughter knows, yet seem to elude you.
Holtzman and others repeatedly make the point that the Judiciary Committee must work on a bipartisan basis regarding impeachment, as was the case during the Watergate hearings and was NOT the case under Henry Hyde’s investigations of President Clinton. It is hard to believe that given the horrific sacrifice of our soldiers and their families, there is not enough bipartisan support on the Judiciary Committee to take up the example of famed Republican Howard Baker and ask “What did the Vice President know, and when did he know it?”. By not allowing impeachment hearings to go forward, you are asking America to believe that getting to the truth about why we went to war does not matter to John Conyers, Jerry Nadler, or anyone on the Judiciary Committee. Is this really what you want America to believe?
Outside of the non-partisan Committee, of course, impeachment would be a political windfall for the Democrats and a disaster of Katrina-like proportions for the Republicans. The country is yearning for straight talk. Yes, you Democrats surely have a lot to answer for regarding the crimes of the Bush Administration, and you would have to own up to it honestly. Nonetheless, if you, Speaker Pelosi, would allow the Judiciary Committee to do its work, you Democrats would finally and meaningfully differentiate yourselves not only from the Republicans now but from politics as usual. If you trusted the Constitution, if you trusted the American people, and if you truly supported our soldiers, you would be determined to get the facts about the run up to Iraq. You would vow never to go to war over knowingly false pretenses as well, and most importantly, you would reclaim your Constitutionally mandated role as the ONLY branch of government with the authority to declare war in the first place. That is not an Executive branch prerogative and you Democrats should be determined to reclaim that all-important role for the Congress, where it belongs. You could passionately make the case that our system of checks and balances has been rendered inoperative and that the Democratic Party is committed to re-establishing the Constitution as this government’s true operations manual.
The inevitable fact that the nonpartisan work of the Judiciary Committee would be politicized in the media should be fine with you. You should admit that those of you who believed this Administration and voted to support the invasion of Iraq were wrong to do so, but let’s all remember where the buck stops. This is a fight you should take on because you would be in the right, and you would win. The rule of law, the necessity for peace, and the sacrifices of our soldiers and their families are all on the side of holding Bush and Cheney accountable.
But you won’t do it. Because you know better.
The moral of the story we’re getting from politicians such as Jerry Nadler and you, Speaker Pelosi, is this: You Democrats do not want to hold Bush accountable. You do not see a problem with a Unitary Executive because you anticipate the next president to be a “good Democrat” such as Senator Clinton. Winning big next November is all you care about, and you couldn’t be happier to watch the ongoing illegal disaster that is the last year of the Bush Administration unfold so you can blame everything on the Republicans. Democratic Party stalwarts such as my own disgusting Senator Schumer approve an Attorney General who says the President can break the law with impunity. Let him break the law, you say – that works for us! Let the war continue for another three, six, nine months, until 2013, forever... whatever. Increasing casualty numbers and a broken military works for us! Let the president express support for Pakistan, a nuclear power run by a military dictator who locks up lawyers who are pushing for democracy and lawful government under their constitution. More disastrous foreign policy mistakes by Bush works for us!
Most cynically on your part, you think that many of us supporting impeachment are going to end up voting Democratic again and again because we have no place else to go. I would not be so sure. We are the activist base that you are counting on to get on the buses, work the phone banks, and empty our bank accounts in support of anyone but Rudy or Mitt. After seven years of Bush/Cheney, we know bullies when we see them, and Speaker Pelosi, we’re looking right at you. Do not take the progressive vote for granted in November. I am supporting Kucinich precisely because he does what all of you should do – he stands up for peace and for the Constitution. I will not lift a finger or donate a penny to help any Congressional Democrat who has not co-sponsored H. Res. 333, and I will work actively against those who have not, such as Nadler. It is clear that we have to truly clean house in Washington.
Whatever country we are now, we are not America. We will not be America again unless people like you decide to fight back. If you do not support impeachment, you are enabling the hostile takeover of our country, and we the people are not going to stand for it. Let the shareholder revolt begin.
Brooklyn NY - 11th Congressional District