Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Impeachment resolution a matter of accountability

I agree with Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin... impeach!


Impeachment resolution a matter of accountability

By Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - January 19, 2008

On Dec. 14, I joined with my colleagues on the House
Judiciary Committee
, Reps. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and
Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), in urging Chairman Rep. John
(D-Mich.) to conduct hearings on a resolution
of impeachment now pending consideration in that

Among my constituents, there are those who say I have
gone too far in calling for Congress to examine
possible impeachable offenses by the Bush
administration. There are also those who argue I have
not gone far enough. In letters, emails, phone calls,
personal conversations and listening sessions, I have
heard passionate arguments from those who think we are
losing our democracy and that I should do more to hold
the Bush administration accountable for its actions.

The call to impeach is one I did not take lightly. But
as we said in our letter to Chairman Conyers, the
issues are too serious to ignore. We simply cannot
discount or overlook numerous, credible allegations of
abuse of power by the Bush administration that, if
proven, may well constitute high crimes and
misdemeanors under our Constitution. To prove this, we
must follow the form of the signers of our own
Declaration of Independence who wrote, "let Facts be
submitted to a candid world."

Impeachment hearings in the House Judiciary Committee
will establish the facts and prove whether or not this
administration did the following:

* Spied on Americans without a court order in violation
of the Fourth Amendment;

* Directed senior members of the administration to
ignore subpoenas in contempt of Congress;

* Outed Valerie Plame Wilson as a covert agent of the
CIA and then intentionally obstructed justice by
disseminating false information through the White House
press office;

* Ordered U.S. attorneys to pursue politically-
motivated prosecutions in violation of the law;

* Fired eight U.S. attorneys and allowed others to
retain their jobs because of partisan political

* Refused to provide subpoenaed emails and other

* Purposefully manipulated intelligence to deceive
American citizens and the Congress;

* Fabricated a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction to justify the war in Iraq - a war that has
taken the lives of nearly 4,000 U.S. troops, injured
60,000 more, and that will cost more than a trillion
dollars by many accounts;

* Alleged, despite all evidence to the contrary, a
relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida, to justify the
war in Iraq;

* Manipulated and exaggerated evidence of Iran's
nuclear weapons capabilities;

* Undermined national security by openly threatening
aggression against Iran, despite no evidence that Iran
has the intention or capability of attacking the U.S.;

* Suspended habeas corpus by claiming the power to
declare any person an "enemy combatant" - ignoring the
Geneva Convention protections that the U.S. helped

* Endorsed torture and rendition of prisoners in
violation of international law and stated American
policy and values, and destroyed videotaped evidence of
such torture;

* Awarded unlawful no-bid contracts to political
friends at home and abroad; and

* Skirted legal consequences by employing paid
mercenaries to act as bodyguards for American diplomats
in Iraq.

The abuses of this administration demand a formal
response. Congressional oversight is a fundamental part
of our constitutionally-proscribed system of checks and

I had hoped that Congress could begin to repair the
damage that has been done to our democracy, our
Constitution and our standing in the world, so that
censure or impeachment could be averted. Unfortunately,
this administration not only fails to accept
responsibility for its misdeeds, but it also blocks
attempts to right the wrongs and address the tragic
consequences of those misdeeds. We have seen the
American people's will thwarted by the exercise of veto
power. We have seen subpoenas ignored. We have seen
signing statements used to circumvent the law of the

If we fail to take action to either impeach or repair
the damage, then the next president will "inherit"
unchecked powers. Unchecked powers are unacceptable no
matter who is president.

It is unlikely that impeachment will move forward this
session. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
expressed her view that impeachment should be "taken
off the table," and that is her prerogative. I took an
oath of office to uphold the Constitution. That sacred
pledge gives me no choice but to call for executive
branch accountability in any and all forms possible.

[Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, represents Wisconsin's
second congressional district.]