Berkeley plans vote on Bush impeachment

Berkeley plans to give voters a say on a measure calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the mayor of this famously liberal California city said on Wednesday.

A number of local governments across the United States have passed resolutions urging impeachment. But the Berkeley city council wants to be the first to put the issue directly to voters, Mayor Tom Bates said in an interview.

“This is basically giving the people a chance to talk, to join the debate,” Bates said. “The issues go way beyond impeaching the president. They go to safeguarding the Constitution.”

Cheered on by Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan, who has moved to Berkeley, the council voted unanimously on Tuesday to have the city attorney review the measure that would appear on the November ballot.

The Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, which advises the city on civil rights issues, recommended the measure to the council.

The panel accuses the Republican White House of intentionally misleading Congress to justify an unnecessary war in Iraq, pursuing unlawful surveillance programs and permitting torture of detainees suspected of links to terrorism.

Bush and Cheney “have acted in a manner contrary to their trust as President and Vice President of the United States and subversive of Constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the People of the United States of America,” the commission said in a statement.

Berkeley has seen its politics march steadily leftward since the 1960s, when the Free Speech Movement and Vietnam War protests at the University of California, Berkeley, drew political activists to the city.

Bush received 4,010 votes in Berkeley in the 2004 presidential election, compared with 54,409 votes for Democratic challenger John Kerry.

Republican National Committee spokesman Tucker Bounds said the city council’s move was “absolutely out of step with mainstream American voters … but entirely predictable for liberals in Berkeley.”

Berkeley resident Albert Sukoff said he was not surprised by the council’s decision.

“I think they overextend themselves and get into things that aren’t their business,” said Sukoff. “Berkeley has always had a foreign policy, the national one notwithstanding.”

© 2006 Reuters