VICTORY: Impeachment Inquiry Into Bybee On Consent Calendar
Several weeks of hard work have paid off, and the California Democratic Party, the largest Democratic Party in the country, 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. The language was softened slightly from the original resolution, but as Congress must begin the inquiry to get to impeachment, this has the same practical effect and can be used.
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. A few weeks back, John Heaner, a party activist in the San Fernando Valley, offered the resolution, prior to the release of the memos.
After the release, the grassroots and netroots massed a groundswell of support. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party and other local organizations offered their support to the resolution. My petition to urge the CDP to support it 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.
This is part of a legitimate sea change inside the California Democratic Party. Yesterday Hillary Crosby, a progressive candidate, beat the incumbent in a race for state party Controller. After multiple scandals with releases of funds from the party and a lack of transparency and accountability, the grassroots decided they have had enough, and this time they have the numbers to make a difference. This has been a growing movement since the entry of the Deaniacs in 2005, and a tipping point of sorts has been reached. We really are seeing some change inside the party.
But the big story is this resolution, which can now be sent to all 6 Democratic California members of the House Judiciary Committee, as well as California's own House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Party that provides money and organization has decided to make their will known, that we want accountability for those who authorized torture in our name, that we do not want the continued presence of one of those authorizers for torture on the federal bench. 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. This is a huge victory.
UPDATE: Here's the full text of the resolution:
CALLING FOR THE INVESTIGATION OF JUDGE JAY BYBEE AND OTHERS FOR THEIR ROLE IN ALLOWING TORTURE AS PART OF "ENHANCED INTERROGATION"
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.