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Pelosi, Conyers, the People, and Impeachment

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By David Swanson

Speech delivered in Portland, Maine, at rally organized by onApril 28th national day of impeachment events organized by

I want to thank Maine Impeach dot org for putting this event together.  This is a wonderful crowd!  The paper on grounds for impeachment drafted by Maine Lawyers for Democracy is incredibly well done:

I spoke earlier today at a rally in Boston, Massachusetts, where one of the other speakers was Dan DeWalt, whose leadership and determination after many months led to the Vermont State Senate passing a resolution demanding the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.  We spoke at Faneuil Hall, where men like Wendell Phillips led a movement to abolish slavery, something the wise and knowing of that day said could not be done.  Those abolitionists made their movement a fight for freedom of the press.  And make no mistake: our struggle is the same.

The corporations that control our communications system do not report the grounds for impeachment, do not poll the public's support for it, and at least until today have not reported on our movement.  There have been exceptions, and the most significant has been the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage, who recently received a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on our President's habit of violating laws and announcing his intention to do so with so-called signing statements.  There can be no better grounds for impeachment than those public advertisements of criminality.

And there is hope that today may mark a breakthrough in compelling the media to cover impeachment.  In fact, I just did a television interview in the foyer.  Events are being held in 43 states and several foreign countries today.  Some are holding rallies.  Others are spelling out the word IMPEACH with their bodies on beaches, with boats on lakes, with pizzas on boardwalks.  I just got a text message that said "Everyone is taking off their clothes and spelling IMPEACH on the beach at Coney Island."  I just got a phone call from Seattle where they've stretched hug IMPEACH banners over the highways.  A fleet of seven airplanes is taking the impeachment message to the skies and photographing the displays below.  And Bush is giving a speech in Miami where a huge crowd is gathered, but they're not there to welcome him.

Part of what has given this movement energy is the action that a Congressman from Cleveland, Ohio, took last Tuesday.  Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced House Resolution 333, which contains 3 articles of impeachment against Richard B. Cheney.  The Congress Members from Maine need to cosponsor this bill or defend the actions of Dick Cheney.  Kucinich is a hero now to millions of Americans and to people around the world, but he merely did his duty, it was a long time coming, and it is his duty to impeach Bush as well.

At stake is not just an offensive use of signing statements.  At stake is accountability for (and I am neither exaggerating nor using metaphor) – at stake is accountability for mass murder.  A war based on lies and launched by an unelected president and vice president has cost the lives of approximately a million Iraqis, caused millions more to flee their country, and displaced many more within Iraq.  In the process, over 3,000 US troops have died, tens of thousands have been wounded, and been driven into debt and divorce and been left to struggle with post traumatic stress disorder.  

If one man on the streets of Portland, Maine, or some small American town, murdered one person, would prosecution be optional?  Would the local sheriff wait for years before asking the man's friends to come in and answer a few questions?  Would police and prosecutors stake their future careers on keeping the murderer at large?  But this is the 2008 election strategy of Sheriff Pelosi and her followers.  They want the war makers left free precisely because the public is outraged.  They want the war to keep going so that they can benefit by "opposing" it.  But November 2008 is too far off, and Pelosi will not be able to hold back the public pressure.  

At the start of 2007, which is now one-third wasted, the new Democratic committee chairmen tried to appease the citizenry with talk of investigations and oversight.  Four months later, the House and Senate intelligence committees have not investigated the lies that took us to war.  The judiciary committees and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have looked into some related matters.  But officials who have testified have experienced extraordinary lapses of memory.  The unitary executive branch has refused to produce subpoenaed documents.  And now Condoleezza Rice says she's "not inclined" to obey a subpoena requiring her to appear and answer questions about forged documents that were used to mislead our nation into war.  She's not claiming executive privilege.  What sense would that make these years after the crime was committed?  She's claiming unitary executive privilege – the privilege to violate the law.

Congress can't compel Rice to appear, and neither can our courts.  Law enforcement is handled by the executive branch.  But executives who fail to faithfully execute the laws of this land can be removed from office.  That power lies solely with Congress and is called impeachment!

Last night on PBS, Bill Moyers celebrated the Democrats' beginning to use subpoenas.  For 6 years, he said, they had been suffering from subpoena envy.  I'm afraid they now may be experiencing premature congratulation, and self-congratulation.  If subpoenas are ignored, the options for Congress Members, including Chairman Henry Waxman, are: backing impeachment, or retiring.  And I don't want Congressman Waxman to retire.  

I'm usually asked to speak about the evidence for impeachment, and frankly I'm a little tired of it.  We've got enough smoking guns to fill an NRA convention.  The evidence that Bush and Cheney intentionally lied to Congress (which is a felony) and to the public (which is an assault on democracy) about weapons of mass destruction and alleged Iraqi ties to al Qaeda and 9-11 is overwhelming.  The Maine Lawyers have spelled it out, and it is collected at

Bush and Cheney are on video telling these lies.  Cheney repeatedly visited the CIA headquarters to pressure them to get it wrong – a story we may hear about in George Tenet's forthcoming book.  Cheney set up a phony intelligence operation in the Pentagon, distorted a National Intelligence Estimate, leaked misleading bits of classified information, and helped coordinate a marketing campaign to promote the war.  Cheney led a campaign to punish Joe Wilson for exposing one of the lies – the same lie that Rice now refuses to talk about.  The campaign involved exposing an undercover CIA agent, and act of TREASON.  Cheney has directed contracts to Halliburton and profited there from, an act of BRIBERY.  Cheney has allowed secret meetings of corporate executives to determine our national energy and military policies, a HIGH CRIME And MISDEMEANOR.  A section of the US Constitution that was displayed last Thursday on a giant banner dropped in the courtyard of the Hart Senate Office Building (for which 14 people were arrested) says that officers of our government shall be removed from office upon impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.  With Dick Cheney you get the whole package.

With George W. Bush it's worse.  No investigation is needed to expose his war lies, or his spying in violation of the law.  He's on video for years lying about warrantless spying and later brazenly confessing to it.  He's on video being warned about Hurricane Katrina.  He's on video claiming he wasn't warned.  Both Bush and Cheney are on video threatening an aggressive attack on Iran.  Such a threat – just the threat – violates the UN Charter and Article 6 of the US Constitution.  As does the war on Iraq and all the war crimes that have been part of it.  And Bush and Cheney are responsible for the actions of their subordinates, including Alberto Gonzales, especially those actions they do not investigate or hold anyone accountable for.  

Bush has detained without charge, held people in secret prisons, and tortured.  These facts are not in dispute.  The crimes are simply so brazen, so radical, so far over the line of decency, such a retreat to the evils of monarchy that American revolutionaries thought they were leaving behind, that people are pretending not to see, and the media is not helping.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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