Rocky Anderson's status as a national anti-war figure continues to grow, and along with it, so do his convictions.
The Salt Lake mayor has spoken against President Bush and the war in Iraq at two Salt Lake protests and one in Washington, D.C. But this week, he isn't just calling for an end to the war: He's calling for an end to the Bush presidency.
Anderson has been invited to Olympia, Wash., by first-term Washington state Sen. Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland, to testify Thursday before state lawmakers on a resolution calling on Congress to investigate and possibly impeach Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
"It's been obvious, I'm sure, that I've wanted to see an end to the disastrous and immoral policies of the Bush administration, but never before was I so absolutely convinced as I am now that impeachment and removal from office is not only appropriate, but morally and legally compelled," Anderson said Tuesday. "I firmly believe that our nation is at its lowest point ever morally, legally and in terms of its relations with the rest of the world."
Several other state legislatures including those in California, Illinois, Minnesota and New Mexico have considered similar impeachment resolutions in the past year. Oemig's resolution cites the now-discredited reasons Bush gave for invading Iraq, warrantless electronic surveillance of U.S. citizens, and accusations of illegal imprisonment and torture of Americans designated as "enemy combatants" as reasons impeachment may be in order.
"Such offenses, if committed, are subversive of constitutional government to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice," the resolution reads.
And if those things don't justify impeachment, Anderson said, "I don't know under what circumstances impeachment would ever be appropriate."
Meanwhile, Enid Greene, chairwoman of the Utah Republican Party, called Anderson's trip to Olympia "embarrassing on many, many levels," and she accused him of political grandstanding.
"He wouldn't be getting attention if he was mayor of, say, somewhere in Vermont," Greene said. "Rocky uses the fact that he is mayor of Salt Lake City to gain personal attention for his personal political agenda."
She said that, as a lawyer, Anderson should recognize that Bush hasn't been accused of "anything approaching" high crimes and misdemeanors, for which the U.S. Constitution prescribes impeachment.
But Anderson disagrees.
"Any review of what the founders had in mind when they drafted the impeachment clause of the Constitution would make it abundantly clear that the outrageous abuses of power, the violations of our Constitution and of sacred treaty obligations, the dictatorial assumption of powers and derogation of the balance of power between the three branches of government implicit in our democracy and the disgraceful human rights abuses are far beyond anything that would have to be established to demonstrate a high crime or misdemeanor," he said.
"All of these actions have been incredibly injurious to this country, unlike the perjury by President Clinton in a private lawsuit that had virtually no ramifications on the welfare of this nation."
Oemig's resolution, though, is also being questioned by some Democrats. Two of Washington's Democratic congressional representatives, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Jay Inslee, have said the calls for impeachment distract from efforts in Congress to end the war in Iraq.
Anderson has little patience for those concerns, calling them "sadly reflective of how incredibly timid and irresponsible so many members of Congress, including Democrats, have been while these atrocities have been committed in the name of our country, with virtually no accountability."
The mayor said the Olympia trip does not signal a new campaign on his part to push for impeachment, and he has no other speeches or trips planned related to it. "But I will do everything that I can to achieve accountability by an administration for the most heinous and immoral conduct ever undertaken by a president and his administration."
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