February 14, 2004
Dear President Bush,
Two years ago today, family members of 9/11 victims lost at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and on Flight 93 launched a group called September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. We chose Valentinešs Day as a symbolic reminder that the American ideals of peace, justice and reconciliation remain vibrant, and did not die with our loved ones.
On that day, we held up a large heart containing a valentine letter to you. In the letter we asked to meet with you to discuss the creation of a fund to assist innocent victims of war in Afghanistan. We felt that it was not only a decent and moral response to those accidental deaths, but also a practical opportunity to demonstrate the same compassion that 9/11 family members received from all over the globe.
You chose not to meet with us, but since that day two years ago, the members of Peaceful Tomorrows have worked to display the best of America's ideals to the rest of the world. We secured congressional funding to assist Afghan civilians affected by the war. We connected with others around the world who have been similarly affected by terrorism and war. We stood with millions across the globe against the war in Iraq and for the cause of peace. And our group has grown as more 9/11 family members have found healing by turning their grief into action for peace. In contrast, you declared it was an 'us versus them' world, and pursued unilateral and unpopular policies that turned that world against the United States and made us less secure. And worst of all, you often used the deaths of our family members as an excuse to pursue that agenda.
Two years later, we ask you to stop exploiting the tragedy of September 11 for political gain and to join us in responding to that tragic day in a manner that brings about genuine healing and peace for Americans and the rest of the world.
We respectfully request a written response to the following questions:
1. You and members of your administration consistently invoked 9/11 as a justification for war in Iraq, without presenting any evidence of a link between Saddam Husseinšs Iraq and the attacks of that day. The confusing and misleading statements made by your administration that allude to an unproven link have caused a majority of the US public, (up to 70% according to a Washington Post poll taken in September 2003) to believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for September 11.You have exploited the American public's genuine fear of another September 11 to pursue an unrelated war, which has already cost the lives of more than 500 US service people and an estimated 10,000 Iraqi civilians. We call upon you today to publicly acknowledge that your administration's statements have misled the American people, and to clarify that there is no evidence of a connection between the events of 9/11 and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Please, Mr. President, will you correct this dangerous misperception?
2. In light of your announcement that the United States plans to step up the campaign to find Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, we ask that you cease the tactic of bombing villages in an attempt to kill Bin Laden or other suspected Al Qaeda or Taliban leaders. In the past two years these village bombings have killed and injured countless innocent civilians, including children, while failing to achieve their stated aim. Since the beginning of 2003, media reports confirm that more than 64 civilians have been killed in at least six separate incidents of village bombings. Meanwhile, most top Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders have been captured through international cooperation, intelligence sharing, and police work, not the bombing of villagers. No one desires Bin Laden to be arrested and stand trial more than we do. Yet through continued bombing of innocent civilians, you have increased anti-American sentiment and created legions of potential future terrorists. We beg you, Mr. President, will you direct the military to cease the tactic of bombing villages in Afghanistan, and choose more effective methods to capture the criminals responsible for our loved ones deaths?
3. We ask you to stop playing politics with the 9/11 attacks. September 11 was many things, but it was a victory for no one but the terrorists. When your administration treats it like a success story and your political party uses the World Trade Center site as the backdrop for the Republican convention this fall, we are offended. We have witnessed the photograph of you on the telephone on September 11 sold by your campaign as a fundraising vehicle. We have read Republican party officials' acknowledgement that the national convention was planned in New York City at the latest possible date in order to 'flow seamlessly into the commemoration of 9/11.' And we have witnessed your administration's lack of cooperation with the Independent Commission investigating 9/11. On November 27, 2002, you stated, "the investigation should carefully examine all the evidence and follow all the facts, wherever they lead. We must uncover every detail and learn every lesson of September the 11th. It's our most solemn duty."We ask you today live up to that promise. As president of the United States, you well know that our nation's future is more important than any one personšs political career. We ask you, Mr. President, will you renounce the exploitation of September 11th for partisan political gain?
You claim that September 11th made you a war president. But this is not true. By responding to the terrorism of 9/11 with an unending 'war on terror,'and a doctrine of pre-emptive war, you and your administration chose this path. After September 11, the entire world reached out to the United States with compassion. Rather than building on that good will and ushering the world into a new era of mutual cooperation, an effort that would have required true statesmanship and a willingness to deal honestly with the root causes of terrorism, you appealed to our fears and to the worst in human kind. Your domestic and foreign policies have reduced our nation's leadership, leaving us less secure, less free, less respected and less able to deal effectively with the genuine threat of 21st century terrorism.
This Valentine's Day, two years after the creation of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, we call on you to open your heart, take accountability for your actions, and act now to set our nation on the path of real peace. This is the way to truly honor those who died on September 11 and who continue to live in our hearts. We look forward to your timely answers to our inquiries.
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows