By David Swanson
Remarks at Veterans for Peace convention, Seattle, Wash., Aug. 11, 2006
It’s an honor to be speaking at a Veterans for Peace event. For as long as I’ve been working in the peace movement, VFP has been a powerful ally. To us nonveterans, veterans for war sometimes seem like a hostile and exclusive club. But veterans for peace have always treated me as a brother in the cause for peace. And I’m sorry that my brother Mike Ferner could not be here today. We’ll be reading a letter from him, since he’s under house arrest in the cause of justice.
By the way, if I stink it’s because airport security took my deodorant. The guy who took it whispered that he loved my Impeach Bush and Cheney shirt. The pilots, flight attendants, and several of the passengers told me that as well. Sometimes I wonder whether I wear these shirts for all the compliments. But the compliments are usually accompanied by nervous laughter. People don’t hear about impeachment on their televisions, and they don’t think it can happen, much less that they themselves can help make it happen.
I spent several hours sitting in an airport catching up on Emails, and the loudspeakers kept playing a warning message over and over and over, a message that sounded to me like a Bush campaign ad aimed at instilling fear in people. The announcement went like this:
“Your attention please. Due to heightened security, please permit suspension of the Bill of Rights, the rule of law, and peace on earth. Your attention please….”
And on and on like that.
This message disturbed me, but the people around me did not seem to be hearing the same message I was. They mostly talked about how much they hated terrorists, and you could tell that they did not mean the world’s top terrorists, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
Britain’s Home Secretary says the toothpaste and deodorant terrorists would have caused death on an unprecedented scale. The fact that we have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis just does not exist for media outlets that report comments like that one.
I’ve even had my fellow activists tell me that the reason I don’t believe a secret missile struck the Pentagon, the planes were fictional, the towers were blown up from inside, etc., is that I refuse to blame Bush for a crime as serious as 9-11. Bush has openly and proudly and illegally, fraudulently, brutally, and pointlessly slaughtered 300,000 Iraqis, and I’m supposed to be incapable of supposing he could kill 3,000 people?
Well, I haven’t seen evidence that he did it, except through neglect, but I have seen incontrovertible evidence that he launched an illegal war on the basis of lies, detained people without charge or legal counsel, tortured people, and used illegal weapons – all actions that have endangered American service men and women. I’ve seen solid evidence, accompanied by public confessions, that Bush, Cheney, and gang have launched massive illegal operations to spy on Americans. I’ve seen Bush reverse 800 laws with signing statements.
And I heard two familiar lies escape Bush’s lips yesterday, when he said our enemy was Islamic fascists, and when he said Americans are safer now than before 9-11. The origin of our danger lies not in the murderous intentions of a small number of Muslims, but in the massive crimes of the gang of thugs pushing our country in a fascist direction. And we are decidedly less safe with each passing year, our nation is more hated, terrorist incidents are more frequent.
Polls suggest that most of the U.S. troops in Iraq want to come home, but Bush says we should support the war to support the troops. Meanwhile it is the military holding the chickenhawks back from putting nuclear options on the table. Bush is using our troops for his power and profit. I’ve seen veterans for war make a point of pride out of being used. I recently spoke on a panel in San Diego and mentioned that Suzanne Swift had been lied to by recruiters. Paul Hackett was on the panel and said “You know, that’s life.”
Actually that’s death for some of the young men and women who have been lied to and sent to Iraq. I’ll tell you what’s life. Life is doing what Ricky Cousing is doing, what Lt. Watada is doing, what everyone must summon the courage to do. And life is impeachment. This war cannot be ended except by removing Bush and Cheney from office.
So, we need to keep passing impeachment resolutions in towns and cities and pushing for passage of one in a state legislature. And we need to push impeachment if we are going to win. Beginning August this month.
We do not need to choose between impeachment and elections; we need to promote impeachment if we are going to win any elections.
We also need to take over our nation’ capital. Beginning Sept. 5, we will establish Camp Democracy on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This will be a camp for peace, justice, and impeachment. I’m happy to say that VFP will be part of Camp Democracy. Please join us: