- This was forwarded to me via email and talks about those who have gone to Iraq to be witnesses to the coming carnage. One person who is dear to my heart, Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness (Nobel Peace Prize nominee) is now in Iraq and is quoted in this story. Please pray for her safety and for that of the family who she is staying with. (For more on Kathy Kelly, read my notes from a seminar where I heard her speak at a seminar on Social Justice at Cornerstone Music festival.
- Activists in Baghdad Brace for Consequences of War
Published on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 by the Gannett News Service
by Greg Barrett
BAGHDAD – If the invasion that the Pentagon has dubbed “Operation Shock and Awe” commences, Charlie Liteky is unlikely to feel either.
He expects the United States to bomb Iraq. He expects noise and destruction more powerful and frightening than he has ever known. He expects the Earth to shake and houses to go dark and children to scream themselves hoarse.
But Liteky sounds more determined than frightened.
Like 20 other members of the Chicago-based Iraq Peace Team who remain in Baghdad even as hostilities appear certain, Liteky abhors cluster bombs, cruise missiles and the civil unrest that combat causes. As a decorated Vietnam veteran, he knows firsthand the chaos and carnage of war.
That’s precisely why he sounded elated Tuesday morning when he told his wife that the Iraqi government had extended his tourist visa 10 days and is likely to extend it again, long enough for him to help Iraqi children through the difficult time.
Most of the peace activists who descended by the hundreds on Baghdad this fall and winter have fled. Those who remain have no intentions of leaving. They are anchored to the bull’s-eye despite the fact – or maybe because of it – that the World Health Organization predicts 100,000 Iraqis could die.
“I’m here because I hear the children cry,” Liteky said. “In my mind … I imagine the bombing and the noise and the windows shattering and something coming down from the ceiling and children looking up and parents grabbing them and fear being transferred from parents to children.”
Washington has warned the activists to clear out. The Pentagon has said its assault will leave no place in Baghdad to hide. So the rundown hotels that enjoyed full houses as recently as February are shuttering their windows.
At the Hotel Al-Fanar on the Tigris river, the Iraq Peace Team is moving to the lower floors because the eight-story building is old and seems unsteady. Its bomb shelter is a musty basement that stores the hotel’s chemical cleaning supplies.
Members of the peace team have signed an ominous-sounding contract: “In the event of your death, you agree to your body not being returned to your own country but being disposed of in the most convenient way.”
They have had awkward discussions about what to do with the corpses that might collect around them. Wrap the dead in hotel drapes, they decided. Pray for help.
Iraq Peace Team founder Kathy Kelly had a photo enlarged that shows her with some of her dearest friends – the family of an Iraqi widow and her nine children. The photo is being mailed to Kelly’s mother in Chicago.
“She can see by that photo that I am very, very happy,” Kelly said, sounding serenely calm despite the gathering storm.
On Monday, Kelly helped an Iraqi friend pack to leave. Teacher and artist Amal Alwan rushed her three young children into a taxi and paid $300 for the 10-hour drive from Baghdad to Damascus, Syria. Alwan doesn’t have relatives in Syria and couldn’t tell the cabbie exactly where to go.
“She doesn’t have a clue where she will stay, but she can’t possibly stay in Baghdad, not with children,” Kelly said. “Her house is next to a communications center.”
As Kelly spoke it was almost 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday in Baghdad and she was awake reading “A Fine Balance,” a novel about civil war in India. She planned to rise six hours later for a daily prayer meeting then go with the peace team to the United Nations offices in Baghdad. They would hold aloft several enlarged photos of Iraqi families.
Each photo would carry a single question: “Doomed?”
“I don’t have the slightest sense of not belonging exactly where I am right now,” said Kelly, 50, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. “The thought of leaving has not even crossed my mind.”
The Pentagon says the presence of U.S. pacifists will not deter the course of war. Although there are no plans to arrest them for violating sanctions on Iraq by traveling to Baghdad, officials throughout the U.S. government, from the White House to the State Department to the Pentagon, sound confused about how to best to deal with them.
