Warning of the potential for more terrorist attacks and a "tarnished reputation" for the United States, 74 former members of Congress sent a letter to the White House Friday urging the Bush administration to "hold off" on any war plans with Iraq.
The signatories, all but four of them Democrats, urged the administration to give U.N. weapons inspectors more time to do their job.
"Let us pull back from the brink of war and give peaceful solutions a chance to work," the letter said.
The former lawmakers said they believed a war against Iraq would kill innocent people, precipitate terrorist attacks, weaken the United Nations, exacerbate conflicts throughout the Middle East and hurt the U.S. standing as a "world citizen."
The letter --released at a news conference Friday -- came as antiwar protesters gathered in Washington for a rally Sunday. Other antiwar protests are scheduled to take place this weekend in cities across the country.
Four Republicans signed the letter: John Buchanan Jr. of Alabama, Paul Findley of Illinois, Paul "Pete" McCloskey Jr. of California, and Charles Whalen of Ohio.
"It still remains not a very wise, or safe, or even sane policy to try to liberate a village by destroying it," Buchanan said at the National Press Club, where the group met with reporters.
"The doctrine of pre-emption, the Japanese used it against us. It was called Pearl Harbor," said Democrat Elizabeth Holtzman, who represented New York City in the House.
The letter campaign was organized by former Maine congressman Tom Andrews, who started the Win Without War coalition, which is organizing candlelight vigils for Sunday.
Win Without War said the vigils will be held in more than 2,000 cities and 98 countries. In Washington, the vigil will be held at the Lincoln Memorial and will feature a performance by folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary.
Some rallies are also expected Saturday in cities such as Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Marches are being organized by the ANSWER coalition, which was also responsible for the October and January marches in Washington that organizers said drew hundreds of thousands of people.
In addition, the United for Peace and Justice coalition is calling for acts of civil disobedience in Washington and other cities next week. Monday, dozens are expected to stage sit-ins at the U.S. Capitol.
Friday in San Francisco, police arrested demonstrators who were trying to shut down the Pacific Stock Exchange on Friday.
The blocked a major intersection in the city's financial district before police began making arrests. There were no disruptions to trading, a stock exchange spokesman said.
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