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Posted by Jeff from ( on Wednesday, January 08, 2003 at 9:13PM :

Dear MoveOn Member,

On January 21st, across the country, thousands of us will be meeting with the offices of our members of Congress on the possible war on Iraq. We'll meet with them in district offices from Portland, ME to Portland, OR, and we'll deliver a petition representing hundreds of thousands of us who want our leaders to "Let the Inspections Work." We plan to meet with over 400 Congressional offices, but to do that we'll need everyone to come out. You can register in under five minutes for a meeting in your area at:

We are at a critical point in the campaign to resolve the crisis over Iraq through peaceful means. In the UK, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has put the probability of war at under 50%. Mohammad ElBaradei, head of the UN's nuclear inspections program, has said there is "no smoking gun" and no significant evidence pointing to a revitalized Iraqi nuclear program. Numerous newspaper reports have suggested that when Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, talks to the UN Security Council on the January 27th, he will say that Iraq has complied with the inspections.

At the same time, reports on the costs of this war in lives, global security, and money continue to come in on an almost daily basis. A Yale economist has placed the total cost of the war at up to $1.6 TRILLION dollars. A UN report argues that as many as 500,000 Iraqi civilians could be killed or seriously wounded in the war, with malnutrition affecting millions. The CIA tells us that the only circumstance under which Saddam Hussein is likely to use weapons of mass destruction is if he is backed into a corner.

But President Bush and some of the hawks in his administration still appear eager to go to war, regardless of whether the inspections are working. Many members of Congress are concerned about this, but they're reluctant to challenge the President to commit to the United Nations process and let the inspections go forward.

The authority to declare war resides with Congress and Congress alone. Congress authorized the President to use force only as a last resort. We are not at that point -- the weapons inspections are working. It's up to Congress to insist that we let the inspections work, and it's up to us to see that they do. Constituent meetings may be the single most powerful tool we have for doing that.

You can sign up right now at:

In these meetings, we'll be talking to members of Congress or their senior staff. A team of hard-working MoveOn volunteers has been contacting each office; not all of the meetings are confirmed yet, but by the end of the week they will be. Please DON'T contact the members' office about this -- we're trying to coordinate this so that it's easy for them. After you register, you'll be given contact info for the volunteer coordinating your meeting.

These meetings come five months after a hugely successful round of constituent meetings convened by MoveOn on August 28. I've attached our final message on that round below -- you can read it to get a sense of what it's like to participate in these meetings and what kind of impact they can have. This time around, it's likely that we'll be pushing Congress to sign onto a "Dear Colleague" letter, circulated by Representatives who voted for and against the Iraq resolution, asking the President to let the inspections work. In other words, there's a good likelihood that Congress will be taking up our petition.

We're organizing these meetings in conjunction with Win Without War, a coalition of major mainstream membership organizations like the Sierra Club, NOW, the NAACP, and the National Council of Churches. Together, these organizations represent tens of millions of Americans. It's going to be huge. We'd love to see you there. Please sign up today:

The Bush Administration has indicated that it will make a firm statement regarding the war on Iraq on January 27th. It's critical that we get Congress to reach out to the President and ensure that he lets the inspections work. We don't have much time, but by meeting with Congress, we could make the critical difference. Please sign up now.

--Eli Pariser
International Campaigns Director
January 8th, 2002

P.S. Here's an abbreviated version of the report from last time:

Dear MoveOn Supporter,

Here's a quick report on the progress of our "No War on Iraq" campaign. As of today, August 29, 2002, more than 160,000 people around the country have signed the online petition. And on Wednesday, thousands of us delivered the first batch of these petitions through meetings in Senate offices in each and every state.

I've been scrambling to stay on top of the reports as they come in from meetings across the country. I'm receiving emails from Utah, from Hawaii, from New Hampshire, and from Georgia. The experience each message describes is different, but on one point they're nearly all the same: the meetings that occurred yesterday with Senators' offices were an enormous success.

Local TV stations broadcast interviews with participants in close to a third of the meetings. And newspapers from the Austin-American Statesman to the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times to the Indianapolis Star have printed or are writing stories. Since Senators watch the media closely, this coverage has made the meetings even more impactful.

The following comment from a meeting participant in Florida has been echoed again and again in the letters in my inbox:

"As Senator Nelson's aide said at the end of our meeting, I came with no expectations today. But I left amazed at the eloquence and passion expressed by so many of you today. It gives me hope . . . I just wanted to thank you for your time, the mileage you put on your cars, but most of all for speaking out when so many people keep quiet under the false guise of patriotism. Our actions display true patriotism and love of country."

As I read through these reports, as I look at (and listen to, and watch) the press coverage that we've generated, and as I hear descriptions of the reactions of Senators' staff, I know that through our meetings and our petition, we've made a lasting and positive impact.

But the reports speak for themselves:

>From David Keppel, Indianapolis, IN:

"The meeting with Leslie Reiser, [Senator Richard] Lugar's State Director, went extremely well. . . . We had an impressive group of delegates and an even more impressive portfolio of letters (including some prominent people we had invited who couldn't make it but were supportive). Ms. Reiser was highly receptive. . . . I think we have a real chance with [Senator Lugar]. And he's as well positioned as anyone in Congress to put the brakes on Bush."

>From JoAnn Perry in Reno, NV:

"It was an excellent meeting, and everyone there was glad to attend. [Senator Ensign's aide Verita] Prothro said it was the largest and best organized that she had had in that office!"

>From our local leader in Boston, MA:

"We had about 150 people show up for support. We held a vigil outside. Six of us went into the meeting.

We met with Tom Crohan (one of Sen. Kennedy's) aides) for about an hour. It was very friendly, constructive conversation. He didn't say it directly, but it sounded like Sen. Kennedy would definitely be against a war. Tom mentioned that when Sen. Kennedy mentions this topic, he remembers his brother and the Cuban missile crisis. He said his brother was right to seek a diplomatic solution first before a military solution. He feels that the Bush administration should do the same in this instance."

>From our leader in Madison, WI:

"Given the short notice, we were delighted that 72 people gathered, and 3/4 of them were eager to speak. The wonderful thing about the gathering was that people came from all walks of life, from University professors and graduate students, to blue-collar laborers and Vietnam vets -- all speaking in unison about their concerns regarding the war on Iraq and urging their Congressman to ask the questions that they were asking."

>From our leader in Boise, ID:

"We met with staff of Senator Crapo and Craig together. Very large, diverse group of participants including four Benedictine sisters and members of Lutheran Peace Fellowship as well as Idaho Peace Coalition and Snake River Alliance and independents. Everyone was very articulate and heartfelt and respectful. . . . We were also asked exactly what questions we wanted answered and folks gave great and pretty comprehensive responses."

>From Sue Regan, Atlanta, GA:

"We were extremely fortunate to have, in our group, Democratic State Representative, Nan Grogan Orrock, Elizabeth Chestnut from WAND, and a few retired Armed forces personnel . . . who very eloquently told of the warnings given to her squad of going to war with Iraq. 'Too bloody,' they said, 'a big mistake. Do not go to war with Iraq.' The entire Gluck family was present to admonish Zell Miller that if the US went to war with Iraq it would be the children who ultimately would suffer those consequences."

>From an attendee in Seattle, WA

"[Mr. Thompson, Senator Cantwell's aide, said] that combining the electronic with the personal, such as we have with MoveOn, was taking the right approach."

>From Joan Wile in New York, NY:

"Today I was part of a delegation of 10 people who met with Hillary Clinton's NYS Deputy Director, Basil Smikle, at her offices on Third Avenue to lobby against the war on Iraq. . . . Among my delegation was our spokesperson, a Rabbi who heads a Jewish peace group; a minister who has been to Iraq several times distributing medical supplies; a young professor of Middle East studies who has spent a lot of time recently in Iraq and other Middle East countries and who speaks 8 languages in that area; a documentary film maker who was recently in Iraq making a documentary, and ordinary citizens like me who feel strongly that it would be a disaster if we launch a preemptive strike against Iraq. . . . My feeling was that [Mr. Simkle] took our views very seriously and will try to persuade [Senator Clinton] to attend to the issue."

Thank you all for being part of something big.

-- Jeff
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