“There’s not a whole lot of precedence,” said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Dan Hetlage. “It’s not like you had human shields protecting the Taliban.”
Armed for war
Members of the Iraq Peace Team say they are as prepared for war as they will ever be. They have “crash kits” packed neatly and set by their hotel doors. Liteky’s is the size of carryon luggage. It bulges with bandages, antibiotics, water-purification tablets, three liters of water, dried fruit, canned tuna, biscuits, power bars and a short-wave radio.
He hopes to ride out Operation Shock and Awe in Baghdad’s Orphanage of the Sisters of Mother Teresa. Or at least to rush there as soon as the bombing subsides. He’s compelled to at least try to quell the inevitable trembling of the children.
“I’d rather die doing something,” he told his wife, Judy, “then die … in some old folks home.”
Liteky, 72, is a former Roman Catholic priest and Vietnam war hero awarded the congressional Medal of Honor for crawling under volleys of gunfire in 1967 to rescue 23 injured U.S. soldiers.
According to Army reports, during the firefight near Phuoc-Lac the wounded became too heavy to carry so Liteky turned onto his back in the mud, pulled the men on top of him and crawled backward under gunfire, using only his heels and elbows.
He’s plenty scared of war, he said, but his fear is for the children.
When the attack comes, he said, “the most beautiful thing that can happen for me is if I am permitted to be at the orphanage. At least I could pick the children up, hold them, and try to let my calm and love transfer to them.”
Liteky speaks every morning to his wife 11 times zones away in San Francisco. Since arriving in Baghdad three weeks ago, it has become increasingly difficult to hang up the phone. On Tuesday they spoke for 40 minutes, said goodbye twice, and kept talking.
“I don’t have a death wish,” he said in an interview Monday. “I have everything to live for. I have a wonderful wife and a wonderful life back home.”
Liteky and his wife have thought for a week that the invasion of Iraq would begin sometime between March 10 and 17. So when Judy Liteky, a math teacher at a community college, left for work on Monday, she put a bumper sticker on her car.
“Attack Iraq? No!,” it read.
“The bumper sticker made me feel just a little bit better,” she said
Kelly heard late Monday that the United Nations would evacuate most of its remaining office staff on Tuesday. Still, she sounded steadfast in her decision to stay in Baghdad, even if it meant dying.
“A lot of people are concerned for the foreigners who remain here; you wonder if anyone is concerned for these very ordinary Iraqi people who are going to die here,” she said.
When photographer Thorne Anderson chose to travel to Baghdad with Kelly in January to document the people and the war, he informed his family of the trip in an email.
Anderson, who has freelanced for Gannett News Service, Newsweek, The New York Times and other publications, said he expected a little preaching, lots of concern, and some pleas to reconsider.
Instead, his father, the Rev. Eade Anderson of Montreat, N.C., was succinct in his reply.
“I’ve always said life shouldn’t be wasted on the small things,” he wrote in an email. “Love, Dad.”
© 2003 Gannett News Service
- From another email forward…
- Letter to the man in the White House. BY MICHAEL MOORE
Monday, March 17th, 2003
George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Dear Governor Bush:
So today is what you call “the moment of truth,” the day that “France and the rest of world have to show their cards on the table.” I’m glad to hear that this day has finally arrived. Because, I gotta tell ya, having survived 440 days of your lying and conniving, I wasn’t sure if I could take much more. So I’m glad to hear that today is Truth Day, ’cause I got a few truths I would like to share with you:
1. There is virtually NO ONE in America (talk radio nutters and Fox News aside) who is gung-ho to go to war. Trust me on this one. Walk out of the White House and on to any street in America and try to find five people who are PASSIONATE about wanting to kill Iraqis. YOU WON’T FIND THEM! Why? ‘Cause NO Iraqis have ever come here and killed any of us! No Iraqi has even threatened to do that. You see, this is how we average Americans think: If a certain so-and-so is not perceived as a threat to our lives, then, believe it or not, we don’t want to kill him! Funny how that works!
