Tag Archives: impeachment

Impeach Arnold?

Could it be that enough Democrats in the Assembly have finally had enough with the culture of blackmail and are ready to exact some real consequences?

In the Assembly, Democrats are employing tactics that seem designed to pressure the governor into signing bills. Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, sent a letter to Attorney General Jerry Brown asking him to investigate whether the governor’s strategy is illegal. He cited a part of the state constitution that says it is a felony to seek to influence a legislative vote by means of “bribery, promise of reward, intimidation or other dishonest means.”

“While politicians are certainly allowed to express their disagreements in any way they find productive, they are not allowed to refuse to perform their sworn duties in order to force the legislature to accept policy positions,” Torrico wrote. “And public officials are specifically prohibited from the kind of direct ‘horse trading’ in which a government official agrees to take, or not take, a certain action in exchange for a specific vote.”

Assembly sources said some Assembly Democrats even suggested on a conference call last week that the lower house should impeach the governor if he imposes a mass veto. The constitution says the Assembly has the “sole power of impeachment” and that it can pursue it on a majority vote for unspecified “misconduct in office.” The Senate would then conduct a trial.

The idea seems to crop up every time lawmakers are frustrated with the governor, said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco. It appears to be mostly talk for now.

“I know some members have mentioned the possibility of impeaching the governor,” Torrico said, adding, “There’s certainly a growing number of members who consider the governor’s extortion tactics to be illegal and a dereliction of duty. But (impeachment) has not been discussed formally in the caucus as an option.”

This sounds like a bluff on all counts, although the Governor’s actions certainly violate the spirit and (depending on your reading) the letter of the law about using “bribery, promise of reward, intimidation or other dishonest means” to influence a legislative vote.  I don’t expect Jerry Brown to act on it, however, because he’d probably welcome the ability to threaten the legislature in this manner were he the Governor.

And yet, if the Governor were to veto the entire legislative session because he couldn’t get his way on water (and doesn’t that represent a failure of HIS leadership, not the legislature’s?), I would say a case could be made that using extortion and running the state like a Hollywood negotiation is grounds for removal.  What’s more, while a two-thirds vote for removal in the Senate would be unlikely (though, given Schwarzenegger’s standing in the Republican Party, not completely out of the question), just saddling him with the legacy of impeachment would be a crushing blow to his ego, not to mention his efforts at putting a happy face on his astonishingly awful leadership.

I don’t think this is much more than a parlor game.  But just so we know the rules, a Governor can be impeached for “misconduct in office” by a simple majority in the Assembly.  According to Article 5 of the Constitution, it seems that during impeachment – not removal but impeachment – the Lieutenant Governor becomes Governor. (“The Lieutenant Governor shall act as Governor during the impeachment, absence from the State, or other temporary disability of the Governor or of a Governor-elect who fails to take office.”)  Given that John Garamendi could be elected to Congress in four weeks, the line of succession appears to show that the President Pro Tem of the Senate would be next in line.  So if the unthinkable happens, by November 3 we could be looking at Governor Darrell Steinberg.

Update On The Fight To Impeach Jay Bybee And Restore Accountability

Yesterday I kicked off an action item, asking people to call and write the members of the House Judiciary Committee or their California members of Congress, informing them that the largest state Democratic Party in the country has voted to support a Congressional inquiry into Jay Bybee and other lawyers for their actions justifying torture, and that they ought to carry this through.  Many people have already contacted their members of Congress and you should do the same.  One thing that would help is to get them on the record.  If you receive any constituent correspondence from your Congressperson about this issue, please forward it to me at david-dot-dayen-at-gmail-dot-com.  We need to build a list of who supports accountability and who does not, of who in the California delegation agrees with their own party and who does not.  We’re starting to get some on-the-record statements, like this nonsense from Illinois Republican Donald Manzullo, who admits that waterboarding doesn’t work, who calls it “more torture than not,” as if there’s a torture continuum of some sort (the fact that CIA interrogators had to add a tracheotomy kit to the proceedings should tell you what they were up to with waterboarding), but who then says that “no laws were broken” (which is patently false), and that, even if there were, nobody should be prosecuted because the whole thing would get “messy.”

MANZULLO: Because then you are going to have to go back and you’re going to have to go through every single interrogation and every single memo and the whole purpose of this is to relive again the fact that somebody made the decision to allow this.

We need on-the-record statements like this for every California Democrat, preferably in writing or on tape.

In other news, John Conyers and Jerrold Nadler announced their support to Attorney General Eric Holder for a special counsel to investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the decision-making process in the Bush Administration that led to illegal torture of detainees.  That letter is here.

Finally, I will be on Angie Coiro’s show on Green960 AM in San Francisco in the 7:00 hour tonight to talk about the CDP resolution, the need for an inquiry and impeachment of Jay Bybee, and the fight to restore the rule of law with respect to torture.  Tune in if you can.

NEXT STEP: Tell Congress To Open Impeachment Inquiry Into Jay Bybee

Thanks again to all of you who signed petitions and made phone calls and helped push the resolution to open a Congressional inquiry into Torture Judge Jay Bybee, which the California Democratic Party adopted at its convention yesterday.  I have been told by the authors of the resolution that the pressure from the outside really aided their efforts.  

The passage of the resolution was a beginning, not an ending.  On the flip, come and join us in the next step.

UPDATE: Ryan Grim of The Huffington Post has the full story of the passage of the resolution at the convention.

I view the impeachment of Jay Bybee from the 9th Circuit Court as a moral and legal imperative, but also an entryway into the larger fight for justice and accountability for those who authorized and directed torture in our name.  I agree with Jerrold Nadler that impeachment should not be seen as a compromise measure, a way to satiate those concerned with accountability.  “There can’t be a compromise — you have to follow the law … If the facts say that some former high-ranking official should be prosecuted, the fact people will get angry should be irrelevant … If we do not investigate the torture that is clear that it occured, and if the evidence is there prosecute, not only are we disobeying the law, not only are we being immoral, but we are inviting torture of our people in the future.”

Bybee’s impeachment can start us down the path to restoring the rule of law.  And now the largest state Democratic Party in the country has spoken.  They have said that the myth about torture being a useful tool to extract actionable intelligence from terror suspects is not only irrelevant when it comes to lawbreaking but also entirely false, according to the CIA’s own inspector general.  They have said that Judge Bybee’s appalling judgment and slavish acceptance of John Yoo’s flawed legal reasoning represents a greater evil – the evil of thoughtlessness – and a greater responsibility for the actions committed thanks to his off-handed signature.  They have said that Bybee’s understanding of his own wrongdoing outweighed by his desire to be a federal judge shocks the conscience, and that far from being rewarded for his obedience to his conservative minders, he should bear responsibility for it, to the fullest extent possible.

So what do we do now?  Members of the California Democratic Party include 34 members of Congress, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and six men and women who sit on the House Judiciary Committee, where an impeachment inquiry would be remanded.  They need to hear that their party just recommended that they open an immediate Congressional inquiry into Judge Bybee, with all appropriate remedies and punishments available.  In fact, the entire House Judiciary Committee needs to hear this.  Thanks to my friends at Firedoglake, they will.  We have put together a contact list for the entire House Judiciary Committee, and you can, with just a few clicks, compose a letter to any member of that Committee telling them of the CDP’s action and demanding immediate action on an inquiry.

House Judiciary Committee
John Conyers, Michigan Howard Berman, California
Rick Boucher, Virginia Jerrold Nadler, New York
Robert C. Scott, Virginia Mel Watt, North Carolina
Zoe Lofgren, California Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas
Maxine Waters, California Bill Delahunt, Massachusetts
Robert Wexler, Florida Steve Cohen, Tennessee
Hank Johnson, Georgia Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico
Luis Gutierrez, Illinois Brad Sherman, California
Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Charles Gonzalez, Texas
Anthony Weiner, New York Adam Schiff, California
Linda Sánchez, California Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Fl
Dan Maffei, New York Lamar S. Smith, Texas
Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Howard Coble, North Carolina
Elton Gallegly, California Bob Goodlatte, Virginia
Dan Lungren, California Darrell Issa, California
Randy Forbes, Virginia Steve King, Iowa
Trent Franks, Arizona Louie Gohmert, Texas<
Jim Jordan, Ohio Ted Poe, Texas
Jason Chaffetz, Utah Tom Rooney, Florida
               Gregg Harper, Mississippi  

In addition, you can call your members of Congress and tell them that they must support an immediate inquiry into the actions of Jay Bybee, federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Congressional switchboard at 1-866-220-0044 can connect you to your member of Congress as well.  Here are some talking points:

• Jay Bybee signed the August 1, 2002 memo approving certain torture techniques to be used on mentally ill terror suspect Abu Zubaydah.

• The CIA’s Inspector General found that the torture of Abu Zubaydah and others foiled no terror plots and sent intelligence personnel on wild goose chases and false leads around the world. (McClatchy, 4.24.09)

• The California Democratic Party is the largest state party in the country, and they have spoken with one voice to demand hearings on Bybee.

• We are required by the Convention Against Torture to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who authorized and committed acts of torture.

• Judge Bybee’s presence on the 9th Circuit disgraces the federal bench and saps at our moral authority in the world.  Congress has a duty to step in and impeach him.

