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The House Ethics Committee, in one of its last acts in a Republican controlled Congress, has dismissed the case against Congressman John Conyers after a three years investigation into the charge that he used taxpayer-paid staffers for campaigning and personal errands.

The case against Mr. Conyers was closed without punitive action or a letter of reproval from the Committee on Standards of Conduct, by the ethics panel, which is comprised of five Democrats and five Republicans

In a report issued just before Democrats take control of Congress on Thursday, the bipartisan committee said Rep. John Conyers of Michigan has acknowledged "'a lack of clarity'" in communications with aides about their duties Reuters

You want some clarity?  Read below.

Why is it important?  

Some of you will remember June 16, 2005 when Congressman Conyers covened a hearing on the Downing Street Minutes, which led to the issuing of the report "The Constitution in Crisis."

After its final revision in January of last year this report has been renamed "George W. Bush versus the U.S. Constitution: The Downing Street Memos and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Cover-ups in the Iraq War and Illegal Domestic Spying,"  Kinda says it all, don't it?

In the hours before that hearing there was a scramble to find a room available in the House Representatives.  In an effort to sabotage the hearings Dennis Hastert assigned them a room in the basement, described as a "large closet".

In a further effort to sabotage the hearings, members of Congress were called out again and again to attend votes.

From then on, they became known as The Basement Hearings, and what was discussed there developed into the agenda of the House Judiciary Committee, now chaired by Congressman John Conyers.

In the media there were, on the day of the hearings, more than 80 news stories trying to impugn Congressman Conyers on some thin but nasty charges from a few disgruntled aides that he had used them as as chauffeurs and babysitters.  These charges were taken out of the mothballs just for this occasion.... to try and undermine Congressman Conyers and disrupt the hearings.  As of today, with the Ethics Committee's decision, those charges will not be resuscitated again.  There's a new Congress convening and they're rolling up their shirtsleeves.... there's mighty work to be done, and Daily Kos can be active participants in that work.

Now many of you will remember June 16, 2005 as the day when members of Congress delivered to the White House Gates petitions for redress of grievances by the Bush administration in the illegal war on Iraq with the signatures of more than 500,000 American citizens.

I want you to look at these pictures and see the exhaustion, the courage and resolution in these people:

There were a plethora of stories trying to cast Congressman Conyers and the hearings' attending members as fools.  The worst of these stories came from Dana Milbank of the Washington Post.

Democrats Play House To Rally Against the War
By Dana Milbank

Friday, June 17, 2005; Page A06

In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe.

They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra flags to make the whole thing look official.

Milbank; Washington Post

And don't miss this one:
Mocking the Downing Street Memo by Robert Parry; June 18, 2005

This is what the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee sounds like on the day when he delivered 500,000 signatures to the White House.  Conyers  And if you listen to this audio you will find your answers to the question "What's it going to take to impeach these bastards?"

Now lets look again at the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee answering charges levelled against him last May:

Conyers Responds To Criticism From Sunday Talk Shows
May 8th, 2006

Rep. John Conyers, Jr (D-Mich.) responded to comments made by Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) on ABC’s This Week that Conyers has participated in mock impeachment hearings of President Bush.

Funny, I don’t remember that hearing. I did organize a Democratic forum on the Downing Street Minutes, but that was not about impeachment, and the Republicans wouldn’t even let us have a room for it

Conyers also responded to Tim Russert’s question to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as to whether Conyers should remove a statement from his website calling for a bi-partisan committee to investigate pre-war intelligence and make recommendations for impeachment.

Perhaps Mr. Russert has forgotten, but I have been a Chairman before. For five years, from 1989 to 1994, I was the Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, now called the Government Reform Committee. I have a record of trying to expose government waste, fraud and abuse.

That was back when Congress did something called "oversight." You know, in our tri-partite system of government, when Congress actually acted like a co-equal branch. The Republican Congress decided to be a rubber stamp for President Bush instead.

Perhaps, if we had a little oversight, we wouldn’t be mired in a war based on false pretenses in which we have lost thousands of our brave men and women in uniform and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis.

Perhaps we would not have had an energy policy drawn up in secret with oil company executives that has led gas prices of more than three dollars per gallon.

