Impeachment group gains steam


The newly formed Virginians for Peace and Accountability is coming off the wake of its first public event airing reasons to impeach President Bush and putting final touches on an agenda that petitions the Alexandria City Council to pass a resolution for impeachment.

As citizens of the United States, VPA members say that impeachment is not only a constitutional right, but an imperative because the administration acted unlawfully and has not been held accountable for its actions.

We reflect the sentiments of millions across the country, said Howard Jennings, one of the root members of the group, which includes Democrats, Republicans and members of the Green Party as well. Shouldnt we all stand up and hold the Executive Branch accountable? asked Greg Wierzbicki, another VPA member.

Of the core group of VPA, Jennings lives in the northern end of Old Town. Wierzbicki lives in Fairfax Station, and others are from Herndon, Woodbridge and Arlington. All are passionate about their cause.

We feel the most important thing is this man [Bush] and Cheney have vowed to defend the Constitution and they have not done that, said member Nancy Maynard.

Their carefully planned town hall forum held June 23 at George Mason University, conveyed the message about presidential accountability and got many people riled up.

The actions the VPA is protesting stem from the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. The group claims the Bush Administration is conducting unauthorized wiretapping, torture, secrecy and lying all legitimate reasons for impeachment.

In my case, its our children to worry about. Theyve turned into dictators and theyre getting away with it. I feel badly for our kids, said Sarah Stott.

According to VPA, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, is also in the crosshairs since she recently took the option of impeachment off the table.

They didnt go far enough to reach the other side of the argument, Wierzbicki said.

We had a very difficult time of finding someone to speak out in support of the other side, he said.

Forum speakers
The VPA did invite Rep. Tom Davis (R-11th), but he declined to attend, said Wierzbicki. Fairfax Republican Gil Davis did attend and spoke against impeachment, but he was in the minority, though they respected him for speaking out. At all these anti-Bush events we tend to see the same people over and over, said David Bell, a member from Woodbridge.

At the forum, Barbara Olshansky, a lawyer for the Guatanamo detainees and a professor at the Stanford Law School, was part of the panel along with Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

That was our first event of any proportion, added Bob Crowe, a resident of Jefferson Park in Alexandria. I say it was a rousing success.

With the word impeachment, there will always be comparisons to Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. This group is no different, though they didnt seem too worried about Clintons extramarital affair or his lying under oath. Nixon was another story.

He left office, that was a good outcome, said Wierzbicki.

There are about 15 core members of VPA, and three times that many that are in touch through e-mail. Most of the core members have past affiliations with political activism as well. Wierzbicki, Maynard and Crowe worked on Democrat Jim Webbs campaign for Senate, while Stott was a volunteer coordinator for a House race. Ron Fisher, a member of the Green Party, is running this fall for the 49th District delegate seat.

The reaction on the street has been positive for the most part, even at a roadside sign-waving event the group conducted with the Prince William Peacemakers in Vienna.

It seemed to be nine thumbs up for every middle finger,  Bell said.

The groups calendar is loosely set for further impeachment steps. A meeting with Davis is set for August; a Congressional forum at GMU is scheduled for Oct. 20; Maynard is having a peace booth at the upcoming Prince William County Fair; and Crowe is going to work on the petition to the Alexandria City Council. Council wont reconvene until September.

This is a constitutional crisis, said Crowe.