Democratic leaders were able to send the bill
to the House Judiciary Committee, where they expect it to
languish. In a bizarre sequence, Republican lawmakers initially
voted against tabling the bill after their leadership apparently
decided a House debate would embarrass the Democrats. The bill
was eventually sent to committee after a back-and-forth
wrangling between Kucinich and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Democratic leaders have famously declared that
impeachment is off the table. But their view does not fall in
line with recent polling figures. An American Research Group
poll in July found that fifty-four percent of Americans support
beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Cheney.
Seventy-four percent of Democrats were also in favor.
Congressmember Dennis Kucinich of Ohio
introduced the measure. He joins me now from Washington.
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JUAN GONZALEZ: Despite the best
efforts of the Democratic leadership, impeachment was indeed
on the table this week in Washington. On Tuesday, Congress
member and presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich nearly
forced the full House to vote on his measure to impeach Vice
President Dick Cheney. House Resolution 333 accuses Cheney
of deliberately manipulating intelligence and deceiving the
public to build support for the invasion of Iraq and now
towards a possible attack on Iran. Twenty-one House
Democrats have supported the bill, but it's met fierce
opposition from the Democratic leadership.
Democratic leaders were able to send the
bill to the House Judiciary Committee, where they expect it
to languish. In a bizarre sequence, Republican lawmakers
initially voted against tabling the bill after their
leadership apparently decided a House debate would embarrass
the Democrats. The bill was eventually sent to committee
after a back-and-forth wrangling between Kucinich and
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
AMY GOODMAN: Democratic leaders have
famously declared impeachment is off the table. But their
view does not fall in line with recent polling figures. An
American Research Group poll in July found 54% of Americans
support beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice
President Cheney. 74% of Democrats were also in favor.
Congressmember Dennis Kucinich of Ohio
introduced the measure. The presidential candidate joins us
now from Washington, D.C. We welcome you to Democracy
Now!, Congressman Kucinich.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Good morning.
Good morning, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain exactly what you
did this week.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: The articles of
impeachment that were introduced under a privileged
resolution cite the Vice President's persistent lies
relating to Iraq. He claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass
destruction, that necessitated the US response. He claimed
that Iraq somehow was connected to al-Qaeda's role in 9/11.
He has been beating the drums for war against Iran. Those
are the elements of the articles of impeachment that were
introduced into the House this week.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And why introduce your
resolution in regards to Vice President Cheney and not to
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, certainly
President Bush also has to be held accountable. However, I
think that any constitutional process that begins for the
removal of an official, when you have the Vice President,
who led the effort to deceive this country with respect to a
war against Iraq, it’s appropriate that he be dealt with
first, so that you don’t create a condition where you remove
the President first and then Mr. Cheney becomes his
successor, and then you have to have an impeachment of two
AMY GOODMAN: Explain the leadership's
position and why you chose to do what you did this week.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I think it’s
very difficult to explain their position, because I don’t
think their position is defensible. I think when you
consider that our whole nation is at risk, our
constitutional form of government has been undermined by
lies, by illegal war, by massive debt, how can you explain
the position of Democratic leaders?
I think that the American people and their
response is becoming more and more powerful, and we’re
seeing that there being rising discontent among Democrats in
Congress about the direction that our leaders have said is
not possible. I think that people want to see this
administration held accountable. After all, what could be
more important than having an opportunity to get to the
truth of what happened in Iraq, that the war was based on
lies; that over almost 4,000 of our brave young men and
women who represent this country have lost their lives
because of those lies; that over a million innocent Iraqis,
noncombatants, civilians, have lost their lives because of
those lies; that we will spend between one and two trillion
dollars for this war, even borrowing money from China? And
our whole domestic agenda is being capsized by this war. And
the administration is preparing still to take us in another
war against Iran, similarly lying about a cause for war. So
what can be more important? Our country is at risk, and it’s
time for our Democratic leaders to take a stand.