Perhaps, if we had a little oversight, we wouldn’t have a prescription drug plan written by the pharmaceutical companies, that prohibits the government from negotiating for lower prices with the same drug companies, and that no one really understands.

Perhaps, if we had a little oversight, we would know the extent to which our own government if spying on our phone calls, emails and other communications, contrary to the law of the land.

Oversight should not be a partisan undertaking. As we saw in the late 90’s, when oversight is used out of anger or spite, or to gain partisan advantage, the American people express their strong disapproval.

Personally, I have had enough partisanship for the last six years to last a lifetime and I think we need to bring the American people back together.

But we also need to serve their interests. Congressional oversight is part of that. It is a check and balance, designed to protect the American people from too much power being concentrated in too few hands.

If I become a Chairman again, I intend to push for oversight of this Administration. Our Constitutional system of government requires no less.

The Hill

There's been a lot of time, space and energy spent on the issue of impeachment.  There's been frustration and disappointment -- even a sense of betrayal -- when Conyers and Pelosi said in no uncertain terms "Impeachment is off the table."

Well, I want you to look at what is ON THE TABLE.  From the Executive Summary of the Conyers' report, while holding in mind that some of the research for the more than 1,200 references in this report was contributed by Daily Kos members.

There is a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violated a number of federal laws, including:

(1) Committing a Fraud against the United States;
(2) Making False Statements to Congress;
(3) The War Powers Resolution;
(4) Misuse of Government Funds;
(5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment;
(6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and
(7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence.

In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration

  •  misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq;
  •  misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war;
  •  countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq;
  •  permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration; and
  •  approved domestic surveillance that is both illegal and unconstitutional.

As further detailed in the Report, there is evidence that these actions violate a number of federal laws, including:

  •  Making False Statements to Congress, for example, saying you have learned Iraq is attempting to buy uranium from Niger, when you have been warned by the CIA that this is not the case.
  •  The War Powers Resolution and Misuse of Government Funds, for example, redeploying troops and initiating bombing raids before receiving congressional authorization.
  •  Federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, for example, ordering detainees to be ghosted and removed, and tolerating and laying the legal ground work for their torture and mistreatment.
  •  Federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals, for example, demoting Bunnatine Greenhouse, the chief contracting officer at the Army Corps of Engineers, because she exposed contracting abuses involving Halliburton.
  •  Federal requirements concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence, for example, failing to enforce the executive order requiring disciplining those who leak classified information, whether intentional or not.
  •  Federal regulations and ethical requirements governing conflicts of interest, for example, then Attorney General John Aschcroft ’s being personally briefed on FBI interviews concerning possible misconduct by Karl Rove even though Mr. Rove had previously received nearly $750,000 in fees for political work on Mr. Ashcroft ’s campaigns
  •  Violating FISA and the Fourth Amendment, for example intercepting thousands ofcommunications "to or from any person within the United States, " without obtaining a warrant.
  •  The Stored Communications Act of 1986 and the Communications Act of 1934, for example, obtaining millions of U.S. customer telephone records without obtaining a subpoena or warrant, without customer consent, and outside of any applicable "emergency exceptions."
  •  The National Security Act, for example, failing to keep all Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees "fully and currently informed " of intelligence activities, such as the warrantless surveillance programs.

With regard to NSA’s domestic surveillance programs, we have also found that members of the Bush Administration made a number of misleading statements regarding its operation and scope; the legal justifications proffered by the Bush
Administration are constitutionally destabilizing; there is little evidence the programs have been beneficial in combating terrorism and may have affirmatively placed
terrorism prosecutions at risk; and the programs appear to have designed and implemented in a manner designed to stifle legitimate concerns.

The Report rejects the frequent contention by the Bush Administration that their pre-war conduct has been reviewed and they have been exonerated. No entity has ever considered whether the Administration misled Americans about the decision to go to war. The Senate Intelligence Committee has not yet conducted a review of pre-war intelligence distortion and manipulation, while the presidentially appointed Silberman-Robb Commission Report specifically cautioned that intelligence manipulation "was not part of our inquiry."

