WASHINGTON - March 17 - Families of soldiers serving, as well as of those who have been casualties, in the occupation of Iraq came to Capitol Hill today with other volunteers, urging Congress to censure President George W. Bush.
Meanwhile, volunteers carried petitions that filled 18 large boxes, signed so far by 560,340 members of MoveOn.org from every congressional district, to each office in the House of Representatives, reinforcing the demand for a censure resolution. The groups also displayed print and TV ads that will begin running this week.
"My son, Army Lt. Seth Dvorin, who died last month while serving in Iraq, met his responsibility to the nation he loved," said Sue Niederer of Pennington, NJ. "As his mother, I am joining hundreds of thousands of Americans today in asking that the Congress of the United States meet its responsibility, as well."
Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War, said the combined activities represent an escalation of efforts that will continue. "The truth matters. By not holding the President accountable, the Congress is saying it doesn't. This is unacceptable," said Andrews, a former congressman and member of the Armed Services Committee.
"The resolution now before Congress is silent on the many ways Bush betrayed our trust, misleading us to make the case for this war," said Peter Schurman, executive director of MoveOn.org, an Internet issues organization with more than two million members.
Also participating in the news conference were Joseph Cirincione, directorof non-proliferation studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Richard Torgerson, a principal with Progressive Asset Management in Maryland and a leader of Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, and several military families.
The ongoing campaign for censure of the President is led by Win Without War, a national coalition of 42 membership organizations, and MoveOn.org, True Majority, Working Assets and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities. Richard Torgerson, a financial services executive in Maryland, represented Business Leaders and unveiled their new print ad, which will run this week in The New York Times.
Cirincione is an author of the Carnegie Endowment's critical study on the Bush Administration's distortion of intelligence and other evidence leading up to the war. Entitled "WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications," it found that Iraq's chemical and nuclear weapons programs "did not pose an immediate threat to the United States," or to regional or global security. It also said "there was and is no solid evidence of a cooperative relationship between Saddam's government and Al Qaeda."
"The President and the Administration systematically misrepresented the threat from Iraq," Cirincione said. "President Bush didn't have the facts, so he made them up."
"We are honored to be joined in our nationwide campaign for accountability by a growing number of families whose sons and daughters have served or are serving our nation in uniform," Andrews said. Mildred Mortillo, whose son is serving in Iraq, accompanied Ms. Niederer.
Speaking for herself and other military families, Ms. Niederer said: "Our message to Congress today is clear: spare us the platitudes, the pious rhetoric, the empty slogans. Give us the truth. Do your job and hold those accountable who have denied us the truth. Censure President Bush for the deceptions and manipulations that led our nation to war. You owe the American people, my son and all those patriots who have sacrificed for their nation no less."