How to Impeach a President
2006, The Center for Constitutional Rights
Producers: Valerie Merians and Dennis Johnson, Melville House Productions Director: Dennis Johnson
Based on the book “Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush,” 143 p.
Run Time: 29 minutes

In less than a half hour, ordinary citizens can learn from constitutional scholars how to proceed thru CCR’s five-step strategy to impeach the president. With one member of Congress recently introducing Articles of Impeachment (Cynthia McKinney), all that remains is for citizens to begin lobbying their representatives to support impeachment.

Four articles of impeachment against Bush are outlined in the DVD and detailed in the book of the same title. The book also appends the Articles of Impeachment against Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974, and Bill Clinton in 1998, although David Swanson reports that Bush is the tenth president to face such action.

The film explains the procedure and the book further clarifies it: “[T]he sole penalty faced by those undergoing impeachment is removal from office and disqualification from further office.” The book advises that, “Conviction comes only upon a two thirds vote of the Senate.”

The five-step strategy is simple:

* Know the rules. A history of impeachment is provided to show how to rid the nation of a tyrant.

* Focus your argument. Pick the best examples of impeachable offenses.

* Make a strong case. Bush is quoted from public statements.

* Don’t be deterred. CCR continually asserts this can only be successful if the grassroots embraces it and takes action.

* Take action. Several ideas are suggested, by downloading materials from the website: send the impeachment resolution to your local government or state legislature; circulate a petition; send a copy of “Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush” to your congressperson free of charge; and write letters to your local media.

Citizens should probably consider sending a copy of McKinney’s Articles,, rather than seeking another representative to introduce CCR’s Articles.

The best part about the film is that ordinary citizens are given the tools of self-empowerment, which can lead to the peaceful removal of the man never legally elected to the White House.

Former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney took up the cause, in her final act before leaving Congress. On December 8th, McKinney charged Bush with lying to justify an illegal war, with allowing Dick Cheney and Condi Rice to lie in justifying an illegal war (and impeaches them, as well), and with illegal domestic spying.

CCR considers two other egregious acts: torture and illegal detentions, and seizing powers reserved solely for Congress. (The Boston Globe reported in 2006 that Bush broke 750 laws thru “signing statements.”) While the CCR’s case addresses more abuse of power than did McKinney, of all the members of the House only McKinney had the backbone to formally submit any Articles of Impeachment.

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has made clear that she will not entertain proposals to sanction Bush and has warned the ‘liberal wing’ of her party against making political hay of impeachment,” according to AP writer, Ben Evans. Instead of addressing the issues raised in McKinney’s Articles, Evans focuses on an incident where McKinney struck a Capitol police officer, and mocks her as a conspiracy theorist for holding investigative panels on the incidents surrounding 9/11.

TruthOut’s Matt Pascarella reports that “in the November election, 60 percent of the voters in (Pelosi’s) district cast ballots in favor of Proposition J, a measure calling for the impeachment of President Bush.”

John Conyers (D-MI) advised Pascarella that the Resolution would not be reintroduced, saying the issue is “off the table.” In 2005, he introduced HR 365, calling for a special committee to investigate the Administration. Such an investigation would likely lead to the discovery of impeachable offenses, Pascarella advised.

That Pelosi refuses to implement the will of the people in her own district can be no surprise, given the Democratic Party’s support of Bush’s extremist policies, including torture, spying on citizens, and the elimination of habeas corpus.

That US citizens have yet to develop a persuasive strategy, Congress’ behavior is not surprising either. Perhaps citizens await a viable plan for their voices to be heard, for a living wage, for honest, verifiable elections, for sound energy policies, for equal access to public airwaves, for quality education and health care, and for sound fiscal policies that keep jobs in-sourced.

“Find out just what people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue till they are resisted ... The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” Frederick Douglass, African-American slave, and, later, abolitionist, writer and activist.

The courageous actions of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and of Cynthia McKinney, can only succeed when US citizens, in huge numbers, follow through. Whether this tactic is worth pursuing is in the hands of the American electorate.