There has also not been any independent independent review of the pattern of cover-ups and political retribution by the Bush Administration against its critics, other than the very narrow and still ongoing inquiry of Special Counsel Fitzgerald into the outing of Valerie Plame.

This, and more, is what's ON THE TABLE.

If you want to join in the effort to bring these issues to hearings I suggest you join the Congressional Committees Project.

Originally posted to suskind on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 05:19 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  unite and conquer (23+ / 0-)

    the dawn of a new Congress, and the House Judiciary with subpoena power.

    If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And when I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? Hillel 1st Century

    by suskind on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 05:30:44 PM PST

  •  I brushed up your Tags to bring them into (6+ / 0-)

    conformance with standard usage. Please use the linked search function to find the correct form for Tags. Names require first and last names, and middle initial when necessary (e.g. W. or H.W.). Set to:
    "or fewer than [3] diary/diaries". Thanks.
    The media are going about an organized relentless campaign of ridiculing, demeaning and impugning the reputations of all Democrats. It is a classic domination technique that men have been using against women since sexism first reared its ugly head. The other main methods, as outlined by Berit Ås are:

    1. Making invisible
    1. Ridiculing
    1. Withholding of information
    1. Double punishment
    1. Heaping blame and putting to shame

    The hit pieces are going to get worse, so we need to hit back by ridiculing the media for failing to cover the real news and instead behaving like schoolyard bullies.

    •  thanks for cleaning up my tags (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Halcyon, joyful

      i disagree about the prognosis for the next two years, as far as the media and hit pieces, but i understand your forecast.

      If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And when I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? Hillel 1st Century

      by suskind on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 05:36:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I see what they're doing with Obama. (5+ / 0-)

        For a few weeks they built him up as a frontrunner, then started knocking im down with 'Where's Obama' and now the dredged up teenage drug experimentation, and smoking. What will the dump on Edwards? They've been doing it to Hillary and Nancy in the classic misogynistic manner. Do they do this to Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe? How about Sue Kelly? Where have we seen them ridicule and make a federal case out of having staff babysit for Republicans?

        •  in my opinion (5+ / 0-)

          the focus is more on the office of the executive (i.e. unprecedented abuse of signing statements.... was the AUMF legal? etc) and presidential power than who fills it in 2008.

          If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And when I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? Hillel 1st Century

          by suskind on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 05:51:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  unfortunately... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            the focus will also be on the investigators.  With these people (and I use that phrase intentionally) the focus will ALWAYS be on those shining the light of truth on the ugly and illegal activities of the last 6 years in the White House.

            I wouldn't believe Bush if his tongue became notarized (h/t to shanti2)

            by billlaurelMD on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 07:11:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  swamped (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              they'll be swamped.  all of this stuff (save the signing statements) was done in plain sight.... unlike Nixon.

              the only thing they'll have to debate is the proper interpretation of the Constitution.... and since Bush's legal team... Gonzales and Yoo, Bybee et al are nothing but henchmen... this will not be impossibly contentious when these crimes are exposed to the light of day.

              If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And when I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? Hillel 1st Century

              by suskind on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 07:43:56 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  The media can be reformed (0+ / 0-)
      if a network starts showing the real news and taking the audience away from the sad excuse for mainstream media that we currently have.

      That's the idea behind Independent World Television/The Real News. For those who haven't heard about it, and even those who have (I think you have, Halcyon), please see last night's "We'll go where the facts take us": Interview with Paul Jay, IWT/The Real News, Part 3 (which also links to Parts 1 and 2). If you're hungry for more, send me e-mail at alanfordean AT-SIGN yahoo DOT com, and I'll notify you this evening when I post Part 4, and tomorrow when I post Part 5. Or you can subscribe to my diaries, if you prefer.

  •  Front and Center (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    suskind, abbeysbooks

    If Democrats don't hold investigations with impeachment on the table, what's the point of holding investigations?  Investigating for the hell of it smacks of obstructrionism and pettiness, and wasting the people's time and money.  Investigating in order to hold people accountable for the consequences of their actions, that looks like leadership.

    •  my understanding (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Creosote, think blue

      my understanding from Congressman Conyers and Liz Holtzmann is that impeachment is not the business of the investigations, but is the business of the people.... without popular support in the millions it will not happen.... the onus is on the American people.

