“No American should ever have to give one drop of blood for a lie-ever!” - Elizabeth Holtzman (1)
Baltimore, MD - Despite the temperature hovering in the low 20s, over thirty activists showed up, on Dec. 5, 2006, at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, only blocks from Penn Station, to protest Colin Powell’s appearance. The former Secretary of State in the ultra-hawkish Bush-Cheney administration (2001-04) was in town to give a talk at the facility as part of a speaker’s series, which has spotlighted other warmongers in the past, like the UK’s Margaret Thatcher and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. (2) The demonstration was organized by “Citizens for Peace.” It recently took out a 3/4 page add in the Baltimore Sun, at a cost of $15,000, demanding an end to the illegal Iraqi War. (3) The specific focus of the evening protest was Powell’s highly-deceptive, and misleading, speech at the UN, on Feb. 5, 2003. (4) The war began on March 20, 2003.
Activist Ellen Barfield, with the Veteran for Peace group, told me: “A lot of us feel that Powell was one of the instrumental people in creating this atrocity in Iraq. Although there is a myth that he was against it and working behind the scenes. I don’t think so. He was one of the those who covered-up My Lai [Vietnam Massacre]. He’s been doing this stuff for a very long time. I think he’s a war criminal, along with many others. He needs to be prosecuted. We don’t like him...Barfield praised ex-U.S. State Department diplomat, Col. Ann Wright, who resigned her government post rather than go along with the Neocon-inspired preemptive strike on Iraq. Barfield added: “Wright is wonderful. She and just a couple of others...were so disgusted..she quit in anger...and has since been a full time peace activist.” (5)
Max Obuszewski, who is with the Iraq Pledge of Resistance, said: “Powell is portrayed as the dove in the Bush administration. But anyone who knows his record knows that this guy was involved in My Lai; with invading Panama...They still don’t know how many thousands of peasants died there. This guy was involved in the first invasion of Iraq. He was in favor of this war. And then he got up in front of the UN in February of 2003, he lied to the people about the WMD and Saddam Hussein’s connections to Al Queda. I had to be out here tonight when I heard he was going to be in town. It is a shame in my opinion to have him speak here in Baltimore. Unless, he gets up there and indicates that he is sorry for what he had done, [saying] that the war is wrong and that he intends to do everything he can do to stop it.” Obuszewski pointed out, however, that in a very recent interview that the unrepentant Powell again said: “I’m in favor of this war!” (5)
According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, on Dec. 6, 2006, by reporter Nicole Fuller, Powell insisted at his gig, attended by a large audience, that he did the right thing at the UN. He argued that he had been vetted by the CIA. But, he did acknowledge “Intelligence isn’t a science...I’m disappointed and it’s something that I’ll always have to deal with.” Powell said the only problem with the blood stained war, which has taken 2,916 U.S. lives, cost $348 billion and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, was that the U.S. “goofed” by not crushing the insurgency early and by allowing what he called a “civil war” to develop.
The “Citizens for Peace” group handed out a flyer at the demonstration, which highlighted some of the more egregiously false statements made by Powell at the UN. Here are a sampling: “My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligences...Numerous human sources tell us that Iraqis are moving not just documents and hard drives, but weapons of mass destruction, to keep them from being found by inspectors...Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets...When we confront a regime that harbors ambitions for regional domination, hides weapons of mass destruction, and provides haven and active support for terrorists, we are not confronting the past; we are confronting the present. And unless we act, we are confronting an even more frightening future.” Col. Lawrence B. Wilkinson, who was Powell’s Chief of Staff at the time of his notorious UN talk, labeled his highly dubious spiel, “a hoax on the American people.” (6)
One of the key members of “Citizens for Peace,” is Claudia Leight. She said that the intent of the rally was “to keep the war in the public eye and [hope] that the press will be here. And that the people who will be here to listen to Powell’s speech will know more [from our flyer] and will ask some hard questions when they are inside...Leight added that Powell was “one of the principal players in selling the war to the American people and to the world. We are holding him accountable for the deception.” Leight underscored how the group’s antiwar newspaper ad was able to secure, in a short period of time, “over 1,200 signatures.” (3)
Eddie Boyd, picketing opposite the Meyerhoff Hall, said he was at the demonstration to “show solidarity with the various groups who are out here...I wonder how a person of Powell’s stature...can sleep at night...He’s part of the lying game.” Powell, he emphasized, is a person just like our President [George W. Bush], “he’s very delusional.” Boyd is a former U.S. Navy vet. He was the Green Party’s candidate for governor of Maryland in the last election, running a very spirited campaign. Activist Richard Ochs said: “I’m here to express my displeasure at the role of Colin Powell for getting us into the Iraqi War with his mega-lies.” Another protester, Chris Bush said: “Colin Powell is complicit in the war in Iraq...He has a lot to account for...in a war that didn’t have to happen.” Judy Lombardi is with the “Women in Black” organization. She said: “I’m here to bear witness...to mourn the loss of lives to violence from whatever source, in any way, shape or form.” Katherine W. Le Veque, also with “Women in Black,” said she is for a positive concept, for the message “of peace.” And that as a matter of principle, she urges all of humanity to “settle their differences,” without resorting to violence, whether the dispute is local “or international.” (7)
Maria Allwine, also with the Iraq Pledge of Resistance organization, I think summed up the strong feelings of many who were at this demonstration scheduled from 7 PM to 8 PM. She said: “Powell...lied to us, knew he was lying...It’s an absolute disgrace. This man...knew what was right and wrong. He has a very warped sense of what duty is...[Powell] knew the truth and he got up [at the UN on Feb. 5, 2003] and lied!..He’s responsible for the absolute destruction of a country [Iraq]...He has done a serious disservice to this country. Powell has betrayed us and our values...He knew better. He needs to see the results of his lies.” (8)
At press time, the Iraq Study Group (ISG) came out with its report. It stated what everyone at this rally already knew: “We no longer can afford to ‘stay the course’ in Iraq.” It added that the policies of the Bush-Cheney Gang, which included the distorted contributions of the slippery Powell, “are not working!” It looks like only the people, via the U.S. Congress, are going to be able to get the truth out of this repulsive clique in Washington, D.C., about this unjust war and how it was started based on a pack of rotten lies. I say: Bring on the impeachment proceedings! (9)
© William Hughes 2006.
William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (Amazon.com). He can be reached at email@example.com