Sacramento's Out Of Iraq Forum Rocks The Capital City
By Nancy Tronaas
Author and media critic Norman Solomon, mother/activist Cindy Sheehan, and actor Sean Penn.
Photo by Bill Lackemacher IV
Sacramento, CA - January 7, 2006--On Saturday, January 7, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, author David Dionisi, 4th Congressional District candidate Charles Brown, and surprise guests--academy-award winning Sean Penn and author Norm Solomon spoke to a packed SEIU hall in Sacramento, California. With nearly 200 people inside and a large overflow crowd gathered out on the sidewalk, Sacramentans are demonstrating their impatience and frustration with U.S. involvement in Iraq.
Dave Dionisi, author of American Hiroshima and former U.S. military intelligence officer, provided insight on pre-9-11 intelligence. This information should have been utilized to prevent the attacks on the World Trade Center. He also discussed U.S. foreign policy driven by the combination of controlling oil reserves in the Middle East in league with the U.S. military-industrial machine that has promoted war to support corporate profits.
The next speaker was Charles Brown, USAF Retired Lt. Colonel, and Democratic candidate for the 4th Congressional District in California. He is running against incumbent Republican John Doolittle. Charles expressed concerns about George W. Bush's efforts to erode the Constitution and the administration's usurpation of Congressional power. Brown stressed as voters, we must continue to support candidates who will effect changes in Congress in order to take back our country and restore the rule of law
Welcomed with a standing ovation, Cindy Sheehan and co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace gave a rousing talk. She stressed the need to impeach this administration as war criminals who continue to lie to the American public about pre-war Iraq intelligence. She also contends that Pres. Bush's assertions about pulling the U.S. troops out of Iraq would lead to chaos are a part of a calculated strategy to mislead the American public. Cindy reminded the audience that we all need to take responsibility for Iraq—as we elected the officials who ultimately allowed the invasion and occupation. We have the power to remove them from office. Cindy emphasized we must exit Iraq now to save precious lives. After expressing her support for a Dept. of Peace, Cindy concluded that she'd like to create a U.S. Dept. of History, with herself as the first secretary.
Actor Sean Penn added to the enthusiasm of the day by stressing that all of the nation's anti-war activism was taking hold and was starting to work—while admitting that the stress of living under the current administration was making it tough for him to quit smoking. Stating that he "was not a pacifist on the inside", he was moved to be one on the outside for the sake of his children and grandchildren's future. He said we have to fight for everything we have.
A Q & A session followed a brief summary of current pending legislation authored by Bush opponents. The invited speakers deftly fielded questions on the economics of war, the politics of foreign policy, and the power of resistance.
Perhaps the most unforgettable moment occurred when Jesse Dyen, Camp Casey's beloved sound guy and songwriter, played his guitar and sang "Sons and Daughters", the beautiful and plaintive anthem that was born in Crawford during those hot August nights. Before he sang, Jesse asked the audience which direction southeast was. He explained that when the song was sung every night at Camp Casey, they always faced Bush's ranch. The emotion in his song was reflected and magnified by the packed hall. It was aching and palpable.
The program was moderated by Bill Durston, President of the Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Bill wrapped up the meeting by telling the audience ideas for how they can get involved in resisting the war. He encouraged everyone to take part in the National Call In Day for January 9th. We can't imagine anyone in attendance wasn't motivated to keep the energy going!
This Sacramento Out of Iraq Town Hall meeting was sponsored by the Sacramento Coalition to End the War, Sacramento for Democracy, Progressive Democrats of America and Peace in the Precincts.