Note: This testimony has been submitted to the Government Operations and Elections Committtee of the Washington State Senate, which is holding a hearing March 1 on a proposed joint resolution, S8016, by State Senator Eric Oemig, which if passed by both houses of the state legislature will call on the US House of Representatives to initiate impeachment hearings.
To the Committee:
Thank you for your important and patriotic work in considering Sen. Eric Oemig's bill for a joint legislative impeachment memorial to the US House of Representatives. As co-author of the book The Case for Impeachment, published last June by St. Martin's Press, I want to urge you to allow this important bill to go forward for consideration by both House and Senate in the State of Washington.
Founder Thomas Jefferson, as a key architect of the Constitution and of the government that has become a model for democracies the world over ever since, specifically established, in his "Manual of Rules for the House of Representatives," that not just individual members of Congress, but also state legislators, acting collectively through a joint resolution, should have the power to initiate an impeachment inquiry in the US House of Representatives. It was clearly his view that the matter of whether or not a president had committed impeachable crimes against the Constitution or the Republic is very much an appropriate responsibility and concern for state legislators, not just members of Congress.
Indeed, given the parochial concerns that members of Congress have with getting themselves re-elected, and given the power of the president to threaten and cajole members of Congress, it might be argued that Jefferson was prescient in seeing the need to provide an "outside-the-Beltway" avenue--closer to the people--for calling a wayward or criminal chief executive to account.
You as state legislators have as much of an obligation as do members of Congress to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States--the more so when Congress has been failing in its duty to do so.
Specifically, you need to consider how this president has been violating his own oath of office, by usurping powers that the Constitution clearly assigns to Congress and the courts, by lying to Congress and the American people about such grave matters as the reasons for going to war, by undermining such fundamental rights of the citizens of Washington as the First Amendment's freedom of speech and the Fourth Amendment's protection against illegal search and seizure, and by his revocation of the ancient right of habeas corpus.
We know the president of the United States has broken the law. He admits he broke the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by ordering the National Security Agency to spy on American citizens. Indeed, a federal judge in Detroit, after hearing arguments by the government and the ACLU, concluded last July that the president had broken that law, thereby committing a Class A felony, and violating the First and Fourth Amendments. For that one crime alone he should be impeached.
But the Founding Fathers made it clear that by "high crimes" they meant political crimes--crimes that undermine the Constitution and threaten the survival of the Republic. (I would note that in 1974 the House Judiciary Committtee voted 27-11, with many Republicans voting yes, on an article of impeachment that accused President Nixon of "making false and misleading statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.") And Bush is guilty of such high crimes also. For example, when the president, in his 2003 State of the Union Address to Congress and the nation, claimed that there was new evidence that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium ore from an "African nation," he knew that information was bogus and a fraud. Indeed he had been shown those forged documents as early as October 2001 and they had been rejected even then as cheap forgeries. He lied too in claiming a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda.
These are huge, consequential lies that have ended up destroying a nation and killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, including nearly 3200 American troops, many of them from the State of Washington.
They are lies that have also led to many of the administration actions that have been undermining the founding principles of our democracy--for example to Bush's outrageous claim that as commander in chief he may at his own discretion nullify laws duly passed by the Congress--something he has now done over 1200 times! Please note that the words "unitary executive" and "signing statement" appear nowhere in the Constitution, and know that while other presidents have issued signing statements, none claimed that such addenda meant that the law in question was null and void as this president is doing.
I would finally point out that Bush's impeachable crimes have had a direct and measurable harmful impact on the people of Washington. The nearly $500 billion wasted to date on the Iraq War is money that could have helped fund schools, roads, police, park development, environmental preservation, dam restoration, veterans benefits and other important things in this state. It could have also helped provide Washington residents with better health care and a more secure retirement.
For all these reasons, I hope you will take a stand in support of Sen. Oemig's S8016 bill, and send it to the full Senate for consideration.
David P. Lindorff
Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)