Saturday, July 26, 2008
The brave efforts of Congressman Dennis Kucinich and others to attempt to bring articles of impeachment against the president and the vice president cannot be underestimated, however, due to the brick wall erected before them by the Democratic leadership, statements at the hearing were very limited.
“To the regret of many, this is not an impeachment hearing,” said Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, noting that the House would have to approve any hearings that could move formally on impeachment.
Before the hearing even began it became clear that Conyers and the rest of the committeewere not even considering the possibility of impeachment.
In fact we are not even allowed to use the word impeachment for Bush’s impeachment hearing.
The “unimpeachment hearing” did not allow any remarks or formal accusations that would imply or state that the president lied or obstructed the truth in any way, nor did it allow any references to alleged impeachable offenses.
Former prosecutor and author of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, Vincent Bugliosi summed up the hearing in his opening statement to the Committee:
“I have been told that the rules of this house dictate that although I can quote what president George Bush said I am forbidden from accusing him of a crime or even of any dishonorable conduct, only being allowed to use the words “Bush Administration” or “Administration officials” this will not make for the best of articulations, but I will do the best that I can”
Though Bugliosi went on to state that “The terrible reality is the Bush administration has gotten away with thousands and thousands or murders,” under the rules of the House, we must ignore that. We must also ignore the boisterous applause for the former prosecutor’s words, which drove Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the committee’s ranking member, to ask that Chairman John Conyers clear the hearing room. That too is not allowed.
When Cindy Sheehan shouted, “Thank you Vince”, Conyers reminded her that it was forbidden to express any demonstrations of approval or disapproval of the proceedings. An angry and bemused Sheehan was already on her way out of the door when Conyers ordered her to be removed.
Though Dennis Kucinich was afforded the luxury of presenting one of his articles of imp…. er unimpeachment, he was not allowed to present any evidence or facts to back it up, of which we know there are ample amounts of. Presenting false intelligence as a pretext to engage in war, ordering illegal torture and authorizing warrantless wiretapping anyone?
“The question for Congress is this: what responsibility does the President and members of his Administration have for that unnecessary, unprovoked and unjustified war?”
“The rules of the House prevent me or any witness from utilizing familiar terms. But we can put two and two together in our minds. We can draw inferences about culpability. …
“I ask this committee to think, and then to act, in order to enable this Congress to right a very great wrong and to hold accountable those who misled this nation,” he concluded.
Republicans reminded us all that impeachment would set a dangerous precedent by punishing a president for his political policies. Heaven forbid.
“There’s no evidence in these allegations of the president violating his oath of office,” said Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican.
Pence was technically correct given that no one was allowed to present any evidence.
Jeremy Rabkin, a George Mason University law professor, said Bush administration critics might be using threats of impeachment to express anger toward the president over policy matters.
Others called the meeting a waste of time with Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith saying,” Nothing is going to come out of this hearing with regard to impeachment of the president. I know it, the media knows it, even the speaker knows it.”
At several points Smith was seen fuming and at one point blurted out “This is not impeachment hearing”.
Smith, mocked the proceedings, comparing them to last month’s hearing featuring former White House spokesman turned whistleblower Scott McClellan, whom he took pride in comparing to Judas.
“If last month it appeared we hosted a ‘book of the month club,’ this week it seems that we are hosting an anger management class,” Smith said. “This hearing will not cause us to impeach the President; it will only serve to impeach our own credibility.”
Complete video coverage of House Judiciary Committee hearings on Bush impeachment:
Kucinich enters hearing to cheers
Rep. Robert Wexler
Rep. Steve King
Rep. Jerrold Nadler
Rep. Dennis Kucinich
Rep. Dan Lungren
Rep. Walter Jones
Congressman Steve Cohen
After the hearing Dennis Kucinich took calls on CSpan: