After laying out a litany of charges against Bush, principally on the "illegal war for oil" in Iraq, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), the driving force behind today's hearing, said Congress must act to remove Bush from office.
"The war was totally unnecessary, unprovoked and unjustified," Kucinich said in his opening statement. "The question for Congress is this: What responsibility do the president and his administration have for that unnecessary, unprovoked and unjustified war?"
Kucinich said if lawmakers reviewed the issue, they could only come to the conclusion that it was needed.
"I ask this committee to think, and then to act, in order to enable this Congress to right a very great wrong and to hold accountable those who have misled this Nation," Kucinich said.
"I think this is the most impeachable administration in the history of our country," said Rep. Maurice "Mo" Hinchey (D-N.Y.). Hinchey has introduced legislation to censure Bush administration officials for making statements justifying the invasion of Iraq, as well as the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program. and setting up a detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"Our constitutional system of checks and balances assumes a certain jostling between the President and Congress, but the Bush Administration's refusal to provide information to Congress or the American people is more dangerous and more sinister than just an extravagantly ambitious claim to executive branch powers," added Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) in his own opening statement. "Control of information stifles dissent and insulates an administration from challenge, either by Congress or its critics. Control of information is incompatible with democracy."
More Miller: "Democracy dies behind closed doors. It is Congress' duty to throw the doors open and keep them open in future administrations, Democratic and Republican alike."
Miller has introduced legislation calling for appointment of a special prosecutor to bring criminal contempt charges against several current and former Bush administration officials for refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas. The Justice Department has refused to bring charges against administration officials for not complying with the subpoenas once Bush has asserted an executive privilege claim. The House Judiciary Committee has filed a civil lawsuit against the White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers for failing to appear before the panel once subpoenaed.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), a GOP critic of the president, slammed the president for issuing "signing statements" when approving legislation that lays out what provisions the White House will enforce or agree to abide by.
"To me, what we're really talking about today is trust: for our Nation to free and strong, the people must trust their president to enforce the law," Jones said. "When the president bypasses the will of the people, expressed through Congress, and decides what provisions of law will and will not be enforced, the president goes beyond the Constitutional authority given to him by our Founding Fathers."
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