Thursday, January 10, 2008

impeachment

A friend passed on this editorial from The Philadelphia Inquirer, dated December 27. I agree. I have sent an e-mail to Representative Wexler

Impeach Cheney now
The allegations that he abused power are credible.

U.S. Reps. Robert Wexler (D., Fla.), Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.) and Tammy
Baldwin (D., Wis.) are members of the Judiciary Committee

Last month, the House of Representatives voted to send a resolution of
impeachment of Vice President Cheney to the Judiciary Committee. As members
of the House Judiciary Committee, we strongly believe these important
hearings should begin.

The issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible
allegations of abuse of power that, if proven, may well constitute high
crimes and misdemeanors under the Constitution. The allegations against
Cheney relate to his deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war, the
revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and
the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.

Now that former White House press secretary Scott McClellan has indicated
that the vice president and his staff purposely gave him false information
about the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson as a covert agent to report to the
American people, it is even more important for Congress to investigate what
may have been an intentional obstruction of justice. Congress should call
McClellan to testify about what he described as being asked to "unknowingly
[pass] along false information." In addition, recent revelations have shown
that the administration, including the vice president, may have again
manipulated and exaggerated evidence about weapons of mass destruction -
this time about Iran's nuclear capabilities.

Some of us were in Congress during the impeachment hearings of President
Bill Clinton. We spent a year and a half listening to testimony about
Clinton's personal relations. This must not be the model for impeachment
inquiries. A Democratic Congress can show that it takes its constitutional
authority seriously and hold a sober investigation, which will stand in
stark contrast to the kangaroo court convened by Republicans for Clinton.
In fact, the worst legacy of the Clinton impeachment - where the GOP
pursued trumped-up and insignificant allegations - would be if it
discourages future Congresses from examining credible and significant
allegations of a constitutional nature when they arise.

The charges against Cheney are not personal. They go to the core of the
actions of this administration, and deserve consideration in a way the
Clinton scandal never did. The American people understand this, and a
majority supports hearings, according to a Nov. 13 poll by the American
Research Group. In fact, 70 percent of voters say the vice president has
abused his powers, and 43 percent say he should be removed from office
right now. The American people understand the magnitude of what has been
done and what is at stake if we fail to act. It is time for Congress to
catch up.

Some people argue that the Judiciary Committee cannot proceed with
impeachment hearings because it would distract Congress from passing
important legislative initiatives. We disagree. First, hearings need not
tie up Congress for a year and shut down the nation. Second, hearings will
not prevent Congress from completing its other business. These hearings
involve the possible impeachment of the vice president - not of our
commander in chief - and the resulting impact on the nation's business and
attention would be significantly less than the Clinton presidential
impeachment hearings. Also, even though President Bush has thwarted
moderate Democratic policies that are supported by a vast majority of
Americans - including children's health care, stem-cell research, and
bringing our troops home from Iraq - the Democratic Congress has already
managed to deliver a minimum-wage increase, an energy bill to address the
climate crisis and bring us closer to energy independence, assistance for
college tuition, and other legislative successes. We can continue to
deliver on more of our agenda in the coming year while simultaneously
fulfilling our constitutional duty by investigating and publicly revealing
whether Cheney has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

Holding hearings would put the evidence on the table, and the evidence -
not politics - should determine the outcome. Even if the hearings do not
lead to removal from office, putting these grievous abuses on the record is
important for the sake of history. For an administration that has
consistently skirted the Constitution and asserted that it is above the
law, it is imperative for Congress to make clear that we do not accept this
dangerous precedent. Our Founding Fathers provided Congress the power of
impeachment for just this reason, and we must now at least consider using
it.


E-mail Rep. Wexler at reprobertwexler@gmail.com.

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