Sunday, July 27, 2008

Impeachment backers gear up for hearing

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By Sabrina Eaton

Impeachment backers including anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan and Republican constitutional law scholar Bruce Fein held a press conference this afternoon in anticipation of tomorrow’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the "imperial presidency" of George W. Bush and possible legal responses to it.

While Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan is not billing the hearing as an effort to impeach Bush, Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich will attend to make his impeachment case before the committee.

Kucinich has introduced several measures to impeach Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, but they have not moved forward because of opposition from House of Representatives leaders. Kucinich told his supporters in e-mail this week that he’ll present a petition to the Judiciary Committee "bearing the names of thousands of citizens who believe ... that the Bush Administration has committed high crimes and misdemeanors in total disregard for their Constitutional obligations."

Fein, who served as a deputy U.S. Attorney General under President Reagan, and Sheehan, who is running for Congress as an independent against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accused Congress of cowardice for not moving forward to impeach Bush.

Fein said Bush has grabbed powers he was never intended to have -- like the ability to order torture, electronic surveillance and interrogation in secret prisons -- and attacked Congress for letting him get away with it.

"It doesn’t matter if the country goes to hell in a handbasket as long as Democrats are steering the Titanic when it sinks," said Fein.

Sheehan accused Democrats of serving the same corporate special interests as Republicans, and said she was afraid tomorrow’s hearing "is just a dog and pony show to pander to the people who have been working so hard for peace and accountability."

"They are throwing us a bone," she continued. "They expect us to take it like good dogs with a pat on our heads from the master and swallow, once again, their bile. Well, I’m not going to swallow it."

Sheehan said Bush should not only be impeached but "dragged out of my White House and thrown in the Hague" because "he is clearly a war criminal. It is about time an American president paid for those kinds of crimes."

Asked what the hearing would achieve if Bush isn’t impeached, impeachment activist David Swanson -- a former press secretary for Kucinich -- said it would "achieve a degree of public education" and may open the door to further demands for impeachment.

"It’s a process," Swanson said. "Most impeachment movements have obtained a great degree of justice and accountability far short of getting to impeachment."

"This is going to give the public hope," added Cynthia Papermaster, of the National Impeachment Network. "It tells them that it’s possible."

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