A BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT
By Meg White
“This isn’t just about impeachment. It’s about reorienting our politics to a position which respects morality. Our moral compass needs to be reset here.”
-Rep. Dennis Kucinich
In an exclusive interview with BuzzFlash Friday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) discussed the 35 articles of impeachment he introduced against President George W. Bush earlier this week. Though the word on the Hill is that the call for impeachment will not go anywhere, the Ohio representative is undeterred.
“This is a very grave matter that cannot be and will not be swept under the rug by some kind of a legislative trap,” he said.
“There will be more. I’m quite confident of that, and as members start to read the document it’ll keep growing,” he said.
The proposal is now in the Judiciary Committee, where many expect it to stay at least until after the November elections.
“Some bills are sent to committee to be acted upon,” Kucinich said. “But in this case it’s widely assumed, based on statements by House leaders, that it’ll be sent to committee and nothing’s going to happen.”
Kucinich entered the articles of impeachment as a privileged resolution, which means it can be reintroduced. He said that if the committee does not act on the resolution within 30 days, he will bring the subject up again in more detail.
“I think it’s reasonable to give the committee 30 days,” he said. “There are other areas of law that I have not, in the interest of time, put in the resolution that was introduced. But they will be put in the next one if no action is taken.”
When taking over as Speaker of the House in 2006, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said impeachment was “off the table.” She has stuck to that statement thus far. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the man in charge of calling Kucinich’s resolution up for debate, said at the Take Back America Conference earlier this spring that he would consider waiting until after the presidential elections to pursue impeachment.
Kucinich does not see this as an option.
“If we wait, we’re licensing further abuses of power. There’s been broad concern that this administration could attack Iran. Why should we give them the opening to do so by failing to challenge the lies that they told that took us into war with Iraq?” he asked. “We cannot wait for after the election. We don’t know what could happen in the next six months with respect to a further erosion of our democratic process. And what the impeachment process would do would be to have a chilling effect on further abuses of the Constitution and on creating another war.”
He’s also concerned after the election there could be a drop-off in interest.
Historically, such conditions led to President Gerald Ford’s controversial pardon of his predecessor President Richard Nixon. In addition, Bill Clinton did not pursue the Reagan/Bush I violations of the law, particularly the Iran-Contra and BCCI illegal activity.
“If they refuse to act, you know what’ll happen. The election’s over and it’s like, ‘Well, let’s not go back. That was yesterday. Let’s move forward.’ That’s what’ll happen,” he predicted. “The House leadership, which is above Congressman Conyers, and even the leadership of the Democratic Party now are joining in and saying, ‘Well, we just can’t do this.’ Well, you know what? This isn’t about politics anymore. This is about whether or not there’s such a thing as the rule of law, and you can’t have a political agreement to violate the law.”
Kucinich differs with those who have suggested that the hearings could be divisive. He sees impeachment as an opportunity for healing both the partisan divisions between people and the mistrust Americans have for their government.
“This war has been a wedge, which has driven Americans apart,” he said. As for Congress, he said that “there is no logical explanation for their position. We cannot abdicate our responsibilities. If we abdicate our responsibilities, we end up being in collusion. Why are we not acting? There’s a reason why the Congress is so low in polls and I think it’s because the American people feel we won’t stand up.”
Kucinich said Congress is not living up to its responsibilities to the American people. But he has personal feelings about the resolution that drove him to move forward on impeachment.
“Where’s our heart here? What is going on that we can’t connect with the suffering of other people?” he asked. “We can’t say, ‘Oh, yeah, we went into a war, they didn’t tell the truth and all these people died. Sorry about that. Pass the Grey Poupon.’ We can’t do that. We cannot become so callous that we don’t care that innocent people are killed. This is what’s driving me.”
Any casual reader of the articles of impeachment can tell the Iraq war figures heavily in the resolution. Of the 35 articles, Kucinich said around half are at least tangentially related to Iraq. While some articles deal with election fraud and offenses against Medicare, Kucinich is clearly bothered by the lead-up to the war.
“I can’t think of any more grave offense than that the people of this country, at a moment of peril in post 9/11, would be lied to in order to get their support for a war,” he said. “There’s a difference between just being wrong and lying. And there’s a pattern of lies here.”
However, Kucinich said that the effort is not only about Constitutional law and his personal feelings. He wants to demonstrate to future U.S. presidents and the international community that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated by Congress.
These are not just symbolic concerns; Kucinich raised the specter of international involvement:
“How awful it would be if the Congress looks the other way and within the next few years some nation decides to prosecute a member of the Bush Administration for war crimes at a time when we clearly knew that there was sufficient evidence to proceed with hearings?”
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT