Thursday, June 16, 2005

The hearing

Okay, technically it was a "forum" held in a tiny basement room, even though much larger rooms were available and had been requested. It was fully partisan; no Republicans stopped in to say hello. We don’t know yet how the press will handle the event. Nevertheless, John Conyers' inquiry into the Downing Street Memo was a blockbuster success.

The room was bristling with cameras and microphones. Nightline was there taping. CSPAN did a live broadcast and webstreaming. People crowded into the room and were forced to leave to make room for new attendees (House leaders may have miscalculated in forcing them into a small room, since it magnified the buzz effect on TV). Highly credible people said things you have not seen in print nor heard in the lofty chambers upstairs. And afterwards, Conyers set off to the White House to deliver his letter signed by 120 122 members of Congress and 540,000 560,000 other Americans.

Money "near-quotes" (instant transcription; not completely accurate):

Ambassador Joseph Wilson: "I have played for the American team. Not Republican, not Democrat, just the American team.

"The administration has been less than candid with Congress . . . We're having this discussion today because we didn't have it 3 years ago."

Gold Star Mothers for Peace founder Cindy Sheehan: "It appears my boy was given a death sentence even before he left . . . The most tragic part of it is that if the DSM proves to be true, Casey and thousands like him should still be alive today . . . When a president lies to the American people, it is a serious offense.

"Casey was not asked his party affiliation when he signed up . . . Please hold someone responsible."

27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern: "Let's take the anatomy of a lie. Cheney's lie . . . deliberate subversion . . . Hussein Kamel lie . . . Cheney played a superb role in conjuring up a nuclear threat out of whole cloth, to deceive you, our members of Congress.

[Recalling Bush at the White House Correspondents' dinner, looking for imaginary WMD under his desk] "We're not talking about fraternity jokes. These are consequential, death-dealing lies . . . You all laughed with him [looking at the press]. But I will tell you who is not laughing. Cindy and I are not laughing. Cindy's son was killed 11 days after the President put on this show.

"People ask me, 'Is this unusual for a VP to come to the CIA [as Cheney did]?' I tell them: No, it's not unusual - it's unprecedented. I was at the CIA 27 years and never saw a vice president visit. Cheney did so 9 times.

[Asked why did they do it?] "O - I - L. 'O' for oil, 'I' for Israel, and 'L' for neocon logistical base."

Constitutional lawyer Jon Bonifaz: [Calls for a Resolution of Inquiry as an appropriate first step in an impeachment process] "If the evidence revealed by the DSM is true then the president's submission of this letter to Congress would violate criminal law . . . felony to defraud the US . . . felony to submit false statements to the US Congress.

"The Iraq war has led to the deaths of more than 1,700 US soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians, many others injured, cost the American people tens of billions of dollars at the expense of basic human needs here at home.

"If the president has committed high crimes in connection with this war he must be held accountable. The US Constitution requires no less. If the evidence in the Downing Street Minutes is true, then . . . the US Congress has a duty to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to impeach George W. Bush, President of the United States . . . The US Constitution demands no less."

The hearing will be re-broadcast on C-SPAN 2 tonight and Friday night (6/17) at 8:00pm EST.
UPDATE: BooMan calls the hearing "a parallel world where the truth is spoken, pollsters and consultants are ignored, and no one hesitates to say that the President and his whole national security apparatus should be frog-marched into Leavenworth prison."

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