Interview With Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Bernstein: Dennis Kucinich's decision to introduce 35 articles of impeachment against Bush and Cheney in the House has sent reverberations across official
Joining us from the Capitol of this country is Representative Dennis Kucinich of
Dennis Kucinich: Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to be on.
Dennis Bernstein: It is good to have you with us. Let's begin this way. Let's cut to the quick and tell us what you see as being at the core of your call to impeach the President and the Vice President.
Dennis Kucinich: An attempt to destroy constitutional governance by violating numerous constitutional provisions, U.S. code and international law, taking us into a war based on lies, making a false case for the war, saying falsely that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that it had the intention of attacking the United States, that there was a readiness to imminently attack, pursuing policies of torture, illegal detention, wiretapping, spying, rendition. I mean, there's...you know these articles...
Dennis Bernstein: You say these are... When you say rendition, you are talking about kidnapping...
Dennis Kucinich: Right. Kidnapping someone against their will, moving them to another country, where they're tortured. These 35 articles, which anyone can go to the Web and - any source you want to look at -type in Kucinich impeachment articles...There's probably a few hundred thousand references already. You will, if you read the articles, you will see that if a pattern has been laid out that gives plenty of information to the Judiciary Committee and gives rise to not just hearings, but I think we have provided enough evidence to lay the basis for the impeachment.
Dennis Bernstein: Well, let me ask you this. What has been the response of official
Dennis Kucinich: Yes. Congressman Wexler, Congresswomen Woolsey and Lee have signed on. Other members of Congress have indicated that they will be signing on in the next few days. I think that this resolution is seen as an opportunity for a re-establishment of the imbalance of power which has happened over the last six years in this country since 9-11, where the President, through deception, has seized enormous amounts of power and has diminished the role of the legislative branch through deception. This gives Congress an opportunity to re-establish itself as a co-equal branch of government, providing an effective check and balance to executive abuse of power. This is what the founders anticipated in putting in the Constitution, in seven different places, the impeachment power and in making the House the sole guardian of that power. And so this is really an attempt to re-establish democratic governance, have the principle of accountability and the rule of law made central again to our public affairs and to take
Dennis Bernstein: You're listening to Flashpoints on
Dennis Kucinich: Of course, people are saying, this is a distraction. Yeah, we were distracted in 2002 by a President who said, "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. It's going to attack us." That was a distraction. He took us into a war that killed over 4,000 of our brave young men and women who served this country, as well as caused the deaths of over a million innocent Iraqis. So, there's really a question here as to whether or not sound moral principles are going to be governing our conduct of office. If we have information and sufficient reason to believe that this President has committed crimes, we have an obligation, whether there's an election around the corner or not, to enter, you know, to move forward. Not only for the sake of history, but also for the sake of informing the next administration that such abuses of power will not be tolerated, and that we have a government of laws, not men.
Dennis Bernstein: And what do you say is the responsibility of those of your colleagues who know and turn a blind eye. Is there a special responsibility?
Dennis Kucinich: Well, we need to open their eyes, and open their hearts to what's happened to our country over the last seven years. We've lost our country to deception, to fear. We need to regain our country. We need to regain America's moral standing, not only before the eyes of our own people, but before the eyes of the world. We need a program which will lead us to truth and reconciliation. Impeachment was put in the Constitution for the sake of protecting the democracy. And so, you know. what I believe is that this, this is a time where we need to, if we're going to make a new beginning in January, let it be a new beginning that showed that we were dedicated to the law. Let it be a new beginning that showed that no executive in the future will ever be tolerated telling lies that take us into a war that resulted in such destruction and an imperial world.
Dennis Bernstein: And tell us a little bit about how you see this. These are obviously articles of impeachment that add up in your position to high crimes and misdemeanors. What about war crimes? How do they... Do you believe...
Dennis Kucinich: Article VIII of the articles of impeachment establishes a very clear context for war crimes prosecution. The Geneva Conventions have, provide protections for civilian populations. Those protections have been suspended. The administration, on issues of torture and other things, has said that they don't believe that they apply. They have essentially set aside the Geneva Conventions. There are various protocols that I cite in the, in Article VIII that relate to the responsibility, command responsibility of the President as a civil authority, as well as the Commander in Chief, for taking, for ordering the American armed forces to attack Iraq without just cause. If you read the Nuremburg principles, they seem to fit neatly with the condition that we've found ourselves. What I say is that under the Constitution, under Article 1, section 8, Congress has authority to cause the laws of nations in this country to be enforced. Article 1, section 8 also is the article that deals with the power of war. And so, what I'm saying is that the Congress of the United States should take action to bring this president into account. Because if we don't, it's very clear if you read article VIII that he's put himself within the reach and scope of an international prosecution. We need to, we need to clean our own house here and do it in a way that shows the world that we are a citadel of democracy and that we prize respect for the law and that we put the highest accountability and responsibility onto the person who holds the highest office.
Dennis Bernstein: In that regard, in terms of the global and the world responsibility, in preparing for your articles of impeachment, representative Kucinich, have you investigated the charges that have now come up in Italy that also include trials and investigations into Blackwater? Is that all a part of this investigation?