      If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And when I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? Hillel 1st Century

      by suskind on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 06:15:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  something to consider (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AlanF, Creosote, think blue

        email from John Conyers

        March 13, 2006

        Is There a Case for Impeachment?

        I appeared last week at a Harper’s Magazine forum which addressed the conduct of the Bush Administration and whether it has committed crimes that rise to the level of impeachment. A crowd of 1,500 enthusiastically heard from several experts and me as we discussed the tyranny of a President acting to commit a fraud against the United States.

        Action Center

        •  Become a Citizen Cosponsor of House Resolution 635
        •  Donate - Get a signed copy of the Constitution in Crisis by Chicago Academy Publishers with a foreward by Joe Wilson
        •  Watch the Harper's Forum online
        •  Send a Letter to the Editor Supporting House Resolution 635

        I need your help to build the case for an impeachment investigation.

        I have conducted an exhaustive study on this subject and believe that we must begin the process to investigate this administration for possible impeachable offenses. As former congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman noted at the forum, a groundswell of public support is necessary for impeachment proceedings to succeed. There was overwhelming public support for pursuing a case against Richard Nixon, while these same conditions did not exist when the Republicans tried to impeach President Clinton. Public opinion is on our side and now is the time to make a difference.

        Become a Citizen Cosponsor

        I have introduced House Resolution 635 to create a special committee to investigate whether the president's misconduct rises to the level of impeachment. 29 Members of Congress have already joined me as cosponsors. Lend your support. Help build momentum to enact this legislation by joining the more than 42,000 concerned Americans who have already signed on as Citizen Cosponsors at: Citizen Cosponsors H Res 635, or encourage your friends to sign up.

        Watch the Harper’s forum

        You can watch "Is There a Case for Impeachment?" online here:
        Hapers Impeachment Forum

        Read the Report

        Read the Constitution in Crisis, A 182-page report with over 1,000 footnotes covering the entire spectrum of deception, manipulation, torture, retribution and cover-ups by the Bush Administration. It can be found online here: Constitution in Crisis

        Write a Letter to the Editor
        Visit this link to write a letter to the editor in support of House Resolution 635.  letter to editor

        Thank you for working to help build a better democracy.


        John Conyers

        If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And when I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? Hillel 1st Century

        by suskind on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 10:15:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Investigation of crimes... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Creosote, Skennet Boch, suskind

      of this magnitude are going to take a huge number of person-hours (does that work OK for you?). The investigations may very well extend beyond the lifetime of the Bush Administration. I believe that a huge part of the outcry for impeachment is the fear that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney are going to engineer Presidential pardons for even the least members of BushCo, thus cheating justice. I admit this fear, too.

      I guess it's a chance we have to take. Let impeachment take a back seat. Let investigation take the front seat as long as it is necessary. The penalty for impeachment/conviction is minimal. BushCo. is guilty of crimes against humanity. The penalty for such crimes is more severe and more appropriate than the penalty for "high crimes and misdemeanors" as described in our Constitution. Saying it more plainly: I would like to see Messrs Bush and Cheney and all of their henchmen (and henchwomen) serve life sentences (no possibility of parole) in hardtime prisons. No Club Fed. If, after that is inalterably accomplished, and a Constitutional impeachment and trial is deemed appropriate and necessary, then let that be done.

      Equally plainly said: we must try our best to do what must be done to see that these bastards are not let off the hook the way that Nixon was. They are far worse criminals than Nixon and his people ever were. BushCo and its allies tried to destroy this country. They are still trying! They may yet succeed. We must do whatever we have to do to defeat them. They have already shown that they are willing to do what ever they must do to defeat the Liberal/Progressive elements in this country.

      "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

      by jayatRI on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 09:02:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a bit late for this response (0+ / 0-)

        but I can't let your points go unanswered:

         1) Your first argument is one for academics and is analogous to saying that because it can take a lifetime to fully understand Shakespeare's plays, we cannot perform one next year.  Academics will be researching these issues for generations, yes.  It's pure liberal stereotype to say that that negates the possibility of responsible action now.

