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Dear Ms. Sheehan,
From your grief over the loss of your son, Casey, in Iraq has come the courage to spotlight nationally the cowardly character trait of a President who refuses to meet with anyone or any group critical of his illegal, fabricated, deceptive war and occupation of that ravaged country. As a messianic militarist, Mr. Bush turned aside his own father’s major advisers who warned him of the terroristic, political, and diplomatic perils to the United States from an invasion of Iraq. He refused to listen.
Thirteen organizations in early 2003 separately wrote their President requesting a meeting to have him hear them out as to why they opposed his drumbeating, on-the-road-to war policies. These groups represented millions of Americans. They included church leaders, veterans, business, labor, retired intelligence officials, students, women and others. They are among those Americans who are not allowed through the carefully screened public audiences that are bused to arenas around the country to hear his repetitive slogans for carrying on this draining, boomeranging war. They each wrote President Bush but he never bothered even to acknowledge their letters simply to say no to the requested meetings. Not even the courtesy of a reply came from their White House.
Ever since then it has been the same-exclusion, denial, contempt and arrogance for views counter to that of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney and the tight circle around them that composes the inner tin ear of this Administration. Why, they even refuse to listen to objections by their own government’s military lawyers (JAG) over repeated violations of due process of law. When will he realize that he is supposed to be the President of all the people, not just those misled into supporting his Iraq maneuvers?
Perhaps the breakthrough will begin this hot August in Crawford, Texas, with the devastating loss of a beloved child transformed into a mission for the soul of our country. This rogue regime, led by two draft-dodgers and officially counseled by similar pro-war evaders during the Vietnam War, is not "our country." Millions of Americans, including military and public servants in his Administration, and many in the retired military, diplomatic and intelligence services, opposed this war, still oppose it and do not equate George W. Bush and Dick Cheney with the United States of America.
Our flag stands for "liberty and justice for all." Our flag must never be misused or defiled as a bandanna for war crimes, as a gag against the people’s freedom of speech and conscience or as a fig leaf to hide the shame of charlatans in high public office, who violate our Constitution, our laws and our founding fathers’ framework for accountable, responsive government.
You will be goaded to cross the semantic line against a President who himself has crossed the much graver constitutional line that has cost so many lives on both sides and continues to cost and cost our country in so many ways domestically and before the world. Neglecting America for the Iraq war has become the widening downward path trod by the Bush government.
Authenticity, bereft of contrivances, is what must confront this White House Misleader. And authenticity is what you are and what drives you as you demand to see this resistant President. He is on an intermittent month long vacation, with spells for fundraisers and other insulated events. His schedule provides ample time for such a meeting. You reflect the hopes and prayers of millions of like-minded Americans.
Should he relent and opens his doors, be sure to ask why he low-balls U.S. casualties in Iraq, deleting and disrespecting soldiers seriously hurt or sickened in the Iraq war theater, but not in direct combat. Remind him of those soldiers back in military hospitals who, with their families, wonder why they are not being counted as they cope with their serious and permanent disabilities. (60 Minutes, CBS program).
Ask him why, despite Pentagon audits and GAO investigations about corruption, waste and non-delivery of services in Iraq by profiteering large corporations totaling billions of dollars, this Commander of Chief accepted campaign contributions from their executives and proceeds to let this giant corporate robbery continue without the requisite law and
Consider bringing to him a copy of President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous "Cross of Iron" speech, delivered in April 1953 before the nation’s newspaper editors in Washington, D.C. And add statements by Marine General Anthony Zinni (ret.), a Middle East specialist who strongly criticized the Bush-Cheney war policy before and after March 2003.
May you and your associates succeed in galvanizing the public debate in this country over why a growing majority of Americans now think it was a costly mistake to invade Iraq and want our soldiers back, with the U.S. out of that country. He knows that his support for how he is handling this war-occupation is falling close to one third of respondents in recent polls-the lowest yet. Even with the mass-media at his disposal everyday, he now represents a minority of public opinion, which should give him pause before closing his oil marinated doors on majority views in this nation.
May you prevail where others have failed to secure an audience with Mr. Bush.
RALPH NADER is a consumer advocate and former presidential candidate. You can comment on this letter on his blogspot at DemocracyRising.US.