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Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations
KPFA & Pacifica Radio will air Friday's hearing from 9:00AM - 1:00PM EDT streamed live at pacifica.org and kpfa.org and on the air at KPFA (Berkeley), KPFK (Los Angeles), KPFT (Houston), and others TBD.
C-Span will air video live, and C-Span radio will air audio.
Press availability of impeachment advocates:
In line outside the hearing room from 7-10 a.m.
In front of Rayburn House Office Building, Independence Avenue side, immediately following the hearing.
UPDATE 20: Here's the official witness list:
House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations
Who: Panel One
The Honorable Dennis Kucinich, Representative from Ohio
The Honorable Maurice Hinchey, Representative from New York
The Honorable Walter Jones, Representative from North Carolina
The Honorable Brad Miller, Representative from North Carolina
The Honorable Elizabeth Holtzman, Former Representative from New York
The Honorable Bob Barr, Former Representative from Georgia, 2008 Libertarian Nominee for President
The Honorable Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson, Founder and President, High Roads for Human Rights
Stephen Presser, Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History, Northwestern University School of Law
Bruce Fein, Associate Deputy Attorney General, 1981-82, Chairman, American Freedom Agenda
Vincent Bugliosi, Author and former Los Angeles County Prosecutor
Jeremy A. Rabkin, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law
Elliott Adams, President of the Board, Veterans for Peace
Frederick A. O. Schwarz, Jr., Senior Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
2141 Rayburn House Office Building
10:00 a.m., Friday, July 25, 2008
UPDATE 19: The west door of Longworth opens at 7 a.m. If you wear impeachment shirts wear other shirts overtop.
UPDATE 18: Sensenbrenner and Keller are not coming, pleading that a 3-day week is hard enough work for Republicans and being asked to work on Friday is cruel and unusual.
UPDATE 17: Rumor has it there are no votes tomorrow, giving members an excuse to leave town (except for that whole oath to defend the Constitution thing).
UPDATE 16: I am in the process of loading on my computer video of today's press conference with myself, Ray McGovern, Bruce Fein, Crystal Kim, Cynthia Papermaster, and Cindy Sheehan. Fein handed out copies of his prepared remarks for tomorrow and they are great and they promote impeachment, and he simply had to not name the president. And I'll transcribe ASAP. He also pointed out that the rule in the Jefferson Manual relevant to not bad-mounthing the president begins with an historical prohibition on badmouthing the king. Fein also argues that, in fact, George W. Bush has far more power than George III ever had. Also Fein will have a new book next month called "Constitutional Peril." He says the first panel tomorrow will be congress members and that Wexler may testify. Others tell me Conyers will release the list of witnesses this afternoon. Fox came to the press conference, as did Deb Price from the Detroit News and Sabrina Eaton from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
UPDATE 15: Bruce Fein is on agenda for sure and will push impeachment for sure and will release his remarks today, and will refer to "the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" - which is actually more accurate than "the president" anyway.
UPDATE 14: More on rules in Congress.
UPDATE 13: If you want to be in the hearing, get in line at 7 a.m. and bring books to read (see left side of this site) and food to eat and share.
UPDATE 12: Elliott Adams, President of Veterans for Peace, and a descendant of American revolutionary Sam Adams, will testify in support of impeachment!
Apparently the rules of Congress are designed to allow impeachable offenses to be discussed only in impeachment hearings. Apparently this didn't occur to Chairman Conyers when he decided to hold a non-impeachment impeachment hearing. As a result, his hearing may be quickly shut down, and he will have a choice of holding a real impeachment hearing, resigning, or dropping the pretense that he intends to resist Cheney and Bush in any way whatsoever.
UPDATE 11: There's also this rule that would apply even in an impeachment hearing from the House Practice Manual:
"On the other hand, the rules do not permit the use of language that is personally offensive toward the President. Manual Sec. 370; 5 \ Hinds Sec. 5094. For example, it is out of order to call the President a 'liar' or a 'hypocrite' or to refer to accusations of sexual misconduct. Manual Sec. 370; 8 Cannon Sec. 2498; Deschler-Brown Ch 29 Sec. 47.16. A Member may refer to political motives of the President in debate. However, personal criticism, innuendo, ridicule, or terms of opprobrium are not in order. 8 Cannon Sec. 2497. For example, a Member may not in debate describe the President's veto of a bill as 'cowardly' (Manual Sec. 370), or charge that he has been 'intellectually dishonest' (Deschler-Brown Ch 29 Sec. 47.15) or refer to him as 'giving aid and comfort' to the enemy (Deschler-Brown Ch 29 Sec. 47.17). Members must abstain from personally offensive language even during impeachment proceedings."
