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Is Peace or Impeachment Possible?

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[Remarks at September 15, 2007, impeachment rally in Miami, Fla., organized by www.floridaimpeach.org ]

It's great to see such a crowd and so many groups represented.  I especially want to thank Veterans for Peace.  Dave Cline was a great leader and will be badly missed.  We should all go out and do as much as he did with his admirable life.

On a lighter note, I went to a party yesterday in Washington, D.C.  You might think we have very little to celebrate, but this was a party to say goodbye and good riddance to Alberto Gonzales! 

You won’t hear much about it on the news, but a bill had been introduced in July to impeach Gonzales, and it was gaining support during the August recess.  In fact a bunch of Congress Members added their names to the list of cosponsors this month even though Gonzales had already announced his resignation.  This was not the first time that an effort to impeach helped force out an unjust attorney general.  An effort to impeach Richard Nixon forced him out as well.  An effort to impeach Harry Truman led to the Supreme Court checking his abuses of power.  In fact the threat of impeachment is usually enough to restore a level of justice and democracy in Washington, D.C.  A promise not to impeach, on the other hand, tends to encourage abuses of power and is itself an unconstitutional abuse of power.

I wanted to mention Gonzo's departure because it's the only good news I have.  None of the policies that Gonzales advanced have been reversed, and we are unlikely to see an honest attorney general assume office anytime soon.  Nine of the 10 articles of our Bill of Rights are in tatters.  And they don't make us house soldiers in our homes (which is our tenth and sole remaining right) because they tax us to pay for barracks and bases in this country, plus dozens of permanent military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in fact about 1,000 permanent bases in nations all over the world.  We have lost the right not to be detained and held without charge, the right not to be tortured, and the right not to be spied on in our homes.  We have lost the World Trade Center, a piece of the Pentagon, and the city of New Orleans.  We have moved dangerously close to the point of no turning back on global warming.  We have encouraged the proliferation of weapons around the world, driven much of the world to hate our nation, and watched a general this week brag to Congress about how many weapons we are selling to Iraq.  But the term "we" now refers to the private companies that will profit from the weapons sales, the private companies that our grandchildren will pay for the reconstruction of Iraq that never happened, and the private companies we enrich every time we stop at a gas station.  We have lost the right to organize a labor union, and we are rapidly losing the right to protest.  We are penned into Orwellian free speech zones or arrested for holding a sign on a street corner.  Should a catastrophe hit the US, everything is in place for martial law.  And while it cannot find the decency to hold Bush administration outlaws in contempt, our Congress holds peace activists in contempt of Congress, when the Capitol Police don't tackle and beat them in the halls of Congress.  Well, I've got news for you.  Not only is there a huge march and civil disobedience action today in Washington for peace and impeachment, but we are ready to hold Congress in contempt of the citizens of the United States of America.

Yesterday a second study was published. There have now been two studies done of how many Iraqis have died violent deaths as a result of our invasion and occupation of their country.  The first was done by Johns Hopkins over a year ago and has been updated by Just Foreign Policy.  The second was done by a well-respected British organization.  The results of each study fall within the margin of error of the other.  We are responsible for the deaths of between 1.1 and 1.3 million Iraqis.  Another 4 million Iraqis out of a population of 25 million have been displaced from their homes, half of them to other countries.  Most Iraqis lack adequate water and electricity.  Half the nation needs emergency assistance.  A quarter of the children are malnourished.  And more than that number are traumatized and filled with hatred.  A majority of Iraqis say things are getting worse and want the US occupation ended.  The progress General Petraeus talks about not only is based on numbers he won't explain, not only is based on claims disputed by numerous other sources, but it's also progress that the Iraqi people haven't seen.

Make no mistake, the occupation is a bigger disaster for Iraqis, for our troops, and for our safety each year and each month that passes.  We're dropping five times the bombs this year as last year, including 30 tons of cluster bombs in the first six months of 2007.  If Bush and Cheney had unlimited troops, they would send another half million to Iraq.  And the Iraqi people would still not be pacified.  Bush is bringing a minimal number of troops home for only one reason.  He has to.  He has no more troops to send.  This is not a victory for Petraeus or for Congress.  This is a victory for the counter-recruitment movement.  If you want to make a difference, go to schools and tell kids the truth about military service.  Get a book called "Army of None."

Nothing in Iraq is getting better, and nothing is about to get better.  Petraeus is arming one religious sect to kill another and measuring success by body counts.  Every body he counts is 10 friends and relatives eager to kill the occupiers.  This is not a war that can be won or lost.  It is an occupation and a crime, and we must stop committing it!  According to Republicans in Congress the real danger lies in people who would dare question the authority of a general.  I set up a website called BetrayUsReport.com, so I must be part of the real problem.  But then so must Petraeus's boss, Admiral Fallon, who calls him (and you'll have to excuse me, but these are his words), "an ass kissing little chicken sh*t." 

 Somehow the Bush White House seems to attract an unfair share of ass kissing little chicken shits.  I watched Bush's speech the other night on ABC, in which Bush admitted, as his report yesterday effectively admitted, that none of the so-called benchmarks had been met.  Senator Reed gave a good but vague and non-committal Democratic response.  And then George Stephanopoulos of ABC, something of an ass-kissing little chicken sh*t himself, came on and immediately explained what it all meant.  He didn't remind anyone of all the promises Bush had made back in January.  Instead he announced that the Democrats can talk about ending the so-called war but cannot do anything about it because they don't have 67 Democrats in the Senate.

 Let's get one thing straight:  that is a lie.  Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can announce tomorrow and could have announced nine months, several hundred troops, and tens of thousands of Iraqis ago, that they will not bring up any more bills to fund the occupation.  A Republican proposal to fund the occupation could be blocked by 41, not 67, Senators.  The Democrats could also pass bills ending the occupation or funding only the withdrawal and have them vetoed and pass them again and again.  This is no secret and there is no dispute that Congress has this power.  Senator Feingold held hearings at the start of the year at which experts overwhelmingly agreed that Congress can simply stop providing funding.  Bush has plenty of money to bring the troops home, and Congress can provide new money for that purpose. 

 Congress can provide funds for the reconstruction of Iraq by Iraqis.  Congress can encourage the United Nations and the Arab League to organize transition efforts.  Congress can ban the use of any funds for an attack on Iran.  It's only a question of will. 

 There's no question of where the public stands.  Democrats.com which I work for commissioned a polling company this week to ask the public what it wanted.

 Forty percent said they wanted all troops home in 6 months, using existing fund to do it. 

 Another 14 percent want them home in 6 months and will pay $50 billion to make it happen.

 Another 19 percent want them home in a year and will pay $200 billion for it.

 And 13 percent want what Congress is considering doing, giving Bush another $200 billion with no strings attached. 

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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 http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
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