Grassroots Push for Impeachment Continues

Though it seems to have made little impression on the Democratic Party’s leadership, grassroots pressure for impeachment proceedings against Vice President Cheney and President Bush continues to grow in the U.S.

On January 15, the anti-war group Code Pink held a rally at the San Francisco Federal Building where they presented an aide to Nancy Pelosi with more than 8,000 signed letters from U.S. voters urging impeachment of Cheney and Bush.

Cindy Sheehan, whose decision to run as an independent against Pelosi in the next election was precipitated by the Democratic Congresswoman’s refusal to support impeachment, spoke to the assembled protestors. Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, said, “I believe that when George Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence for a crime that he was complicit in, he committed treason. A president can commute sentences, a president can pardon people, but not when they are involved in the crime.”

She continued, “I believe that Nancy Pelosi committed treason when she took impeachment off the table. You cannot ignore our constitution. And not only that, they have also been going against the constitution by approving torture, which goes against the Eighth Amendment, by approving spying on us without warrants, which goes against the Fourth Amendment.”

The former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who is running for the Green Party’s Presidential nomination, appeared at the San Francisco demonstration and spoke in support of Sheehan’s campaign. McKinney said, “People who betray the values of their constituents do not deserve to be part of the government. The government, actually, is us, it’s supposed to be us.

McKinney added, “We have an opportunity to learn from countries where people power has stepped up and through the power of the ballot they have changed things, like in Venezuela, like in Bolivia, like in Chile, like in Argentina, like in Ecuador. They have changed things. People power… and so our campaign is called the power to the people committee, and we are asking people of every political persuasion to join with us in the creation of a new people power movement that can change our country, that can change the policies and the values of our country, and take our government back.”

The day after the San Francisco rally, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) urged the House Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment hearings targeting Vice President Cheney for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Wexler said, “In the history of our nation, we have never encountered a moment where the actions of a President or a Vice President have more strongly demanded the use of the power of impeachment.”

Wexler, a member of the Judiciary Committee, noted that though “a growing chorus of American citizens are calling for this Administration and this Vice President to be held accountable … the response from Congress thus far has been silence and denial.”

Wexler’s office set up a website for U.S. voters to endorse the Florida congressman’s call for hearings. As of January 16, more than 189,000 people had signed on to the site’s petition.

Bay Area-based impeachment activist Brad Newsham, organizer of multiple “Beach Impeach” actions, told me, “Wexler is the Man of the Moment in the impeachment movement. Shortly after Wexler appeared on the Randi Rhodes show Thursday morning, his “Impeach Cheney” petition (http://wexler.house.gov/) cracked 200,000 signatures and has added nearly 10,000 since then.” Newsham emphasized, “Pro impeachment phone calls and emails have been pouring in to the offices of members of Congress, and Wexler has asked that we keep up the pressure (especially on John Conyers).”

At a January 17 press conference, Speaker Pelosi responded to a question about her reluctance to hold Cheney’s “feet to the fire” by insisting she was sticking to her long-stated view that “an impeachment of the Vice President or the President of the United States would be divisive in our country.” She added, “the unity of our country is something that we all value, and that would not be in furtherance of promoting that unity.”

I contacted Cindy Sheehan for a response to Pelosi’s comments. Ms. Sheehan told me, “What George Bush and Dick Cheney have done with the cooperation of congress is divide the country — this country is the most polarized it’s ever been in my lifetime.” Ms. Sheehan said Congress needs to be focus on “justice and a commitment to rule of law and the constitution. About impeachment, she said, “I don’t know if it would bring unity to our country, but it would show our leaders are committed to the principles of the Founding Fathers.”

Sheehan speculated that “one of reasons for not digging too deep” is the complicity of leading Democrats with much that is impeachable: “Like in 2002, Pelosi was briefed on torture.” Further, “There’s been a consolidation of power in one branch of government, and the Democrats know that, [but] think they can win and take advantage of that power when it becomes theirs.”

Cindy Sheehan said in Spring 2007 that if Pelosi agreed to support impeachment by July 23, she wouldn’t continue to run against the veteran Democrat. But now the maverick campaign is underway and Sheehan is meeting with housing rights, immigration, environmental justice and other activists throughout San Francisco, and her campaign is pulling in veteran Green Party and other progressive activist volunteers. Sheehan told me, “if [Pelosi] came out tomorrow to let articles of impeachment go forward,” the campaign would continue. “We think the war and accountability are major issues, but we want and advocate for single payer universal health care, good and free or cheap education … and want the environment cleaned up.” Sheehan especially stressed the need to push for environmental and economic justice in Hunter’s Point, a traditionally African-American San Francisco neighborhood where a decommissioned naval shipyard doubles as a superfund cleanup site. The area now faces accelerating gentrification and construction of a new 49ers stadium on toxic land.

Sheehan noted these domestic concerns won’t be addressed “when our government is spending twelve million dollars an hour in Iraq … our futures are being sucked dry.” She concluded, “we need to solve the problem of militarism, especially the war in Iraq and
Afghanistan, to solve pressing social issues.”

Ben Terrall is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, In These Times, Counterpunch, Lip Magazine, and other publications. He can be reached at: bterrall@igc.org. Read other articles by Ben, or visit Ben's website.

18 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Robert B. Livingston said on January 22nd, 2008 at 12:19pm #

    I just sent this message to Mr. Terrall and the Counterpunch editors asking for correction:

    Good article, but it was Cindy Sheehan who was responsible for the Jan 14 event, not Code Pink.

    The entire corporate media ignored the story– here is mine:

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/14/18472495.php

    I would add that supporters of all stripes and colors were present at the event which was uncovered by major media. Also “mad” should be “made”…. obviously.

  2. Eric Patton said on January 22nd, 2008 at 1:44pm #

    Great second-to-last paragraph. That’s the “trajectory of change” (M. Albert) so threatening to elite interests.

    I love it.

  3. Erroll said on January 22nd, 2008 at 4:20pm #

    Wexler should realize that it is superfluous to hold hearings regarding impeachment against this administration, since there is more than enough evidence to impeach Cheney and Bush, as evidenced by books written on this subject by writers such as Elizabeth Holtzman, Dave Lindorff, and Elizabeth de la Vega. If congress does not impeach Cheney and Bush, it will send a clear message to future administrations that they will not be held accountable for any high Crimes and Misdemeanors that they were to commit while being in office.

  4. greybeard said on January 22nd, 2008 at 4:48pm #

    For those not in a position to vote for Sheehan, might I suggest Snoopy, Steve Colbert, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney–we need to send a message that Pelosi’s managers and string-pullers hear. Business must stop until the rules are changed, and as long as we vote for “the lesser of two evils” we endorse the one-party system in blue and red.

  5. christian stalberg said on January 22nd, 2008 at 6:02pm #

    Take action today at http://impeachbushcheney.net

  6. Nola Bukor said on January 22nd, 2008 at 6:26pm #

    Cindy needs to win! Nothing will signal to the Demo party that we’re serious until Cindy can oust the Speaker.

    See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ItXsXjJ0mQ

  7. Seven said on January 22nd, 2008 at 7:36pm #

    I agree with everyone here. It is my opinion that people need to, if only for a short time, join together – not as democrats, or republicans, or libertarians, or anarchists (ok, maybe not anarchists) – but as Americans.

    Because if we don’t DEMAND change, and CREATE our own change, the future will be much, much worse than the last 8 years have been.

    And that is something people of all parties don’t want.

  8. dfw said on January 22nd, 2008 at 10:55pm #

    Please look at RonPaul2008.com He is the only presidential candidate concerned about these matters and returning our country to following the Constitution.

  9. Lloyd Rowsey said on January 23rd, 2008 at 10:11am #

    Erroll. I’m with you and with Ben Terrall. But lefties should stop criticizing lefties for NOT saying things. What is it? Creeping Wikipedia-ism?

  10. Lloyd Rowsey said on January 23rd, 2008 at 10:51am #

    Make that: persons with radical positions should stop criticizing each other for NOT saying things. And yes. It’s creeping Wikipedia-ism.

  11. Erroll said on January 23rd, 2008 at 7:10pm #

    dfw-

    Actually I have looked at Ron Paul and by doing that have realized that Paul has not advocated backing Kucinich’s proposal to impeach Cheney. Paul is supposed to be a strict Constitutionalist but yet he refuses to do his constitutional duty by holding this administration accountable for their serious transgressions that they have committed against this country and the people of Iraq.

  12. Robert B. Livingston said on January 24th, 2008 at 2:26am #

    Ben Terrell updates story:

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/23/18474308.php

  13. Robert B. Livingston said on January 24th, 2008 at 2:28am #

    Ben Terrall updates story:

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/01/23/18474308.php

    (if at first you don’t succeed… try, try again)

    Great photos and facts!

  14. Third Party Watch » Blog Archive » Cindy Sheehan and Cynthia McKinney Continue to Push Impeachment Issues said on January 24th, 2008 at 10:54am #

    [...] Terrall covered a rally where 8,000 letters urging impeachment proceedings against the President and Vice President [...]

  15. OB Rag » Cinday Sheehan Speaks at San Fran Rally for Impeachment said on January 24th, 2008 at 4:47pm #

    [...] more of this article, go here.] Share [...]

  16. Jay said on January 25th, 2008 at 11:42am #

    Prosecute first…impeach later…

  17. dan elliott said on January 25th, 2008 at 2:16pm #

    Impeach AIPAC & the Council of Prexies. That accomplished, it becomes possible to realistically speak of prosecution under US law.

    “Impeach Bush/Cheney/Pelosi” is great rhetoric. If it gets some new people energized, it can be an effective organizing tool. But I hesitate to “schmuckbait the audience” by claiming it can happen before the Nov. election. Not even over Madame Speaker’s dead body will it reach the floor. Even to get that far it has to get past Mr John Conyers’ Gatekeeping Committee.

    So all power to Cindy, Cynthia et al, but I myself prefer to focus on something that’s more of a realistic possibility. Like securing Cynthia as the Green Party nominee, which will transform the GP into something to get enthusiastic about.

  18. Marc Schlee said on January 30th, 2008 at 1:03am #

    A Vote of Confidence Amendment will enable the American voting public to dismiss and hold over for criminal prosecution any elected official who fails in their obligation to serve the people of the United States.

    VOCA, now