Brattleboro residents will vote at town meeting on whether President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be indicted and arrested for war crimes, perjury or obstruction of justice if they ever step foot in Vermont.
The Brattleboro Select Board voted 3-2 Friday to put the controversial item on the Town Meeting Day warning.
According to Town Clerk Annette Cappy, organizers of the Bush-Cheney issue gathered enough signatures, and it was up to the Select Board whether Brattleboro voters would consider the issue in March.
Cappy said residents will get to vote on the matter by paper balloting March 4.
Kurt Daims, 54, of Brattleboro, the organizer of the petition drive, said Friday the debate to get the issue on the ballot was a good one. Opposition to the vote focused on whether the town had any power to endorse the matter.
“It is an advisory thing,” said Daims, a retired prototype machinist and stay-at-home dad of three daughters.
So far, Vermont is the only state Bush hasn’t visited since he became president in 2001.
Daims said the most grievous crime committed by Bush and Cheney was perjury — lying to Congress and U.S. citizens about the basis of a war in Iraq.
He said the latest count showed a total of 600,000 people have died in the war.
Daims also said he believed Bush and Cheney were also guilty of espionage for spying on American people and obstruction of justice, for the politically generated firings of U.S. attorneys.
Voting to put the matter on the town ballot were Chairwoman Audrey Garfield and board members Richard Garrant and Dora Boubalis.
Voting against the idea were board members Richard DeGray and Stephen Steidle.
Daims said the names submitted to the town clerk’s office were the second wave of signatures the petition drive had to collect, because he had to rewrite the wording of the petition.
He said he gathered nearly 500 signatures in about three weeks, and he said most people he encountered were eager to sign it. He started the petition drive about three months ago.
“Everybody I talked to wanted Bush to go,” he said, noting that even members of the local police department supported the drive.
“This is exactly what the charter envisioned as a citizen initiative,” Daims said. “People want to express themselves and they want to say how they feel.”
He said the idea is spreading: Activists in Louisville, Ky., are spearheading a similar drive, and he said activists were also working in Montague, Mass., a Berkshires town.
The article asked the town attorney to “draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities.”
The article goes on to say the indictments would be the “law of the town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro police … arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro, if they are not duly impeached …”
Daims said people in Brattleboro were willing to “think outside the box” and consider the issue.
Daims had no compunction in comparing Bush and Cheney with one of the most notorious people in history.
“If Hitler were still alive and walked through Brattleboro, I think the local police would arrest him for war crimes,” Daims said. Susan Smallheer, Rutland Herald