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Coalition of citizen groups seek formal inquiry
Coalition of citizen groups seek formal inquiry into whether Bush acted illegally in push for Iraq war
By Larisa Alexandrovna | RAW STORY
A coalition of citizen activist groups running the gamut of social and political issues will ask Congress to file a Resolution of Inquiry, the first necessary legal step to determine whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in misleading the country about his decision to go to war in Iraq, RAW STORY has learned.
The formal Resolution of Inquiry request, written by Boston Constitutional attorney John C. Bonifaz, cites the Downing Street Memo and issues surrounding the planning and execution of the Iraq war. A resolution of inquiry would force relevant House committees to vote on the record as to whether to support an investigation.
The Downing Street Memo, official minutes of a 2002 meeting minutes between British Prime Minister Tony Blair, members of British intelligence MI-6 and various members of the Bush administration, notes that MI-6 director Richard Dearlove said, �Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.�
Bonifaz says the minutes were the impetus for his request.
�The recent release of the Downing Street Memo provides new and compelling evidence that the President of the United States has been actively engaged in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people,� Bonifaz wrote in a memo to the ranking House Judiciary Committee Democrat John Conyers (D-MI) outlining the case (see attached).
Blair and other British officials have not questioned the minutes� veracity.
In response to the revelations in the Downing Street memo, Conyers and eighty-eight other members of Congress issued a letter to the White House on May 5 requesting an explanation and answers to questions about whether the President misled Congress into voting for the Iraq war.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan waived off the letter, saying he had �no need to respond,� according to the New York Times.
Frustrated by the media�s silence, save a few articles buried in major American newspapers and pieces in the alternative media such as Air America Radio, the Ed Schultz Show, Salon and RAW STORY, a grassroots progressive movement has pushed the story forward, culminating into a formal request for a Resolution of Inquiry.
Bonifaz wrote the request and outlined the case on behalf of a joint effort by several groups, including: Veterans for Peace, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), 911Citizens Watch, Democracy Rising, Code Pink, Global Exchange, Democrats.com, Velvet Revolution, and Gold Star Families for Peace.
�The president, among other alleged crimes, may have also violated federal criminal law if the evidence from the Downing Street memo is proven to be true, including the False Statements Accountability Act of 1996,� Bonifaz wrote.
Some have criticized the media�s coverage of the memo.
"To me it's kind of the smoking gun, or maybe the latest in a number of smoking guns,� Editor and Publisher senior editor Dave Astor told RAW RADIO Saturday. �And the fact that the media either didn't cover it or buried the coverage or poo-pooed it is appalling.�
�It goes back to the fact of who owns the media and the media being intimidated by this administration,� he added. �I think that memo indicates an impeachable offense, personally. If we had a Congress that had some spine, and was maybe Democratic-controlled, it could be an impeachable offense.�
Coalition member Medea Benjamin, founding director of Global Exchange, said he supports legal proceedings.
�When a president so callously distorts the facts, manipulates the public and is responsible for so much needless death and destruction, he must beheld accountable,� Benjamin told RAW STORY.
Other members of the coalition, loosely titled �After Downing Street,� concur.
�We will be organizing the grassroots to demand Congress move forward with a Resolution of Inquiry,� PDA director Tim Carpenter stated.
As part of Congressional approval for H.J.Res. 114; Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, the administration was required to report to Congress that diplomatic options had been exhausted before, or within 48 hours after military action had started.
In a conversation with RAW STORY, Bonifaz expressed the disappointment of many who put their faith in the President.
�Within 48 hours after the attack on Iraq, the president wrote a letter to Congress indicating that Iraq posed a serious and eminent threat to national security and if he knew that was not true at the time he submitted that letter it is a clear violation of the False Statements Accountability Act of 1996,� Bonifaz said.
Under this Act, amending 18 U.S.C. � 1001, made it a crime knowingly and willfully (1) to falsify, conceal or cover up a material fact by trick, scheme or device; (2) to make any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or (3) to make or use any false writing or document knowing it to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry; with respect to matters within the jurisdiction of the legislative, executive, or judicial branch.
He goes on to discuss the other statues and laws that may have been violated, including but not limited to the Federal Anti-Conspiracy Statute (more per above link).
When asked if the Inquiry of Resolution would apply to others involved in the alleged effort to mislead the public into war, Bonifaz explained that the procedure requires that a full inquiry begin from the top of the chain of command.
�Provisions in U.S. Constitution guarantee that when a President abuses power, engages in excesses, and subverts the constitution, the people have a recourse through their elected officials in congress,� he said.
Other member groups behind this coalition want that recourse.
�We support this resolution of inquiry because we stand for truth and accountability,� said co-founder of 911Citizenswatch Kyle F. Hence. �It's more important than ever as whistleblowers stand up and documents emerge that point to potential crimes in high places all too often of late veiled by government secrecy and cover-up.�
Brad Friedman, co-founder of Velvet Revolution, agrees with the need for transparency.
"We believe that a proper inquiry into the facts underlying the Downing Street memo are vital to our constitutional democracy because only Congress can declare war, and a President and his appointed officials cannot be allowed to run the country if indeed they have misled and lied about the basis for the Iraq war,� said Friedman.
Bonifaz hopes the groups, which boast a total membership of several million, are just the beginning of the grassroots groundswell.
The others agree.
�It is time for Congress to do its duty and ask: �Did the administration mislead us into war by manipulating and misstating intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction, suppressing contrary intelligence �and exaggerated the danger Iraq posed to the United States and its neighbors?� said Kevin Zeese, founder of Democracy Rising.
Bonifaz and others ask that citizens of all party affiliations and backgrounds help support his request by writing to their Congressional leaders. They are also seeking other groups to sign on.
More information will be up shortly at: http://www.afterdowingstreet.org.