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April 08, 2006
By PHILIP C. RESTINO
On Monday, March 27, The New York Times ran a story on the "White House Memo" which detailed the two-hour meeting between President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair held in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, where they discussed ways to mislead the public and government officials of their respective countries into supporting President Bush's pre-determined plan to invade Iraq.
Both Bush and Blair acknowledged that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, so Bush went so far as to propose painting a U.S. spy plane in United Nations colors and flying it at low altitude over Iraq to provoke the Iraqis into firing on the plane and thus give justification for his "war of choice."
All the while, the American and British people were being told that war with Iraq was a "last resort," as war of any kind should be.
Also during this time, Congress and the American people were being told on a daily basis by Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and the Bush White House that our country and its allies were under "imminent threat" of attack by WMDs from Iraq. The Times story also mentioned the "Downing Street Memo," released to the public in May 2005, detailing a July 23, 2002, meeting which took place at Blair's office in London. In that meeting, high level members of the Blair administration were reporting back to Blair on their meetings with their Bush administration counterparts and stating that Bush had already decided to invade Iraq and that the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
In its March 28 editorial, The News-Journal reminded us of the more than 30,000 Iraqis and 2,531 coalition soldiers killed and asked an important question: "If deception on such a consequential scale isn't an impeachable offense, what is?"
As a veteran, a military family member, and foremost as an American, I am amazed each day by the quiet acceptance and lack of concern, let alone outrage at the administration, from my fellow countrymen and especially my fellow veterans. Many of our troops, 40 percent of them National Guard and Reservists, are now on their third and fourth tours of combat duty in Iraq with 50,000 soldiers so far stop-lossed to serve beyond their completed enlistment contracts.
Is anyone paying attention here? The troops are doing their part, but we as citizens are not doing our parts in holding our civilian leadership accountable.
I say to my community, to my fellow Americans and my fellow veterans that if you truly want to support the troops in a "patriotic" manner, then forget the yellow ribbon magnets and get on the phone to your representatives in Congress and tell them to bring our troops home and to investigate and hold accountable President Bush and his administration for their deliberate misleading of our country into the war on Iraq.
Restino is co-chair and a founding member of the Central Florida Veterans for Peace and a member of Military Families Speak Out -- Florida. He lives in Daytona Beach.