Saturday, February 02, 2008

Pen pals

From the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Dear Mr. Dashiell,
Thank you for contacting me regarding your opinions about impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney. As you know,
Congressman Dennis Kucinich recently introduced House Resolution 333 to impeach Vice President Cheney. Impeachment is one of the most powerful actions possible by the House of Representatives, punishing "high crimes and misdemeanors." I do not take this matter lightly.
I respect my colleague's legislation and will give it serious consideration if I have an opportunity to vote on its passage. Preserving the
U.S. Constitution and maintaining the important checks and balances in our democratic system demand strong congressional oversight of the executive branch.
In fact, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, of which I am not a member, has been conducting hearings on many questionable policies and actions of the Bush Administration-the decision to go into Iraq, the use of domestic wiretaps without the benefit of warrants, and the use of no-bid contracts in Iraq and
Hurricane Katrina reconstruction in the gulf coast. Investigating and possibly litigating these issues will most likely continue during the second year of the 110th Congress. However, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee does not have the authority to initiate the impeachment process.
In all past impeachment proceedings (President Jackson [sic], President Nixon and
President Clinton for example) the House has examined impeachment charges prior to entertaining any vote. The process has included an initial exploration by the Judiciary Committee to which investigating and reporting duties are delegated. Based on its findings, the Committee has then drafted an impeachment resolution that reflects the charges being presented. Afterwards the Judiciary committee has then voted the resolution out of committee and sent it to the full House.
Congressman Kucinich's impeachment resolution, H.R. 333, has not gone through this process. Therefore, when it came directly to the floor on a procedural motion, I voted to send it to the Judiciary Committee for proper consideration.
There are serious allegations about the Vice President's actions over the past seven years and Congress is trying to repair some of the damage. I am working hard to change the direction of the country and correct mistakes of the Bush Administration, particularly in
If an impeachment measure passes the Judiciary committee and is referred to the floor for final passage, I will review the charges carefully, examine transcripts from Judiciary committee hearings and debate, and consult with my colleagues and constituents on how to vote.
Thank you for your active engagement in our democracy. Participation and vigilance in monitoring the actions of elected officials is the responsibility of all citizens. Without accountability, our system of government would be in great peril. I am honored to represent you and look forward to working with you to continue bringing the voice of
Southern Arizona to Washington. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if you require assistance, and feel free to sign-up for e-news updates on my website at
Gabrielle Giffords
Member of Congress

