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Rep. Conyers' Latest on Impeachment
Wednesday, 29 August 2007 07:48
by David Swanson

Transcript and MP3 audio from Democracy Now!

Click for Audio

[Commentary added in brackets by David Swanson]

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Conyers, it was interesting to see you at this major rally in Newark on Saturday. About more than a thousand people were there. It was the largest demonstration against war and violence at home for decades in Newark. Now, you spoke at the rally. Interestingly, people were there who had been arrested in your office, the forty-five in July who had been arrested because they were calling for you to continue to back the call for impeachment of President Bush. What is your response?

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Well, my response is that we have several things to do in *mdash; I begin this part of our conversation by indicating that I have nothing but the highest regard for Cindy Sheehan. But the question of how we orchestrate moving a congressional schedule forward of accomplishments *mdash; we’re pretty proud of what we’ve done in eight months after having no control over the agenda for twelve years. We also are trying to make sure that we don’t bring resolutions or hearings that would put the election in jeopardy. We could close down the Congress *mdash; I have been in more impeachment hearings than anybody in the House or the Senate. And our legislative attempts to reverse so many things would come to a stop. And it is doubtful if we wouldn’t go into an election with not one, but at least two attempts to remove the top executive officers in the country, I don’t think that that can happen.

[Proud of 8 months of accomplishing...WHAT? Seriously, what? Put an election in jeopardy? Are you serious? With 80% of Democrats and 55% of Americans wanting impeachment before you even start? With the post-Nixon and post-Reagan election results known to you? With your own book in the stores arguing that the Constitution is in jeopardy? Legislative attempts to reverse things??? People don't want another 18 months of staged "attempts" while knowing that any good bill will be vetoed, and knowing that you know it, and knowing that you know that we know that you know it. You have 18 months. Nixon took 3. Clinton took 4 with a Senate trial included. Gonzales took only the threat.]

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Conyers, on the issue of the warrantless wiretapping, on the one hand you’ve had the Democrats going after Gonzales fiercely for the Bush administration’s secret warrantless domestic surveillance program, yet signing off on the recent bill that the Bush administration had pushed for for further warrantless wiretapping.

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Well, the leadership was, of course, against the bill, and the majority of Democrats voted against the bill. But we’ve got this consideration: we’ve got 233 Democrats; forty of them are Blue Dogs, that is, conservative Democrats that frequently vote Republican. And then we have another group that are new to the Congress in their first term elected from red state congressional districts, which they felt that they would not be able to come back, and we couldn’t get them over. So we didn’t have all of our Democrats. It was not a solid position. But the leadership, Pelosi and I and Reyes, the head of the Intelligence Committee, we pleaded with everybody to vote with us in caucus, and we weren’t able to persuade some of the new members, and we weren’t able to persuade some of the Blue Dogs.

[Newsflash: If the leadership of the Congress is against a bill, it doesn't get brought up for a vote.]

AMY GOODMAN: Why would impeachment hearings put the election in jeopardy?

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Well, because unless I’ve got the Constitution in one hand and a calculator in the other, so I’ve got any kind of hearings on removing both the President and the Vice President *mdash; or putting it in reverse, remove the Vice President and then the President *mdash; within the months remaining, would require 218 votes in the House of Representatives. That’s my calculator giving me this information. And then, in the Senate we need two-thirds to convict. Notwithstanding all of my progressive friends that would love to see me start impeachment hearings, those votes I do not think exist in the House of Representatives or in the US Senate.

[An attempt to impeach Cheney would save the Democratic Party. A successful impeachment of Cheney and of Bush, plus successfully removing them from office, is the ideal. Any step along the way would build the party, not to mention the nation, that Conyers says he is focused on building. No past impeachment has taken anything like 18 months. And these ones are already 9/10 done. Just read Conyers' book aloud and take a vote. No investigations are needed.]

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Congressman Conyers, if you weren’t holding your calculator, if you were just deciding whether impeachment was called for here, what would be the reasons you would list?

REP. JOHN CONYERS: What would be the reasons that I would what?

AMY GOODMAN: What would be the reasons you would list for impeachment, if you weren’t holding your calculator, just holding the Constitution?

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Oh, OK. Well, to me, we can accomplish probably as much as we would need to to make the record clear that there has been a great deal of violation of the sworn oath of office, abuses of power, through the hearings and inquiries that we can conduct. But it isn’t that *mdash; and no one has ever heard me suggest that we don’t think that there is conduct that could be proven to be impeachable.

But when Ron Dellums and Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug and William Fitts Ryan of New York, when we *mdash; Parren Mitchell *mdash; when we introduced an impeachment resolution, the first one against a sitting president in over seventy-five years, when Richard Nixon was being investigated, it was at the beginning of his term. And although he had been overwhelmingly reelected, there was time for us to have the hearing. This *mdash; the timing of an administration which will go down in history as probably one of the most disappointing, there isn’t the time here for it.

