Hon. Elizabeth Holtzman & Vote to Impeach.org – 2006-11-10 23:26:40
Breathing the ‘I’ Word
Elizabeth Holtzman / San Francisco Chronicle
WASHINGTON (November 10, 2006) — Though Democrats’ gains on Tuesday were hard fought, they still pulled one big punch during the campaign. Party leaders chose to refrain from publicly uttering any “i” words — investigation, immunity, and above all, impeachment — and to dismiss those who did, for fear of somehow galvanizing disaffected GOP voters.
But whether they admit it or not, with a Democratic Party-led Congress, President Bush could well become the target of congressional investigations, challenges to presidential immunity and eventual impeachment inquiries. Big legislative changes are probably not in the cards, but willingness to use subpoena power and pursue investigations into controversial Bush administration actions and inactions are among the main things that will change under Democratic leadership of Congress.
Even if impeachment is “off the table,” according to Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi (who as the new Speaker of the House will be next in line for the presidency after Vice President Dick Cheney), recent national polls and impeachment-ballot initiatives in San Francisco, Berkeley, and two townships in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., and elsewhere, show it is on Americans’ table.
Leaving aside partisan “gotcha” tactics, such as the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, which fail because they lack public support or constitutional basis, Congress has been historically reluctant to undertake impeachment, including during Watergate. But it has done so when public sentiment reaches a boiling point and demands holding a president accountable, as it did in 1973 after President Richard Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox.
Today we may be closer to reaching that boiling point again than some may think. The Chronicle’s online poll question this week surveyed readers, 77 percent of whom to date thought impeaching President Bush may be constitutionally required if the president were found to have abused the power of his office.
A recent Newsweek national poll showed 53 percent of Americans thought impeachment should be on the agenda (either as a “top” or “lower” priority), with 44 percent opposing impeachment outright.
Compare these numbers to 1998 polls, where an average of only 26 percent of Americans were open to or favored impeaching Clinton, while an average of 63 percent opposed it outright.
Public sentiment for impeachment is strong, and stands to grow stronger given a thoughtful discussion of constitutional standards and a full and fair inquiry, one that allows the president to explain and defend his conduct fully.
But beyond public opinion, there are legal and constitutional considerations that make impeachment a live concern now. High crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional standard for impeachment and removal from office, may well apply to President Bush’s systemic abuses of power and failures to uphold the law.
These include directing illegal domestic wiretapping and surveillance, detainee abuse and torture, indifference to human life in responding to Hurricane Katrina, ill-equipping US soldiers and failing to plan for the Iraq occupation, deceiving Congress and Americans about reasons for the war in Iraq and possibly seeking to cover up those deceptions by leaking misleading classified information. These actions have disturbing parallels with offenses for which Nixon was impeached.
I served on the House Judiciary Committee, which voted to impeach him. It did painstaking, bipartisan work in assessing and applying constitutional and legal standards to Nixon’s actions. Measured by the same objective standards as were used in Nixon’s case, an impeachment inquiry into Bush’s actions would be appropriate, and a vote to impeach at the end of that inquiry would not be a surprising outcome.
When checks and balances fail to restrain a president from abuses of power or from subverting the Constitution, impeachment and removal from office is the framers’ remedy. It is the tool they gave future generations to protect democracy and the rule of law, and not to explore it now would be a culpable failure to follow their intent.
That’s why US Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., in line to chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and some 37 congressional Democrats, already have uttered the “i” word and raised the issue of impeachment before the election, even though the Democratic leaders didn’t want to discuss it.
Whether out of political strategy or timidity we fail to breathe a word about, much less openly debate, impeaching a president so committed to executive overreach, Americans — Republicans and Democrats alike — risk undermining the Constitution and compromising our ability to hold future presidents accountable under the law.
Elizabeth Holtzman represented New York in the US House of Representatives from 1973 to 1981. She is the co-author, with Cynthia L. Cooper, of The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens, (Nation Books, 2006).