JUAN GONZALEZ: What do you say to
those who will argue that even though they may agree with
you on a lot of your concerns, that the impeachment process
itself would drag out for so long that it may as well --
people should just move forward toward the elections and
elect a new president?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Right, well,
you think about that. You know, the administration will be
in office for at least fourteen more months. They can cause
a lot of damage in that time. They’re planning to attack
Iran. When you think about the defense authorization budget
including a provision that would retrofit Stealth B-2
bombers so they can carry 30,000-pound bombs, which would
then be dropped on nuclear research labs, creating an
humanitarian and ecological disaster, “What are we waiting
for?” is the question, not “Why don’t we wait for the
AMY GOODMAN: The other argument that
the leadership has used is that they’re concerned about
losing in a landslide vote against them, that that is bad
strategically, Congressman Kucinich.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Since when does
it become unfashionable to stand up for the Constitution, to
stand up for our nation's laws, to stand up for
international law, to stand up for moral law? Since when
does it become inconvenient to take a stand that would help
secure our democracy once again? I mean, we’re really --
it’s all at risk right now, and it’s time that the
Democratic leadership exerted an effective influence. As a
coequal branch of government, Congress cannot stand by and
let this administration continue to undermine our
Constitution. That’s why I introduced those articles of
AMY GOODMAN: What happens now? Is it
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Not at all. I
mean, Representative Wexler, who’s a member of the
committee, sent a note to the members of the committee two
days ago saying that we ought to proceed with hearings.
Members have been talking to John Conyers on a regular basis
since the impeachment resolution was introduced, asking him
to take this up, and I’m hopeful that he will.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel Conyers has
changed his position from, when he was in the minority,
calling for impeachment, and then, when he became head of
the House Judiciary Committee, stepping back with pressure
from the House leadership?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I think John
Conyers wants to do the right thing, and I’m hopeful that he
JUAN GONZALEZ: Congressman, I’d like
to ask you, on another matter, a vote this week in Congress
over the Peru free trade bill. Many Democrats supported the
administration position on this. You’ve been outspoken in
your opposition to many of these free trade agreements. Your
perspective on this vote?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: It’s a disaster
for the people of Peru. It’s a disaster for farmers whose
land is being poisoned by gold mining and the cyanide that’s
used in that process. And American workers have absolutely
no protection about jobs being moved out of this country.
It’s basically a modeling of NAFTA sent to Peru. This is
really a continuation of the stripping of rights of peoples
of both nations. And a reason why NAFTA has to be canceled
-- and I’ve said that I would do that as President -- that
we must get out of the WTO -- I said that I would withdraw
from the WTO -- and to have trade that is wholly and solely
based on workers' rights, human rights and environmental
quality principles. And it’s time that we recognize that
this whole trade model has been about nothing but a race to
the bottom for workers. It’s time we stood up for workers,
no matter if they’re in Peru or anywhere else in the world,
but certainly in the United States. We should have some
concern about what the effect of these trade agreements are
on American workers.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich,
you are head of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, which has
oversight over the FCC. Today in Seattle, there is going to
be the last of the FCC hearings, as Kevin Martin, the chair,
wants to expedite media consolidation. He says perhaps
they’ll be taking a vote around December 18th. What control
do you have over this?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, as the
chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, I can and will
hold hearings on the FCC's decision-making process. I think
that we are in a time when media consolidation is having a
material and adverse impact on our exercise of First
Amendment rights in a democratic society. The public may be
largely unaware that the electronic media are regulated
because the airwaves belong to the people. And the Federal
Communications Act of 1934 said that the electronic
broadcast media must serve in the public interest,
convenience and necessity. And the more monopolization that
happens, the less likely it is that the public interest is
going to be protected. So there is a long and historic train
here of thought that says that media consolidation is a
danger to our democracy and that, notwithstanding what the
FCC does, Congress should intervene to block any effort that
would enable further media consolidation.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And the argument of
those who say that the advances, the technological advances
in communications, the development of the internet,
basically has made -- outmoded a lot of the regulations that
the FCC operates now to regulate media ownership.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: There’s a lot
of people who think the Constitution is outmoded, too. I
think that when we realize the concentration of wealth in
our society has accelerated wealth to the top, the
concentration of information in our society and control over
information accelerates the intellectual wealth of the
country and the First Amendment rights of the country into
the hands of fewer and fewer.
