Sunday, July 29, 2007
Letter from my Congressman about Impeachment
The Following is a response to my last email to my Congressman Peter DeFazio urging him to join the others in Congress pushing foe Impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney for the many crimes.:::
"Thanks for your message in support of impeaching the President, Vice President, or both. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.
I share your outrage at the administration's many transgressions over the last six-plus years. I have used my voice and my vote to oppose the administration on multiple fronts. I have always opposed the war in Iraq. I voted against the so-called USA PATRIOT Act. I voted against the legislation establishing military tribunals, which also included provisions retroactively immunizing administration officials for authorizing torture and provisions allowing the President to detain American citizens indefinitely without charge. I voted against legislation authorizing warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. I have led the effort to prevent the administration from attacking Iran without congressional authorization. Despite my long and vocal record of opposition to the administration's harmful policies, I believe that impeachment is a dubious strategy that will fail to bring about the change our country needs.
Supporters of impeachment need to ask themselves a question: is the primary goal to attempt to personally punish the President and Vice President or is it to reverse the many detrimental policies that have been enacted over the last six years?
If it is the former, then I can understand why individuals would believe an attempt to impeach is the best option. But, if it is the latter, which is what I think the goal should be, then impeachment will not work because even if Members of the House put aside all urgent issues and consumed the next six months with impeachment and then voted to impeach, the Senate will never vote to convict the President or Vice President and remove them from office, meaning at the end of the process they will remain in office with their policies unchanged and all that will have been accomplished is a 6-12 month delay in trying to overturn their harmful policies.
The reason I draw that conclusion is based on the math in the Senate. Even with the Democratic takeover of Congress last November, there are only 51 Senators that caucus with the Democratic Party (including two independents, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont). Even if all of these individuals supported impeachment (an unlikely prospect given the large number of conservative Democrats, not to mention Senator Lieberman), it would still require 16 Republicans to vote to convict the President or Vice President (2/3rds of the Senate, 67 votes, are needed to convict and remove from office). There is no evidence that any Republicans, let alone the 16 or likely more that would be required, will consider voting in favor of impeachment.
Just because an impeachment strategy is certain to end in failure doesn't mean Congress is impotent in terms of holding the administration accountable or reversing harmful policies.
I have advocated for an aggressive strategy of hearings, investigations (including the use of subpoena power) and legislation to overturn the administration's harmful policies.
This strategy is already bearing fruit. Although there are not yet quite enough votes in Congress to force a change in the President's Iraq policy, the President has been seriously challenged on Iraq since the Democratic takeover via both hearings and legislation. There have been multiple votes on bringing our troops home and establishing enforceable benchmarks for the administration's policy. This is something that did not happen under Republican control when the President was provided whatever he wanted with no questions asked. Further, the aggressive Democratic oversight has contributed to crumbling support for the President and his war even among members of his own party as evidenced by the recent public defections of key Republican senators.
Further the investigation and hearings into the political firings of U.S. Attorneys (again, something that never would have happened under the prior Republican leadership in Congress) have led to the resignation of several senior Justice Department personnel and hopefully will force out the Attorney General as well.
The Democratic takeover also led the administration to cave-in on its warrantless wiretapping program, agreeing earlier this year to subject future requests to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. Though, what the administration is actually submitting to the FISA Court needs further oversight.
And, while the administration continues to try to obstruct various investigations, Democratic leaders have not been shy about threatening to issue contempt citations and to take the administration to court to enforce subpoenas for testimony and documents.Finally, I am concerned that pursuing impeachment would suck all of the oxygen out of Congress, bringing all other issues to a halt and making it impossible to make progress on other priorities, such as taking on the oil companies; reorienting our energy policies toward clean, renewable electricity and fuels, as well as conservation; reforming and funding the No Child Left Behind law; expanding access to health insurance and affordable health care; among many other issues you and I care about.Since impeachment will not succeed in the Senate, pursuing it will not actually do anything to hold the administration accountable or overturn harmful policies. It would be a hollow effort. So the choice is real action via hearings, investigations and legislation, or symbolic action that won't change anything via impeachment. I prefer real action.
That said, for those concerned that a message needs to be sent to future presidents, I am a cosponsor of H.Res. 530, a resolution censuring President Bush for his manipulation of intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq, the leaking of the identity of an undercover CIA agent's name, and the pardoning of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Passage of this resolution, which only requires a majority vote, would send a powerful signal to future presidents and congresses.
Thanks again for contacting me. Please keep in touch.
Rep. Peter DeFazio
Fourth District, OREGON "