Dear Ms. Giffords,

Thank you for your letter of January 23 regarding my opinions about impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney. I agree with you that without accountability, our system of government would be in great peril. However, I maintain that in fact there has been practically no accountability for this administration’s lawless behavior during the last seven years, and that therefore our system of government is already in great peril. It was a dire sense of urgency, not a casual whim or opinion, that prompted me to contact you regarding impeachment. Your reply, which treated this issue as largely a procedural matter, lacked the sense of urgency that I think would accurately reflect our true situation.
If the Democratic leadership really took Rep. Kucinich’s resolution seriously, I don’t think it would still be sitting in committee. It was first submitted in April of last year, and then resubmitted in November. No hearings have been scheduled on this resolution. I think that if House Democrats were sincere about accountability, the resolution would at least be in the hearings stage by now. The fact that it isn’t is a source of grave disquiet to me and to many other citizens who care about the integrity of our political process.
As one of your district’s constituents, and as someone who voted for you in 2006, I urge you to co-sponsor Rep. Kucinich’s resolution, as your Tucson colleague Raul Grijalva has done.
It has been common knowledge for some time that the Bush administration had fixed the intelligence around the policy of invading
Iraq, and repeatedly misled the American people concerning Iraq and its supposed link to Al Qaida. Mr. Bush also authorized illegal wiretapping of American citizens. His administration has pursued a policy of torturing prisoners, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and standards of human decency. He has authorized secret prisons where people are held indefinitely without charges. He sought to undermine the integrity of the Justice Dept. by using it to suppress the votes of citizens in largely Democratic regions, firing U.S. attorneys that refused to go along with this corrupt policy. He allowed a CIA agent’s identity to be revealed as political retaliation against the agent’s husband for revealing one of the deceptions used to attack Iraq. These are only a few prominent aspects of the rampant corruption that has characterized this administration. The conduct of the Iraq war alone reveals numerous instances of fraud and theft from the U.S. treasury by contractors with political ties to the administration that, instead of being accountable to oversight, have been continually shielded from investigation by the administration. War profiteering is an extremely grave, I would even say potentially fatal, threat to our country. It has been going on since the beginning of this war on an unprecedented scale, and all of us are paying for it, while high-level criminal activity goes unpunished and in fact rewarded. Moreover, Mr. Bush continues to explicitly claim powers that put the Executive Branch above the law. He has instructed his aides not to answer Congressional subpoenas. He has used signing statements to contradict and disregard laws that have passed the Congress. He has sought to eliminate the principle of habeas corpus, one of the rights for which our forefathers pledged their lives and honors, and he has partly succeeded in this aim. He has continually exploited the atrocities of 9/11/01 for political advantage, to the shame of all people of conscience.
In your letter you say that you are working to correct the administration’s “mistakes,” especially in
Iraq. I really think it is too charitable to refer to the policies regarding Iraq as mistakes. This administration deliberately misled us to prosecute this war, and have since showed criminal disregard for the safety and well-being of American troops and returning veterans. A recent poll conducted by a non-partisan British group concluded that more than one million Iraqis have died as the result of this conflict. Add to that the thousands of American soldiers killed and wounded. I don’t think “oops” is a mature response to this devastating event.
If impeachment proceedings are not brought against this President and Vice-President, then we are essentially saying that it is ok for this level of corruption to exist in our government. If we let this slide, in the hope that somehow another election will solve everything, we lose a vital opportunity for the
United States to stand up as a country for the rule of law and the value of human decency. There is no guarantee that a new President, even if he or she is a Democrat (which is by no means certain), will not continue to promote untrammeled executive power above all law or oversight. There is no guarantee that our future will not continue to be auctioned off to the highest bidder by unscrupulous profiteers.
I voted for you in 2006 because I wanted accountability and true change in our country. I did not vote for you so that we could simply sit on our hands and wait until a new President takes office in 2009. I consider the situation in our country so perilous that I am not sure we can survive another year of criminal behavior in the White House without permanent damage to our institutions and our very freedom. Mr. Bush has already shown his eagerness to involve us in yet another war, the disastrous consequences of which I can barely contemplate without being overwhelmed with despair and horror. Ms. Giffords, polls indicate that over half of the citizens of this country favor impeachment. The people are far ahead of the politicians in their rejection of Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their policies. With the Republicans' dismal record of failure on every level, and a list of lies and scandals so long that it is difficult to even keep track of all the deceptions and crimes, why aren’t the Democrats using this as an issue for all its worth? But even if public support was lower, impeachment is simply the right thing to do. To let this behavior go by without anyone taking responsibility sends a clear message to the country, and to our kids, that we don’t really care about honesty at all, and that power and money are our real priorities, not the values of responsibility, citizenship, or providing for our future.
I am sorry to have to say that unless you take a stand against this corrupt White House, I won’t be able to vote for you when you come up for re-election. I say “won’t be able” rather than “won’t be willing” because I think you’re a good person with good intentions. I want to vote for you. But I am literally unable to cast my vote for anyone, no matter how well intentioned, who will not actively oppose this criminal administration. For me to do so would be to countenance torture, mass murder, the undermining of our precious Constitution, and ultimately treason. This is not business as usual, Ms. Giffords. This is not normal politics. This is the future of our country, and silence at this point equals complicity. My conscience can no longer allow me to be complicit.
Thank you again for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon.
Chris Dashiell

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