Friday, May 09, 2008


May 6, '08

Mayor, Council members, the America I believe in does not torture.

The mayor insists that you are all people of conscience. I take that to mean that noone on this council would stand by and watch another human being tortured without trying to stop it. Is that wishful thinking?

Time after time, Condoleezza Rice has denied that the U.S. tortures detainees in its custody.

In 2005, she said, “The United States does not condone, permit or tolerate torture under any circumstances.”

She also said, “Torture and conspiracy to commit torture are crimes under U.S. Law wherever they may occur in the world.”

“Crimes. . . .”

Now, thanks to recent revelations and by the President's own admission, we know that the U.S. not only condones torture, but the current program was authorized by Bush's most senior advisors. Rice herself chaired the secret meetings that included John Ashcroft, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, and Dick Cheney.

So while Miss Rice was telling Congress and the American people that “torture and conspiracy to commit torture are crimes under U.S. Law,” she was telling the C.I.A., “It's your baby, go do it.”

In open defiance of all ethical, moral and legal precedents, George W. Bush flatly admits that he was aware of these meetings, that he approves of torture.

This is just one snapshot in a catalog of lies, abuses of power, and violations of law by this administration.

As I said in my last appearance, virtually every legal organization in the land has urged not only Congress but all members of the legal community to speak up in defense of the rule of law.

Countless other individuals and groups that advocate in behalf of our Constitution and civil rights are doing the same. Over a million signatures have gone to Congress urging them to begin impeachment proceedings.

86 cities and towns have passed resolutions calling for impeachment. The Vermont senate has passed such a resolution.

These are not wild-eyed fanatics and neither am I.

This is not and should not be treated as a petty or partisan issue. I believe it is our civic duty to use the power vested in us as Americans to impeach a president and vice president who commit crimes.

To that end, citizens of this town have presented you with the most obvious means for you to act in behalf of the oath you took to defend the Constitution and the rule of law, an oath you swore to the people and to God.

The Mayor has staunchly argued that he and you take your oath seriously, without explaining why he or you can see no reason to act on it.

Thus, in the face of overwhelming evidence that something is seriously amiss, we have no more than your word.

Thank you.

The Mayor talked and laughed quite a bit with the City Attorney during my talk--they're such cut-ups! Then, he called on one of the older council members to offer a defense, of sorts. The man fell back on his service in the Air Force to say that he knew what it really meant to defend the Constitution and that it gave him the right to disagree with people like me, and so on. For the life of me, and those with me, we could not discern what that had to do with honoring his obligation to his oath of office in the current circumstance. Just another case of using one's military service to intimidate and show some kind of superiority, I suppose.

I will address his remarks in my next talk.


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