“It’s so irresponsible that they can’t be quiet.” - William Kristol, a Neocon, in referring to critics of the Iraqi War. (1)
Washington, D.C. On a sunny day, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007, with the temperatures in the high-40s, the National Mall, was filled with protesters against the Iraqi War. A Who’s Who list of speakers against the ongoing evildoings of the Bush-Cheney Gang let their voices be heard by the spirited crowd. The massive demonstration’s prime sponsor was the United for Peace & Justice organization. They set the main stage for the event on 3rd St., NW, between Madison and Jefferson Avenues, fronting towards the fabled Lincoln Memorial. After the speakers’ part of the program was finished at 1 PM, a noisy, chant-filled march paraded in an easterly direction, about a block away from the U.S. Capitol, and then circled back to its starting point. Workshops and Teach-Ins are set for this Sunday by organizers, and a “Lobby Day” is slated for Monday, the 29th, on Capitol Hill. (2)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), was one of the four congressional leaders who spoke at the rally. He said: “Our government needs to get the message: Out of Iraq, immediately.” Conyers is the new Chair of the House’s Judiciary Committee. This is the committee which has jurisdiction over any possible impeachment proceedings. In a shot over President George W. Bush’s bow, Conyers said that Bush likes to fire military advisors, who tell him he can’t win the war, but “he can’t fire you [the people]. He can’t fire us [the Congress], but ‘we can fire him.’” With that line a roar went up in the audience. The loud chant began: “Impeach Bush!”
The Chairlady of the House of Representatives’ “Out of Iraq Caucus,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), also ripped into Bush. She said: “My name is Maxine Waters and I’m not afraid of George W. Bush. My name is Maxine Waters and I’m not intimidated by Dick Cheney. My name is Maxine Waters and I helped to get [Donald] Rumsfeld fired. My name is Maxine Waters and Connie Rice is nothing but another Neocon and she doesn’t represent me. George W. Bush led us into this immoral war. He tricked the American people...He did not tell the truth...Bush says he is ‘the decider,’ but you know what? He’s not ‘the decider. He’s ‘the liar...’I will not vote one dime for this war...Bring the troops home.” Waters said some Congress people are only paying “lip service” to the antiwar cause. That comment struck home with me.
Going back to my attendance at the antiwar rally in this city on Oct. 26, 2002, there is a particular “lip service” politico that comes to my mind. She’s U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. Although, she voted against the Iraqi War, she has continued to vote to fund it, including building 14 U.S. military bases in Iraq and the largest U.S. Embassy in the world, in Baghdad. She’s also endorsed the draconian Patriot Act--not once, but twice! The truth is that Sen. Mikulski is “an asset” to the Bush-Cheney Gang! She has been “calling” her job in, and waiting, I suspect, to cash in on her 0,000 a year-plus, tax free, pension. Experts now put the cost of the war at over trillion dollars. (3) It’s critical that Mikulski, and other foxy politicos, like her, be called on their “lip service” acts by the people. How many more brave American troops, now at 3075, and innocent Iraqi civilians, estimated at over 655,000, must forfeit their lives, while Mikulski “pretends” to be antiwar?
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) spoke at the protest, too. He said: “Bush needs to understand that the Congress is a coequal branch of government. And that Congress has the responsibility now to bring an end to this war, cut off the funds, bring our troops home, close the bases and to end the occupation.” Another fierce opponent of the Iraqi War is the gutsy, co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). She told the approving crowd: “We are not going to stop until we end George Bush’s immoral Iraqi War. Americans do not want to send their children into the middle of a civil war.” Rep. Woolsey has offered legislation, HR. 508, to meet those noble objectives.
On a related front, Peace activists have sharply criticized the Democratic Party’s almost complicit response to Bush’s State of the [Dis]Union message and to the insanity of his “Surge” scheme in Iraq. Linda Shade and Kevin Zeese of DemocracyRising.US labeled the pathetic rejoinders of Edwards, Kennedy, Clinton, Obama, et al, as “out of step with many Americans who are calling for bringing the troops home now.” The duo rightly added: “There is a need for a larger and more organized antiwar movement.” (4) Meanwhile, V. P. Dick Cheney, an unindicted coconspirator in the Irving “Scooter” Libby federal perjury case, may be starting, finally, to show signs of cracking. (5) When he was recently confronted with criticism about his fiendish role in the Iraqi War debacle, he responded with a tense: “Hogwash.”
According to an expert on the Middle East, Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, USA, Retired, the ex-director of the National Security Agency, the Iraqi War can not be won “militarily.” He calls it “a disaster.” As long as the U.S. is in Iraq, he says, Al Qaeda will benefit and “grow stronger.” (6)
Back to the rally: There were over 40 riveting speakers at that two hour part of the morning program, which began at 11 AM. Organizers estimated the crowd at around 400,000. I knew it was going to be a mega protest, when I caught the Metro train at the New Carrollton, MD station at around 9 AM to go into the Capitol. I ran into activists from Vermont, who had traveled in five buses to make the trip to D.C. They said it took them about nine hours.
Another speaker at the event, Rabbi Michael Lerner, said that if Congress doesn’t cut off the funds for the war, then they are acting as “enablers” of the Bush-Cheney administration. The Rev. Jesse Jackson said: “It was easy to admire the late Martin Luther King Jr., but it was hard to follow him...We need new leaders and new priorities...Bush ignored Katrina...It is time for a new day...We need a new vision...We need more money and justice at home...Stop spending .5 billion a month on madness. End the war.” Medea Benjamin, cofounder of Code Pink, reminded the audience that women across the country are “saying no to the war.” She added, they want “peace and compassion.” Bob Watada, the father of Lt. Ehren Watada, who is refusing to serve in Iraq, thanked the crowd for their moral and legal support of his son’s efforts. Noura Erakat, a champion of self-determination for the Palestinian people, urged an end to the U.S.’s “four year” occupation of Iraq and also an end to the “40 year” occupation of Palestine by Zionist Israel. Maryland’s AFL-CIO chief, Fred Mason, told the throng that many in the Labor Movement also want an “end to the Iraqi War.”
Actress Jane Fonda made an appearance, too, at today’s rally. To thunderous applause, she said: “I haven’t spoken at an antiwar rally for 34 years, but silence is no longer an option.” She was joined on the podium by fellow antiwar activists and Screen Actor Guild members: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. The latter three also addressed the crowd. Sarandon, a close colleague of activists David Swanson, Medea Benjamin, Cindy Sheehan, Annie Nelson and Ann Wright, has been to Washington many times in the recent past to participate in antiwar actions. (7) Andrew Murray of the “Stop the War Coalition, UK,” offered “solidarity greetings” from fellow activists in the British Isles. He lamented the fact that the British people can’t get rid of P.M. Tony Blair, but that the Americans can and should “impeach Bush.”
Finally, Americans are paying a severe price for this war. The Bush-Cheney Gang is sacrificing the lives of their precious loved ones on the altar of this Neocon-inspired Iraqi calamity. (8) The U.S. Congress is Constitutionally-mandated to check, proscribe and punish the excesses of these evildoers. Each member of the Congress has taken an oath of office to “uphold and defend the Constitution.” We heard encouraging words today at this rally from our true friends in the Congress.
But, the patience of the American people is running out. The people want the war ended now and the Bush-Cheney Gang punished for their gross breaches of the public trust. Time is of the essence! (9)
8. See, Chalmers Johnson’s tome, “The Sorrows of Empire,” on the powerful Special Interests that pushed for the Iraqi War.
9. To see videos from four of the rally’s speakers, go to:
© William Hughes 2007.
William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.