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David Swanson: Testimony for Impeachment Hearing

Testimony for Impeachment Hearing


By David Swanson
MARCH 1, 2007

FOR THE WASHINGTON STATE SENATE HEARING CALLING FOR THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES TO INVESTIGATE AND CONSIDER HEARINGS ON EVIDENCE THAT COULD LEAD TO THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH AND VICE-PRESIDENT RICHARD B. CHENEY

I live in Charlottesville, Va., the home town of Thomas Jefferson, who feared we would not be able to maintain a republic and would slip into elected despotism. I am the Washington (DC) Director of Democrats.com and of ImpeachPAC.org. I am a co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, creator of MeetWithCindy.org, and a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, and of the Backbone Campaign, an activist organization based on Vashon Island in Washington State. I was the organizer in 2006 of Camp Democracy. I serve on the steering committee of the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice and on a working group of United for Peace and Justice. I have worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including Press Secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, Media Coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as Communications Coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. I am a member of and have served on the Executive Council of the Washington Baltimore Newspaper Guild. I obtained a Master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia in 1997.

Democrats.com and After Downing Street have been keeping large lists of citizens in Washington State informed of the progress of this resolution. Generating enthusiasm has not been a problem. This is something people are passionately behind. It's important to understand that passion, and I'm sure that many speakers today will help to communicate it. Jefferson and his colleagues in framing the Constitution intended the body of our federal government closest to the people, the House of Representatives, to have the power of impeachment in order to check abuses by the executive and judicial branches. And Jefferson's Manual, rules used by Congress to this day, allows for a state legislature, a body still closer to the people, to petition the House to begin impeachment. Impeachment is supposed to arise from public concerns at the local and state levels. While an impeachment is merely an indictment, and initiating an impeachment hearing is only the equivalent of convening a grand jury, there is nothing more serious or solemn than this process. And my impression is that the vast bulk of the public enthusiasm for impeachment today is appropriately serious.

We must pursue impeachment of Cheney and Bush, not because of any animosity toward those individuals, and certainly not for electoral advantage. Rather, we must impeach because if we do not, we will be rewriting the rules for all future administrations. The greatest concern of those who put impeachment in the Constitution was that an executive could needlessly take the nation into war. We now face a case in which the President and Vice President began a war in secret with misappropriated funds, intentionally misled the Congress and the public about the need for war, launched a war that is patently illegal under the U.N. charter and U.S. law, began the construction of permanent military bases in a foreign nation with no consultation with Congress and continued that construction after Congress forbade it. Through the course of this war, which US intelligence and international studies conclude has made the world far more dangerous and the United States far less popular, and which has put our great grandchildren into financial debt, the Bush Administration has sanctioned illegal spying, kidnapping, extraordinary rendition, detentions without charge, torture, murder, the use of illegal weapons, and the illegal targeting of civilians, hospitals, and journalists. Numerous attempts by Congress to temper these policies have been unconstitutionally reversed by presidential signing statements.

Evidence of these crimes has been collected at http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/keydocuments

Please take some time to study it. No summary does it justice.

If we do not impeach, we can expect the same behavior Bush and Cheney have engaged in, and worse, from future administrations.

The President has made clear that he will not end the war or place himself under the rule of law. The Congress has made clear that it will not seriously attempt to end the war or to investigate the fraud that initiated it. The people of the United States and of the world are looking to state governments like yours for heroic leadership. And there can be no doubt that history, should our species weather the current storms, will look back on your actions as heroic if you successfully initiate the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

Congress will not act without you. You are the people's last recourse. If you let them down, democracy lets them down.

Please do not be like the neighbors who watch a murder out the window and all assume that someone else is phoning for help. Everyone else is failing. We are looking to you for leadership.

Please heed the warning of Congressman Abraham Lincoln, who heroically challenged President Polk's fraudulent and aggressive war on Mexico:

"Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose – and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you 'be silent; I see it, if you don't.' The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us."

ENDS

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