There seems to be considerable confusion as to what is being asked of the Boulder City Council regarding an "Impeachment Resolution." It is not an "Impeachment Resolution." To quote from the resolution:
"BE IT RESOLVED that the Citizens of Boulder and the Boulder City Council believe that there is sufficient evidence to commence hearings in the House of Representatives that may lead to impeachment of either or both President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney."
In other words, the resolution simply urges that the House of Representatives perform its constitutional duty to investigate allegations of violations of our Constitution.
Boulder is hardly unique in this. More than 90 other cities ranging from Detroit and Cambridge to Chapel Hill, N.C., and Brattleboro, Vt., have taken action, many much stronger than what we're asking. National public opinion surveys find that more than half of American voters believe that both Bush and Cheney have committed serious crimes against the Constitution.
This is not just a liberal sentiment. Among others, Bruce Fein, a constitutional scholar who served as associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, insists that the concerns are serious enough to be investigated.
We have been asked why bother when Bush and Cheney will be out of office soon.
Every future president could, and probably will, use and expand on the powers usurped by this administration. If the rule of law, truth telling, openness, and the Bill of Rights don't count for Bush and Cheney, will those ideals be more sacred to Obama, Clinton or McCain? Will it be legitimate for future presidents to redefine terms like "torture?" Will it be okay to pull out fingernails or gouge out eye balls? Will it be okay to use signing statements to change laws that Congress has just passed? Bush has done so nearly 1,000 times, some with serious consequences. Other presidents have used signing statements to clarify language, but not to change the intent of the law.
To those who say we should get over it and move on, we ask you to consider the following: Could our children be falsely accused and not have the right of habeas corpus (the right to face their accusers and know the charges)? Or could they be disappeared as was done by Pinochet in Chile? Will they have the protections given us in the Bill of Rights and in the Constitution? Could they be arbitrarily defined as "enemy combatants" or "terrorists" with no legal rights, per Bush's presidential directives?
Who wins the next election is of minor importance in comparison to the question of whether future administrations are bound to operate under the rule of law and to do so openly in full compliance with the Constitution.
We need to establish, once and for all time, that we are not to be dragged into war based upon lies, that we will not tolerate torture, that we expect full compliance with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and that we will not tolerate signing statements that change the meaning of laws. The purpose of impeachment is to set standards for future administrations. Even to begin impeachment hearings will serve notice that they will be held accountable.
Why Boulder City Council? Impeachment is a matter for citizens. It is important because it is mentioned in the Constitution six times. House rules make it clear that the House will accept petitions from local governments. Court cases point to the same conclusion. Our City Council should represent Boulder citizens in matters of public importance. In their oath of office, they promised to "support the Constitution of the United States". There was nothing in that oath that gave "potholes" precedence over the Constitution. We should expect them to take serious interest in both.
Is Boulder so insular that we should not be concerned about the shredding of our Constitution and the loss of our civil rights? Do we really think it cannot happen here or will not affect us? (See Naomi Wolf's book, "The End of America.")
Citizenship is not a spectator sport.
Edmund Burke wrote: "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing."
© 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co.