We now have this resolution as a tool.  Let’s use it to pry open the Congress and provide the opening of some accountability for these heinous acts committed in our name.

VICTORY: Impeachment Inquiry Into Bybee On Consent Calendar

Several weeks of hard work have paid off, and the California Democratic Party is poised to provide a major tool in the fight for justice and accountability for the Bush torture regime.  The Resolutions Committee included on their consent calendar the resolution to begin a Congressional inquiry into Judge Jay Bybee and other lawyers who wrote opinions justifying and providing the fig leaf of a rationale for torture, with all punishments allowable under the law, including impeachment.  

Without the release of the OLC memo from August 1, 2002, showing Bybee admitting that waterboarding gives the impression of imminent death and allowing it anyway, showing Bybee allowing the CIA to put detainees in a small box with bugs in a Room 101-style exploitation of phobias, I’m not sure this resolution would have passed.  But the release massed a groundswell of support from the grassroots.  My petition to urge the CDP to support the resolution gathered 4,827 signatures in about a week.  Courage Campaign hopped aboard as well and got 9,000 or so sigs on their petition.  Activists called the CDP offices and pushed for passage.  And the party got the message.

Resolutions can go flat if they aren’t picked up and used as a tool.  Today, when it passes the full party on the convention floor in a few hours, we can celebrate.  Tomorrow, we put this to work.  Thanks to everyone who put in the time and effort to get this done.

UPDATE: Here’s the full text of the resolution, on the flip:


Whereas, former Assistant Attorney General, and current Federal Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Jay Bybee signed the “Bybee Memo,” or “Torture Memo” of August 1, 2002, which advised the C.I.A. that “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment was at times allowable under U.S. law, and authored, co-authored and signed other memos on “extraordinary rendition” and “enhanced interrogation,” more of which are being currently revealed to the American public as the new Administration brings them to light; and

Whereas the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment, the supreme law of the land under Article VI of our Constitution, requires the prosecution of those who authorize torture, and it has been established that waterboarding is torture; and

Whereas, on January 15, 2009 before leaving office, President George W. Bush, in an effort to cover his culpability, and the culpability of others, had his Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice issue a memo stating that certain opinions issued in 2001-2003 with respect to “the allocation of authorities between President and Congress in matters of war and national security do not reflect the current view of this Office;”

Therefore be it resolved that the California Democratic Party supports resolution of inquiry and vigorous investigation of these and related actions by the Congress of the United States, including the full use of Congressional subpoena power authority and all appropriate remedies, to disclose completely the possible criminal actions of Judge Jay Bybee and others to the American people and to take necessary and available action with appropriate remedies and punishment allowed by law; and

Be it further resolved, 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 Democratic member of the California delegation to the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

Barbara Boxer On Bybee Impeachment: “I’m Very Open To That.”

At a press avail following her speech at the California Democratic Party convention, I asked Sen. Boxer about the Resolutions Committee passing support for a Congressional inquiry into the actions of torture judge Jay Bybee and the imposition of all possible penalties including impeachment.  She said “I’m very open to that…. there is an ongoing investigation at the Justice Department into his work (at the Office of Professional Responsibility -ed), and we’ll see how that goes.  But I’m very open to that.  And I’ll remind everyone that I didn’t vote for him when his nomination came up.  I was one of 19 to do so.”

Needless to say, the support from Sen. Boxer will be a great help in the Resolutions Committee, when they prioritize the top ten resolutions to send to the floor of the convention tomorrow.

The other interesting tidbit from the presser was that Sen. Boxer offered no indication of her endorsement on the ballot measures for the special election on May 19.  She says she and Sen. Feinstein haven’t studied the measures yet, and that they will get together in Washington and offer a joint statement once they make their decision.  “I’ll let you know when I go public.  But let me say this – the budget process in California is dysfunctional, because of the super-majority needed to pass a budget and tax increases.  And until we get to the root causes of changing that, it’s very difficult to do anything.”  This pretty much tracks with what we’ve been saying for a long time.  Until you pass #1, it won’t matter if you pass #2-#10.

Other topics covered included torture investigations (Boxer supports the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that Sen. Leahy recommended), the fate of cram-down provisions in the Senate (“Sen. Durbin is doing a heroic job… the banks are still a major lobbying group.”), potential opponents in her 2010 re-election (I hope nobody runs against me!”), and the news of a budget reconciliation deal on health care in the Senate (she didn’t have much to say on that other than that reconciliation should always be on the table, as it was during the Reagan years, and that the situation is “in flux.”)  Boxer was at her most eloquent answering a question about the rule of law and the impression that those at the highest levels of power, be it the banksters or the torture regime, were above it.  “The law must prevail… the people should feel that something’s wrong, if nothing is done on torture.  If we don’t like a law, we repeal it, we don’t ignore it.”

…more from davej.

CDP Convention Tomorrow – Last Chance To Sign Petitions To Impeach Bybee

I’ll do a fuller convention preview post in the morning, but just a final mention – I have a petition to tell the CDP to support the resolution to impeach federal Judge Jay Bybee, who sits on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals despite having been one of the architects of the flawed legal justification for torture committed in our name.  There are musings about independent commissions and special prosecutors in Washington, but I believe we must press on all fronts, and the impeachment of Bybee, who sits on the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, is particularly acute here in this state.  Currently I have 4,435 signatures – please sign by midnight tonight and I will present yours and everyone else’s name at the Resolutions Committee tomorrow at 3pm.  If we get this resolution passed, we will have a powerful tool to force California members of Congress to initiate hearings in the House Judiciary Committee to impeach Bybee.  I think it’s absolutely possible that we make this happen over the weekend – but the leadership of the CDP needs to know that there’s a large and powerful constituency behind this effort.

Please sign the petition if you haven’t already.  And the Courage Campaign has their own petition, with around 8,500 signatures at last count.  13,000 people arguing for impeachment is a powerful number – let’s go for more.

Join The Movement To Impeach Jay Bybee

I am the Public Policy Director for the Courage Campaign

When I read the torture memos that President Obama released, I was shocked, but I can’t say I was too surprised. Nevertheless, the details are horrifying. Waterboarding a detainee 83 times in a month, cramped confinement, putting “stinging insects” into a box with a detainee, and “walling” – throwing someone’s head into a wall – these are the things that Jay Bybee’s August 2002 memo approved. In 2003, Bybee was nominated and confirmed to a seat on the all-important 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Since the release of that memo a broad movement has emerged demanding the impeachment of Judge Bybee. Our own David Dayen has taken the lead in organizing the netroots behind this effort, creating an online petition to gather support behind the impeachment resolution passed by the LA County Democratic Party that will be taken up at this weekend’s California Democratic Party convention.

Last Friday David Dayen asked the Courage Campaign to join the grassroots effort to impeach Jay Bybee by helping pass this resolution. And we were happy to participate. Today we emailed our members asking them to sign up as supporters of the CDP impeach Bybee resolution.

The email we sent references the powerful NYT editorial calling for Bybee’s impeachment. Since then Congressman Jerry Nadler, who chairs the House Subcomittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and is a ranking Dem on the House Judiciary Committee, has announced his support of the impeachment of Jay Bybee:

“He ought to be impeached,” Nadler said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “It was not an honest legal memo. It was an instruction manual on how to break the law.”…

“Any special prosecutor on torture would have to look at the authors of those torture memos,” said Nadler. “And certainly you have real grounds to impeach him once the special prosecutor took a good look at that. I think there ought to be an impeachment inquiry looked at in any event. Which should happen first, I’m not sure.”…

“[Bybee] should be a target. Yoo should be a target. There are a number of targets,” said Nadler, referring to for Bush administration counsel John Yoo, who also authorized torture and is now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Bybee, noted Nadler, “is the only one who’s a federal court judge now.”

The momentum is building. Please add to it and help push the House to launch an impeachment effort by signing your name to the CDP resolution.

Over the flip is the email we sent to our members.

“To read the four newly released memos on prisoner interrogation written by George W. Bush’s Justice Department is to take a journey into depravity…..They were written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal, immoral and a violation of this country’s most basic values….These memos make it clear that (Judge Jay) Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. Congress should impeach him.” — Editorial in the New York Times, Sunday, April 19

Dear Robert,

Will you help grassroots activists put the California Democratic Party on record against the torture memos and the man who helped write them?

The memos, released last week by President Obama, describe in horrifying detail the shocking and inhuman tactics used to torture the detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison camp. One of the memos was written by Jay Bybee in August 2002.

Bybee’s memo authorized the use of waterboarding, “cramped confinement”, “walling” — where a detainee’s head is repeatedly pushed against a wall — and even putting insects into a confined space with a detainee.

Instead of being brought to justice for his authorization of these illegal and unconscionable acts, Jay Bybee is now a judge here in California, serving a lifetime appointment on the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco. Judge Bybee is in a position to make rulings regarding the rights and freedoms of Californians — and his decisions can only be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That isn’t right, and that isn’t justice.

Grassroots and netroots activists are demanding Bybee be held accountable for his role in President Bush’s illegal torturing of detainees. Last Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party approved a resolution written by progressive Democrats John Heaner, Agi Kessler and Richard Mathews to demand that the House of Representatives begin impeachment proceedings against Bybee.

This weekend, this resolution will be considered for action at the California Democratic Party convention.

Will you build the movement to impeach Judge Jay Bybee? A growing group of progressive grassroots activists need your support for this impeachment resolution. Please sign on now and show your support before the California Democratic Party convention. DEADLINE: Friday at 9 AM:


Reading those memos made me sick. And they made me angry. As a delegate to the California Democratic Party convention, I am determined to ensure that my party takes a stand and demands that Jay Bybee be held accountable for the damage he has done to our rule of law.

We need the Californian Democratic Party to stand up for the Constitution. Every signature from a Courage Campaign member that we can bring to the Convention is another voice that will amplify the call for justice and help grassroots activists ensure the resolution’s passage.

The movement to impeach Jay Bybee is growing rapidly. Since Tuesday, the resolution has been endorsed by the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, Progressive Democrats of America, the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, and a growing list of California Democratic Party delegates. Calitics blogger David Dayen is also helping build a netroots coalition to publicize and support the resolution to impeach Bybee.

Now these progressive activists need your help in getting the resolution approved. Please sign your name to the resolution calling for Bybee’s impeachment — and ask your family and friends to sign it as well:


Thank you for taking a stand for the rule of law and to restore justice.

Robert Cruickshank

Public Policy Director

Yes We Can Impeach Jay Bybee

As we read with growing horror the most recent torture memos released by the Obama Administration, 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.

That’s why, at the very least, there must be investigations. Whether through the special prosecutor that the ACLU has called for, or Senator Leahy’s proposal for a commission of inquiry, America has to know how this happened, gruesome step by gruesome step. There is no other way to prevent it from happening 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.


As many people noted yesterday, Jay Bybee, the former head of the Office of Legal Counsel whose name appears as the author of the August 1, 2002 memo justifying and authorizing clear acts of torture by the CIA (some argue that John Yoo wrote the memo, but Bybee signed it), now works as a federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, with a lifetime appointment.  He sits in judgment when we have clear evidence that his judgment is fractured.  In just this particular memo, he agreed that waterboarding “constitutes the imminent threat of death” and still allowed its use.  He twisted the research of sleep deprivation experts to justify the torturous delivery of harm to prisoners through this technique.  He found the rationales to explain away his own legal exposure and that of his superiors, while clearly understanding these techniques to be wrong when applied by other countries.

And that’s just this memo.  More are expected.

One focus of scrutiny could be the period from April to August of 2002, when C.I.A. officers interrogated Abu Zubaydah before the Justice Department gave its official written endorsement of the interrogation program. According to a Justice Department inspector general’s report, F.B.I. officials who watched some of the interrogation sessions in a Thailand safe house reported that the C.I.A. interrogators had used several harsh techniques.

The Justice Department is also expected make public an internal ethics report that officials say is highly critical of top Bush lawyers who drafted the interrogation memos, including Jay S. Bybee, John C. Yoo and Steven G. Bradbury. Legal experts said there is an outside chance that the report could include referrals to state bar associations, which have the power to reprimand or disbar their members.

Because Bybee holds a lifetime appointment conferred by the Senate (by a 74-19 vote), I would argue it is the requirement of the Congress to act and right this horrific wrong.  Bybee was confirmed in March 2003, well before these memos came to light.  This new information alone should be grounds for an impeachment and removal of Jay Bybee from the 9th Circuit Court.

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.

As it happens, 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.

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.

Sacramento Office

(916) 442-5707 phone

(916) 442-5715 fax

Los Angeles Office

(310) 407-0980 phone

(310) 407-0981 fax

email contact form

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.


Passed Unanimously by LACDP, 4/14/09

Whereas, the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the people a right to petition the government for a redress of grievances; and,

Whereas the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment, the supreme law of the land under Article VI of our Constitution, requires the prosecution of those who authorize torture, waterboarding is torture, and both former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Richard B. Cheney have admitted to authorizing waterboarding; and,

Whereas former Assistant Attorney General, and current Federal Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Jay Bybee signed the “Bybee Memo,” or “Torture Memo” of August 1, 2002, which advised the C.I.A. that “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment was at times allowable under U.S. law, and authored, co-authored and signed other memos on “extraordinary rendition” and “enhanced interrogation,” more of which are being currently revealed to the American public as the new administration brings them to light; now,

Therefore be it resolved that the Los Angeles County Democratic Party urges that the United States House of Representatives begin impeachment proceedings against Judge Jay Bybee of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, charging him with facilitating the authorization of torture while employed by the United States Department of Justice; and,

Therefore be it further resolved 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.


I spent the night of Aug. 11th in jail in South L.A. because Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t want to read Vincent Bugliosi’s book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. Or she didn’t want to be seen accepting it, because then she couldn’t feign ignorance. She had stated on ABC’s The View just a couple of weeks before “If somebody had a crime that the President had committed, that would be a different story”, so I waited in line at her book-signing (for her ironically-titled memoir Know Your Power) and gently laid former L.A. District Attorney Bugliosi’s book on the table in front of her. But as soon as I tried to tell her – very politely – that it proved how Bush had committed the crime of fraud by taking us to war on a “false premise” (the two words she herself has used), her smile dropped, she turned from me, and I was instantly surrounded by shouting secret service, police, and security guards. Do I think her desire to hide in an opaque bubble justifies my being arrested and placed in custody for 13 hours? I sure don’t, and though my charges were dropped, oh, how I’ve considered moving back to the Bay Area to vote for her opponent, Independent candidate Cindy Sheehan.

With a fraction of Pelosi’s formal power, Sheehan challenged Bush a hundred times more powerfully. Sheehan confronted him overtly, camped outside his ranch during his 5-week vacation. Contrast that with Pelosi, who’s on video laughing at Bush’s correspondents’ dinner joke-slideshow about vanished WMDs, even though she claims she knew the intel didn’t support the war. Pelosi has also repeatedly re-funded the war while muttering “Let’s hope this is the last time”; she has put up with the White House obstructing congress and sneering at subpoenas while wishing that Bush would be “more co-operative”; and she was ready to fork over $700 billion with just a little bit of griping – unaware that others in her party actually listen to their constituents and didn’t immediately want to come along. When it comes to knowing her power, Pelosi seems to be mainly aware of the power she can wield against those who would seek to impeach — she even intervened in an effort in L.A. City Council to pass a  purely symbolic resolution for impeachment, I’m told by one of the councilmembers. Her team’s insistence throughout her book tour this summer on shielding her from citizens’ questions as well as from pieces of paper citizens might want to hand to her — the staff at the L.A. book-signing even rifled through the books people held in line “to make sure there are no pictures” — is certainly a display of power.


And since the stories from activists who tried to approach her at her alleged meet-and-greet book-signings all over America tell of similar strict and aggressive barriers, it sure seems like deliberate policy. (Moreover, the L.A. venue that co-operated with her in this, the American Jewish University, doesn’t seem to mind Vincent Bugliosi’s book when she’s not around. He is giving a talk on The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder there this month.) She won’t even respond to questions from Cindy Sheehan’s campaign about why she won’t debate her opponent.


It’s much like what happens when voters call Pelosi’s office — we’re cut off as soon as we reveal we have an issue to weigh in on, and we’re directed to the black hole of voicemail.

Contrast this with the accessibility, the passion for democracy and the respect for the Constitution, that we’ve seen from Cindy Sheehan. Sheehan, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominee in 2005, has been much more than a traveling keynote speaker for peace, though she has done that extensively despite much harassment. She has also shown bravery by frequently risking arrest, and true leadership by creating “Camp Casey” and by co-founding, for bereaved military parents, Gold Star Families for Peace. She has also gone on diplomatic missions to over 13 countries, for which she was recognized by congress and the Canadian, Scottish, and South Korean governments.

The trigger for Sheehan’s decision to run against Pelosi came in July 2007 when Bush commuted convicted Cheney aide “Scooter” Libby’s prison sentence. Sheehan labeled Bush’s act “treason”. By contrast, the Speaker, with the power of impeachment in the palm of her hand, merely wagged her finger. Pelosi’s refusal to impeach Bush, Cheney, or others has not only betrayed Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson, or other high-profile insiders like Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill, but has betrayed the sacrifices of many other valiant whistleblowers who risked career, reputation, and freedom to bring Bush crimes to light.

People like Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., who exposed the neocon intel distortion; Sgt. Joe Darby, who broke the Abu Ghraib story and faced death threats; Matthew Diaz, Geneva Convention-defender who got a 6-month sentence for sending the names of 551 Guantanamo detainees to a human rights group; Stephen Heller, who warned of Diebold’s plan to skirt the law in California voting machines and got 3 years probation and a $10,000 fine; Bunnatine Greenhouse, who exposed Pentagon favoring of Halliburton and was demoted; Rick Plitz, who resigned as a government scientist over the alteration of research papers on climate change; Mark Klein, telecom whistleblower; and Sibel Edmonds, who is under a gag order to keep from telling what she knows, which she hints includes spying on Congress.

How great it would be if the first woman Speaker didn’t go down in history for doing her job so badly that she allowed a dictatorial president to hold the country hostage. But she was handed her mission in Nov. 2006 and chose not to accept it. Instead of stopping the war, repealing the Patriot Act, curbing global warming, protecting our privacy, ensuring the integrity of elections or passing other important legislation  – despite her frequent claim legislative “priorities” left no time for impeachment – she seems to have been principally devoted to letting things get as bad as possible so a Democrat would win. But if Obama makes it through the rampant election fraud we’re already seeing, and does try to reverse the radical right-wing damage to the country of the last eight years without Congress first clearing up the matter of how criminal it all was, he’s going to have a hell of a battle. And he’s going to need a much stronger ally in the House. Voting for Sheehan in San Francisco would mean the House could choose a replacement for Pelosi as their leader — Kucinich is my personal favorite, of course, but I’m not picky.

California’s 8th district has the chance to vote for a feminist who is pro-labor and anti-corporate, who will push for assistance for people losing their homes, increased regulation for key industries, and the repeal of No Child Left Behind; who will advocate for civil liberties, immigrant rights, gay rights, single-payer health care, a national energy system, a mass transit system, fair trade, free higher education, and an end to jailing millions of non-violent offenders. Or if they don’t like any of that, they could just stick with Pelosi.

But I’m all in favor of giving Madame Speaker a nice long vacation so she can read that Bugliosi book.  

I Took My Vote Off The Table :: An Open Letter To Charlie Brown, Candidate For CA-04

Nota Bene: This is an open letter to Charlie Brown, Democratic candidate for CA-04’s open seat. I have notified the Brown campaign of this diary by email. It is also crossposted at Daily Kos.


Dear Charlie,

I supported you in your race against John Doolittle back in 2006. This year I would like to support you again in your open seat race against Tom McClintock. While I would never under any circumstances vote for Tom McClintock, as things stand right now I cannot in good conscience vote for you. I do not currently intend to cast a vote in the CA-04 House race.

Almost one year ago I decided to write to you because I wanted assurance from you on a matter that became very important to me after the 2006 elections. After a few brief formalities, I wrote the following:

Subject: A Constitutional Question

To: The Charlie Brown Campaign

Date: 10/1/07

… I have come to realize that my support depends entirely upon your answer to the following question:

Is the Congressional power of impeachment an oversight and investigative right which the House may exercise or not exercise at will, or is it an oversight and investigative duty which the House is obliged to fulfill for the sake of the Constitutional system itself?

I trust you can intuit the subtext of this inquiry.

A couple days later I received the following response from your campaign manager, Todd Stenhouse.

Subject: RE: A Constitutional Question

To: Me

Date: 10/3/07

Thank you for your question. Charlie asked me to respond to you directly on his behalf.

Charlie views the issue of impeachment as part of Congress’ oversight power – which includes everything from the power of the purse, to investigation, to censure, and on up the chain. That said, just like a district attorney may choose not to bring charges, so the House might choose not to bring impeachment charges.

As a number of investigations continue, the decision to actually vote on impeachment is a decision each member of the House must make – carefully considering the costs and benefits of such a decision – not just on the business of government, but the nation and world community as a whole.

For the past 6 years, we saw Congress essentially abdicate its responsibility to provide meaningful oversight over the Executive Branch – or to deliver the results the people need on so many issues – healthcare, global warming, education, and a horribly mismanaged foreign policy to name a few. The nation spoke loudly last November. Regardless of who the next President is, Charlie Brown will never forget who he works for, or what his responsibilities are as a member of Congress operating within the system of checks and balances.

Just over a year from the next election, Charlie’s focus is on bridging the growing divisions in our country, solving the problems we face, and the vital cause of electing new leadership to our Congress and White House in 2008. Only then, we believe, can we bring the sad era of corruption, incompetence, and scandal ridden partisan politics as usual to a close.

I hope this answers your question, and I hope we can count on your support in the months ahead

Thank you again for your inquiry.

To this I replied:

Subject: RE: A Constitutional Question

To: Todd Stenhouse, Charlie Brown’s Campaign Manager

Date: 10/10/07

Thank you for your reply. At the end of your email you said “I hope this answers your question, and I hope we can count on your support in the months ahead.” Unfortunately, no, you did not answer my question to my satisfaction. But I have not given up on you yet.

You wrote that “Charlie views the issue of impeachment as part of Congress’ oversight power—which includes everything from the power of the purse, to investigation, to censure, and on up the chain. That said, just like a district attorney may choose not to bring charges, so the House might choose not to bring impeachment charges.” Even if I put it in the best possible light, your answer is, in the end, a mere truism. Bringing impeachment charges implies the event of an actual vote of the full House on those charges. In such a vote the House does not have to vote (choose) to bring charges as they could vote against bringing charges.

