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US Rep. Johnson Joins 10 Others on Cheney Impeachment Bill

By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, The Atlanta Progressive News (June 29, 2007)

(APN) ATLANTA – US Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA-04) has joined ten other Members of Congress in supporting H Res 333, a bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I believe it was time to send a message to the Vice President and to the Executive Branch as a whole," Congressman Johnson told Atlanta Progressive News in a statement issued verbally by spokesperson Deb Speights.

"I have certainly been displeased with the operations of the Executive Branch, particularly with regard to the secrecy, the incompetence, and the lack of cooperation that is coming out of the Vice President’s Office. I think the response to [reject] the subpoenas was the last straw," Johnson said.

Johnson was one of three US Reps to join the bill yesterday, and the only Georgia Member to have signed on so far. Johnson’s predecessor, US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), had been a strong supporter of impeachment, including, among other things, introducing her own Articles of Impeachment against President Bush at the end of her most recent term.

US Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) made a speech on the House Floor, “The Vice President Should Resign or Face Impeachment,” announcing his plans to support the bill. US Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) also joined yesterday.

The other total supporters include original sponsor, US Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), plus US Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Albert Wynn (D-MD), so far.

US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA-05) had said on WAOK radio in December 2005 he would sign a bill to impeach President Bush should it come across his desk. Lewis has not signed on to this bill even though the misdeeds of Cheney cited in H Res 333 would equally apply to Bush.

It is striking that US Rep. Johnson would support this bill prior to Mr. Lewis, when Lewis has been further to the left than Johnson and all other Georgia Congresspersons this Session on many items.

"What the Congress is responding to is, there's been a series of missteps by the Administration," Johnson’s spokesperson said.

"It's another level of arrogance to declare the Vice President isn’t part of the Executive Branch. This is really over the top," she said.

US Rep. Ellison’s Office did not return phone calls seeking comment.

US Rep. McDermott’s Office referred APN to the Congressman’s House Floor remarks.

"As my constituents in the State of Washington's Seventh Congressional District know, I have struggled mightily with this matter for a long time. In grave matters facing our Nation, I believe conscience and a deep respect for our system of government should guide our actions and words," McDermott said.

"The intent of this Administration and this Vice President has been to silence all dissent, and it always happens the same way; relentless attacks until people ask themselves, do I want to subject myself to that kind of hell if I speak out? Fear is what kept this Administration in office in 2004, and fear is the only public discourse this Administration understands and practices. Why debate, when you can dictate? Why follow the law, when you can act like you are above the law?" McDermott said.

"The Founders intended impeachment to be used when those running the government forgot that they worked for the people, and the Founders intended impeachment to be used when those running the government acted as though they were above the law,” McDermott said.

"When you look at the record, you have to conclude the Vice President has placed himself above the law. He holds himself accountable only to special interests, who meet with him in secret with no record kept of who was there, what was discussed or what promises the Vice President made," McDermott said.

"For the last four years, the Vice President has refused to allow routine office inspections by a Federal agency regarding the safe handling of America's secrets. The Vice President defies the Information Security Oversight Agency, claiming he is not part of the Executive Branch of government. When a sitting Vice President claims he is not part of the Executive Branch of government to which he was elected, it is time to remove him," McDermott said.

"The Vice President holds himself accountable to no one. He ordered the Secret Service to destroy visitors logs, and we have learned in the Washington Post recently, that the Vice President circumvented every check and balance inside the White House to force through his own agenda, to spy on Americans through illegal wire traps, creating the gulag at Guantanamo, and subverting civil liberties and free speech at every turn," McDermott said.

BILL REFERRED FROM COMMITTEE TO SUBCOMMITTEE

H Res 333 had been referred to the US House Judiciary Committee. Now, it has been referred to a Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, chaired by US Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

Three of the current cosponsors are Members of the Judiciary Committee: US Reps. Ellison, Johnson, and Waters. Mr. Ellison particularly is a Member of the Subcommittee as well.

"It's been referred over there, I'm sure he'll have an opportunity to address it. I'm sure he was speaking as a Member of the Judiciary Committee when he put his name to it," Johnson’s spokesperson said.

How did the bill get referred to Subcommittee? Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers’s Office did not have the answer immediately available and said they would get back to APN.

"That's the committee that has jurisdiction. All bills pretty much get referred. It’s perfunctory," one person familiar with the matter said, on condition of anonymity.

Still, it took several months for this bill to get referred, so that suggests it is not an automatic process, but some decision-makers must be involved.

Nadler’s Office also was not sure how the bill got referred to Nadler’s Subcommittee.

Nadler’s Office also was not immediately prepared to explain their position on impeachment, but also promised to get back to APN as soon as possible.

Will the bill have more likelihood of getting on the agenda, now that more Judiciary Committee Members are in support?

"Conyers does work with all the Members of the Committee. Conyers has made it pretty clear he is not in support and neither is the Speaker. To move forward, you have to keep that in mind. He's pretty inclusive, but this is something that I think he feels really strong about," the person told APN.

JOHNSON, ELLISON CHANGE TUNE

US Reps. Johnson and Ellison have both changed their public positions on impeachment.

Mary Pat Haffey, 55, has spent months trying to convince Johnson to impeach Cheney, including making public comments at a Town Hall Meeting in Lithonia, Georgia; distributing flyers at MARTA stations; and encouraging constituents to make phone calls.

"When I spoke to him at a Town Hall Forum, he said he wouldn’t vote Bush impeachment out of committee. It was jaw-droppingly stupid. He said he didn’t think the Bush Administration committed crimes. I said what about the FISA [violations]. He didn’t think Bush was violating the law in this case," Haffey told Atlanta Progressive News, adding she’s surprised Johnson’s now signed on.

"He said impeachment violates the will of the people, and you can’t keep impeaching people until you get the President you want,” Haffey said. “He said the American people don’t want impeachment and you can’t count on polls."

"They certainly deserve to be impeached [but]... the fact is that if we filed for impeachment now given everything that's already happened, based on what we know so far, it would consume the news cycle to the point where that's all we'd be dealing with and talking about. I'm a little concerned that it might overshadow other things we have to do. I'm a little concerned about that, given the situation. But do they deserve it? Hell yeah," Ellison told BallerStatus.com in an interview published two weeks ago.

Haffey believes her outreach efforts may have made a difference.

Johnson’s spokesperson said she recalled the question being asked at the Town Hall, and said she did not remember the specifics, but "What he indicated was it was a little early to make a call on that. She wanted to nail it out but it was too early to talk about impeachment when the investigations are just beginning. He said it's premature to absolutely take that position right now. That information was on the way."

PREVIOUS BILLS

Atlanta Progressive News has followed the possible impeachment of Bush and Cheney more closely than any other news agency on the planet.

Prior to H Res 333, there was McKinney’s bill, H Res 1106, which had no cosponsors.

Also, US Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), now Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had sponsored a bill, H Res 635, which ended up with 39 cosponsors by the end of the Session.

The 39 total co-sponsors of H Res. 635 were US Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Jackson, Jr., (D-IL), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Rep. John Olver (D-MA), Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN), Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Dianne Watson (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Rep. David Wu (D-OR).

It was largely viewed that US Rep. Conyers, the original sponsor of H Res 635, did not re-file his bill out of respect to Pelosi and his desire to be appointed Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

For more information about H Res 333 or impeaching members of the Bush Administration, please see our previous coverage, listed on our homepage at www.atlantaprogressivenews.com

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is a News Editor for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com

Revised syndication policy:

Our syndicaton policy was updated June 2007. For more information on how to syndicate Atlanta Progressive News content, please visit: http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/extras/syndicate.html

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