Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Abandoning the Ship of State

...In spite of rock and tempest’s roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee..
- Longfellow

We've grown so timid, we Americans. We're afraid of challenge, cowed by bullies (at home and abroad), and terrified by terrorism. (At least that's a chuckle.)

Anyway, in view of the overwhelming dead silence that has greeted Dennis Kucinich's presentation of 35 Articles of Impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee, I decided to write to my Congressman, John Hall of the 19th District, and to Senators Schumer and Clinton of New York State. I urged them to support Rep. Kucinich's efforts, to resist political strategists who don't want to rock the boat now that the tide seems to have turned in their favor. So far, I've only received a reply from John Hall. Very courteous, very concerned. Very sorry. His letter, and my reply to it, below:

From: Congressman John Hall
Subject: Responding to Your Message
To: mkampp@yahoo.com
Date: Tuesday, June 24, 2008, 9:42 AM
June 24, 2008

Dear Ms. Carneiro,

Thank you for contacting me regarding your desire to see impeachment charges brought against Members of the Bush Administration. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important Constitutional issue.

The Bush-Cheney Administration has led our country in the wrong direction and it will take years for us to recover from the damage it has done to our country and to our reputation around the world. The list of its transgressions and mistakes is a long one. The Bush-Cheney Administration took us into a devastating war in Iraq based on misleading statements and false information, has undermined the criminal justice system, weakened Constitutional protections for U.S. citizens, and created staggering federal deficits with its misplaced priorities and reckless federal spending. It has condoned the use of torture and illegal wiretapping, and attacked the Constitutional separation of powers.

Congress has a responsibility to hold the Bush-Cheney Administration accountable and to investigate the Administration's abuses of power and their root sources. We must thoroughly look into the process leading up to the invasion of Iraq and the way in which the American people and the Congress were misled.

To these ends, I have co-sponsored the following legislation since I came to the House of Representatives in January 2007:

-H. Res. 417 to express no confidence in former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
-H. Res. 530 to censure President Bush for his role in revealing the identity of a covert CIA employee and for commuting the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
-H. Res. 625 to censure President Bush and Vice President Cheney for misleading the American people about the basis for war in Iraq.
-H. Res. 626 to censure President Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for ignoring federal statute, the Constitution, and undermining the separation of powers.
-H. Res. 689 to call on the President to urge full cooperation from former political
appointees in ongoing Congressional investigations.
-H.R. 3045 to void any signing statements by the President.
-I strongly support Chairman Conyers' effort to hold former Administration officials in contempt for refusing to testify in ongoing Congressional hearings.

I vehemently opposed the legislation, S. 1927, passed by both chambers of Congress in August to expand the government's ability to listen in on foreign conversations, without approval of the special court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). However, the House has recently passed H.R. 3773 to fix the mistakes in S. 1927-including greater court oversight of wiretapping and improved protections for the rights of Americans.

I believe that I was elected in 2006 by voters who urgently want change in Washington, and an end to the disastrous Bush-Cheney policies. Clearly much remains to be done, however in the past year the House has passed important legislation that includes: A fiscal 2008 budget plan with new controls to ensure fiscal responsibility; homeland security measures proposed by the 9/11 Commission, such as broader screening of cargo bound for the United States, more support for cities at high risk of attack, and improved communications systems for emergency workers so they can better coordinate during an attack or natural disaster; meaningful ethics and lobbying reforms; a far-reaching energy package designed to wean America off its dependence on oil; improvements to child health insurance coverage for low-income families; the first minimum wage increase in a decade; a measure allowing broader stem cell research; and legislation to help students handle soaring college costs and to crack down on misconduct in the student loan industry. I will continue to work as long and hard as it takes to see all of these measures become law despite opposition from the White House.

I understand why many people believe that impeachment of Vice President Cheney or President Bush would be justified, but I do not believe that our country should be put through an impeachment proceeding at this time. Further, it is apparent that no article of impeachment would result in a conviction in the Senate. The process would be extremely disruptive to efforts to pass substantive legislation to block further abuses by the Bush-Cheney Administration and efforts to pass legislation to help solve problems for American families.

On Nov. 6, 2007, I voted with a majority of the House to send H. Res. 799-a resolution outlining articles of impeachment against Vice President Cheney, to the Judiciary Committee to consider. Although I share many Americans' deep frustration with the actions of the Bush Administration, taking this resolution directly to the House floor bypassed the Judiciary Committee and would have subverted procedures for introducing impeachment findings. I believe this would have created a dangerous precedent for future Congresses. In addition, the resolution itself cited actions which, while outrageous, do not meet the Constitutional standard for impeachment of "treason, high crimes or misdemeanors."

A number of House Committees including Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform have launched continuing investigations and oversight hearings into the activities of the Bush-Cheney Administration and dramatically increased accountability, which was completely lacking in the previous Republican-led Congress. As these investigations proceed, Congress must take strong action to address illegal conduct.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If I can be of any further assistance in the future please do not hesitate to let me know.


John Hall
Member of Congress

Dear Mr. Hall,

I'm very thankful that you took the time to respond to me. I'm not entirely happy with your reply, but I do thank you for it. I haven't yet received replies from Senators Schumer and Clinton, and I'll remember that at voting time.

I agree that impeachment hearings would be highly disruptive. The very nature (though not the aim) of the impeachment process is disruption. It's the point at which we go back to our first principles, because we have nowhere else to go. Since all legislation is informed by the Constitution, there can be no piece of legislation that takes precedence over the process.

The Bush-Cheney administration is only partly to blame for this eight year reign of lawlessness. You and I, the entire voting population, have aided and abetted them by letting them do it. We are all complicit. And now, after all we've learned, are we still going to be taken hostage to fear (of disruption) by letting them get away with it?

They didn't just attack Iraq; they attacked the Constitution. Now they have to answer for it. WE are the Constitution. The American families that you are concerned about? THEY'RE the Constitution. Furthermore, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be the Constitution. How much weaker, how much more compromised will it be then?

President Bush has poked a big old metaphorical hole in the hull of the lifeboat and we can keep bailing. Or we can fix the hole and stop sinking.

- Lois Carneiro

1 comment:

catherine927 said...

Wow. I'm not even sure what to say about this. Except for, wow.