You know, A.J. Liebling years ago famously
said freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one.
But when you’re talking about electronic broadcast media,
the people own the airwaves. I mean, that is the fundamental
understanding that the American people should have. Those
airwaves do not belong to those networks or to those big
media companies. The airwaves belong to the public, and
they're supposed to serve in the public interest.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to
Congressmember Dennis Kucinich, not only a Congress member
from Ohio, but Democratic presidential candidate. I wanted
to ask you about the issue of exclusion of presidential
candidates from various debates, most recently Mike Gravel,
the former Alaska senator. You weren’t invited to the
Democratic Party’s Jefferson Jackson dinner in Des Moines,
that the six other Democratic contenders are; your response?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, it’s
pretty interesting when you consider the fact that I’ve been
running consistently fourth in a number of national polls,
ahead of three of the candidates who have been invited. So
what does that say? It says that there’s an attempt to rig
the presidential election, using the Iowa Democratic Party
as an accomplice. That’s not acceptable. This election
doesn’t belong to one state or, for that matter, to one
party. And so, you know, look of the national polls, and
you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Amy, while we’re still on the air, there’s
something I want to mention to you that I think is really
important. Last night I was reading the Defense
Authorization Bill, and there is a section in the bill that
I want to read to you: Section 1615 requires the Secretary
of Defense to, one, “determine the military-unique
capabilities needed to be provided by the Department of
Defense to support civil authorities in an incident of
national significance or a catastrophic incident.” And then
it goes on to say provide funds to develop a plan. What’s
going on in this country? How can we stand by and see our
basic liberties undermined?
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to
Congressmember Dennis Kucinich in Washington, D.C., running
for president. I wanted to ask you about the comment you
made during one of the presidential debates, that issue of
seeing an unidentified flying object. Can you explain what
it is that you saw?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, first of
all, you know, I was kind of taken aback when I was asked
that question, but I understand in Washington the truth is
an unidentified flying object, so I guess I could admit that
I saw something, found out later that Ronald Reagan on two
occasions was said to have seen a UFO, that Jimmy Carter was
said to have seen a UFO. So I’m assuming that now becomes a
prerequisite for becoming President of the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Final comment on media
coverage right now of the presidential race that you’re a
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, you know,
I mean, the New York Times has yet to discover that
I’m a candidate. I could -- if I suddenly catch fire in New
Hampshire, where we’re running fourth and closing in on
third place, I would imagine that I could even win the
election, and the New York Times would have a big
story about second, third, and fourth place and fail to
mention that I won.
There is an attempt by the media to manage
this election, to try to determine the outcome of the
election prior to the people casting votes. It’s just
another way to try to defeat the public interest and to make
of the election a kind of a farce.
You know, all I need is an opportunity to
debate Senator Clinton on the war. She has voted for the
war. She voted to fund the war. She wants to stay in Iraq
through 2013. And, frankly, her positions aren’t much
different than Barack Obama’s, John Edwards’s. I mean, when
I break into the top three, the whole election changes. And
I’m working on that.
I realize I’m a long shot. I don’t have any
delusions about that. But I also know that right now
democracy is a long shot in America, and I realize that our
constitutional protections are kind of a long shot. So I’m
willing to take that stand, and I think that the people of
New Hampshire are going to have an opportunity to append the
political process by voting for my candidacy, which will
give them a chance to have a voice and a consistent
supporter, not just of peace and workers' rights and
healthcare for all, but of the basic constitutional
principles that brought us together to form a nation so many
AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Kucinich,
I want to thank you very much for being with us, Congress
member from Ohio and Democratic presidential candidate.
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