         2) The function of impeachment is not punishment or revenge or whatever you want to call it.  The function is the removal of the reins of government from a leader who cannot be trusted to uphold the Constitution which is the basis on which he yields power.  Its function is to prevent further crimes by a democratically elected leader and the further devolution of a democratic state into an arbitrary and despotic one.  I couldn't care less about presidential pardons right now.

        Focussing on retribution at the expense of immediate prevention of further crimes sounds like putting partisanship before the protection of our constitutional form of government.  To me, it is the least defensible position.

        •  think blue, we are not... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          think blue

          at odds with one another here. While I am trying to come across as pragmatic (I just don't think we have the votes for a conviction in the Senate) perhaps I am actually coming across as too pessimistic.

          I am reasonably confident that the Dems could win an impeachment vote in the House, because all of a sudden there are a lot of practical Republican Members. However, I am equally pessimistic about a conviction in the Senate. I am afraid that an unconvicted Bush would emerge from the Senate trial much more powerful and popular than he is today. That increment of power and popularity might be enough to help him to continue to get what he wants in Iraq and in other contexts as well. It possibly might help the Republican candidate for President in 2008, whoever he/she might be.

          Please let's be careful about what we wish for.

          Please let's continue to investigate BushCo and gather as much evidence against it as we possibly can. Let's use that evidence in U.S. District Courts if we can, and in other venues if we must. I haven't changed my mind about as many of these bastards going to prison as possible. I simply believe we must not play softball while the Republicans are never going to stop playing hardball.

          I have a question for you. I'm not asking this question to be a wise guy, but because I really don't know the answer: how many impeached/convicted U.S public officials have gone to prison solely on the basis of a U.S. Senate conviction?

          "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

          by jayatRI on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 12:31:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Another late reply (0+ / 0-)

            Well, I don't really know the answer to that question, and if a US Senate conviction can lead to jail time in and of itself, then you may know more than I do.

            Thanks for reminding me that we're not at odds about our opinion of Bush's criminality.  But in your reply, I see another strategic difference.  I believe that pragmatism in this case is not only counterproductive but also not rational.  An impeachment proceeding, with subpoena power, would open up a can of worms the outcome of which can't be guessed until it happens.  Political realities may change extremely quickly.  We live in a culture that's polling the 2008 presidential race as though that means anything.  We have to remember that it doesn't.  Analysis based on prediction is usually meaningless and often worse.

            Another difference is that Democrats are constantly afraid of doing something that will give Bush more power.  Some are even squeamish about making any strong policy statements about the war, thinking it will let Bush blame us for his mess.

            Bush in these last two years won't act like a lame duck president.  He's going for broke, in every way.  When are we going to take him seriously?

            There's one thing that's certain to help the Republican candidate in 2008 - a Democratic Congress that refuses to go out on a limb, that refuses to fight, that is too afraid to be wrong to do anything right.

            We agree that Democrats need to play hardball.  I guess we disagree about what that looks like...

  •  Thanks. I love love love seeing this stuff. (5+ / 0-)

    Let the long-awaited investigations begin, and may they roll far and wide.

    We will never eliminate poverty in America unless we do it comprehensively and more incrementalism. - John Edwards

    by Gorette on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 06:00:13 PM PST

  •  Excellent. You doing a Conyers Report Daily? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    libnewsie, suskind

    I would love to see some close coverage on dKos of Conyers, Waxman, Leahy, etc.  That and some good popcorn.

    Thanks for the link -- I just recommended and subscribed.

    Happy little moron, lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, my God, perhaps I am! -- Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 07:51:44 PM PST

  •  beautiful diary, suskind (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I watched a lot of that going down with Conyers through his posts here, which were frequent and intense.

    Here's his diary on the relase of the "Constitution in Crisis Final Report."

  •  Big Rec. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, suskind

    Senator John Conyers is The Man.

    Having him chair Judiciary is picture-perfect, and will keep BushCo from at least some of their planned moves to screw the American People.

    Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why. - Kurt Vonnegut -8.88 -5.08

    by SecondComing on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 08:57:23 PM PST

  •  Thanks for this - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I followed your earlier link regarding "hitting the bricks."

    Beautiful, arduous, and valuable work.

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