Jury of Conscience: a viable, valuable alternative to Bush/Cheney impeachment

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Despite the celebratory claim of at least one pro-impeachment organization, the 11/6/07 House vote that referred Dennis Kucinich’s Cheney impeachment resolution to the Judiciary Committee did not advance the impeachment process.

Opinion: A viable, valuable alternative to Bush/Cheney impeachment

As reports by the Congressional Quarterly and impeachment advocate David Swanson clearly show, referral effectively killed the process. (1,2) That’s why Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) and four other impeachment supporters voted against referring H.Res 799. They knew that Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) had indicated he wouldn’t hold hearings to impeach Cheney or Bush.(4)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) emphatically opposes their impeachment, so House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) first moved to table the resolution and foreclose substantive debate on the House floor. His motion was defeated 162-251 when 86 liberal Democrats voted Nay, and 165 Republicans switched their vote from Yea to Nay.(1-3, Roll Call 1037)

Minnesota’s Colin Peterson (DFL), Tim Walz (DFL) and Jim Ramstad (GOP) voted Yea; while Keith Ellison (DFL), Betty McCollum (DFL), Michele Bachmann (GOP), John Kline (GOP) plus Kucinich and 83 other liberal Democrats voted Nay.

Hoyer then moved to quash debate by referring the resolution to Conyer’s Judiciary Committee. The motion was approved 218-194 when 214 liberal, moderate and conservative Democrats voted Yea, and 189 Republicans voting Nay.(3, Roll Call 1039)

DFL Ellison, McCollum, Peterson and Walz voted Yea; while GOP Bachmann, Kline and Ramstad voted Nay. Jim Oberstar (DFL), recovering from surgery, didn’t vote on either motion.

Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Bob Filner (D-CA), Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) opposed referral. The latter three were the only co-sponsors of the initial Kucinich impeachment resolution (H.Res 333) who opposed referral. Ellison and 16 other Democrat co-sponsors supported it.(5)

Even though Kucinich and his supporters are pressing Conyers and his committee to revive the process, revival and House approval are highly unlikely. And even though one independent 2007 national poll clearly supported Cheney’s impeachment, six 2006 and 2007 independent national polls strongly opposed Bush’s impeachment and two others didn’t significantly support it.(6-8)

Polls were perhaps another reason why House Republicans–nearly all of whom abhor Bush/Cheney impeachment–cynically opposed tabling and referring the resolution in order to “embarrass” the Democrats. Hoyer said that was “beneath the dignity” of the House but declared that “Congress is not going to proceed with impeachment.”(1,2,9)

However, impeachment won’t adequately address the “high crimes and misdemeanors” committed by other Bush administration officials and by members of Congress, the military, the media, corporations like Halliburton, and other U.S. entities who’ve played a significant, culpable role in waging the Iraq War.

In 2005, a prestigious Jury of Conscience World Tribunal on Iraq published a comprehensive set of findings, charges and recommendations that included legal and other actions against many of those entities.(10) And as the recent impeachment debate by the Minnesota Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions noted, Bush, Cheney and other officials are subject to criminal and civil actions once they leave office.(11)

So why not adapt the Jury of Conscience model to create a Jury of Conscience American Tribunal; hold online and local hearings in U.S. cities to address Iraq and other possible “high crimes and misdemeanors”; then widely distribute and implement the Jury’s findings, charges and recommendations?

The Jury process would be organized and conducted by diverse representatives of non-profit organizations with proven fundraising, communication, and administrative skills; funds would be contributed by individuals and non-profit organizations; and a 15-person Jury would be selected from a diverse pool of distinguished Americans with expertise in various fields.

Except for fundraising, those operations would be completed by 3/14/08; hearings would be held from 3/17 to 6/6/08; and the Jury’s findings, charges and recommendations would be published and widely distributed by 8/1/08. They would be available for the Democrat and Republican conventions in late August and early September; for the Congressional and Presidential elections; and for litigation against Bush, Cheney and other culpable entities.

Millions of Americans who covet Constitutional rule of law would finally get their “day in court.”
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Please note: if a URL doesn’t link, you can Google the reference title.

(1) “House GOP Embraces Cheney Impeachment Bid to Embarrass Democrats”
http://public.cq.com/docs/cqt/news110-000002622573.html

(2) “Kucinich’s Resolution Survives Tabling Attempt, Is Referred to Committee”
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/28469>. Also see (9) below.

(3) “The Library of Congress: H.Res. 799”
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HE00799:@@@X

(4) “Conyers on Impeachment of Bush, Cheney: Not Enough Time or Votes”
http://www.democracynow.org/print.pl?sid=07/08/28/1526252

(5) “H. Res. 333: Impeaching Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors” http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hr110-333

(6) “Impeachment”
http://americanresearchgroup.com/impeach/>. This 2007 poll showed clear, statistically significant support for impeaching Cheney, but not Bush.

(7) Poll: Americans slightly favor plan to censure”
http://www.rawstory.com/printstory.php?story=1656>. This 2006 poll barely showed statistically significant support for censuring Bush, but not impeaching him.

(8) “Bush Administration”
http://www.pollingreport.com/bush.htm>
Search on “impeachment” for six 2006 and 2007 polls that strongly oppose impeaching Bush.

(9) “Republicans Make Fool of Hoyer on Cheney Impeachment Bill” http://somd.com/news/headlines/2007/6687.shtml

(10) “Declaration of the Jury of Conscience World Tribunal on Iraq”
http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/2005/06/27_jury-of-conscience-declaration_print.htm

(11) “Citizens for Global Solutions – Minnesota Chapter”
http://www.globalsolutionsmn.org/calendar.html