Someone who violates that rule or the one below can have their remarks stricken and lose the privilege to speak for the rest of the hearing, and the process of somehow doing that can chew up lots of time.
UPDATE 10: This may possibly be the rule Conyers has in mind. Someone should check Deschler's Precedents and Cannon's Precedents and Hinds' Precedents for how this rule is used. The key to working around it is supposedly to not name individuals, for example to say "top administration officials" rather than "Bush".
From pp 17-18 of The House Rules:
"Whenever it is asserted by a member of the committee that the evidence or testimony at a hearing may tend to defame, degrade, or incriminate any person, or it is asserted by a witness that the evidence or testimony that the witness would give at a hearing may tend to defame, degrade, or incriminate the witness- (A) notwithstanding paragraph (g)(2), such testimony or evidence shall be presented in executive session if, in the presence of the number of members required under the rules of the committee for the purpose of taking testimony, the committee determines by vote of a majority of those present that such evidence or testimony may tend to defame, degrade, or incriminate any person; and (B) the committee shall proceed to receive such testimony in open session only if the committee, a majority being present, determines that such evidence or testimony will not tend to defame, degrade, or incriminate any person."
But, following this rule, you'd have to go into closed session to play a video of Bush confessing to violating FISA or a video of Bush being warned about Katrina or a video of Bush suggesting it didn't much matter if his WMD lies were true. That is, statements that are in the public record would have to be kept "secret." That pretty well describes the culture of Washington, D.C.
Clearly we need to be prepared for this hearing to be shut down quickly, much to Conyers' great "regret." And we need to demand a real impeachment hearing in which "executive privilege" does not apply and in which witnesses are permitted to speak.
UPDATE 9: The rule against saying anything relevant to the hearing in which the witnesses are testifying may apply to Congressman Kucinich as well.
UPDATE 8: Here's what Conyers' staffers are telling various witnesses: Under a rule of Congress, you cannot accuse the president or vice president of any crime, or any impeachable offense, or dishonorable conduct, or lying. You can say things like "top administration officials." You can quote Bush and Cheney. You can presumably quote from news sources and the Congressional Record (which would include Kucinich's articles of impeachment). You can assert facts in a pattern that allows people to draw their own conclusion. The rule does not apply to Congressman Kucinich because he has introduced articles of impeachment. If anyone violates the rule, according to the staff of the supposed chairman of the committee, the Republicans could shut the hearing down. But they couldn't shut it down if it was an IMPEACHMENT HEARING. Nor would "executive privilege" apply in an IMPEACHMENT HEARING. Nor could any media outlet ignore an IMPEACHMENT HEARING.
UPDATE 7: Bugliosi will support impeachment if he possibly can.
UPDATE 6: They're telling witnesses that they are forbidden to even mention Bush or Cheney by name.
UPDATE 5: Vince Bugliosi has been added to the witness list. Of course he'll focus on local prosecution, which gets Congress off the hook. And he has, on occasion, nonsensically badmouthed impeachment as "not good enough." At other times he's explained that he, of course, wants impeachment, that it benefits prosecution, that it could help forestall a pardon that would prevent prosecution, etc. Needless to say, there's not a single advocate for impeachment anywhere who doesn't want prosecution too.
UPDATE 4: They are telling witnesses there is a rule forbidding them from saying the president has committed impeachable offenses.
UPDATE 3: They are keeping Liz Holtzman on! There's one voice we can count on, in addition to Kucinich's and Wexler's.
UPDATE 2: They may try to cut Liz Holtzman out too. (Given the obvious trend, one has to assume they're either going to cut Bruce Fein out or that he's persuaded them he won't insist on impeachment). It's a good thing Kucinich likes fights best when it's him against 50 opponents.
UPDATE: They've cut Ralph Nader out. They have explained that they didn't want too many pro-impeachment voices and decided Rocky Anderson would be better and could represent Nader's viewpoint.
