19 July 2008

Showing It To The Speaker

Madam Speaker,

Did you see me? I think you did. When you took the stage at Netroots Nation 2008 this morning, I was the DFH who held my pocket copy of the Constitution high for you to see. I held it there the entire time you were speaking. I thought that perhaps you needed a reminder of the oath you swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”

For the past seven and a half years, our Constitution has been under fierce attack from domestic enemies. Just this month, the Fourth Amendment was eviscerated. Our founders blessed us with a system of government based on checks and balances with three co-equal branches of government. Today, we have a unitary executive and the Congress and the Courts are reduced to mere spectators as our country careens away from consent of the governed. In fact, the press reported that Congress “bowed” to President Bush when it passed the FISA Amendment Act.

The list of offenses is too long to repeat here, and I am sure that your office receives hundreds of communications daily reminding you of just how this government has gone wrong. What I want you to know from my protest is that I am especially appalled at the bipartisan effort to prevent holding anyone in the Bush Administration accountable for the many criminal offenses they have committed.

Those efforts started with you. Despite an overwhelming mandate to punish the Bush Administration for its crimes as evidenced in the 2006 Congressional elections, you, instead, chose to take impeachment off the table.

Now that we have additional, iron-clad evidence of systematic torture of prisoners, which the International Committee of the Red Cross termed “categorically torture”, there is now an even louder drumbeat from apologists to prevent accountability.

Even here, at Netroots Nation 2008, the apologists are out in force. Yesterday, Cass Sunstein, legal advisor to Senator Obama, after a long exposition of the legal morass facing the next President, told us that prosecutions create a cycle of criminalizing political behavior.

However, there is a huge difference between prosecutions undertaken because of a political agenda and prosecutions undertaken to uphold the rule of law. Also appearing yesterday was Governor Don Siegelman. During the question and answer session after his discussion with Sam Seder, I asked the Governor whether he felt, as a victim of a politically based prosecution, that the citizens of the United States could distinguish that from prosecutions to uphold the rule of law. He affirmed, very quickly and vehemently, that our citizens can indeed tell the difference.

Another interesting case is Congressman Bob Barr. Just yesterday, he joined the bipartisan effort known as Accountability Now (and Strange Bedfellows) to call for accountability for the crimes that have been committed in our name. Now we have a veteran of pursuing politically based prosecution of President Clinton calling for bipartisan enforcement of the Constitution. It should be noted that his position on upholding privacy rights is not a new position for his Presidential campaign, but comes from the traditional conservative position of respect for the Constitution and the rule of law.

As Speaker of the House, you have been the one person in the world best positioned to bring this lawlessness to an end. Multiple articles of impeachment have been introduced, and you have sent them to committee to die. Acting almost entirely on your own, it would be possible, even now, for you to see that these charges receive appropriate hearings and then proceed to a vote. Your failure to act in this way makes you an accomplice in these crimes against humanity. Check out the international law terms jus cogens and obligatio erga omnes. The heinous nature of these crimes, your awareness of them and your failure to take action make you equally guilty.

Recently, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court filed charges against Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan. Because you will not force Congress to hold this administration accountable, when Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo files his charges against US officials, I suspect the first three charged will be George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney and Nancy P.D. Pelosi.


Cocktailhag said...

Great letter, Jim. And a very dignified, shaming gesture of protest. I think Pelosi might just have a vestigial trace of humanity left in her to be ashamed. I hope so. Thanks for your dispatches; I've been on the edge of my seat reading them, at both UT and FDL.

B.Lamb said...

I keep thinking I will wake up and this will have all been just another bad dream I've had. What is wrong with them? Why won't/can't they seem to hold this mother' accountable for ANYTHING?

How are we ever supposed to regain any sense of SECURITY in the US if this GOVT. AS ORGANIZED CRIME SYNDICATE (CHAOS) nightmare is never-ending and the guilty parties get off scot free without so much as a slap on the wrist, or a thousand lashes with a wet noodle even?

Shoot - it seems to be a good paying gig, pilfering our treasury and commiting treason. Why should they EVER STOP given the current arrangement?

I guess that is the WHOLE POINT though, then isn't it?

Thank you for this.

whenpigsfly said...

I've just discovered your blog, and it was with admiration that I read of your "protest" against Pelosi. I was flabbergasted to read one blog which said Pelosi was "warmly welcomed" this morning. The blogger said being polite was more productive than yelling and jeering. I wish that person (and the whole room) could have been on your wavelength instead.

Realist said...

I was flabbergasted to read one blog which said Pelosi was "warmly welcomed" this morning.

Maybe this account from AfterDowningStreet explains the lack of outrage from the crowd:

Before Pelosi speaks, an announcement is made from the podium that disruptions will not be tolerated--if any of us express our frustrations too passionately with Pelosi and the sell-out Democratic Party leadership we will be arrested.

Could someone please tell me exactly what the difference between Pelosi and a Republican is supposed to be?

Jim White said...

Thanks for those wonderful comments.

Cocktailhag: It's interesting you would say that, because Howie Klein over at Firedoglake said it looked more like I was holding up a crucifix to fend off a vampire. Now, every time I see Pelosi's face, I'm going to be looking to see how long her teeth are.

b. lamb: The final session I attended Saturday made me feel better about there eventually being some accountability. The Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU are in there fighting for us. Vincent Warren and Jameel Jaffer are mad as hell, smart, and fighting to make things better. It will be a very long road, but they deserve all the support we can give them.

whenpigsfly (Great handle!) and realist: Yes, the announcement that anyone disrupting the proceedings would be removed and their badge taken from them was chilling. If they hadn't said that I probably would have yelled at least once that she needed to uphold the Constitution. Several more people joined in with me holding their copies high, and the ACLU blogger saw us and noted it as well. The Austin newspaper posted a picture of my hand and the Constitution, but I haven't seen that photo anywhere else.

Also, many people here were upset with the "bait and switch" involved with advertising that they were going to have two hours of Q&A with Pelosi, collecting questions over the internet for months, and then only having 45 minutes of real questions, with Al Gore then coming out to calm people down and prevent them booing her off the stage since they left together.

As a final small-world aside, the guy (Timroff) who asked the great question about the troops having to beg for care packages with sundries was next to me on the flight into Austin. He's deeply involved in Netroots for the Troops and he and his wife were delightful flying companions.

whenpigsfly said...

Jim: About the "management" of audience reaction at the Pelosi event: I feel as though NN has punched me in the gut. I can only imagine the emotions I would've had if I'd been in the room. "Betrayal" comes to mind. Are you getting feedback about this censorship from other conference goers?

Jim White said...

Most of the grumbles I heard were directed at the use of Gore to rescue Pelosi. I heard less about the stifling of dissent, but there did seem to be a number of people cheering on the Code Pink ladies.