Santa Cruz calls for Bush probe
Letter to House judiciary panel largely symbolic
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
The Santa Cruz City Council became the first in the country Tuesday night to demand a congressional investigation that could theoretically lead to President Bush's impeachment for the war in Iraq.
At least it could lead to impeachment if there was the slightest chance that a Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee would comply with demands from tiny, lefty Santa Cruz.
And not even the most ardent supporter of last night's 6-1 vote in Santa Cruz gives that possibility much hope.
But the coalition of peace groups that placed the item before city officials Tuesday are hoping that other communities will follow Santa Cruz's lead, creating a ripple that will be felt in Washington, D.C.
Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice said that the U.S. news media, Congress and citizens suspected that the Bush administration had misrepresented the reasons for going to war but were afraid to speak up and demand the kind of government investigation now taking place in England.
"It's time for us to just open up this can of worms," Fitzmaurice said. "We're just doing our little part to break the ice."
The city's official position consists of a letter to the House Judiciary Committee outlining "concerns expressed by many residents of Santa Cruz about President Bush's actions regarding the recent war in Iraq.
"Please determine if one or more of the following represent impeachable offenses by the President," the letter asks.
The letter lists six questions, regarding the administration's alleged disregard of international treaties, use of arguably misleading information to make the case for war and suspected constitutional infringements to aid in the pursuit of terrorists. The letter also asks whether use of depleted uranium on the battlefield, the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and a program to deploy new nuclear weapons are warranted.
"In my opinion, this list could go on for page after page after page," said Councilman Scott Kennedy, who agreed that the list be limited to six items for brevity's sake.
Of the approximately 75 people attending Tuesday night's council meeting, only three spoke against the measure. And one of those, Paul Sanford, a professor at Monterey College of Law, said he considered the administration's position to be "morally bankrupt and indefensible."
But Sanford, who carries a copy of the Constitution folded up in his wallet at all times, said that nothing in the city's litany of accusations met the standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors" required for impeachment.
Another dissenter, Sylvia Mullen, said the council was "living in an academic utopia completely oblivious to the deterioration of the community in which we live," and she urged them to leave national issues alone.
The lone vote against the measure was cast by Councilman Mark Primack, who agreed that the council should limit its efforts to local issues, despite his own reservations about the war. But Councilman Mike Rotkin argued that even small governments should vigorously promote the views of their residents. And Councilman Ed Porter applauded his city's activism, especially in light of polls showing that 70 percent of Americans believe that Iraq was involved with the attacks of Sept. 11 -- a connection that has never been proved.
As for Mayor Emily Reilly, "I am so grateful to live in this community," she said.
The City Council previously voted to oppose the war in Iraq and the USA Patriot Act.