Participant statements to Chris Van Hollen at the 9/20 meeting

On Thursday, September 20, over two dozen impeachment supporters from Maryland’s 8th Congressional district met with our Congressman, Chris Van Hollen, to urge him to support the impeachment of George Bush and Richard Cheney. (The meeting is described in the prior post, “A town hall meeting on Capitol Hill.”) At a preparatory meeting on Tuesday, several participants volunteered to draft short, 60 second statements to deliver to Chris Van Hollen at opportune times throughout the meeting.

These are those statements, in the order that they were presented to Mr. Van Hollen. They are by Warren Kornberg, Thomas Nephew, Jim Agenbroad, Hank Prensky, and Joyce Sherfey.

Warren Kornberg, Garrett Park

We respect the need you see for drastic legislative reform, to strengthen your grip on the Congress and to recapture the White House. But we wonder if you see what you’re staking on a single throw of the dice—on the outcome of the next election.There is a cancer at the heart of our Democracy that did not exist six years ago. So many extralegal, unconstitutional powers are now concentrated in the hands of the President that we don’t dare pass that office on to any successor, regardless of Party, without first rooting out the disease.You appear to believe that if Democrats win the Presidency, the abuses of the Bush Administration will be laid to rest. But what if you lose the next election? What if those accumulated powers pass to a Bush or Cheney clone, or someone even less committed to the rule of law?

Or even if you win, and a Democratic President resists the lure of unfettered power, what about the next President? And the one after that? Can we risk, on one throw of the dice, the chance that these abusive powers become the permanent inheritance of the American people?

Don’t let the legacy of this Congress be that it failed to defend the Constitution against the deadliest assault in its 220 year history. Meet impeachable offenses with the impeachment charges they deserve.

Thomas Nephew, Takoma Park

Mr. Van Hollen, I join everyone here in appreciation for your service—and for meeting with us. So when you’ve said impeachment would “consume the entire resources of Congress” and shouldn’t be tried, I’m less concerned that you’re not taking us seriously than that you’re not being true to your own bedrock obligations and beliefs.

We all know Congress has functioned well before even as impeachment hearings proceeded, passing landmark legislation like the Endangered Species Act and ERISA. We also all know that this Congress – through no fault of yours — is unable to accomplish much even without impeachment proceedings.*

But your bedrock obligation isn’t to pass SCHIP, or even to end the Iraq war. It’s in your oath of office: to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies. That oath of office can be your sword and shield: you’d be putting country first, party chain of command second – and you would save the country and redeem the party by doing so.

Jim Agenbroad, Garrett Park

I doubt that two-thirds of the Senators present would vote to remove the President and Vice President before January 2009 when they would be very lame ducks. But I believe a majority of the House could and should begin to impeach them now.Their blatant authorization of warrantless electronic eavesdropping in violation the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance ACT (FISA) alone justifies doing so. Another major reason to do so would be that it would occupy Bush and Cheney for the next fifteen months so they can’t start another unnecessary war–with Iran. Our military is stretched so thin that Bush might even choose to use nuclear weapons in such a war.

While a delay of social legislation such as the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would be unfortunate, the cost of the Iraq War makes their implementation problematic and thus makes such legislation similar to straightening the deck chairs on the Titanic. Impeaching them would go far toward rejection of the “unitary executive” and reversing the erosion of our historic rights and liberties and must have a higher priority. Thank you.

Hank Prensky, Takoma Park

My name is Hank Prensky, citizen of Takoma Park & former member of its City Council.At the Impeachment/End the War March last Saturday, Ralph Nader listed the major violations of Law and the Constitution which justify the Impeachment of Bush & Cheney, and then he said this,

“How much more do the Spineless, Gutless, Hapless Democrats need before they are willing to Impeach the President & Vice President?”

This is the question more & more American is asking every day. I read the newspapers daily and I cringe, I rant, I cry, I become depressed, despondent and hopeless, I feel outraged! Every transgression is tolerated. Every violation of our Civil and Constitutional rights gets compromised, re-negotiated and condoned. We implore you to stop the immoral, illegal and dictatorial direction of the leaders of our land.

And so I come here to ask you, Mr. Van Hollen, “How many other members of Congress must sign onto the Impeachment Resolution before you feel safe enough, free enough, principled enough to add your name to the list? Is it 20? 57? 189? 434 others? Because all you have to do is let us know the number and we’ll call you when it’s your turn. What will it take before you are ready to honor your oath of office and “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America?”

Joyce Sherfey, Garrett Park

An overarching issue, I believe, is not only what offenses President George Bush committed, but how he accomplished his objectives.Following the September 11 attack, rather than use resources available to him to conduct an in-depth investigation that would reasonably have identified those responsible, George Bush embarked on a campaign to manipulate the facts and intelligence to support his predetermined decision to go to war with Iraq. This is documented in the 2005 report by the House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff.

The status of “wartime president”, thus attained, allowed Bush to assume unfettered powers under a cloud of secrecy justified by claims of threats to our security. Impeachment proceedings would allow investigation necessary to penetrate that cloud of secrecy and deceit.

If we allow these offenses to go unchallenged we will pass on to future generations a Constitution whose foundation has been severely damaged. It will also say to the world that the American people sanction the unconscionable acts inflicted on this country, the people of Iraq, and humanity.

We look to you, as our representative, to use the power invested in you to initiate impeachment proceedings against George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney.

=====
* As prepared. Only the subsequent lines were delivered at the meeting.

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