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Democratic presidential candidate Kucinich warns, 'If Bush attacks Iran, all bets are off'

Miriam Raftery
Published: Sunday January 14, 2007
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While making an unannounced appearance at a media reform conference on Friday, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) - a candidate for president in 2004 and already announced for 2008 - was pressed by bloggers in attendance about impeachment.

Telling the crowd that while he didn't think immediate action was wise, due to fears that Bush might "accelerate the war even more," the congressman warned that "if Bush attacks Iran, all bets are off."

At the Free Press National Conference on Media Reform in Memphis, Tennessee, Kucinich announced that he has been named chair of the newly-formed Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, drawing cheers from the crowd. The subcommittee will have jurisdiction over all domestic agencies of the federal government, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

"Kucinich, among Capitol Hill's most outspoken critics of President Bush and the war in Iraq, had been ranking member of the National Security Subcommittee in the last legislative session," Jessica Brady reported for CongressDaily. "As the panel's presumed chairman in the Democratic-led 110th Congress, he had a ready platform to advance his antiwar agenda."

But Kucinich told CongressDaily that he "might wield more influence" as chairman of the subcommittee and that House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) "made clear that he's going to use the full committee" to address foreign policy issues. Kucinich added, "Domestic policy could end up having the most influence of any committee [because] it has oversight of all domestic policy in the US."

On media reform and subcommittee plans

At the conference Friday attended by RAW STORY, which included bloggers and alternative media journalists, Kucinich said, "I intend to hold hearings on media reform."

"Those hearings would address concentration of media ownership and other issues," he pledged. "We know the media has become the servant of a very narrow corporate agendaÖThe entire domestic agenda has been ignored while the focus has been on the acceleration of wealth upwards." Kucinich also pledged to hold hearings on restoring the Fairness Doctrine.

Asked by RAW STORY if he would support a federal shield law to protect journalists and alternative media members, such as blogger Josh Wolf, who has been in jail 144 days for refusing to turn over videotape of a protest demonstration, Kucinich replied, "I would be willing to hold hearings on journalists who have been prosecuted or persecuted because of their defense of the First Amendment. One of the founding matters in our country is a free and unfettered pressÖI think there should have been an inquiry into why Dan Rather was fired." He embraced Liz Wolf Spada, the mother of Josh Wolf, and asked her to contact his office with details of her sonís plight.

Kucinich stated that he would support a federal shield law and would restore Constitutional rights to prevent the government from eavesdropping on journalists without a warrant. "This surveillance society needs to be dismantled," he said. Kucinich called for repeal of the Patriot Act, adding that most members of Congress voted for it sight unseen.

Kucinich, who voted to reject the Ohio electors after the controversial 2004 presidential election, said he has held meetings with committee staff to set up hearings on the integrity of the electoral process. "This issue of election integrity is right up there with peace and healthcare and all the other issues that people are most concerned about," he told an election integrity advocate in the alternative media press corps. "Iím ready to work with you to heighten public awareness."

Kucinich suggested that his committee, which has broad oversight powers, could look into other issues, ranging from contractors involved in post-Katrina work to Bureau of Indian Affairs policies, poverty and neglect of American Indians.

"We are now in a position to move a progressive agenda to where it is visible," the presidential contender concluded.

On impeachment and Iran

Bloggers pressed Kucinich about the impeachment issue. While agreeing that the administration should ultimately be held accountable under international law, Kucinich opposed immediate impeachment proceedings. "We must keep the focus on our troops, Kucinich said. "The minute impeachment is on the table, this President will accelerate the war even more."

But he added, "if Bush attacks Iran, all bets are off." Later he added, "We need to safeguard our Constitution." If the President takes steps towards another war, Kucinich warned, Congress could make "an active effort" toward impeachment.

"The President is clearly trying to provoke Iran," he said, adding that the Bush administration is "treading on the thinnest ice it has ever been on."

Last week, in a press release sent out after Bush's speech on his "new strategy," Kucinich said that Congress should not "follow the President's path of war."

"Congress needs to take a stand against the President and take the necessary steps to bring our troops home," Kucinich stated. "We need to begin talks with Iran and Syria -- and not blame them for our misguided war in Iraq. Diplomacy is the only way to avoid a widening war. If we follow the President's path of war, we will get...more war."

On Friday, the presidential candidate also discussed a petition for redress signed by 1,000 active-duty members of the US armed forces, which he will presented to Washington on Tuesday.

"We are not supporting our troops by sending them off to a war based on lies," Kucinich said, also criticizing the Bush administration for failing to properly armor and supply solders in Iraq. "Support for the troops is listening to what they have to say."