CROWD HEARS CALL FOR OUSTER OF BUSH
By Jeremy Pawloski
Olympian (Olympia, WA)
February 21, 2007
OLYMPIA -- President Bush lied about intelligence to make a case for war in Iraq, subverted the Geneva Conventions by allowing torture, and authorized illegal wiretaps of U.S. citizens, speakers at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts said Tuesday night.
The three speakers -- journalist David Lindorff, CIA veteran Ray McGovern, and former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega -- preached to the converted during a packed town-hall meeting titled “Our Constitution in Crisis: A Case for Impeachment.” It was sponsored by the Citizens’ Movement to Impeach Bush/Cheney.
“What we really need if impeachment is really going to happen is a tidal wave of sentiment toward impeachment,” Lindorff said.
The crowd was estimated at 600 to 700 people. Many attendees appeared to be in their 40s or older.
Betsy Holt of Olympia said the attendance is just one sign that the number of people disenchanted with President Bush is growing.
Holt said she knows people who initially supported the war in Iraq who now are starting to voice displeasure.
“It’s just lately that people are less afraid to speak up because they realize they’re in the majority,” Holt said.
In the auditorium’s foyer, vendors at booths sold anti-Bush T-shirts. Authors, including James Yee, a former Army chaplain at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, sold books criticizing the administration.
Citizens’ Movement to Impeach Bush/Cheney officials also had a booth, in which they collected signatures in support of the state Legislature passing a resolution that backs impeaching Bush. The petition asks the state Legislature to pass a resolution to be submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives and “will call upon members of the House to begin an investigation to launch impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney.”
David Billings said he hadn’t started counting the signatures, but 2,000 had been presented to the Olympia City Council in support of getting the use of the Center for the Performing Arts for Tuesday night’s free event. Billings added, gesturing toward the packed auditorium, “we’ll get a lot (of signatures) after they hear all this and come out.”
Lindorff, co-author of The Case for Impeachment: Legal Arguments for Removing President George W. Bush From Office, called Bush “the most impeachable president in the history of the country.” Lindorff said Bush’s authorization of torture to support “the so-called war on terror” could allow Bush to be prosecuted for war crimes. Also, a federal court already has ruled that Bush’s practice of allowing warrantless wiretaps of citizens is illegal, he said.
Lastly, Lindorff brought up “signing statements,” a practice that Lindorff said allows Bush to broadly interpret laws and invalidate the will of Congress.
McGovern’s talk addressed evidence that he said shows the Bush administration used faulty intelligence to authorize the war in Iraq. De la Varga’s touched on the ways that she thinks the administration might have committed fraud in knowingly promulgating the faulty intelligence that was the basis for the war.
HISTORY OF STATE-INITIATED IMPEACHMENT
Impeachment is normally initiated by a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. But there is another way that impeachment can be started. This mechanism was first promoted by blogs from arbortender and Kagro X.
According to the Jefferson Manual, a State Legislature can initiate impeachment through their Representative in the House. Section LIII on Impeachment, section 603 states: "In the House there are various methods of setting an impeachment in motion: . . . by charges transmitted from the legislature of a State (III, 2469) . . ."
The (III, 2469) refers to the Hinds Precedents, section 2469. It tells of how in 1903 the Florida legislature passed a bill to impeach a corrupt U.S. District Judge named Charles Swayne. With the power of a joint resolution from his home state behind him, Mr. William B. Lamar, of Florida, claiming the floor for a question of privilege, said: "Mr. Speaker, I believe that the impeachment of a civil officer by this House is a question of privilege. I have made a joint resolution adopted by the legislature of the State of Florida a part of the resolution which I desire to submit to this House for its adoption. In pursuance of this joint resolution of the legislature of the State which I have the honor in part to represent, I impeach Charles Swayne, judge of the northern district of the State of Florida, of high crimes and misdemeanors."
The house voted to bypass the Judiciary Committee and ordered the investigation of Judge Swayne.
A House Representative can always initiate impeachment by introducing a resolution as a question of privilege. But after consultation with senior staff in the U.S. House of Representatives, we have determined that a state can initiate impeachment without requiring that a Member introduce the resolution. This does not mean that a state can give a mandate to Congress to start impeachment. But it gives the states a mechanism by which impeachment may be initiated if acted upon by Congress.
Impeachment charges from a state can be sent to the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The charges must be marked with the word “Petition” at the top, and bear the authorizing signature of the Secretary of State from that state. The Clerk must then note in the Congressional Journal that the charges were received. The charges will then be referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.
The Judiciary Committee may then investigate the charges, draft Articles of Impeachment, and submit them to the floor of the house for a vote. It is also possible that the Committee may ignore the charges. That will depend on the ever-shifting political situation and cannot be predicted. But the fact that success is not guaranteed does not relieve the state legislature of their obligation to do whatever they possibly can to defend the United States Constitution according to their oath of office.
The Jefferson Manual LIII, Section 604 also states: "A direct proposition to impeach is a question of high privilege in the House and at once supersedes business otherwise in order under the rules governing the order of business."
Note that in order to have Privilege, the proposition to impeach must be introduced by a Member, or by a House Committee. Read more about "privilege" and how it relates to impeachment.