Yes We Can Impeach Jay Bybee
As we read with growing horror the most recent torture memos, knowing that there are more revelations to come, I think a lot of us are asking the question that mcjoan asked yesterday. "Now what?" How can we address this moral rot that continues to eat away at our legitimacy? What can be done? Mcjoan offers a couple suggestions.
The process by which our government came not only to torture, but through torturous logic try to convince themselves that it was legal is not just the product of evil. It's the product of excessive, unchecked power that has proven far too easy to seize, to hold, and to exercise.
And we can't allow that to happen again.
Mcjoan is right that our corroded, accountability-free zone in Washington will require an incredible amount of effort just to bring us to these steps. We need to counter the establishment pressure to move away from this evil with our own pressure, to support the rule of law, to recognize that justice delayed is justice denied, and that a failure to hold accountable these acts will result in them returning, in spades, in the future. Without this accounting, in a very real sense our democracy dies.
And there is an actual mechanism, a way to leverage grassroots anger and push the elected officials who can make these decisions, at least in one case. We can prove the desire for accountability in the country and take a systematic approach to restore democracy and the rule of law. And it starts with Jay Bybee.
We've been talking about this, but I want to reiterate that the California Democratic Party can speak with one voice about this next week. Grassroots activists submitted a resolution to be decided at next week's convention in Sacramento that would call for the impeachment of Jay Bybee from the 9th Circuit. This resolution has already been accepted, UNANIMOUSLY, by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. It can pass at the state level.
Impeachment would require a majority vote in the House, and removal would need a 2/3 vote in the trial in the Senate. I agree with Jonathan Zasloff that there are likely 34 Republicans in the Senate willing to go on record as objectively pro-torture, and thus removal would be less likely to be successful. I also agree that the Congress should be compelled to do this anyway.
Regardless of the Obama Administration's decision on prosecution, then, impeachment hearings and a Senate trial for Bybee would signal a necessary reassertion of Congresional authority and would ensure at least some minimal accountability.
Alas, emphasis there should be on the "minimal." I would hope that the House would impeach, but Senate Republicans would clearly vote no to prevent removal.
I don't know how the politics work on this. The Beltway media will clearly spin this as the Democrats obsessed with the past and not concerned about the supposedly grave national security implications. On the other hand, Republicans would be forced to defend an incompetent, ethically-challenged judge.
But maybe, given how unclear the politics are, it might be best to do, you know, the right thing. John Conyers should start scheduling preliminary hearings right away.
Resolutions are somewhat toothless unless used properly AFTER the fact. In the resolution (which I'll put below), it is stipulated that "a copy of this resolution with its original authorization be sent to the Office of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, and that copies of the signed resolution be sent to each member of the California delegation to the United States Senate and House of Representatives." California members of the HJC include Zoe Lofgren, Maxine Waters, Howard Berman, Brad Sherman, Adam Schiff and Linda Sanchez. The last five, at least, have part or all of LA County in their districts, and could be told RIGHT NOW that their local party has resolved unanimously to impeach Bybee. Should the entire state party agree, all the California members, including the Speaker of the House, and the two Senators (both of whom voted against confirming Bybee) can be told the same. And resolutions like this could spring up all over the country, increasing pressure from the bottom up for the Congress to act.
It starts next week in Sacramento. The Resolutions Committee meeting will be held at 3:00 on Friday, April 24, at the Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J St., Sacramento, CA. If you're in the area or if you are a delegate, you can come to the meeting and advocate for the resolution. But the decision will likely be made beforehand. Only a few resolutions get out of committee and to the floor of the convention, and the others are tabled, or combined, or referred to a separate committee. We CANNOT let this happen. The ledership of the California Democratic Party needs to hear from constituents on this issue.
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I've also created a petition at Petition Online urging the CDP to pass this.
We have an opportunity to use the party apparatus to push for accountability and send it up to leaders in Washington. I urge everyone to get on board with this. Thanks.