By David Swanson
That's the latest title that Chairman John Conyers has given the hearing his House Judiciary Committee will hold on Friday, July 25th.
The previous title had been "The Imperial Presidency of George W. Bush and Possible Legal Responses." The idea that had preceded that one was to hold a hearing on Congressman Dennis Kucinich's latest article of impeachment: "DECEIVING CONGRESS WITH FABRICATED THREATS OF IRAQ WMDs TO FRAUDULENTLY OBTAIN SUPPORT FOR AN AUTHORIZATION OF THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAQ."
The problem with that initial idea, of course, was that impeachment is opposed by Nancy Pelosi who recently explained that she's against it because she's "bipartisan", and by Barack Obama, who says it should be "reserved for exceptional circumstances", and by John Conyers who claims that if he upheld the Constitution Fox News would call him mean names, not to mention Harold Ford who alleges that "The Constitution doesn't poll well," and Cass Sunstein who argues against ever holding Bush or Cheney to account for anything, and Chuck Schumer who insists that voters don't care about detentions and torture and such things.
On top of that problem with impeachment, there was the problem of the war. The Congress that was elected in 2006 to end the war, expose the truth of its origin, and hold people accountable for it has very carefully avoided holding any hearings on the topic. During the previous Congress, Barbara Lee led a push along with Kucinich to investigate the White House Iraq Group. I asked her early in 2007 why she wouldn't do the same in the majority, and she claimed, rather half-heartedly, that she would do so, but never has.
The problem with the second name for the hearing was perhaps what I pointed out last week: it's oxymoronic. If you're going to have an imperial presidency, why not a presidential emperor? And since when has it become acceptable to acknowledge the empire in the halls of Congress? People could begin questioning why we pay to maintain a half million soldiers in 1,000 bases in 150 countries at great expense and to the serious endangerment of ourselves, generating resentment and hatred around the globe.
So the third title was arrived at: "Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations." This handily avoids any reference to Bush or Cheney or impeachment or war or empire. And yet it's that much more absurd, since we have no executive and really do have an imperial co-presidency. And then there's the Constitution problem. The Constitution brings up impeachment in six places but never once mentions censure. Never does the Constitution propose a remedy of redundantly recriminalizing crimes once a criminal president is out of office. Never does the Constitution mention political parties or loyalty to them. Never does the Constitution place the election of an excutive ahead of the importance of maintaining an executive rather than a king. It's very hard to imagine how several of the speakers Conyers hopes to have on Friday, on the topics he wants them to discuss, are going to be able to fit the Constitution into their remarks.
Here's the lineup, give or take:
Rumor has it there are two (maybe three) panels being planned for the hearing, one consisting of Kucinich and four other members of Congress (Jane Harman, Walter Jones, Brad Miller, and Maurice Hinchey), and the other consisting of non-Congress Members (Elizabeth Holtzman, Bruce Fein, Frederick Schwartz, John Dean, Bob Barr, Ralph Nader, Rocky Anderson).
These speakers can be expected to favor impeachment:
Maybe Bruce Fein
These speakers can be expected to favor impeachment and other supposed solutions:
Maybe Walter Jones
These speakers can be expected to spit on the Constitution:
These members of the House Judiciary Committee can be expected to speak for impeachment:
Maybe Zoe Lofgren
But, all of the above is subject to change and subject to public pressure as well as pressure from Pelosi-Conyers. If you know any of the scheduled speakers, please urge them to renounce good-Germanism, please urge them to read the Constitution on which they are being asked to testify.
And please contact the members of the Judiciary Committee and insist that they be there on Friday the 25th and that they speak up for impeachment:
And please get in line very early Friday morning to attend the hearing! (Rayburn Room 2141, 10 a.m) or join us in front of the Rayburn Building at 9 a.m. Bring impeachment shirts and posters! For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to stay in the PDA house Thursday night (bring your own sleeping bag), call 202-903-1133.
If you can't be there on Friday, please freeway blog the word IMPEACH everywhere you can that day:
Whether you can be there or not, please take these steps between now and Friday:
Contact your member of Congress in support of impeachment.
Ask the media to cover the hearing. And ask them to please ask Pelosi and Conyers to respond to this question: Can you name one thing that WOULD constitute an impeachable offense?
Sign the petition at Congressman Kucinich's website.