Michael Collins / Scoop” Independent News – 2008-07-26 10:04:33
lWASHINGTON (July 25, 2008) — Today’s hearing on the abuse of presidential powers before the House Committee on the Judiciary turned into a devastating political ambush by Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), committee Democrats, and the extraordinary panel of witnesses.. At least 12 Democratic Committee members were present plus the Chairman while only four Republicans bothered to show up.
Belying their casual appearance in the committee chambers, the Democrats presented a well coordinated, hard hitting case against President George W. Bush.
This led to a double climax in the form of surgically erudite testimony by conservative legal scholar Bruce Fein, a former Reagan administration official, and former Los Angeles District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi’s stunning summary statement. The best the Republicans could offer was inappropriate humor by Rep. Don Lundgren (D-CA) and a request to clear the chambers when the audience cheered Mr. Bugliosi’s remarks.
The hearing resulted from the non stop campaign for the impeachment of President George W. Bush by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). That effort received an overwhelming endorsement last week with the votes of a 238 majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. The 229 Democrats and 9 Republicans voted to refer the single count impeachment bill to the House or Representatives Committee on the Judiciary chaired by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
The Kucinich Resolution – H.R. 1345 outlines the case for the impeachment of President Bush. Specifically, as president, Bush:
“Deceived Congress with fabricated threats of Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to fraudulently obtain support for an authorization for the use of force against Iraq and used that fraudulently obtained authorization, and then acting in his capacity under Article II, Section II of the Constitution as Commander in Chief, to commit US troops to combat in Iraq.”
There was speculation prior to the hearing that the Republicans might scuttle the entire process due to House rules that prevent disparaging comments about the president. Apparently they failed to read the entirety of House Practice, Sec. 25 which lists a number of negative comments that House members have used in the past and makes clear that they’re available in the present.
“Few Issues More Important”
Chairman Conyers opened the hearing by noting that there are “few issues more important” than the actions of Congress to curtail the abuse of presidential powers. As a member of the House committee that heard the Nixon Impeachment case, he speaks with a certain authority. He listed the various abuses of presidential power by Bush laying out the case that his fellow Democrats would elaborate.
The senior member of the committee, Republican Lamar Smith (R-TX) responded that he’d seen a lot from this committee but today’s hearing was like “hosting an anger management class.”
Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), a strong advocate for the hearings, responded by pointing out that given the evidence of high crimes, this isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue, it’s an American issue. The Democrats continued the theme of gravity with Cong. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) referring to Bush as “the worst president our country has ever suffered.”
Cong. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-X) returned to what would lead to the most devastating and startling charges of the hearing – the basis for the invasion of Iraq and the disregard for civil liberties through the torture of foreigners and the domestic assault on privacy. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) responded that the hearing was nothing but “a do-over that amuses our terrorist friends.”
“If lying about casual sex” is an impeachment issue, “then certainly lying to the American people about invading Iraq” is, responded Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA). Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), another strong supporter of impeachment, continued the hard hitting attack.
The Republicans were still not taking the hearing seriously when Cong. Don Lundgren resorted to nothing more than wise cracks in response.
Murder & Tyranny
The peroration came from conservative legal scholar Bruce Fein’s testimony about the Bush administration’s descent into tyranny. Had Bush showed up at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, he would have been barred at the door by George Washington, Fein said with confidence. He made the comment in a fashion that betrayed contempt for any defense of the Bush administration’s behavior. Bush was labeled a tyrant from one of the best and brightest of the United States’ legal establishment.
The finale was the testimony of former Los Angeles District Attorney, Vincent Bugliosi. As DA, Bugliosi tired and convicted Charles Manson of first degree murder gaining a death sentence even though the state admitted that Manson was never at the seen of the murders. In the past, Bugliosi has said that preparation is the key to winning cases and that he knows that he’s won after the opening statement. With only five minutes, he had a tall task but the syllogism he established was air tight.
On October 1, 2002, President Bush was told that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction (WMD). On October 7th, Bush clamed that Iraq was a threat to the United States due to the possession of WMD. He then used this claim to justify the war in Iraq making him guilty for the death of over four thousand U.S. soldiers and over 100,000 documented deaths of Iraqi civilians.
There were other members of the witness panel, including the author of today’s hearings Dennis Kucinich (D-O), Republican Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC). But it was the patient and cagey Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, his supporting cast of Democrats and the two star witnesses, Fein and Bugliosi who made charges of rule by tyranny and murder – charges that will not be easily forgotten no matter how much the mainstream media and politicians choose to ignore this issue.
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