IMPEACHMENT DRIVE REVS UPNew Hampshire state rep says we need to send a message: impeach Bush, Cheney now
By Mark Anderson
Betty Hall, 87, a New Hampshire state representative, shows an unwavering “can-do” attitude toward her House Resolution 24, which is intended to prod the U.S. Congress into investigating (and implementing the impeachment of) President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Backers charge that the Bush-Cheney regime dragged the nation into an undeclared, preemptive, never-ending war under false pretenses. Rep. Hall said that some backers have as their “tipping point” a strong concern about the Bush administration doing away with prohibitions against torture.
“What is Congress’s tipping point?” she asks. AFP has reported on the administration’s wartime eagerness to snoop on the public and its use of “signing statements” and executive orders to bypass proper legislative input and, in effect, legislate for itself.
Although some fellow state legislators say the timing is wrong, Rep. Hall is not worried about how close the next election is, as she believes the moral imperative of impeachment is too great to ignore. With the blood of America’s youth staining the sands of distant lands, underwritten by obscene public expenditures that fatten privileged contractors and drain the national treasury to the breaking point, Rep. Hall wants the 400-member New Hampshire House—said to be the world’s third most populous English-speaking legislative body behind the Congress itself and the British House of Commons—to pass HR 24 and tell Congress that, for God’s sake, it’s time to consider some actual checks and balances and get on with impeachment. It boils down to this: An imperial presidency has no place in a free nation.
A visit to New England shows that the spirit of the American revolution does not easily die. The famed Old North Bridge at Concord, Mass., for example, where the colonists won a decisive fire fight and sent a contingent of Redcoats fleeing back to Boston, features Ralph Waldo Emerson’s stirring words on “the shot heard round the world” that heralded the War of Independence.
Well, HR 24 backers want the legislative action on this issue to be “the vote heard round the world” to drive back tyranny from within our shores, just as the historic battle drove back tyranny that came from afar.
“It actually did go to the floor for a vote on the 16th of April,” Rep. Hall said during an interview with AFP. She explained HR 24 in the wake of a local April 14 impeachment rally that featured, among others, former Pentagon official-turned-whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg; and retired Air Force pilot Dr. Robert Bowman, a Vietnam veteran who is known as an eloquent speaker on the fallacies of the government’s 9-11 story and the distant conflicts which this story “justified.”
HR 24, which resembles an earlier joint resolution in Vermont that only passed the state Senate and stopped there, was introduced in early 2007 but was not approved that year, after considerable debate. Drafted again in January 2008, it differs from the Vermont measure in that it is not a joint document, so only the New Hampshire House needs to deal with it; the state Senate need not be involved, which simplifies the process. This year, HR 24 has endured a series of standard public hearings and committee actions.
The April 16 floor vote failed to pass, 95-227, with around 75 not showing up to vote (most were unexcused absences; only five called in as “excused”). But in New Hampshire, such a vote does not kill the resolution; it merely tables it. It was last declared “inexpedient to legislate,”
but a simple majority vote would get it off the table so it could be voted on again to remove the “inexpedient” tag and proceed from there.
The N.H. legislative session ends in early June and resumes in January. There are various committee meetings in the interim.
Rep. Hall also planned to take HR 24 to the Democratic State Convention in New Hampshire on May 17, where well-known party figure Howard Dean is expected to expose the “Bush/McCain agenda,” according to a promotional flyer. At the 2006 state Democratic convention, Rep. Hall said a measure similar to HR 24 was unanimously approved by the state party leadership.
“On May 17, I will try again without hesitation,” she said. She also noted that N.H. independent voters are banding together to support impeachment. Many Republicans, however, see HR 24 as revenge for the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton. Several are hostile toward it.
“Some of them walked out of the chambers on April 16,” Hall said, noting that of the 95 who voted for it, only four were Republicans in a House that is about two-thirds Democratic and one- third Republican. Until fairly recently, it was the other way around.
On the national level, she said that the task is far from easy. A Michigan congressman, John Conyers (D), once favored impeachment.
“Rep. Conyers is on the hot seat, and he’s wavering,” Rep. Hall said, referring to his chairmanship on the House Judiciary Committee—the panel that would start the impeachment process. To impeach only means to indict; removal from office would only come after trial and conviction by the Senate). Conyers, said Rep. Hall, “was in favor of impeachment when he was a ranking member on the committee. He even wrote a book about it.”
However, Republicans are not the only barrier. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and other Democratic leaders are pressuring Conyers to stay away from the impeachment issue, she said..
But Rep. Hall will have none of the jibber-jabber about impeachment being misguided, too late or whatever.
“It’s not just about Bush and Cheney, it’s about our Constitution,” she said. “It’s about finding the truth, justice, and restoration of the rule of law. You can’t have a state legislature without a relationship with the federal
She said that even starting the impeachment “late” is beneficial because the impeachment process itself would send a strong signal about the need for accountability. And, as she sees it, the process and the required fact-finding about the current administration’s misdeeds also would have a beneficial chilling effect on whoever sits in the Oval Office after Bush.
“Setting precedents is important,” she said, especially considering that Sen. John McCain has talked about continuing the Bush policies in Iraq and Afghanistan if he is elected president. Having served 28 years in the New Hampshire Legislature, first as a Republican and then as a Democrat, Rep. Hall knows the procedures well. So if anybody can make this happen, she can. Earning just $100 a year to serve, she is no careerist like those overpaid “servants” found in legislatures in Michigan, California, New York and elsewhere.
What is known as a “vote of no confidence” in foreign governments to recall defective leaders assumed the more stable form of impeachment in America. Rep. Hall said this action must be taken because, as she put it, “Our checks and balances are out of whack.”
NOTE: Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington are among the other states taking similar actions to pass resolutions calling on the U.S. Congress to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney. There also are websites put together by other people and coalitions, such as that of the Northeast Impeachment Coalition (neimpeach.org) as well as impeachthem.com. Rep. Hall’s website is Hall4impeachment.com, or write her at: P.O. Box 309, Brookline, N.H. 03033. Or call 603-672-8712.
Mark Anderson is the author of The Ron Paul Revolution, AFP’s
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