Sunday, May 18, 2008
FOURTEENTH ADDRESS TO CITY COUNCIL (Re: A Resolution To Impeach)
My goal in this speech was to answer the statement of the previous week by a City Council member who referred to his Air Force career, noting that he "certainly knew what it meant to defend the Constitution."
Mayor, Council members, I come before you again to ask you to consider passing a resolution calling for the impeachment of the President and Vice President of the United States.(At this point in my speech, the Mayor stopped me. "Mr. Harper," he said, "I've been very patient with you. But I've told you before that I will not tolerate personal attacks on anyone on this council. Now, I will stop you from speaking if you continue in that vein, do hear me?" To which I responded that I was not aware that I had attacked anyone or that I was rude to anyone on the council. "Did you hear what I said?" he asked again. "I will end this meeting and close this chamber if you continue in this vein." "That's your prerogative," I replied, and repeated again that I did not believe I had spoken offensively. He continued to repeat: "Did you hear what I said?" "Yes, I hear you," I said. And he allowed me to go on.)
Last week, one Council member suggested that his service in the Air Force made him an expert at standing by his oath to defend the Constitution.
And I believe with all my heart that that's true. Therefore, I would simply ask him: Then, why aren't you doing it?
We have mountains of evidence that laws have been broken, the Constitution violated.
We have a President who lied to Congress and the American people. We have a war based on those lies. We have very young servicemen and women killed, maimed and psychologically damaged, perhaps beyond repair. We have hundreds of thousands killed on the other side and millions driven from their homes. Because of lies.
We have the suspension of habeas corpus for non-citizens, whom our military has detained for months and years without lawyers or trials.
One was just released from Guantanamo after being held in a cage for six years. He was never charged, no evidence was ever presented against him.
We have others, many others, who are not so lucky. Such as Dilawar, an Afghan taxi driver who was beaten to death by our military at Bagram air base. Shackled, terrified, and screaming for Allah's mercy, he was repeatedly beaten by as many as four guards at once. His wrists were chained above his head. His legs had been reduced to pulp. He was just 22 years old, barely a man. He weighed 122 pounds. It took five days to kill him. He was found innocent of any crime.
We have mountains of evidence that torture techniques came from the top down, from the Vice President to Donald Rumsfeld and on down the chain of command.
We have mountains of evidence that the most basic principles of American law and American policy for 200 years have been thrown overboard by the Bush Administration. Principles that my father certainly believed in and fought for, when, as a captain, he flew the China-Burma hump in World War II.
The America my father defended stood by the Geneva Conventions; it stood by long established military tradition that forbade the inhumane treatment of prisoners, and was a model to the world.
In my father's America, we prosecuted Japanese soldiers for the crime of water-boarding, and our leaders condemned and punished the torture even of proven Nazis, on the principle that we must uphold our own humanity, and not descend to the brutish level of the most degraded among us.
And if he could, I'm quite certain my father would be standing here, now, calling on each of you to honor your oath of office, to stand for the rule of law and the