By David Swanson
Remarks prepared for World Can’t Wait rally at White House, Feb. 4, 2006.
There are protests outside at least two houses today, the White House and Bush’s luxury estate near Crawford, Texas. Bush can run, but he cannot hide.
He tries to hide behind fear, our fear. The only tool in his bag is making us afraid. We have to resist becoming afraid, but we have to be able to talk about the fact that Bush and Cheney have made us much less safe. They have turned world opinion against us. They have turned Iraq into a breeding ground for terrorists. They have turned Afghanistan into a drug production kingdom. Terrorist incidents are up so dramatically that the Bush Administration no longer publishes those statistics.
The danger these criminals have put us in with their illegal war and their bellicose rhetoric is a reason to oppose them, not a reason to cower behind them like children. Their own strategists see few ways that they can regain any credibility or popularity other than another terrorist incident in this country. But if the American people have learned anything, it is that another such incident – should it occur – should only erode what’s left of Bush and Cheney’s pretense to leadership.
Let’s not wait for that. Let’s remove them from office before we suffer another 9-11, another Katrina, another war like Iraq.
Toward that end, I have a favor to ask of everyone here. Last Spring the Downing Street Minutes appeared in the international media as a smoking gun, providing authoritative proof that this war had been based on lies. The efforts of hundreds of thousands of Americans forced that document into the U.S. media. You Emailed. You phoned. You faxed. You protested. You reenacted the Downing Street Meeting outside media outlets, or inside their offices.
On June 15, the Washington Post wrote an editorial in response to your efforts explaining why they would not report the story. They claimed that “The memos add not a single fact to what was previously known about the administration’s prewar deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002.” Well, I went and checked all the Washington Posts back to July 2002 and before that, and they had never reported what was in those minutes – in fact they’d been trumpeting the lies that the minutes debunked.
But you didn’t let up on the Post. You kept hammering them with Emails and phone calls and protests in front of their office. And on June 28th, they printed a lengthy front page article detailing the contents of the Downing Street Minutes – with nothing in there that they couldn’t have run weeks earlier.
Here’s the favor I want to ask. I want to ask you to do the same thing you did for the Downing Street Minutes with the new White House Memo. Because we have another smoking gun on our hands. This latest memo has been reported in a short and misleading little Associated Press article, but most US media outlets – in contrast to media outlets outside the US – are not doing their own reporting on this. Last spring they did, following a full month of pressure. So let’s set a goal of putting the White House Memo in the US corporate media by the end of February. For guidance on doing so, go to www.afterdowningstreet.org
What this latest memo tells us is the substance of a meeting that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had with Bush at the White House on January 31, 2003, months before they publicly pretended to have just decided to go to war, and the same day that the NSA sent around an internal top-secret memo with plans to bug the phones and Emails of UN Security Council members.
At the meeting, Blair told Bush “A second Security Council resolution would provide an insurance policy against the unexpected and international cover, including with the Arabs.”
Bush told Blair that “The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would ‘twist arms’ and ‘even threaten’. But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway.”
Blair replied that he was “solidly with the President and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam.”
We already know from the Downing Street documents and dozens of US sources that the Bush Administration did not believe Saddam Hussein to be a threat, and that Bush and Cheney were lying about the weapons of mass destruction and the ties to 9-11. What the new memo tells us is some of the wackier ideas that popped into Bush’s head for ways to manufacture a cause for war.
The one that really makes you wonder whether Blair had brought the cast of Monty Python to the meeting is this: “The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.”
So, we were going to paint planes to look like UN planes and then fly them unnecessarily low in hopes of getting shot at, and then presumably try to tell the UN that it possessed some planes it hadn’t known about. In fact, we already know that the US increased flights and bombings in hopes of being shot at. As far as we know, none of the planes had been painted with UN markings.
Does this sound like how one behaves toward a nation that is threatening us with biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and support for a global terror organization? But Bush put those claims in a March 18, 2003, report to Congress, and it’s a felony to lie to Congress. And he’s still sitting in office. So, we all must just be mistaken, right? Everything must be OK, after all. The Washington Post says so.
It’s easy to get frustrated. 420 members of the House of Representatives have not cosponsored a bill to end funding for the Crime in Iraq. 365 of them have not cosponsored a bill to ban permanent US bases in Iraq. 410 of them have not cosponsored a bill to let the Iraqi government vote on whether it wants the occupation ended. 370 have not signed onto a bill to end the occupation some day in the future. And 338 congress members have not cosponsored a bill to redeploy forces from Iraq as soon as that’s “practicable.”
We have a trillion-dollar war, and Bush wants $439 billion for the military on top of that.
It’s easy to become frustrated. But look at what we have achieved. We have educated a strong majority of Americans to understand that this war is based on lies, while the war is still in progress. The understanding is not thick enough for everyone to understand that a war on Iran would be based on lies. But we’re moving in that direction.
We have US veterans of this war returning, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, and getting up to speak about it in order to oppose this war through their tears. We have parents who’ve lost their kids in this war speaking against it. We have young soldiers refusing to fight. We have activists, young and old, going to jail through acts of nonviolent resistance.
Daniel Ellsberg wrote in a statement supporting this rally that courage is contagious. It certainly is within this movement. We just need it to catch within the Capitol. There are Democrats there who still fantasize about working cooperatively with Republicans – it’s their way of hanging onto a belief that they are serving some purpose. We need to give them a different purpose to serve, the purpose of courageously opposing the rise of fascism. We need to do that through meetings and through protests. We need to protest in their offices and on the front lawns of their houses.
And we must do so with the strongest force on earth: nonviolence. Anyone imagining we can create a democracy or anything else through violent resistance to this government has lost all moral and strategic sense. We need to reassert the rule of law, not tear it down further. We need to prosecute these war criminals, and before that we need to impeach them.
Demand that your congress member sign onto John Conyers’ bill to create an investigation that will make recommendations on impeachment. Demand that your congress member introduce articles of impeachment. Demand that the legislature of your state, or of DC, send impeachment charges to congress.
And tell your congress member what your policy is going to be for supporting candidates in this year’s elections.
The Nation magazine has said it will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the American war in Iraq a major issue in his or her campaign. ImpeachPAC is a political action committee with this requirement for endorsement: “Incumbents must have introduced or co-sponsored Articles of Impeachment for George Bush and Dick Cheney in 2005 or 2006 — Challengers must publicly demand the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney.”
We must combine those two criteria, opposing the war and supporting impeachment, into this one idea: Bring Regime Change Home!