Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Impeachment and My Rep

Awhile back I wrote a letter to my Congressional Representative, Earl Blumenauer. I've always respected his work and am constantly amazed to have a rep that I approve of and that is responsive to me 99% of the time. However, like most folks, I have become increasingly irritated and angered by this atitude of impeachment being "off the table" and the seeming lack of real backbone exibited by Congress. I was tired of hearing how impeachment wasn't going to be considered because there weren't enough votes to pass it, or that the Dems didn't want to "waste" time on an impeachment that wouldn't pass anyhow, and then risk losing in 2008. The real purpose, and power, of impeachment was, and is, being overlooked.The process of impeachment begins with investigations in the House of Representatives. IF there appears to be enough evidence of wrong-doing, than articles of impeachment are drawn up and investigated even more. Impeachment investigations do not require a vote passage, nor do they even require that the House believe in the guilt of the person being investigated. Impeachment investigations are just that...investigations. For those who do not see the point in this, who think that only a conviction and execution will work to deter, one has only to think of Nixon, who was not only never convicted and removed, he was never even impeached. The articles of impeachment were never even introduced. ALL it took, for him to see the writing on the wall was knowledge that he was being investigated, and that there was going to be enough support in the House, to introduce articles of impeachment. All it took was the THREAT of impeachment, for him to step down. That is the power of impeachment. It doesn't have to be an all or nothing deal.
I want to include here, the response that I received from Congressman Blumenauer which illuminates what is happening in Congress fairly well:

Thank you for contacting me about impeachment. As I talk with people throughout my district and Oregon, the issue of accountability and peace is very much on people's minds. I appreciate knowing your thoughts. I believe that Congress must hold the Bush Administration accountable for its actions and that impeachment should be among the options for accountability.

After having spent an incredible amount of time and energy to defeat George Bush and his Republican apologists in the last election, I have been outraged and, frankly, angry at the continued actions of this administration. I am also frustrated at Congress' inability to end the war and the ongoing abuses of our civil liberties. It is dismaying that more of my colleagues aren't willing to join with me to say "not another dime for the war in Iraq," and that, with almost all of the Republicans and some Democrats unwilling to take the hard votes, we don't have a working progressive majority in Congress.

I am doing everything in my power to stand up to this President. From the beginning, I have been an active and vocal opponent of his failed war in Iraq and have introduced comprehensive legislation, H.R. 663, to bring our troops home. I have pledged to vote against any additional funds for military operations in Iraq except for the safe and orderly withdrawal of our troops. I have fought against the politicization of the Justice Department and called for the impeachment of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. In August, I voted against legislation to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) because it broadened the administration's ability to spy on Americans without a court order or necessary oversight. The actions of this administration are eroding our basic rights and making our country less safe. Recently, more than 100 foreign policy experts from both political parties were surveyed about the war on terrorism. They overwhelmingly agreed that the war in Iraq is negatively affecting our national security.

While these are indeed troubling developments, the issue of whether or not to push impeachment is a difficult one. The Constitution sets an extremely high standard for impeachment that is triggered by "Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors." Therefore, I believe that investigations into the range of crimes and abuses must be the first step.

Democratic-led committees in the House and Senate are conducting unprecedented investigations into a broad range of Bush administration misdeeds. The information uncovered by these hearings can be used to hold people responsible for their crimes and abuses, either through Congressional action or criminal prosecutions.

These investigations are making significant impacts. There is no doubt in my mind that were it not for the thorough work of Congressional oversight and the probing research and questions from Democrats leading committees in the House and the Senate, Alberto Gonzalez would still be Attorney General and Karl Rove would still be calling the shots at the White House.

I believe that oversight must lead to accountability. Impeachment is among the range of options for Congress to consider as we seek to hold President Bush and others accountable for their actions. Impeachment may not be ripe, either procedurally or politically, now but that does not mean that it won't be in the future. Congress cannot let this administration off the hook or give them a "Get out of Jail Free" card by taking impeachment off the table.

While it is important that investigations and accountability measures be neither partisan nor political in nature, Congress must make the necessary effort to expose and punish the abuses of the last six and a half years. If these investigations show that impeachment is warranted and necessary, then Congress should not be afraid to take that step.

The ultimate act in accountability will be who controls the next Congress and who the next President is I will work to restore Americans' faith in their government as I continue to fight on the issues that matter to Oregonians. Standing up to President Bush and his destructive vision for America is critical to regaining control of our country and will make a difference in people's lives by ending the war, restoring our damaged constitutional protections, saving the planet from global warming, promoting tax fairness and solving the crisis in healthcare.

Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress

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