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Calls jam Capitol phones: Give peace a chance

by Tim Wheeler, PWW correspondent Saturday, Sep. 28, 2002 at 10:11 AM 212-924-2523 235 W 23st., NYC 10011

Lawmakers are reporting their phones ringing off the hooks with calls overwhelmingly against George W. Bush’s plans for a war on Iraq. Bush’s war resolution, sent to Capitol Hill last week, is a sweeping measure that would permit him to “use all means he determines to be appropriate, including force” against Iraq.

Lawmakers are reporting their phones ringing off the hooks with calls overwhelmingly against George W. Bush’s plans for a war on Iraq. Bush’s war resolution, sent to Capitol Hill last week, is a sweeping measure that would permit him to “use all means he determines to be appropriate, including force” against Iraq.

Aides to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) counted 5,614 phone calls over the past six weeks with only 136 supporting Bush’s war plan, The Washington Post reported Sept. 23 in a survey of House and Senate offices. Feinstein has sharply rejected Bush’s call for a unilateral war to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) reports her phone messages and mail nearly unanimous against war. The Bush resolution, she charged, is a “blank check. I could never support that.”

Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a Bush loyalist, acknowledges that his calls are running eight to one against war. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) admitted in a radio interview that his constituents are bombarding him overwhelmingly opposed to war on Iraq.

Rep. Lynn R. Rivers (D-Mich.), co-sponsor with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) of an anti-war resolution is receiving constituent messages “almost totally against war,” her aide, Gail Boskey, told the World. “Lynn said she has spoken with people in the more conservative parts of her district and they too are strongly against going to war.”

Voters are also using more direct methods. Peace activists sat in at Rep. David Oberstar’s (D-Minn.) office in Minneapolis. Oberstar then issued a statement that a unilateral U.S. attack “would undermine our moral authority to combat terrorism.”

A delegation of 12 women visited the Germantown, Pa., offices of Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) to thank him for his progressive positions. “He told us he will vote against any resolution to go to war against Iraq,” said Marlene Santoyo, a leader of the Philadelphia chapter of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Scott Lynch, spokesman for Washington-based Peace Action, told the World lawmakers are reporting their phone calls and mail as high as 200 to one against war on Iraq. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “People are perceiving the danger to our country brought upon us by the Bush administration. We need to continue to write and to get out into the streets. Most of our representatives in the House and Senate are not yet representing the views of their constituents.”

In a Sept. 20 speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) denounced Bush for using the war drive to divert voters’ attention from growing unemployment in an election year. “Are politicians talking about the domestic situation, weaknesses in the economy, jobs that are being lost, housing problems? No!”

Byrd said his belief in the Constitution compels him to vote against a war resolution. “But I am finding that the Constitution is irrelevant to the people of this administration. Nothing would please this president more than having a blank check handed to him.”

Lee, the only lawmaker to vote against Bush’s war on Afghanistan, and 26 other House members introduced H. Con. Res. 473 expressing the sense of the House that the U.S. “should work through the United Nations” to insure Iraqi compliance with UN resolutions. A “preemptive unilateral United States first strike could both set a dangerous international precedent and significantly weaken the United Nations as an institution,” the resolution warns.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), a co-sponsor of the resolution, told a Capitol Hill news conference Sept. 19, “Unilateral military action by the United States against Iraq is unjustified, unwarranted, and illegal. The administration has failed to make the case that Iraq poses an imminent or immediate threat to the United States.”

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) told the news conference, “Naked aggression is not the American way. Fighting for oil and those dictatorships that prop up the politics of oil is not worthy of the loss of one more American life.”

The antiwar groundswell is gaining worldwide. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his “Red-Green” coalition won reelection Sept. 22 on the basis of his vow that Germany would not participate in a war on Iraq, even if approved by the UN.

Al Gore, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee, accused the Bush administration of flouting the will of the American people and U.S. allies around the world “to please the portion of its base that occupies the extreme right.” In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, Gore told the Commonwealth Club of California, the U.S. enjoyed enormous goodwill. “That has been squandered in a year’s time and replaced with great anxiety all around the world, not primarily about what the terrorist networks are going to do but about what we’re going to do.”

This reporter repeatedly dialed the Capitol Hill main switchboard at (202)-224-3121 in preparing this story. Often, all circuits were busy. The snail mail address of the House is: (Member’s name), U.S. House of Representatives, Washington DC 20515. The Senate is: (Member’s name), U.S. Senate, Washington DC 20510.

The author can be reached at

Originally published by the People’s Weekly World

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