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February 26, 2007

D.C. Dems want to stop legislative impeachment talk

Posted by David Postman at 6:55 AM

Sen. Patty Murray and Congressman Jay Inslee are lobbying legislators to cancel this week's hearing on a resolution calling on Congress to investigate and consider impeaching President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Inslee and Murray, both Democrats who voted against the war, think state lawmakers holding hearings and voting on impeachment is a distraction from what Democrats are doing in Congress, including their efforts to end the war.

Murray spokeswoman Alex Glass confirmed that Murray told Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown last week that the impeachment resolution was a bad idea:

"Senator Murray's message was, 'I have two words for anyone who wants to impeach the President: Dick Cheney.'"

"Jay called and he said, 'Darlene, don't do this,'" said Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park. She is chairwoman of the Senate Government Operations and Elections Committee, which is scheduled to hold a hearing on two measures Thursday. One is Sen. Eric Oemig's joint memorial calling for Congress to investigate and consider impeachment of Bush and Cheney. The other is Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles' measure opposing Bush's troop increase in Iraq.

"I said, 'Jay it's all over YouTube. I can't un-ring that bell,'" Fairley said. There are a number of videos posted to the site featuring Oemig and the impeachment measure.

Inslee has been busy with a family matter and unavailable. But he earlier told The Stranger's Josh Feit why he opposes impeachment.

As much as I despise what this president has done to the country, my job is to find a way to end the war in Iraq, which I voted against. We should do nothing whatsoever to hinder our effort to end the war. Grandstanding that prevents us from growing a coalition against the war is a luxury we cannot afford. We don't have the votes to remove Bush from office. Bush is leaving office. We need to make sure our troops are leaving Iraq.

The hearing at 3:30 p.m. Thursday is looking to be a major spectacle. The Washington Legislature's anti-Bush moves have become, at least temporarily, a center of attention of anti-war forces around the country. At an impeachment forum in Olympia last week where Oemig spoke, according to reports, the audience included Rachel Corrie's parents, Lt. Ehren Watada and James Yee.

Coming to Olympia to testify in favor of Oemig's impeachment resolution are Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, a growing voice in the anti-war movement, and Mary Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel who resigned from the U.S. State Department in 2003 to protest the invasion of Iraq. She has since worked closely with Cindy Sheehan and others in the peace movement.


AP


Rocky Anderson at D.C. anti-war rally.

Kohl-Welles told me she invited retired Chairman of the Joint Chief Gen. John Shalikashvili, who lives near Gig Harbor, and actor and activist Sean Penn. She said she was waiting to hear back from Penn's publicist.

The hearing is turning into just what Democrats in Congress worry about. Fairley said that in a Feb. 14 telephone call with Inslee:

He said it sent the wrong message and 'detracted from the good things we are doing with education and health care.' I agree with him, as I said, but there is a large group of people who want to have a say on these two things and this gives them a venue.

Truly, I think both he and Patty feel that people would compare what the state of Washington was doing with what D.C. was doing — to their detriment.


STEVE RINGMAN/THE SEATTLE TIMES


Sean Penn outside Ft. Lewis

Oemig said by e-mail that he has heard that some members of Congress want the impeachment memorial, Senate Joint Memorial 8016, to "go away." His reponse?
Best answer I can give, I'm on their side. They should help me help them. As soon as Congress starts issuing subpoenas or indictments 8016 will go away.

A very large crowd is expected Thursday. There will be a rally at 1 p.m. that day on the Capitol steps. The Eastside Fellowship of Reconciliation is also raising money to "keep this valuable campaign alive."

Writer Dave Lindorff, who spoke at the Olympia impeachment forum last week with Oemig, wrote:

It seems likely that if Washington passed Oemig's bill (it currently has eight co-sponsors), or if one of the ones moving through the legislatures of Vermont or New Mexico were to pass, the other states might follow suit. As well, representatives in Congress could feel emboldened to submit their own bills of impeachment.

In other words, the dam will burst, and impeachment will be underway.

Lindorff is co-author of "The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office." Writing about this week's hearing, Lindorff said the plan is to "have hundreds — perhaps thousands — of backers on hand to make sure it gains committee approval."

Fairley is expecting a huge crowd for the two measures. And she plans to keep tight control. There will be a little more than two hours to take testimony on both bills. Each bill will get a pro-panel designated by the sponsor and a con panel chosen by Senate Republicans.

The panelists will each get three minutes to talk. The rest of the time Fairley wants reserved for citizen testimony — not questions or speeches from senators. And she's willing to have legislators, or anyone else, removed if they don't follow the rules.

I'm restricting questions from the members to one question per panel speaker without follow-up. Hopefully, we won't have a lot of questions because this is the time to listen to the public's testimony. Some of the committee members want to make floor speeches instead of asking questions. Normally, I don't believe in gaveling people quiet, but I will if I have to. And, if I have to, I'll resort to using the sergeant-at-arms to escort people from the room.

Everyone has a right to their opinion and everyone will be treated with
respect. Period.

SIDEBAR: Murray's vote against the Iraq war doesn't seem to mean much today to anti-war activists. Last week, while Murray was meeting with a group of local police chiefs in Bellevue, protesters asked the chiefs to arrest the senator for war crimes.

They didn't do it, but in a just world they would have.

There's a low quality video of it here.
The demonstrators were from Stand Up Seattle and the Green Party of Washington State, which are part of the local Occupation Project.

TO BE CLEAR: The above line about a just world, is a quote from the Occupation Project folks, not my thoughts. That's why it is indented, as quotes and excerpts are on the blog. That statement was not from me.

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