I Testified in Favor of Impeaching Bush & Cheney
by Timothy Horrigan; February 19, 2008
On February 19, 2008, the New Hampshire House of Representatives (aka "The General Court") took up HR 24, introduced by longtime state representative Betty Hall. This is a hard-hitting resolution calling upon the US Congress to take up the impeachment of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. This may seem like a mere symbolic gesture (even if the bill passes.) However there is a legal theory that a state legislature can in fact force the US House to begin impeachment proceedings. And as a symbolic gesture qua symbolic gesture, it would be pretty spectacular.
Ironically the wide scope of Bush & Cheney's crimes and misdemeanours makes it harder to impeach them. Bill Clinton lied about a blow job. (And no one outside the Capitol Beltway really cared about that.) That was pretty easy to understand. But this time around, it is impossible to keep track of everything which has gone wrong. There are literally too many reasons to impeach Cheney & Bush.
Betty Hall addresses supporters in front of the State House; Feb. 19,. 2008
I was one of about 200 citizens who packed a small hearing room on the 3rd floor of the New Hampshire Legislative Office Building. I went on the spur of the moment, and I was not planning on speaking until I decided to do so while signing in for the hearing.
This is (more or less) the one minute speech I gave. (I say more or less because I deviated slightly from what I wrote down on a scrap of paper. This version is based on my scrap of paper (which actually was the back of a copy of Ms Hall's bill) but was revised to reflect what I think I actually said:
President Bush and Vice President Cheney have committed high crimes. And their pattern of contempt for the democratic process and the rule of law is a misdemeanour. President Bush spoke eloquently this morning— well, he spoke as eloquently as he knows how— in favor of the democratic process in Cuba while reacting the news that Fidel Castro was stepping down. If democracy and the rule of law are good enough for Cuba, and for Iraq, they are good enough for the USA. We must remove Bush & Cheney now to restore democracy and the rule of law in our country. We cannot wait for them to issue a signing statement to the effect that they don't have to leave office on January 20 2009.
I was just speaking as an ordinary citizen, but to my surprise I was subjected to some fairly challenging questioning by the chairperson, Kris Roberts (Democrat from Keene) and from a Republican, Alfred Baldasaro from Derry. They challenged me to state which high crimes I thought Bush & Cheney had committed and what proof I had for my allegations. I said that the charges in the resolution were factual but it was up to the US House to decide what the charges should be and that it wasn't up to me to prove them. I did mention the illegal war in Iraq, and Baldasaro (a tough Marine who, as he reminded us about 50 times in a 4-hour session, served in Desert Storm) asked me if I had seen any of the intel reports about Saddam. Luckily, I had actually read the unclassified versions of the National Intelligence Estimates which ostensibly justified the war.
Here is the text of Ms Hall's bill:
HR 24 — AS INTRODUCED
HOUSE RESOLUTION 24
This resolution petitions Congress to commence impeachment procedures against President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eight
A RESOLUTION petitioning Congress to commence impeachment procedures.
Whereas, section 603 of Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice states that an impeachment may be set in motion by the United States House of Representatives by charges transmitted from the legislature of a state; and
Whereas, the right to vote, being the right that protects all other rights, and the right which ratified the Constitutions of our state and our country, is a right that is collectively inalienable, in that elections may not be generally suspended or terminated; and
Whereas, the executive branch is responsible for enforcing and guaranteeing these rights; and
Whereas, President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney have engaged in a pattern and practice of threatening litigation against states and people who refuse to institute mechanisms of voting that require votes to be counted in trade secrecy and outside the observation and control of citizens; and
Whereas, secret vote counting shifts control of elections from citizens to the executive branch, including the Election Assistance Commission, and any person capable of altering the trade secret software; and
Whereas, President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney have committed high crimes and misdemeanors by repeatedly and intentionally violating the United States Constitution and other laws of the United States, particularly the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which is the "supreme law of the land" as a treaty ratified under Article VI of the United States Constitution; and
Whereas, President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney, in subversion of the law, have acted to strip Americans of their constitutional rights by ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to legal counsel, without charge, and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the President of a United States citizen as an "enemy combatant"; and
Whereas, President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney have ordered and authorized the Attorney General of the United States to override judicial orders for the release of detainees under United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)) jurisdiction, even though the judicial officer, after full hearing, has determined that a detainee is held wrongfully by the government; and
Whereas, President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney have at least 30 times ordered the National Security Agency to intercept and otherwise record international telephone and other signals and communications by United States citizens without warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, duly constituted by Congress in 1978, and have designated certain United States citizens as "enemy combatants," all in violation of constitutional guarantees of due process; and
Whereas, President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney have admitted that they willfully and repeatedly violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and boasted that they would continue to do so, each violation constituting a felony; and
Whereas, President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney have violated the United Nations Charter and other treaties prohibiting aggressive war, by invading Iraq without just cause or provocation, and have misled the Congress by deliberate or negligent falsehoods to obtain the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, Public Law 107-243; and
Whereas, President George W. Bush has now admitted that his 20-year "War on Terror" includes a permanent United States presence in Iraq and the Middle East, consisting of a lavish embassy and dozens of military bases; and
Whereas, President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney continue to authorize the use of depleted-uranium (DU) munitions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the use of which spreads radioactive contamination to non-targets, including innocent civilians, animals, food, and water sources, and the use of which has been declared illegal by the United Nations Subcommittee on Human Rights; and
Whereas, President George W. Bush has subverted the laws of our nation, in whole or in part, through the use of "signing statements" on more than 1,200 occasions, unprecedented in United States history; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives:
That the House of Representatives of the State of New Hampshire hereby submits that the actions and admissions of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney constitute ample grounds for their impeachment, and that the House of Representatives of the State of New Hampshire has good cause for submitting charges to the United States House of Representatives under section 603 of Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice, as grounds for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney; and
That the House of Representatives of the State of New Hampshire further submits that Articles of Impeachment should charge that President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney have violated their oaths to execute faithfully the office of President and Vice President to the best of their ability to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States; and
That in all of this, President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney have acted in a manner contrary to their trust as President and Vice President, subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the State of New Hampshire and of the United States; and
That President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney, by such conduct, warrant impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any offices of honor, trust, or profit under the United States; and
That New Hampshire's Senators and Representatives in the United States Congress are hereby requested to cause to be instituted in the Congress of the United States proper proceedings for the investigation of the activities of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney, to the end that they may be impeached and removed from such office; and
That copies of this resolution be forwarded by the house clerk to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and to each member of the New Hampshire congressional delegation.
The New Hampshire legislature has a confusing voting system. All votes are on committee reports. In this case, when the bill was "execked" on February 20, the committee voted 10-5 in favor of a report stating that the bill should be killed, because it was "Inexpedient to Legislate." A "yes" vote was a vote against Hall's bill (and hence a vote against impeachment.) However, a minority "Ought to Pass" report in favor of impeachment did get a third of the votes.
Happily this bill, like all bills in our state legislature, still gets to go to the full house. The voting system, even though it is confusing, is democratic: unless the sponsors withdraw the bill, there is no way to deny a bill a fair hearing.
STATE-FEDERAL RELATIONS AND VETERANS AFFAIRS*
The only significant mainstream media coverage of the February 19 hearing was a small article in the local daily, The Concord Monitor: