You Get the Memo?
Green Party and Veterans for Peace come together to demand
Bush’s impeachment in the wake of the Downing Street disclosure
July 7, the Veterans for Peace and the Green Party came together
to call for the impeachment of President George W. Bush. Both
groups had originally passed resolutions in favor of impeaching
Bush following the start of the Iraq war, but both decided
to renew their call in light of the Downing Street memo, which
they think has strengthened their accusation that Bush deliberately
misled Congress and the American people into war with Iraq.
The Downing Street memo was written on July 23, 2003, eight
months before the invasion of Iraq, during a time when, publicly,
Bush was saying things like “We are doing everything we can
to avoid war.”
The memo compiles opinions of British officials about what
seemed at the time to be impending war with Iraq. A source
referred to only as “C” in the document reports that in his
recent talks with Washington, “there was a perceptible shift
in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable.”
He later adds, “The intelligence and facts were being fixed
According to a Zogby poll in June, 42 percent of voters support
impeaching President Bush if it is proven that he misled Congress
and the nation into war with Iraq. According to an ABC/Washington
Post poll from late June, 52 percent of Americans believe
that the Bush administration “deliberately misled the public
before the war,” and 57 percent say the Bush administration
“intentionally exaggerated its evidence that pre-war Iraq
possessed nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.”
Locally, Metroland spoke with a number of people on
the mall of Empire State Plaza and in Crossgates Mall. While
almost all had not heard of the Downing Street memo, most
said it was a given that intelligence had been manipulated
in the lead up to the war, but thought it highly unlikely
that the president would ever suffer any consequences from
John Amidon, local director of Veterans for Peace, thinks
that as the American public becomes more informed, more people
will support impeachment. “If [the memo] got the same coverage
as the London bombings, do you think people’s opinions would
change? Sure,” he said.
Mark Dunlea of the Green Party said the renewed call for impeachment
is designed to demonstrate to the media that this is an issue
that Americans care about and that should be taken seriously.
He’s frustrated by hearing people say it’s not OK to lie about
oral sex, but it’s expected that you lie about foreign policy.
“This is a serious issue that has cost many people their lives,”
Both the Green Party and Veterans for Peace have petitions
for impeachment online and circulating by e-mail. Dunlea and
Amidon both hope to get local groups like Bethlehem Neighbors
for Peace and Women Against War to pass resolutions of their
Dunlea also has approached some local media outlets about
what he feels was their lack of coverage of the Downing Street
memo. “I spoke to [Times Union editor] Rex Smith to
find out why the memo was buried, and he says, ‘We are covering
Watergate and the revelations about Deep Throat,’ ” said Dunlea.
“The president lying to send us to war is much bigger than
a third-rate burglary the president had no advance knowledge
According to Smith, he did discuss the coverage with Dunlea
but did not use Watergate as an excuse for not covering it.
Rather, Smith said he turned down Dunlea’s invitation to be
a guest on his WRPI show because he had a speaking engagement
at the state museum to discuss his memories of Watergate.
That does not mean Smith has no regrets about the Times
Union’s coverage of the memo and related documents. “We
did put them on the front page,” said Smith, “but I wish we
had gotten them there sooner. Many papers never got them to
Smith also believes that those documents have been getting
more credit than they deserve. “They are confirming documents,
not revelatory documents,” he said. “They do not deserve to
be trumpeted, but instead analyzed. They have taken on a mystique
they do not deserve.”
Some members of Congress think the memo deserves at least
some kind of administration response. Rep. Maurice Hinchey
of New York’s 22nd District has held two town-hall meetings
to discuss the implication of the Downing Street memo. Hinchey
has sponsored bills to look into prewar intelligence, and
has publicly stated that he feels the memo proves that Bush
misled the country. He has also sent a letter to the White
House asking for an explanation.
Amidon believes it is unlikely the impeachment will make it
through the Republican-controlled Congress. Nevertheless,
he thinks it is crucial to move forward with the process.
“Is it likely that he’ll be impeached?” he said. “Probably
not, but that does not negate his criminal act. According
to the Constitution, the government is governed by consensus
of the people, and if we have misinformation and are lied
to then we can not possibly give consent.”
War on Drugs Casualty
Steve McWilliams, a medical- marijuana patient
and advocate, committed suicide on July 11 after
learning he would face 40 years in prison after
a federal raid on the small collective he operated—which
served, among others, a 73-year-old leukemia patient
and a 70-year-old man with prostate cancer. The
California collective had city- and state-granted
sanction as a patients’ collective, but a recent
Supreme Court ruling nonetheless authorized such
raids and ensured prison time. According to reports,
McWilliams grew despondent and used his other,
prescribed pain medication to commit suicide.
So Why Have a Zoning Commission?
A judge in Carroll County, Md., recently ordered
the county’s zoning commission to either reverse
its denial of a 254-townhouse project, which had
been turned down repeatedly for years due to water-shortage
problems, or face jail time. Carroll, which has
had its population triple since 1980, suffers
from seasonal water shortages and has become so
congested that most of its schools now rely on
portable classrooms outside the main buildings.
More than 600 residents delivered a petition to
Judge Michael M. Galloway supporting the commission’s
continuing denial of the project. Benjamin Rosenberg,
an attorney for the project’s development group,
argued that the county’s current inability to
support such development shouldn’t stand in the
way of such a project. According to the Baltimore
Sun, he argued “If need be, it will have to
take water allocated for another project.”
I’m Rubber, You’re Glue
The federal pissing contest continued last week
as Senate Republicans rejected legislation proposed
by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that would deny security
clearance to officials who disclose the identity
of undercover agents, saying that such a measure
was simply an exercise in partisan politics. In
a grand show of nonpartisanship(?), Republicans
then countered with their own legislation—this
time, targeting the security clearance of officials
who mention classified reports on the Senate floor.
According to Republicans, Reid had done so earlier
this year while discussing a judicial nominee.
The heated debate lasted throughout much of the
day, with neither bill leaving the floor.
I gave him $50 for 'cheese' from Vermont, and
he brought back $50 worth of actual cheese! It
was damn good cheese though."
night at the Old Songs Festival campground
man whom the Albany Police arrested on July 14
for sexual assault is said to be a suspect in
the recent attacks on two 14-year-old girls
who attended Hackett Middle School [“Killer or
Killers?” Newsfront, June 23]. . . . On July 15,
the Albany Civic Agenda submitted petitions with
the signatures of 3,756 city residents to the
city clerk, enough to get on the ballot in November.
The submission comes in the wake of the July 8
announcement by Larry Rosen, the head of Mayor
Jerry Jennings’ charter reform commission
[“My Reform is Better Than Yours” Newsfront, June
30], that the commission will not attempt to get
recommendations together in time to bump the ACA’s
charter reforms off the ballot. He also noted
that the committee could meet for up to two years.
. . . A State Supreme Court judge recently ruled
against Donald Hassig and his advocacy group,
Cancer Action, in their efforts to prevent a chipboard
factory from being built in Lisbon [“Do I
Have to Say It Again?,” Newsfront, May 19]. Citing
the three lawsuits the group has filed over the
last six years against Chatham Forest Products,
the judge ruled that the group could not commence
any further litigation without approval from state
or federal officials.