Letter to a Congressman

Dear Congressman Dicks:

This is the lead paragraph of an article by Alex Cockburn that appeared this morning (11 August 2007) on CounterPunch:

“Led by Democrats since the start of this year, the US Congress now has a confidence” rating of 14 per cent, the lowest since Gallup started asking the question in 1973 and five points lower than the Republicans scored last year.”

You folks just don’t get it. I already said I have permanently withdrawn my support for all of you owing to your votes in favor of funding the continuing Iraq debacle.

I would like you to try doing one thing right: impeach that bastard in the White House, and be sure to do the same to the guy who really runs the federal government, Richard Bruce. Tell Nancy Pelosi she’s wrong to take impeachment off the table. Get it back on, kick the rotters out, and stop this war crime in the Middle East.

We sent you people to Washington to do a job. Now bloody well do it !!!

Richard Jehn

Dear Mr. Jehn:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the proposals to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney. I appreciate your comments and your perspective on this important national issue, and I would like to take this opportunity to provide my views in response.

For six years, the Republican-led Congress provided almost no oversight of the Bush Administration . Countless questionable decisions made by various Executive Branch officials went largely unchallenged by the Legislative Branch, which is structured under our Constitution to provide an essential balance of power within our government.

With the election of Democratic leaders of both houses of Congress in Nov. 2006, this period of lax congressional oversight has ended . During the first several months of leadership, numerous congressional hearings have been conducted into irregularities and potentially illegal actions of members of the Bush Administration, exposing elements of corruption, improper secrecy and misuses of power. Indeed, a number of Administration officials have chosen to resign their offices rather than submit to the oversight of the new Congress. Moreover, the Bush Administration has attempt ed to obstruct the process of providing information to congressional committees which has resulted in contempt of Congress citations issued by committees in the House and Senate.

For my own part, I have taken this responsibility very seriously. As the new Chairman of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, I conducted more oversight hearings in the first month of operation than the last Chairman had in the entire year previous. A number of serious issues were explored at these hearings regarding the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency , the leadership at the Smithsonian Institution, improper levels of Forest Service funding and deficiencies in our National Parks. My subcommittee’s first legislative initiative included steps to provide enhanced internal controls at these agencies and for more stringent reporting requirements. Other Democratic leaders have taken similar action on issues under their jurisdiction.

Even with this enhanced oversight in Congress, it is clear that many Americans remain uneasy with the direction of the Bush Administration’s foreign and domestic policies, and believe that more drastic steps should be taken at this time. A growing number of my constituents have contacted me urging support for articles of impeachment against President Bush, Vice President Cheney, or even against the embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Let me state that I do believe several decisions made by these individuals have had catastrophic consequences for our county, and that I believe they have not been completely honest with the American people . Whether these serious mistakes and transgressions have reached the constitutional standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors” is arguable. At this point the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has stated her view that launching an impeachment process during the final year of the Bush Administration would be a distraction for the Congress and, since it is exceedingly unlikely that 2/3rds of the Senate would ever vote to impeach, she expressed her preference for moving forward with a positive agenda in the House on education, the environment, fiscal responsibility and , importantly, changing the course of the war in Iraq. While the continued intransigence of the Bush Administration remains frustrating to many of us in Congress, I concur with Speaker Pelosi that it is probably more productive for the Democratic leadership of Congress to focus on our agenda in the final 15 months before the election to choose President Bush’s successor.

I appreciate the concerns you have raised. Please be assured that I will be continuing to work with my colleagues in the Congress to assert the proper level of oversight and to reign in an Administration that has gone awry on so many domestic and international issues.

Norm Dicks
Member of Congress
District 6, Washington

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