The choice (the right) of a district attorney to bring charges or not is predicated upon there already having been an investigation into whether or not there are grounds to bring charges. The investigation is obligatory. While district attorneys often only review evidence and evaluate investigations conducted by law enforcement, in the House investigation, evaluation of evidence and the bringing of charges are combined in one body. The House functions to that extent less like a district attorney and more like a grand jury. While it is true that the House may ultimately vote not to bring charges, the question is really whether the House can choose not to investigate grounds for impeachment. That is why I did not ask merely about bringing charges, but about the investigation that necessarily precedes any decision over charges.

When I wrote initially I deliberately asked about the rights and duties of the office and chamber. I did this to spare you from having to answer the historical and specific version of my question. But perhaps I should ask it.

I agree with you that in the last 6 years we have seen “Congress essentially abdicate its responsibility to provide meaningful oversight over the Executive Branch.” For 5 years after 9/11 the Republicans proved themselves quite unwilling to provide such oversight. What I find reprehensible, however, is that in the one year since the Democrats took control of Congress they too have proven themselves unwilling to provide meaningful executive oversight. The reason for this delinquency is quite simple: Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table. Because of her decision Congress has left Bush’s claims of executive power entirely unchallenged and intact.

If Charlie is elected to Congress he will take an oath neither to me nor to you, nor to any party or any person. The oath will say nothing of “healthcare, global warming, education” or of our “horribly mismanaged foreign policy.” The oath will be to the Constitution itself – that would ultimately be “who he works for.” The oath would require him to affirm to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and it would require him to pledge his “true faith and allegiance to the same.” For a Congressman, when it comes to defending and supporting the Constitution there is no consideration of “the costs and benefits of such a decision.” He is duty bound in that regard.

Nancy Pelosi has forgotten and betrayed her oath of office. Her decision to take impeachment off the table has led to a dereliction of Congress’s Constitutional duty. Had a full investigation been allowed then it may very well have led inexorably to a vote on impeachment. But Pelosi had already said that impeachment was off the table. Consequently, no investigations could truly proceed and no oversight could truly take place. I consider her decision to take impeachment off the table every bit as dangerous to this country as George Bush’s extensions of executive power.

Indeed, Pelosi’s decision was arguably even more dangerous. The Constitution anticipates overextensions of executive power and provides impeachment as its specific remedy. Unlike “the power of the purse” and “censure,” impeachment speaks directly to the Constitutional question and has the express effect of defining and clarifying executive power. The Constitution, however, does not anticipate that Congress will render itself impotent by disavowing this remedial power because such a disavowal would grant the president de facto immunity from effective oversight and undermine the integrity of our system of checks and balances. That is, however, precisely what Pelosi has done.

So I can ask my question again in a different way: Does Charlie believe Nancy Pelosi had the right to “take impeachment off the table”?

If Charlie honestly believes that Pelosi had that right, then I, as a matter of conscience, will have to take my support for him off the table. More than that, however, if Charlie honestly believes Pelosi had that right then, should he be elected, he should not be able to take his oath of office in good conscience.

Now that I have told you where I stand on these matters, I hope you can tell me in specific terms where Charlie stands.

For several weeks I waited in vain for a response. Finally, I sent Todd Stenhouse another email:

Subject: RE: A Constitutional Question

To: Todd Stenhouse, Charlie Brown’s Campaign Manager

Date: 10/29/07


Should I consider your lack of response to my reply an indication that you do not believe you can give me the assurance I require in order to pledge my support to Charlie Brown?

Unfortunately, that email went without reply as well.

Over the winter I decided to post the entire email exchange on Daily Kos. I hoped placing this discussion in a public forum would bring a response, and even if it didn’t I wanted to raise these points publicly because I believe all voters should demand that anyone who is running for Congress answer these questions and answer them rightly.

But between the holidays, the primaries, the summer, and the conventions the timing never seemed right. I have, however, run out of time. Circumstances now dictate that I cast my ballot on Monday, October 6, the first day of early voting here in California.

On all these matters I feel as strongly now as I did a year ago. With this open letter I am giving you one last chance to assure me that you are a man of integrity who will uphold the oath of the office for which you are running.

And so I ask my questions once again.

1. Is the Congressional power of impeachment an oversight and investigative right which the House may exercise or not exercise at will, or is it an oversight and investigative duty which the House is obliged to fulfill for the sake of the Constitutional system itself?

2. Do you believe Nancy Pelosi had the right to “take impeachment off the table”?

These questions ask the same thing in two different ways. You do not have to answer both of them, but if you want my vote you will have to give the right answer to one of them. If I do not receive a reply, or if I receive a reply with the wrong answer, then my vote will remain off the table.


CA04 Voter