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Looking for some interesting reading over the holidays? News Hits recommends that you check out The Constitution in Crisis. Produced at the request of U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), the report was compiled by Democratic staff members on the House Judiciary Committee, on which Conyers serves. The 182-page document (not including voluminous footnotes), subtitled “The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Cover-ups in the Iraq War,” offers a compelling indictment of President George W. Bush and his administration’s actions leading up to the war in Iraq, and the transgressions that have occurred since the invasion was launched.

What’s that? You haven’t heard of the report? Don’t be too hard on yourself — the opus hasn’t been getting much ink. But it deserves broad attention. As the report’s executive summary notes:

“In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President, and other high ranking members of the Bush administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such a war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted retaliation against critics of their administration.”

Add to that list Bush’s authorization of apparently illegal wiretaps, which The New York Times exposed earlier this month.

The Conyers report says there’s evidence the president and members of his administration violated a number of federal laws, with the charges “clearly” rising to the level of impeachable conduct. But, “because the Bush Administration and Republican-controlled Congress have blocked the ability of members to obtain information directly from the Administration concerning these matters, more investigatory authority is needed before recommendations can be made regarding specific Articles of Impeachment.” To address that problem, Conyers is calling on Congress to “establish a select committee with subpoena authority to investigate, and then report back” to the Judiciary Committee.

Conyers is also pressing Congress to censure Bush and Cheney. Censure, essentially, is a formal reprimand that, aside from the embarrassment, carries no punishment.

At this point, unless we missed the news flash reporting that hell’s been buried in a blizzard, that’s not going to happen. Like Conyers says, the GOP has a lock on Congress. But can anyone say “midterm elections”?

Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), told the publication Roll Call that Conyers is acting “irresponsibly.” And Ann Marie Hauser, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, told the Associated Press that if Conyers “spent half the time condemning terrorism that he does condemning the President of the United States, he would be a credible voice in the war on terror.”

Credit Conyers for ignoring that crap. He’s been steadfast in his attempts to expose the lawless nature of the Bush administration, and this report does a great service by documenting a growing list of offenses that, taken together, reveal the extent to which our democracy is being undermined.

For an additional take on this issue, check out Jack Lessenberry’s column this week. You can find the report itself online at www.house.gov/conyers. We also suggest you check out the Web site censurebush.org to see the latest dope on this issue, and to learn how you can join others in taking action to support Conyers’ legislative efforts.

Considering all he’s done, we’ll let Conyers himself have the last word. Addressing the contention that all this is a rehashing of allegations that have already been proven untrue, the congressman said in a press release that the report flatly “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 ...”

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