United States Rep. John Conyers, the Detroit Democrat who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, has a rendezvous with destiny. He is uniquely placed to thrust a rod through the wheels of a White House juggernaut to war with Iran by commencing impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush.
A move to impeach would bolster the resistance to Bush among our senior military leaders who know that attacking Iran at this time would be the strategic equivalent of the marches into Russia by Napoleon and Hitler.
Since Conyers took the helm of Judiciary in January 2007, the train of abuses and usurpations by the Bush administration has gotten even longer. But oddly, Conyers has lost his earlier appetite for impeachment and begun offering all manner of transparent excuses not to proceed. On July 23, 2007, for example, Conyers told Cindy Sheehan, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood and me that he would need 218 votes in the House, and vociferously claimed the votes were not there.
Well, they are now. Last week, 251 members of the House voted to refer to Conyers' committee the 35 Articles of Impeachment offered by U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. Conyers should take them up.
When bombs are falling on Iran, it will be too late -- and our commander in chief is likely to give that order within the next couple of months. As former White House press secretary Scott McClellan reminds us, when the president sets his mind on something, he is not going to let anything stop him.
What seems to be driving Bush comes through best when he ad-libs at press conferences. On June 10, in Slovenia, he was asked about the intensifying debate in Israel about a military option against the nuclear installations in Iran. Bush responded: "If you go to Israel and listen carefully, you'll hear the urgency in their voice."
What's so urgent? Israel's ambassador to the United States, speaking at an American Jewish Committee luncheon last Oct. 22, said the Iranians must not be permitted to conclude that, "come January '09 (after Bush leaves office), they have it their own way."
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Vice President Dick Cheney last summer pushed for air strikes on Revolutionary Guards bases in Iran, but was thwarted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to J. Scott Carpenter, a senior State Department official working on the Middle East at the time.
The Joint Chiefs also have strongly opposed attacking Iran's nuclear sites, according to a former Iran specialist at the National Security Council, Hillary Mann, who has wide contacts among senior Pentagon officials. Mann reports that Admiral William Fallon, the former CENTCOM commander, joined the Joint Chiefs in opposing such an attack and made his views known to the White House. Fallon was forced to resign in March and will be replaced as CENTCOM commander by Gen. David Petraeus.
A "political general," Petraeus has already demonstrated his willingness to do Cheney's bidding -- by, for example, making demonstrably false claims about Iranian weaponry in Iraq. Nonetheless, the U.S. military in Baghdad apparently remains under orders to blame any serious violence on "special groups" -- code for those said to be supported by Iran.
Before the smoke had cleared after Tuesday's bombing in Baghdad that left at least 63 dead and 78 wounded, U.S. spokesman Lt. Col. Steven Stover announced that the U.S. command believed one of those "special groups" was behind the bombing.
The corporate media are already launched in their pre-attack mode, providing stenographic services for the White House to indoctrinate Americans on a synthetic "threat" from Iran. So far, though, we have been spared the "mushroom cloud" imagery. Neither Bush nor Cheney want to risk drawing attention to the fact that all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last November that Iran stopped nuclear weapons-related work in 2003 and has not restarted it.
Conyers may say there's not enough time to begin impeachment, with only seven months left to this administration. But how could Conyers say this one day, and on the next say that if Bush attacks Iran, well then the House may move toward impeachment? His nonchalance regarding what an attack on Iran would mean is mind-boggling. You impeach the scoundrels before they start another war.
At a similarly critical juncture in our nation's history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was characteristically direct: "There is such a thing as being too late. ... Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with lost opportunity. ... Over the bleached bones of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: 'Too late.'"