2. The majority of Americans — the ones who never elected you — are not fooled by your weapons of mass distraction. We know what the real issues are that affect our daily lives — and none of them begin with I or end in Q. Here’s what threatens us: two and a half million jobs lost since you took office, the stock market having become a cruel joke, no one knowing if their retirement funds are going to be there, gas now costs two dollars a gallon — the list goes on and on. Bombing Iraq will not make any of this go away. Only you need to go away for things to improve.
3. As Bill Maher said last week, how bad do you have to suck to lose a popularity contest with Saddam Hussein? The whole world is against you, Mr. Bush. Count your fellow Americans among them.
4. The Pope has said this war is wrong, that it is a SIN. The Pope! But even worse, the Dixie Chicks have now come out against you! How bad does it have to get before you realize that you are an army of one on this war? Of course, this is a war you personally won’t have to fight. Just like when you went AWOL while the poor were shipped to Vietnam in your place.
5. Of the 535 members of Congress, only ONE (Sen. Johnson of South Dakota) has an enlisted son or daughter in the armed forces! If you really want to stand up for America, please send your twin daughters over to Kuwait right now and let them don their chemical warfare suits. And let’s see every member of Congress with a child of military age also sacrifice their kids for this war effort. What’s that you say? You don’t THINK so? Well, hey, guess what — we don’t think so either!
6. Finally, we love France. Yes, they have pulled some royal screw-ups. Yes, some of them can be pretty damn annoying. But have you forgotten we wouldn’t even have this country known as America if it weren’t for the French? That it was their help in the Revolutionary War that won it for us? That it was France who gave us our Statue of Liberty, a Frenchman who built the Chevrolet, and a pair of French brothers who invented the movies? And now they are doing what only a good friend can do — tell you the truth about yourself, straight, no b.s. Quit pissing on the French and thank them for getting it right for once. You know, you really should have traveled more (like once) before you took over. Your ignorance of the world has not only made you look stupid, it has painted you into a corner you can’t get out of.
Well, cheer up — there IS good news. If you do go through with this war, more than likely it will be over soon because I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of Iraqis willing to lay down their lives to protect Saddam Hussein. After you “win” the war, you will enjoy a huge bump in the popularity polls as everyone loves a winner — and who doesn’t like to see a good ass-whoopin’ every now and then (especially when it ‘s some third world ass!). And just like with Afghanistan, we’ll forget about what happens to a country after we bomb it ’cause that is just too complex! So try your best to ride this victory all the way to next year’s election. Of course, that’s still a long ways away, so we’ll all get to have a good hardy-har-har while we watch the economy sink even further down the toilet!
But, hey, who knows — maybe you’ll find Osama a few days before the election! See, start thinking like THAT! Keep hope alive! Kill Iraqis — they got our oil!!
- And one last email forward…
- >MEDIA RELEASE
>For immediate release: Monday, March 17, 2003
>Nancy Allen, Media Coordinator, 207-326-4576, email@example.com
>Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, firstname.lastname@example.org
>GREENS CALL ON CONGRESS AND AMERICANS TO RESIST BUSH’S WAR DECLARATION
>On the brink of the invasion of Iraq, plans begin for The Day After, as U.S.
>troops face casualties from Iraqi resistance and depleted uranium; U.S.
>civilians face terrorist retaliation; Greens challenge antiwar Democratic
>officials to participate in civil disobedience.
>WASHINGTON, DC — Members of the Green Party of the United States stepped up
>their opposition to the ultimatum issued to Iraq by President Bush on Sunday
>after his summit with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Spanish Prime
>Minister Jose Maria Aznar, and Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Durao Barroso.
>President Bush declared Monday, March 17 as the day Iraq must completely
>disarm or face an invasion, and a U.N. endorsement of a U.S. military attack
>is no longer expected. Greens, noting that invasion may begin within the
>week, will participate in protests and nonviolent direct action the day
>after attacks are launched, in events being planned by United for Peace and
>Justice, the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, the “Bush is Taking
>the Shirts Off Our Backs to Pay for this War” Coalition, and other groups.
