Last August, a group of Congressman Henry Waxman's constituents met with him and urged him to make use of inherent contempt. They were then obliged to explain to him what inherent contempt is. While the current (110th) Congress has probably seen more requests, subpoenas, and contempt citations ignored than all previous Congresses combined, Waxman has certainly endured more such insult than all other committee chairs combined in the current Congress. He's single-handedly destroyed whole forests with the flood of letters and requests and subpoenas he's sent down Pennsylvania Avenue, and yet he was apparently unaware of a procedure commonly used by Congress through most of this nation's history that would actually compel people to show up and answer questions and produce documents.
Over the past 12 months a vague sort of awareness of inherent contempt has crept into the minds of certain committee members and party leaders, almost entirely as a result of thousands of citizens demanding that they immediately make use of it. Quasi-grass-roots groups afraid to demand impeachment have taken up the cry for inherent contempt, but pro-impeachment groups have not all paid sufficient attention to it, their eyes set on a bigger and better prize. And, of course, in a sane world we would see impeachment happening. The latest overwhelming piece of evidence of the most egregious impeachable offense conceivable comes from Ron Suskind's book released this week reporting that Iraq's intelligence chief had informed the United States prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction. George Tenet and the White House have admitted the truth of this, but absurdly dismissed it as unimportant.
However, here's an additional vital piece of information: our so-called representatives only intend to pretend to work for two more weeks this year, and those two weeks are scheduled for September. If anything could move them to impeachment (and more days at the office), perhaps a fight over inherent contempt could. Therefore, I propose we all demand one. (And if you bear with me, I'll tell you exactly what inherent contempt is.)