Monday, May 28, 2007



If Nancy Pelosi-- however kind her heart is-- insists on keeping impeachment off the table, does that make her an accomplice? I don't think that on this Memorial Day Cindy Sheehan would dispute that. The polar opposite of Cindy Sheehan-- in every way-- however would. And he had something to say today too. He, meaning Dick Cheney, the most hated Vice President of the United States certainly since Spiro Agnew, perhaps since Richard Mentor Johnson or even Aaron Burr. Cheney was let out of his cage cave this Memorial Day weekend to turn graduating cadets at West Point against both the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution. A Republican blogger, Andrew Sullivan, analyzed what Cheney, a notorious draft-dodger, had to say.
He portrays the Geneva Conventions and the Constitution as devices by which al Qaeda can defeat the United States. The effect can only be to undermine respect for both Geneva and the Constitution among West Point cadets and the military in general. In the current debate, Cheney is using a West Point graduation to urge the military to support his disavowal of Geneva and his interpretation of a unitary executive in which the president has indefinite dictatorial powers with respect to "enemy combatants" in the war on terror. Invoking Geneva and the Constitution in a time of war, Cheney implies, is only something terrorists or terrorist-supporters would do. Sticking by Geneva and the Constitution is a function of "delicate sensibilities," which, in Cheney's faux-macho worldview, is about as contemptuous an expression as can be imagined.

Cheney represents the GOP establishment consensus, as expressed in the recent South Carolina debate, and across the Bush-blogosphere. He views both the Geneva Conventions and the Constitution of the United States as obstacles to be overcome in fighting the war on terror, the kind of obstacles only wimps defer to. After all, the Constitution might be read as forbidding the executive branch from detaining a U.S. citizen on American soil, bringing no charges for years, and torturing that citizen in solitary confinement until he is a quivering wreck of a human being. But in the battle between Cheney, Padilla and the constitution, Cheney won-- and Padilla and the Constitution lost.

Cheney seems to believe that the military and the president have taken oaths to defend American lives and American territory and American interests. But of course, presidents and vice-presidents and U.S. servicemembers take no such oath. Servicemembers take the following oath:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Does Cheney understand this oath? Do the Republicans? The Constitution-- not the territory, not the people-- is what the U.S. government is constructed to defend. And yet the current administration clearly views that Constitution as very September 10. We have a year and a half to go under a president and vice-president with this view of the Constitution. If you are not worried, you should be.

Republican Sullivan and ex-Democrat Sheehan are certainly not be the only Americans this Memorial Day who disagree with Speaker Pelosi's decision to not pursue impeachment. In his heartbreaking story about a dead colleague Private Donald Hudson, Jr. of the 86th Airborne Division stationed in Iraq, doesn't mention impeachment. But do read what he has to say and try to guess where he'd stand on the issue.
BAGHDAD, May 12 -- My name is Donald Hudson Jr. I have been serving our country’s military actively for the last three years. I am currently deployed to Baghdad on Forward Operating Base Loyalty, where I have been for the last four and a half months.

I came here as part of the first wave of this so called "troop surge", but so far it has effectively done nothing to quell insurgent violence. I have seen the rise in violence between the Sunni and Shiite. This country is in the middle of a civil war that has been on going since the seventh century.

Why are we here when this country still to date does not want us here? Why does our president’s personal agenda consume him so much, that he can not pay attention to what is really going on here?

Let me tell you a story. On May 10, I was out on a convoy mission to move barriers from a market to a joint security station. It was no different from any other night, except the improvised explosive device that hit our convoy this time, actually pierced through the armor of one of our trucks. The truck was immediately engulfed in flames, the driver lost control and wrecked the truck into one of the buildings lining the street. I was the driver of the lead truck in our convoy; the fifth out of six was the one that got hit. All I could hear over the radio was a friend from the sixth truck screaming that the fifth truck was burning up real bad, and that they needed fire extinguishers real bad. So I turned my truck around and drove through concrete barriers to get to the burning truck as quickly as I could. I stopped 30 meters short of the burning truck, got out and ripped my fire extinguisher out of its holder, and ran to the truck. I ran past another friend of mine on the way to the burning truck, he was screaming something but I could not make it out. I opened the driver’s door to the truck and was immediately overcome by the flames. I sprayed the extinguisher into the door, and then I saw my roommate’s leg. He was the gunner of that truck. His leg was across the driver’s seat that was on fire and the rest of his body was further in the truck. My fire extinguisher died and I climbed into the truck to attempt to save him. I got to where his head was, in the back passenger-side seat. I grabbed his shoulders and attempted to pull him from the truck out the driver’s door. I finally got him out of the truck head first. His face had been badly burned. His leg was horribly wounded. We placed him on a spine board and did our best to attempt "Buddy Aid". We heard him trying to gasp for air. He had a pulse and was breathing, but was not responsive. He was placed into a truck and rushed to the "Green Zone", where he died within the hour. His name was Michael K. Frank. He was 36 years old. He was a great friend of mine and a mentor to most of us younger soldiers here.

Now I am still here in this country wondering why, and having to pick up the pieces of what is left of my friend in our room. I would just like to know what is the true reason we are here? This country poses no threat to our own. So why must we waste the lives of good men on a country that does not give a damn about itself? Most of my friends here share my views, but do not have the courage to say anything.

Happy Memorial Day.

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At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post, Howie.

It made me very sad, in a more specific way that I have been of late.

But, these are the type of personal words from those who are "there" that need to be highlighted.

VG/ Valley Girl

At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Nancy Pelosi, right out of the gate, made the statement about impeachment being off the table??? does she have insight into the future? what may be revealed regarding past transgressions?


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