©2006 San Francisco Chronicle
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Impeachment Campaign Starts on November 11
Impeach for Change
On Election Day, the American people voted overwhelmingly for change. We are thrilled to congratulate Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid and we fully support Pelosi’s 100-hour agenda. But Speaker Pelosi says impeachment is “off the table.” How can we let George Bush and Dick Cheney get away with the Constitutional crimes they have committed — and continue to commit?
How can there be real change when Bush and Cheney insist on occupying Iraq forever at incalculable cost to human life and national debt?
And how can there be real change when Bush and Cheney insist the “War on Terror” gives them the power to invade Iran whenever they please?
And how can there be real change when Bush and Cheney break the law every day through torture and warrantless wiretaps?
And how can there be real change when Bush and Cheney nullify every law they don’t like with signing statements?
On Saturday, November 11, Democrats.com and our progressive allies will launch a nationwide grassroots mobilization for impeachment in Philadelphia near Independence Hall, where the Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. The mobilization is called ImpeachForChange. Our goals include:
1. A grassroots petition drive to collect 1 million signatures at ImpeachForChange.org
2. Form Impeachment Committees in all 435 Congressional Districts to lobby every Member of Congress by:
• delivering books & videos on impeachment
• collecting petitions and handwritten letters in front of their District Offices
• meeting with every Member to discuss the issues that require impeachment
3. Expand our Citizens Impeachment Commission to add prominent citizens, celebrities and bloggers
4. 12/10 Bush v. Gore Day:
Hold Town Hall Meetings on impeachment around the country with Citizens Impeachment Commission speakers
5. 12/15-17 Bill of Rights Weekend:
• Collect petitions and handwritten letters at malls, libraries, post offices, and door-to-door
• Sell pocket Constitutions, bumper stickers, books, videos
6. 2007: Pass Impeachment bills in state legislatures
Sept. 17, 1787, US Constitution Signed at Independence Hall
Dec. 15, 1791, Bill of Rights Ratified
Oct. 17, 2006, Military Commissions Act Signed
Nov. 11, 2006,
Movement to Impeach Bush and Cheney Announced
Speakers: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
• Elizabeth Holtzman, former Member of Congress, served on the House panel that voted to impeach President Nixon, and author of The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens
• Cindy Sheehan, Co-Founder of Gold Star Families for Peace
• David Swanson, Co-Founder of AfterDowningStreet.org and Washington Director of Democrats.com
• Tim Carpenter, Director of Progressive Democrats of America
• Jodie Evans, Co-Founder of CODE PINK Women for Peace
• Bill Perry, Veterans for Peace
* Bob Fertik, President of Democrats.com and ImpeachPAC.org
Blogger Panel: 2:00 -3:00 p.m.
WHERE: Kirby Auditorium in the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall (across from Independence Hall), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Directions)
Tickets must be purchased in advance
First 100 Days:
What Changes Should Democrats Make?
On Election Day, the American people voted overwhelmingly for change.
Nancy Pelosi has a plan for the first 100 hours. Let’s think bigger:
What should Democrats do in the first 100 days?
Vote for up to 20 choices here:
Results here: http://democrats.com/node/10733/results
Discuss here: http://democrats.com/change-discuss
Transform Political Yard Signs into Impeach Signs
Are there lots of obsolete campaign signs littering your neighborhood? Recycle them!
Plan a sign-painting party to transform those signs into patriotic messages for regime change at home that you can put up all around town. Imagine a thousand signs around your city with such messages as “IMPEACH” in giant letters. Or make a series of them with a single word on each: “Lying” “Spying” “Torture” “IMPEACH!” and plant them in a row along a busy street.
More on how to make impeachment signs out of election signs:
Impeach! Impeach! Impeach!”
The Black Agenda
Glen Ford, who for years edited the brilliant and informative BlackCommentator.com, has launched a new publication: The Black Agenda Report. Already the Black Agenda Report is becoming an invaluable resource for progressives and activists.
The cover story in the November 8th issue has a working headline of “Impeach! Impeach! Impeach!” We can expect the same insight and experience to be brought to that issue that was brought to so many political issues over the years by the Black Commentator. Get to know this new publication: