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Freshman WA state senator seeks Iraq probe
By Associated Press
OLYMPIA, Wash. - A freshman Democratic state senator who represents a traditionally Republican district introduced a resolution Wednesday asking that Congress investigate the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war and possibly consider impeachment of the president and vice president.
Sen. Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland, a retired Microsoft millionaire, told a cheering audience of peace activists that a full investigation is needed to give Congress and ordinary citizens better information about the war and whether impeachable offenses occurred.
"Congress is not leading on this, the American people are," he said.
If enough state and local governments petition Congress, the Democrats may get tougher about investigations and possible impeachment, he said.
Later Wednesday, state House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said of Oemig's resolution, "It's unlikely we will do that."
Oemig said he has eight Democratic co-sponsors in the state Senate and expects the bill to clear the upper chamber. A hearing is set for March 1. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, recently said the war is a legitimate discussion topic for state lawmakers, but didn't want to spend a lot of committee or floor time on debate.
"I'm new around here and I do feel some pressure" to not pursue a federal issue, Oemig said. "I answer to my constituents who elected me and are asking for me to do this."
He displayed what he described as more than 700 e-mails of support, with
House Speaker Chopp said the Legislature sometimes petitions Congress or the White House on issues that directly affect the state, such as budget concerns or homeland security.
"We have 105 days to get done on time and we have a lot to get done," he said. "I have very strong opinions on what a disaster the Iraq war has been, but do I need to say it by passing something on the floor and take up a lot of people's time on that?"
Republican lawmakers had no immediate comment.
Oemig's resolution said the president and his team "appear to have deliberately misrepresented the severity of the threat from Iraq by providing distorted intelligence to Congress and the public in order to justify war with Iraq."
The war has cost lives and "squandered" money and the administration has used surveillance on its own citizens, the resolution said. The proposal asks Congress to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to impeach the president and vice president.