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Congressman John Conyers Betrays the American People


I remember before the 2006 election being at a fundraiser in Los Angeles for the Democratic Party when one of the featured guests was Rep. John Conyers. The issue of impeachment came up and the crowed roared in approval when Conyers said that if the Democrats took control of Congress, he would become head of the powerful House Judiciary Committee and would initiate impeachment proceedings. That, he said, was one of the reasons why it was so important to go all out to get Democrats elected.

Fast forward to July 23, 2007. About 300 of us gathered at Arlington Cemetery, convened by peace mom Cindy Sheehan, to march to Cong. Conyers office to demand that seven months after coming to power, he fulfill his promise about initiating impeachment proceedings. Shouting “Conyers, Conyers need a reason? Torture, lies, war and treason,” the angry crowd packed the halls outside the Congressman’s office while Cindy, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and former Conyers’ protégé Reverend Yearwood met with the Congressman inside.

 

A hour later, they emerged stone-faced and disillusioned. Cindy said that Conyers had told them that “impeachment isn’t going to happen because we don’t have the votes” and that “our only recourse was to work to get a Democrat in the White House.” The crowd booed and 45 people sat down inside and outside Conyers’ office. They were arrested by the Capitol Police as the supporters shouted “Shame on Conyers” and “Arrest Bush and Cheney, not the peacemakers.”

 

While the arrestees were being booked, about 40 activists visited the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We know that from the day she became Speaker, the Congresswoman has insisted that impeachment was off the table. She has refused to support H. R. 333, the bill introduced by Cong. Dennis Kucinich to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney for high crimes and misdemeanors. With 13 co-sponsors, the resolution is destined to languish without ever coming to a vote, thanks to both Conyers and Pelosi.

 

We told Pelosi’s chief of staff, Terry McCullough, that it was totally irresponsible for the Speaker to say that impeachment was off the table. When her chief-of-staff replied that the Speaker’s priority was ending the war, not impeachment, we all insisted that the two were intertwined and certainly not mutually exclusive. We also reminded her that the people of Pelosi’s district were overwhelmingly in favor of impeachment, and that they would start looking to newly announced candidate Cindy Sheehan for representation.

 

The arrest of impeachment activists and their forcible eviction from Conyers’ office today is proof of the bankruptcy of the two-party system. It is shameful that Conyers and Pelosi are putting their perceived interests of their party above the Constitution, which clearly makes impeachment the remedy for dealing with presidential “high crimes and misdemeanors”. With the Democratic leadership refusing to rein in an administration run amok, it is crystal clear that we, the people, must uphold the Constitution. People’s power, like the kind in evidence today in the normally solemn halls of Congress, is our only hope.

 

Medea Benjamin (medea@globalexchange.org) is cofounder of Global Exchange (www.globalexchange.org) and CODEPINK: Women for Peace (www.codepinkalert.org).

 

 

 

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