Thursday, July 24, 2008

21st & 22nd SPEECHES TO CITY COUNCIL (Re: A Resolution To Impeach)

Well, I fell behind posting my speeches for the last two weeks, so here they are.

For July 15th:

Mayor, council members, good evening. I am here speaking in behalf of a resolution calling for the impeachment of the President and Vice President of the U.S.

Well, last week, we learned that members of the Vice President's staff censored congressional testimony by top federal officials about health threats posed by global warming.

Meanwhile, Karl Rove continues to ignore Congressional subpoenas compelling him to testify about partisan interference at the Department of Justice.

On Thursday, we saw John Yoo and David Addington testify before a House Sub- committee. Yoo is a former deputy assistant attorney-general. Addington is Cheney's Chief of Staff. The two men are said to be instrumental in developing the administration's torture policy.

It was clear that both men are experts at how to answer questions without answering them at all. It was also clear how little regard either of them seemed to have not just for the House members themselves, but even for the right of the members to question them.

Addington, especially appeared at times almost to seethe with contempt for the whole process.

During the questioning, Representative John Conyers asked John Yoo about a statement Yoo had made in which he seemed to suggest that it was okay for the President to order the torture of a suspect's child “in gruesome fashion.”

Yoo never gave Conyers a direct answer. Later, asked if he thought it was okay for the President to order a suspect buried alive, Yoo again would not give a direct answer. Conyers finally gave up in frustration.

That such men have been allowed anywhere near our government, that those who lead us have granted them access to their offices and allowed them to speak into their ears, I should think, ought to be an affront to plain decent people.

Honorable Mayor, I can only think it must be at least a tad difficult for law-makers to continue to ignore the illegalities and usurpations of the Bush regime that are surfacing almost weekly, if not daily.

For those who sit on city councils, who swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the rule of law; for them, it must be especially awkward to simply look on and do nothing while laws are broken, the Constitution violated and shamed.

Thus far, 93 cities and towns could not do it. They could not justify looking the other way. They simply could not ignore their oath of office. Neither could the legislatures of ten states, who have found the courage to pass similar resolutions.

Sometimes moral questions arise that are so important as to transcend the daily operations of a town. At such times, we are forced to rise above our differences, above partisanship, above our own ambitions, to examine what we really believe in our hearts.

I think everyone in this room knows what is right and true.

Thank you.

For June 22nd:

Mayor, council members, good morning. I am here speaking again for a resolution calling for the impeachment of the President and Vice President of the United States.

Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that President Bush can order the indefinite jailing of civilians in the U.S.

The ruling came in the case of the only person still held as an enemy combatant on U.S. Soil. Ali al-Marri was arrested 6 years ago at his home in Peoria, Illinois, where he lived with his wife and children. He was initially charged with credit card fraud and lying to federal agents.

In June, 2003, President Bush declared him an enemy combatant and ordered him into military custody. He has spent the last 4 years in solitary confinement at a Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina.

Al-Marri's attorney said, “This decision means the President can pick up any person in the country—citizen or non-citizen—and lock them up for years without the most basic safeguard in the Constitution—the right to a criminal trial.”

With the failure of Congress to act to restrain an out-of-control administration, along with the failure of good people—here and around the country—to rise in vocal defense of the rule of law—and, in essence, defend their own democracy—we're now witnessing the results in bold relief.

We have administration officials defying Congressional subpoenas. We have literally thousands of detainees held in secret sites around the world for no more reason than being labeled by somebody as “enemy combatants.” Many have been tortured or driven insane. At least twenty-five that we know of have been murdered by military guards.

We have Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo resigning his position because his former boss, DOD General Council, Jim Haynes,told him: “We can't have acquittals. We've been holding these guys for years. How are we going to explain that? We've got to have convictions.”

We have two of the architects of torture, David Addington and John Yoo, arrogantly snubbing the questions of John Conyers and others of the House subcommittee.

And how do those in positions of power in a democracy come by such arrogance? Perhaps from the cynical belief that the people have become so lemming-like that they will silently accept anything, now, any imaginable cruelty, for the sake of their own comfort and safety, however deluded that may be.

And it is an illusion. As one Marine sergeant at Forwarding Base Mercury in Iraq said, “. . .half of these guys get released because they didn't do nothing. But if he's a good guy. . . now he's a bad guy because of the way we treated him.”

The evidence is clear. As good people remain silent, our democracy becomes more imperiled.

Thank you.


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