Saturday, January 05, 2008

Bush and Cheney's criminality: Larson evades all 12 of Fournier's questions

Hi, Impeachment Folk and Greens—and Jim Himes & Russ Gilfix,

On Wednesday, January 2, I sent an open letter to Jim Himes. The
letter had 22 questions and the National Lawyers' Guild's impeachment
charges were attached. I haven't received a response from Mr. Himes.
I mentioned in the letter that I would send him a list of questions on
Bush and Cheney's impeachable criminality that phrased the issues in
terms of ordinary criminality—the sort for which NO ONE is supposed to
escape prosecution. That list I sent out in October: Steve Fournier,
Green lawyer in Hartford, drew it up.

Here it is again:
• The rationale for the resolution purporting to authorize the
military occupation of Iraq was based on false and misleading
statements by the president. Isn't lying to Congress a felony under
federal law?
• Executive branch officials are holding prisoners without access to
legal process. Isn't this kidnapping?
• Executive branch officials conducted warrantless wiretapping of
Americans. Isn't this a felony under the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act?
• Executive branch officials interfered in federal prosecutions,
removed federal prosecutors for noncompliance with political demands,
and committed perjury before congress when asked to remember critical
facts relevant to the prosecutors' removal. Doesn't this amount to
obstruction of justice?
• The president has defied subpoenas duly issued by Congress. Isn't it
the duty of Congress to enforce its subpoenas with a contempt citation
and to enforce that citation by appropriate legal means?
• The president has violated provisions of international law governing
torture. Isn't this felonious conduct under federal law?
• The president has issued "signing statements" authorizing or
directing federal employees to violate selected provisions of duly
enacted laws. Isn't this contrary to his constitutional oath to see
that the laws are faithfully executed?
• Officials of the executive branch maintain contracts with armed
civilians that purport to authorize the killing of other civilians.
Isn't this a violation of the laws prohibiting homicide?
• As commander-in-chief, the president has permitted the misdirection
of billions in cash and government property and has failed to equip
soldiers properly. Isn't this felonious conduct under the laws
governing the misuse of military assets and other government property?
• Aren't you and the other members of the House of Representatives the
only people in America who can hold the president accountable for
these crimes and isn't it your responsibility to do that, regardless
of the political consequences?
• If you fail to hold the president accountable, aren't you setting a
precedent for future presidents and future congresses not to hold the
executive accountable for high crimes?
• Aren't you concerned that your failure to act will be seen as a
deliberate step in the creation of a presidency that is no longer
subject to the rule of law?

After TWO MONTHS of trips to Larson's office, telephone calls, and
emails, Steve got a response. Larson dodged all 12 of the questions.

Mr. Fournier writes:

"Member Dodges Impeachment Questions

John Larson responded in writing to the 12 questions posed by Greater
Hartford Impeach several weeks ago, but he supplied answers to none of
them. Through aide John Rossi, he sent me a package consisting of a
two-page letter and a two-inch thick looseleaf binder of selected
resources bearing on the issue of executive accountability, including
a congressional guide to the impeachment function that was published
ten years ago by the Congressional Research Service and several
hundred pages from the Congressional Record of various hearings.

You may remember that I left a letter with Larson just before
Thanksgiving asking directly whether he believes this president has
acted criminally in lying to Congress about Iraq, holding prisoners
without legal process, corrupting the federal prosecutorial function,
torturing prisoners, and spying on Americans without a warrant, among
other crimes. He was also asked to acknowledge that Congress is the
sole law enforcement authority in the case of presidential criminality
and that he will set a precedent if he fails to hold this president

In his letter, Larson expresses sympathy for the position of Greater
Hartford Impeach and claims he shares our "frustration and outrage at
the Bush Administration. "

"Your patriotic duty and call for immediate action from Congress are
not unjusitified," he adds. "I believe we must restore a system of
checks and balances in our federal government and reassert the
authority of Congress. While the Constitution provides for impeachment
under Article 1 we must take great care in following the rule of law
in pursuing such action, no matter how vigilant and emotional we feel
about this war. This should start with revisiting the War Powers Act .
. . "

From there, Larson digresses to criticize Republicans for the
impeachment of Bush's predecessor. He goes on to discuss the
congressional oversight function and boasts about the number of
hearings held. No comment from him on what Congress might do about the
findings of these various hearings, which document instance of after
instance of malfeasance and criminality.

Larson emphasizes the role of Republicans as an impediment to
legislative progress, deducing that "legislative difficulties
underscore the challenge of securing the necessary two-thirds majority
for a conviction in the Senate. " The prosecutors of the Nazis at
Nuremberg could have said the same thing about the political
challenges facing their quest for official accountability.

Larson's conclusion: "I believe that to knowingly move forward with an
impeachment that cannot succeeed would only serve political purposes,
vindicate the President and not serve our rule of law. " He knows how
a trial would come out, he's saying, without even looking at the
evidence, much less discussing it. His implication is that his
colleagues in the other house are altogether corrupt and could not
reach a fair verdict. And by this logic, Larson feels he is serving
the rule of law. If Larson's logic had prevailed in 1945, Hermann
Goering might have lived out his days comfortably in New Jersey.

We asked Larson explicit questions about criminal conduct at the top
of the executive branch and his constitutional duty to hold the
wrongdoers accountable, and he parried them with digressions and
diversions and answered not a single one. It was a cynical response,
intellectually dishonest, baldly political, and insulting to anyone
who seeks an accounting, which Larson considers an abuse of the
constitutional process.

You might want to give Larson's office a call at (860) 278-8888 to
confirm that he has no intention of discussing the abundant evidence
of criminal conduct and malfeasance on the part of the President of
the United States and that he's satisfied with the precedent he's
setting for future presidents.

You might also like to invest some money in a political committee I'm
starting called the Connecticut Accountability Project. John Larson
will be our first target."

This little essay recounts EXACTLY the kind of evasiveness that has
driven earnest people out of the Democratic and Republican parties in
the first place.

I offer Steve Fournier's story to Mr. Himes as a sample of what we
DON'T want. I repeat my invitation to Mr. Himes to respond to the 22
questions I sent him on January 2 and now invite him to answer Mr.
Fournier's 12 questions on impeachment.

Russ Gilfix has responded to my January 2 email, but he, like John
Larson, has not responded to the questions either. I now invite him to
answer Mr. Fournier's questions also. In my next email I will respond
to Mr. Gilfix's points. I will not evade his points the way he
substitutes himself for Mr. Himes and then evades my own points and
So things are heating up a bit, folks. Let's see if we can get an
actual dialogue going—instead of evasion and the substitution of
secondary issues.
Richard Duffee