Some July 4 Thoughts on the Iraq War:
Time for a New Spirit of 1776

by George Saunders

Arundhati Roy said it a few years ago at the time of the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India: the U.S. Empire can be defeated in the Iraq war.

Opinion polls in late June 2007 showed that in the USA now there is nearly 80 percent opposition to the Iraq war, including nearly 40 percent in favor of immediate withdrawal from Iraq. And those who don’t say “Out Now” are saying “Out Soon.”

But there is a disparity. Why can’t this huge majority have its will carried out? The political system acts as an obstruction.

The challenge for opponents of the system is this: How can the majority political sentiment against the war be mobilized into mass action that can actually stop the war?

Right now a great many dispersed actions are being called for.

And no doubt they are all to the good, such as the 2,000 or so who converged on the Bush family enclave in Kennebunkport, Maine, to demand: “Stop the war in Iraq!” They also told Bush’s guest, Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Russia out of Chechnya!”

The hope is that all the dispersed actions being called for this summer and in September can become jumping-off points to build toward a single concentrated action this fall, on October 27. The maximum mobilization of all those opposed to the war, coming together in united action at one time, can show ourselves and the world—and the powers that be—how great are numbers really are.

“We are many, they are few.” What the poet Shelley said long ago is truer than ever today. Let’s show it in the streets. Bringing all our numbers out in force at one time as a great show of strength would be a tremendous encouragement to all who oppose the war, disheartening the war makers and giving further impetus to every activity that is under way toward ending the war.

Newspapers report that Bush’s “popularity is as low as any president’s in modern history.” And that’s mainly because of the Iraq war.

No doubt the high school students this past week who asked him to stop torture had the Abu Ghraib pictures in their minds, as well as Guantanamo and the CIA prisons of undisclosed location to which people are taken after “rendition.” Bush muttered robotically at the students, “America doesn’t torture people.”

On July 2, Bush took another step that will lower his popularity further. He commuted the sentence of his crony “Scooter” Libby. Thus another dangling loop from the Iraq war slips around Bush’s neck.

Behind the Libby Case

What lurks behind the Libby case are the lies used to motivate the Iraq war.

As we all know, officials of the Bush administration claimed that the Iraq regime of Saddam Hussein was making “weapons of mass destruction”—or WMDs to use the newspeak verbiage.

It has been fully demonstrated of course that the notorious “WMDs” did not exist. Just this week the United Nations finally ended a foolish program that had continued to search for nonexistent WMDs in Iraq for more than four years, since the March 2003 invasion. 

When Bush and Co. invaded Iraq they had a lot of people believing that the Iraqi government was trying to make nuclear weapons. Secretary of State Colin Powell testified to that effect before the United Nations (lying through his teeth). Condoleezza Rice warned of the danger of “mushroom clouds” over the USA if Saddam Hussein was not stopped. They claimed, among other things, that Iraq had tried to buy “yellow cake” uranium for making nuclear weapons from the African country of Niger.

Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, published an article exposing the falsity of the Niger “yellow cake” story. Thus an Establishment insider was whistle-blowing and calling out the Bush gang on its lies.

The response of Bush & Co. was to try to discredit Wilson and to reveal that his wife, Valerie Plame, was a secret CIA agent. This disclosure of identity was a violation of federal law, for which “Scooter” Libby, a top adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, was eventually singled out to take the blame. He was put on trial and convicted of obstructing justice with his doubletalk during the trial, in effect lying and refusing to testify.

On July 2, as Libby was about to start serving a two-and-a-half year prison sentence, Bush stepped in and used one of his prerogatives as president to cancel out Libby’s prison sentence.

One observer commented that Bush’s action was sending this message: “My friend Scooter shouldn’t have to serve 30 months in prison—because I don’t want him to.”

As the July 3 Washington Post explains:

“The CIA had sent Wilson to the African nation of Niger in 2002 to assess reports that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear material there for weapons. He concluded that the reports were groundless. Later, when Bush and his aides repeated them anyway, Wilson accused the president of twisting his findings to justify the war to the public.

“Prosecutors maintained that administration officials, including Libby, leaked Plame’s identity and CIA position to insinuate that the agency had chosen Wilson for the Niger mission because of nepotism. Defense attorneys said that Libby had not sought to deceive investigators but had innocently misremembered what he knew and said about Plame, because she was insignificant to him.

“In a statement yesterday, Wilson said that he and his wife are ‘deeply disappointed’ by Bush’s decision. ‘The president’s actions send the message that leaking classified information for political purposes is acceptable,’ he said. ‘Mr. Libby not only endangered Valerie and our family, but also our country’s national security.

Cindy Sheehan Renews Her Antiwar Activity

[Editors’ Note: One of the results of Bush’s action on Libby’s behalf was to bring Cindy Sheehan back from five weeks of retirement from antiwar activity. One of this summer’s many dispersed actions of the antiwar movement will apparently be the one she is now calling for, as described in the following article by her, posted to the Internet on July 3.]

“Call Out the Instigator”

by Cindy Sheehan

Call out the instigator

Because there’s something in the air
We got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution’s here
You know it’s right!

—Thunderclap Newman

I’m not backing off. I tried to remove myself from the political realm of the U.S., what BushCo is turning into an Evil Empire, but the blatant audacity of George commuting Scooter’s sentence (he’s not ruling out a full pardon—and you know he will) has dragged me kicking and screaming back in. I can’t sit back and let this BushCo drag our country further down into the murky quagmire of Fascism and violence, taking the rest of the world with them!

I have sat quietly back these past five weeks as the slaughter in Iraq sorrowfully surges along with George’s bloody escalation—and as the philosophical opposition to the war has soared to almost four out of every five Americans. I have remained silent when Senator Barack Obama said that impeachment is only reserved for “grave, grave” breaches! Well, BushCo has created hundreds of thousands of graves dug by their lies and greed. For cripes’ sake, George admitted to breaking the FISA Act, which is a felony [and which] also breached the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution that already prohibited illegal search and seizure. How was Bill Clinton’s offense graver than George’s, Dick’s, or Scooter’s? Did we ever think that the criminality and arrogance of the Nixon White House would be eclipsed in our time with nary a “baaaah” from the Sheeple in Congress?

George has said that America doesn’t “do torture” when we have all seen the images of torture from Abu Ghraib (don’t believe your lyin’ eyes), and we know that hundreds of people sold to the U.S. Army for an immoral bounty are incarcerated within the inhumane confines of Guantanamo prison, which is right in our own back yard.

I have had to bite my tongue—HARD—as the George and Dick crime cabal (formerly known as the executive branch) have claimed that their offices are not to be held up to the same standards of accountability and control as any other entity in the human race, governmental or private.

It has been recently reported that Nancy Pelosi said that impeachment is not “worth it.” Her faulty reasoning is that impeachment would take too much time because [supposedly] they don’t have the votes. If they could “whip” their own Democratic caucus into shape to defend and protect our Constitution and the people of Iraq and our soldiers as they whupped, cajoled, threatened, and browbeat the caucus into attaching “non-binding” time lines onto the last war-funding bill, then impeachment would not only be possible, but likely.

The recent commutation of I. Scooter Libby’s sentence, however, was the straw that broke my camel’s back of exhausted ennui. Patrick Fitzgerald is a thoughtful and thorough prosecutor who did a heroic job of bringing at least one of the Bush Crime Mob to justice. Even though we were all very pleased, we knew that it was not enough and [wished] that Mr. Fitzgerald would delve deeper into the feces-infested executive branch. The lawlessness of the Bush Administration has reached Wild West proportions and the inmates definitely have control of the US(A)sylum.

A very dear friend of mine, Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, is being harassed by the Air Force for “Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman” because “The Rev” fulfills his duty as an Officer and a Gentleman honorably by protesting Iraq and the Fascist Bush Regime almost constantly. The Rev is still in the Individual Ready Reserve, so the Air Force believes it is within its parameters to pursue the charges, although every “Officer and Gentleman(woman)” should be protesting the atrocious [war and U.S. policies] in the Middle East. After The Rev’s hearing on July 12 (in Macon, GA) he is going to begin a “symbolic” walk from the Reverend Martin Luther King’s grave (Atlanta, GA) to D.C. I am going to be there for him and to begin the march, but I am not going to make it symbolic.

We are going to walk from Atlanta, GA, to Congress beginning July 13…

[a last-minute change:] [the Rev’s hearing has been postponed for a our walk will be starting on July 10 from Camp Casey] and ending up in D.C. on July 23 to send the mis-leaders back home to face the music of justice in their own districts.

It is about time us “peasants” (in the eyes of the Fascist Ruling Elite) march on D.C. with our “pitchforks” of righteous anger and our “torches” of truth to demand the ouster of BushCo. I have a dream of the detention centers that George has built and filled being instead filled with Orange Clad neo-cons and neo-connettes.

If Congress won’t dig BushCo’s political grave, it is the People’s job to do so. Thomas Jefferson said that we need a Revolution every 20 years, or so, to keep our Republic honest. Over 225 years have passed since our last Revolution (if you don’t count the War Between the States) and we are long overdue for one. Turn off your TVs, kiss your pets goodbye, bring the kids, and flock to the federal seat of corruption, or join us on our walk there, for a People’s Accountability Movement to be in the face of the Criminal BushCo and the Complicit Congress for the last week of session before they go on their undeserved vacations. (Why do they get vacations when the Iraqi parliamentarians don’t?)

On the eve of our first revolution: You know it’s right!

Author’s note: Please, I already see [the headlines:] “Attention Whore Is Back.” If anyone thinks that I am going to walk hundreds of miles in the Deep South during July for attention, then please join us! We will be publishing our route and plans for Accountability events along the way, within the next few days. Stay tuned.