[Nixon left office exactly three months after your committee took up impeachment. Pretending you need 4 years is an insult to us and to the authors of the Constitution. You've wasted 8 months already. Let's get going! Moving to impeach Gonzales helped force him out. Promising not to impeach Cheney or Bush authorizes them to commit crimes. The usual excuses about not enough time and too divisive etc. don't hold up because many Congress Members were willing to do it with Gonzales. In fact 20 are ready to impeach Cheney, including 6 members of the Judiciary Committee. 80% of Dems want impeachment. Even an unsuccessful effort would do more for the Democratic Party than failure to try.]

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Conyers, we will leave it there, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. I want to thank you very much for joining us on this day after the announcement that Alberto Gonzales had resigned as attorney general, effective September 17. Thank you.

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a guest said:

Reasons for Impeachment of Cheney first, then Bush
I support the impeachment of first, Vice President Cheney, then President Bush for the following reasons:

1. Violating the United Nations Charter by launching an illegal "War of Aggression" against Iraq without cause, using fraud to sell the war to Congress and the public, and misusing government funds to begin bombing without Congressional authorization.

According to the Article VI of the Constitution,"all treaties" are the "supreme law of the land." The United Nations charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory, outlaws the use of force without the approval of the U.N. Security Council. Then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan stated in 2004 that the invasion of Iraq violated the U.N. Charter. Even Iraq war supporter Richard Perle has said the same.

Former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega presents the evidence that the case for the Iraq War was fradulent at greater length in her book United States v. George Bush et al.

The bombing of Iraq previous to the passage of the October, 2002 Congressional Authorization to Use Military Force was examined in 2005 by the Times of London. Spending funds from the Treasury without congressional authorization violates Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution.

2. Violating U.S. and international law by authorizing the torture of thousands of captives, resulting in dozens of deaths, and keeping prisoners hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Torture violates two U.S. laws, the War Crimes of Act of 1996 and the Torture Statue of 1994, as well as international law including the Convention Against Torture.

Specific Bush administration actions in this area are examined in detail in Chapter 2 of Cowboy Nation by Marjorie Cohn. And the Abu Ghraib photos are proof that torture did take place.

3. Violating the Constitution by arbitrarily detaining Americans, legal residents, and non-Americans, without due process, without charge, and without access to counsel.

The detention of individuals without due process violates the 5th Amendment.

While the Bush administration has been rebuked in several court cases, most recently that of Ali al-Marri, it continues to attempt to exceed constitutional limits.

4. Violating the Geneva Conventions by targeting civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, and using illegal weapons, including white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and a new type of napalm.

The Fourth Geneva Convention forbids collective punishment and the targeting of civilians. Large-scale violations of the Convention by the Bush administration are examined in Chapter 3 of Cowboy Nation by Marjorie Cohn.

5. Violating U.S. law and the Constitution through widespread wiretapping of the phone calls and emails of Americans without a warrant.

Wiretapping U.S. citizens without warrents is forbidden under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Bush administration has openly admitted repeatedly violating FISA. The administrations actions are examined in detail in How Would a Patriot Act? by Glenn Greenwald.

6. Violating the Constitution by using "signing statements" to defy hundreds of laws passed by Congress.

In 2006 an American Bar Association commission composed of constitutional scholars, former presidential advisers, and legal and judicial experts found that President Bush's use of signing statements "undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers." The Boston Globe published a Pulizer Prize-winning series of articles on signing statements.

7. Violating U.S. and state law by obstructing honest elections in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.

An investigation by the Democratic staff of the House Judiciary Committee into the voting procedures in Ohio during the 2004 election found "widespread instances of intimidation and misinformation in violation of the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Equal Protection, Due Process and the Ohio right to vote." BBC journalist Greg Palast has covered significant voting irregularities in other elections.

8. Violating U.S. law by using paid propaganda and disinformation, selectively and misleadingly leaking classified information, and exposing the identity of a covert CIA operative working on sensitive WMD proliferation for political retribution.

The General Accounting Office found in 2004 that the Bush administration had violated federal law by producing video news releases using an on-screen "reporter." The administration has also admitted to paying journalists who support its policies, such as columnists Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher.

I. Lewis Libby, assistant to both Vice President Cheney and President Bush, was convicted in March, 2007 of perjury and obstruction of justice in the outing of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame. Libby's obstruction of justice prevented a successful investigation into Cheney and Bush's role in Plame's outing and whether either violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or other laws.

9. Subverting the Constitution and abusing Presidential power by asserting a "Unitary Executive Theory" giving unlimited powers to the President, by obstructing efforts by Congress and the Courts to review and restrict Presidential actions, and by promoting and signing legislation negating the Bill of Rights and the Writ of Habeas Corpus.

The Bush administration has advocated the so-called "Unitary Executive Theory," which claims the Constitution grants the president essentially unchecked power, especially during wartime. There is ample evidence that this theory grossly violates the Constitution's separation of powers.

The numerous instances in which the USA Patriot Act violates the Bill of Rights are detailed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In October, 2006 Bush signed an amendment to the Military Commissions Act suspending Habeas Corpus for any alien the government determines to be an "unlawful enemy combatant," allowing the government to hold individuals indefinitely without charges. The numerous consequences of the Military Commissions Act amendment are examined by Amnesty International.
August 29, 2007
Votes: +0

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