On Nov. 7, Americans rejected the policies of the Bush Administration by electing Democrats to the majority in both the House and Senate. The tide of public opinion has turned against the war in Iraq. Two-thirds of Americans are now against the war, and 71 percent oppose President Bush's plan to send additional troops. Many Americans are now turning to Congress to end the war and listen to the will of the people.
This week, activists around Minnesota began a campaign of sustained action to end the U.S. war in Iraq. The plan is called the Occupation Project and the goal is to challenge Minnesota senators and representatives to vote against funding for the war. Initiated by Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a Chicago-based group, the purpose of the Occupation Project is to "occupy" the offices of politicians and pressure them to end the occupation of Iraq. The Twin Cities Peace Campaign--Focus on Iraq has organized a Minnesota Occupation Project that begins on Feb. 7 and will continue for eight weeks. Every Tuesday, constituents will enter the local offices of their senators and representatives at 9 a.m. and begin an all-day vigil.
Organizer Marie Braun said, "We do not plan to be disruptive, but rather to be a presence to remind our elected officials that the people of Minnesota want an end to the war on Iraq. We want them to stop funding the war and to bring the troops home now." She explained that an additional $160 billion has already been appropriated for the war, but that it should be used for troop withdrawal. Many Congressional representatives are hesitant to cut off funding because they don't want to further endanger the troops. Braun maintains that "Supporting the troops means bringing them home. Giving the President a blank check to keep them at war is a far greater danger."
President Bush has said that he plans to escalate the war whether Congress supports him or not. Recently, 21 scholars from law schools around the nation wrote a letter to the House and Senate leadership arguing that Congress does have the authority to limit the scope of the war. New York University law professor David Golove recently explained on "Democracy Now!": "The Constitution gives vast war powers to Congress. They have the power to raise money to provide for the common defense, to raise and support armies and the power to declare war. When the Constitution was ratified, there was no standing army. Only Congress was given the power to fund the military. This was a significant check on the President."
Golove says Congress has the authority to pass a binding resolution to limit the number of troops or to set a timetable for withdrawal. Braun believes that cutting off funding is in order. "Bills take a long time to be passed and the President can veto them. Appropriating funds for war is a simple yes or no vote. Cutting off funding is the most efficient way to bring the troops out of harm's way now."
Occupation Project vigils will be held every Tuesday in the offices of both Minnesota senators and seven of the eight congressional representatives. Keith Ellison of the Fifth District has already said he will vote against future funding. The project is open to anyone who wishes to publicly oppose the Iraq war respectfully and nonviolently. Participants are encouraged to set up visual displays and to bring poems or songs to share. Folks can stay all day or for just a few minutes to be a presence for peace. For further information, call 612-522-1861 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. ||