Dennis Kucinich: No. These articles were drafted before that, and so I would, or were finalized. It doesn't mean that in a subsequent draft, we couldn't bring forward new information. The fact is, new information keeps coming forward all the time. Listeners on your station and others are fully familiar with new stories that emerge every day that could be within the scope of an impeachable offense. I've, you know, I just had someone in my office today who raised that question. So, you know, I think we're at a point where we need to be prepared if the Judiciary Committee does not act within 30 days, to come back with the same articles plus some new ones. And I am prepared to do that. Actually, I started this process with about 60 articles, pared them down to 35 in the interest of time, and still found that to read them on the floor of the House took almost five hours.
Dennis Bernstein: Now, back to your issue in terms of being accused of distraction. Now what they would also say is that we have a liberal who would say he's going to end the war, Barrack Obama. All energy needs to go to Barrack Obama. What's your response? Say a little bit more about that.
Dennis Kucinich: This has nothing to do with Barrack Obama. I mean, you know, or the Democratic party, or the party's hopes for an election. You know, you can not set that into, on the scale here. Because this is the scale of justice. The scale of justice cannot have partisan interest involved. It contaminates. And so what we have to do is proceed based on the law and the evidence, and, you know, we're told that if we know the Truth, the Truth sets us free. What would it profit us to have a new president who felt that he was licensed to do the same thing that President Bush is doing? That's why we can move now to establish a threshold of conduct for, a new threshold of conduct for a President, a President of the United States. And if we don't do it now, then we cannot expect that the next president will be in a position of expecting to be held accountable for something that this president was not held accountable for.
Dennis Bernstein: Have you attempted to speak with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as you know we're in her home district here in the Bay Area - has there been any exchange between you or your staff or her staff on this that we should know about or could know about?
Dennis Kucinich: You know, I have a great deal of respect for the Speaker. I consider her a friend. I voted for her for Speaker. And I did it proudly. This is a matter which, as a member of Congress, I brought to the floor of the House, under the privileges of the House, to impeach the President. I would ask the Speaker as I would as every other member of Congress to look at the evidence and to make a decision based on the evidence, not on any preconceived notion as to whether it's appropriate with respect to an election. Because if we fail to stand for the Constitution because we're concerned about whether it's the politically correct thing to do, then we have failed in our obligation and in our oath of office. So I'm --, again, I would certainly hope to have a discussion with the Speaker about this, but I proceeded in a manner that respects my, the scope of duties of my office.
Dennis Bernstein: You began this conversation with us, which we appreciate very much, Representative Kucinich, by talking about a massive response - I think you said over 100,000, or several hundred thousand responses... Now what if, have you had any responses from people or places you didn't expect to get support or positive responses?
Dennis Kucinich: Well, what I was alluding to is that if someone wanted to go to the Internet, they could just go in and you know, write, search for articles of impeachment by Dennis Kucinich and they can get hundreds of thousands of hits on that. Now we have been getting in my office, I guess it is fair to say, thousands of calls in my offices. And I think, you know, they're running very strongly in favor of proceeding. Now again, if you, if a president is popular, you don't fail to move forward with an impeachment just because he‘s popular. If a president is unpopular, you don't move forward with an impeachment simply because he is unpopular. You move forward with an impeachment if the facts present themselves in such a way as to require that the matter be brought to attention. It was only a week ago that the United States Senate brought forward a report where the Senate Intelligence Committee, under Senator Jay Rockefeller, said that - and I will have it within reach here, and I will quote this to you: "The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded, after reviewing the intelligence involving the war, in making the case for war, the administration repeated presented intelligence as fact, when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed." That's a direct quote. So, you know, we, you know, when I saw that I said, "No, I cannot wait any longer. What are we waiting for here?"
Dennis Bernstein: But he said, "But we can't do anything now because we've got an election."
Dennis Kucinich: Well, you know what? That's the Senate. The Senate doesn't have the power of impeachment. The House does. And so, you know, we need to act. And we need to act now. If you can look at the damage that was done over seven years and imagine the more damage that could be done in six months...
Dennis Bernstein: And when you say "damage," are you talking about the damage abroad and at home as we watch dams falling over and infrastructure crumbling?
Dennis Kucinich: Everything. Physical destruction, destruction of our civil liberties, destruction of the rule of law, destruction of the Constitution, raising the level of fear in this country... We really need to reclaim something deeper in America here. And that's, that's really what I'm intent on helping to facilitate. And the articles of impeachment are based on fact; they're not based on fiction. They're certainly not based on any partisan intent because if a Democratic president was involved in conduct that I thought needed scrutiny, I've said that in the past and I'll say it again.
Dennis Bernstein: Finally, what is your next job in this context and what do you think people who want to support you or learn more or be a part of this, what role do you think they can play or should play?
Dennis Kucinich: Simply contact your member of Congress and ask for the Judiciary Committee to have hearings. You know, I'm not trying to put my thumb on the scale of justice here. I put forward something that said that we ought to have hearings on this. And if they don't have hearings, then we've got a problem. Have hearings. Make a decision. That's what I'm trying to achieve.
Dennis Bernstein: They've got thirty days. They don't do anything, what do you do?
Dennis Kucinich: I come back with another resolution, and vote for it again.
Dennis Bernstein: All right.
Dennis Kucinich: And so it's not going to go away. You know, it's, you know, when democracy becomes inconvenient, we've got a problem.
Dennis Bernstein: All right. We're going to leave it right there. I want to thank you very much. We've been speaking with Representative Dennis Kucinich, Democrat from Ohio, about his 35 articles of impeachment that he has recently has introduced on the floor of the House of Representatives. Thank you so much for being with us on Flashpoints.
Dennis Kucinich: Thank you.