Statement of Maryland 8th CD impeachment supporters to Chris Van Hollen, 9/20/07

On Thursday, September 20, over two dozen impeachment supporters from Maryland’s 8th Congressional District met with Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8) on Capitol Hill to urge him to support the impeachment of Vice President Cheney and President Bush.

Two days earlier, impeachment supporters including George Taylor, Hank Prensky, and Jay Levy of Takoma Park, and Warren Kornberg, Joyce Sherfey, and Jim Agenbroad of Garett Park, met in Takoma Park to prepare for the meeting. The following statement (principal author: Lisa Moscatiello) was read and accepted as a joint statement.

Lisa read the statement to Representative Van Hollen as the first order of business at the Thursday morning meeting.

On July 23rd, the City of Takoma Park passed a resolution asking that Congress introduce articles of impeachment against Vice President Cheney and President Bush. In the coming weeks another city in your district, Garrett Park, will be holding a referendum on a resolution that is nearly identical to the one Takoma Park passed.

We are asking you to honor the wishes of your constituents by introducing legislation in Congress based on the language in these resolutions. We are asking that you introduce such legislation boldly, making a statement on the floor of the House in front of C-Span cameras about why this bill is needed at this time. You can turn this into an opportunity to take charge of the national conversation about what this country stands for and why it is worth asking people to give their lives for it.

For too long too many leaders have assumed that being attacked again on American soil is the worst thing that could possibly happen to this country. We disagree. The worst thing that could happen to this country would be our standing by and allowing our form of government to transform itself from a representative democracy into a democratically elected dictatorship. Ever since 9-11, the Bush-Cheney administration has capitalized on fear to justify their demands for secrecy and unchecked power. For the past seven years, the administration has set the terms and the rules of the public debate on the war, on Presidential power, and on our civil liberties. They have labeled dissenters as unpatriotic, and with that threat have successfully silenced critics in both the media and Congress, the 110th Congress included.

A resolution calling for an impeachment inquiry based on the articles that our resolution sets forth would force the American people to debate whether or not we are willing to give up our civil liberties in the name of national security. It would also give Congress the weapons it needs to conduct deeper investigations of matters including the case for the Iraq war and the partisan abuse of the Justice Department, by stripping away the “executive privilege” claims Bush and Cheney are hiding behind – failure to honor impeachment-related subpoenas is itself impeachable.*

Our resolution includes an article of impeachment on the use of Presidential signing statements. An impeachment hearing would afford an opportunity to repudiate publicly and unequivocally this underhanded method of eroding the authority of both Congress and the Constitution with its assignment of distinct powers to each of the three branches of government.

An impeachment inquiry on the Administration’s use of torture and its contravention of international law would expose to the American people the brutality that is being perpetrated in our name. A full investigation would give our government and its people the chance to disavow before the international community the use of torture as an interrogation technique.

You have argued that an impeachment would take up all of Congress’ time and prevent other legislation from being considered. We disagree. But even if this were the case, the danger of not attempting impeachment is far greater. We’ll be leaving the illegal, unconstitutional, and impeachable acts of this administration as models and precedents for future ones, instead of drawing the line here and now and saying “no more.”

If you take the lead in this, you’ll be a hero to your constituents, a real leader to your party, and a true patriot of your country. We know you’re an important figure in Washington now – and we’re proud we’ve elected someone who has the chance to make a truly historic difference in the course of our republic. If you do, know that we’ll all support you to the ends of the earth.

===
* Unlike Congressional oversight hearings, an impeachment hearing is backed by constitutional authority that precludes the use of ‘executive privilege’ as a ploy for withholding information. In 1973 the House Judiciary Committee adopted an article of impeachment against President Nixon for failing to provide documents subpoenaed for use by the impeachment inquiry committee. The committee found that, by withholding these materials, the President had “assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the constitutional power of impeachment vested in the House.” (House Report 93-1305)

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