>Many Greens are challenging Democratic officeholders who oppose the war,
>especially presidential candidates, to participate in civil disobedience.
>”Let Democrats take the kind of stand Rep. Ron Dellums [D.-Calif.] took when
>he was arrested for protesting apartheid in South Africa,” said Connecticut
>Green Tom Sevigny, chair of the party’s national Bylaws Committee.
>”Preemptive invasion explicitly violates international law, the Geneva
>Convention, the U.N. charter, the Monroe Doctrine of military action as a
>defensive last resort, and the U.S. Constitution’s restriction of the use of
>U.S. armed forces to the defense of our borders. Green leaders have already
>risked arrest and been arrested. It’s time for antiwar Democrats like
>Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley-Braun, and Howard Dean to show moral
>leadership — as [Senior Cabinet Minister] Robin Cook has shown today in
>Greens are urging all Americans who oppose the war to increase their phone
>calls, letters, faxes, e-mails, and visits to Congressmembers, and to
>continue the show of support for the peoples and governments of other U.N.
>nations that oppose the war. Green Parties in many European countries,
>especially Germany, Belgium, France, Finland, and New Zealand, have played a
>major role in rallying citizens and influencing their respective governments
>not to give the invasion the facade of legitimacy through support in the
>”With Congress riding shotgun, Bush is driving America on a collision course
>with the global community,” said Ben Manski, Green Party Co-Chair.
>”Invasion of Iraq will make our nation responsible for the administration of
>government in that country for years to come, and will commit America to a
>new period of military adventurism in global politics. Such a course is not
>sustainable, not just, and fundamentally contrary to the interest of the
>While President Bush claims that the issue is Saddam’s weapons of mass
>destruction, the Wall Street Journal reported on January 16 that Bush has
>been meeting with oil companies to plan who will profit from the occupation
>of Iraq. CBS.MarketWatch.com (January 31) and CNN (March 2) have reported
>that oil companies expect a windfall from the invasion. This good news for
>oil companies is bad news for the U.S. economy, which will be damaged by the
>costs of the invasion and occupation. U.S. citizens will suffer as social
>services are cut drastically.
>”Bush’s intention all along was an invasion, which is why neither the U.N.
>inspections nor Saddam’s compliance and destruction of weapons were ever
>satisfactory, and U.N. support is a disposable formality,” said Carl
>Romanelli of the Pennsylvania Green Party. “At no point did Bush ever allow
>the possibility of containment under an internationally cooperative plan.
>Even if Iraq falls quickly, it will bring neither peace nor security, and
>we’ll see terrorist retaliation against American civilians and military
>personnel. Furthermore, the White House has made it clear that it wants to
>topple other governments, beginning with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.”
>While the Bush Administration has raised the subject of war crimes trials
>for Iraqi leaders, U.S. officials may face charges if they carry out the
>threat to drop 800 cruise missiles on Iraq in the first 48 hours of the war.
>The U.N. predicts a humanitarian disaster, with up to a half million
>civilian Iraqi deaths and injuries during the early stages of the war.
>”Greens will maintain their opposition to the war after the invasion
>begins,” said Mark Dunlea, chair of the Green Party of New York State. “If
>we really care about the lives of American soldiers, we’ll continue to
>demand that their lives not be placed at risk for the sake of control over
>Iraqi oil and political dominance over the region. The Bush Administration
>has built its case for this war on deception — on lies about Iraqi weapons
>capability, about connections between Saddam and al-Qaeda, about our real
>objectives in the Middle East. The greatest lie is that opposing the war is
>unpatriotic. We call on all people who value American ideals of democracy,
>nonviolence, and human rights to support our troops — and demand they be
>The Green Party of the United States
>National office: 1314 18th Street, NW Washington, DC 20036
>Green Party antiwar mobilization page
>United for Peace and Justice
>National Youth and Student Peace Coalition
>”Bush is Taking the Shirts Off Our Backs to Pay for this War” Coalition
>- END –