Activists look for arrest of Bush, Cheney
But if his son ever comes to town, some residents hope to present the sitting president with an even less friendly reception: a pair of handcuffs and a jail cell.
"We're planning to arrest, detain and extradite him," said Kurt Daims of Brattleboro, an activist who has sought to impeach President George W. Bush and is now trying to up the ante. "There's a fundamental question here. If Congress doesn't do this, shouldn't it be done anyway?"
Daims hopes to gather the 440 signatures necessary to place an article on the Town Meeting warning that would call for the Brattleboro Police Department to arrest Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and cart them off to unspecified foreign entities.
"Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictment for consideration by other municipalities?" Daims' proposed article reads.
"And shall it be the law of the Town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictment, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro and extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them."
Daims joined a group of eight like-minded activists Friday afternoon for their weekly impeachment march through town. Beating homemade drums and waving signs calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, the protesters walked from the Brattleboro Food Co-op to the Municipal Building and dropped off a copy of the proposed article at the Town Clerk's office.
Daims recognizes the myriad legal barriers between his goal and its coming to fruition, but pointing to the Declaration of Independence as his inspiration, he contends that sometimes the laws of the land take second seat to "a higher jurisdiction."
"There was no legal standing to the document that was written in 1776. It was just people saying 'we've got to get rid of this guy,'" Daims said. "We can't let him get away just because we don't have the proper forms and paperwork."
Vermont remains the only state President Bush has neglected to visit during his seven years in office, and Daims' proposed article is not likely to hasten a presidential trip to the Green Mountain state.
"I don't know if Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney are scheduled to visit Brattleboro any time in the near future," said acting Police Chief Eugene Wrinn, whose force would presumably be charged with making an arrest. "We will wait and see if it passes and then we will check with the town of Brattleboro's legal counsel to check out what our legal obligations would be."
According to Town Attorney Bob Fisher, the town could place such an article on its town meeting warning for an up or down vote, but doing so would be "a waste of ink."
"My response is if you can get me appointed to the U.S. Senate, I would be very grateful and then I would actually have standing to do something about this," Fisher said.
"It is an absolutely unenforceable type of question. The people in Brattleboro do not have authority to impeach. I don't have the authority to indict the president, nor do the police have the ability to arrest him based on such a vote."
Even if Daims manages to collect the requisite signatures of 5 percent of the electorate, the Selectboard could decline to place the article on the town meeting warning.
"A Selectboard can say this is not the business of the town. We're not going to waste our time with it," Fisher said.
Selectboard chairwoman Audrey Garfield said she did not have enough information about the proposed article to comment on it and would speak with her fellow board members before making a decision.
According to Newfane Selectboard member Dan DeWalt, who made headlines when his town called for Bush's impeachment in March of 2006, even if Daims is unsuccessful in throwing Bush in the clinker, his message could resonate throughout the country.
"Kurt saying 'I'm going to arrest the president' has no meaning. The town of Brattleboro voting to say they're going to arrest the president does have meaning," DeWalt said.
As to just where Brattleboro would send Bush if he was arrested, DeWalt said, "I know there are people preparing war crimes charges against him. I don't know if they've officially been filed anywhere, but once they are filed that would give us a place to extradite him to next time he comes to town."
Daims hopes other towns will be inspired by his quest and pursue similar courses of action -- particularly Kennebunkport, Maine, where the Bush family spends its summers.
"We should do something Mr. Bush can feel. Maine is a very liberal state and I think this could pass in Maine, so then he couldn't get to his million dollar family vacation resort," Daims said. "They could arrest him there."
Paul Heintz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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