The Guardian 20 September, 2006

9/11 families reject Bush war plea

Tim Wheeler

WASHINGTON: Family members who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack rejected President George W Bush’s attempt to use the fifth anniversary of the tragedy to rally support for his Iraq war.

Bush pleaded for national unity in support of the war policy during a visit to "ground zero" in New York and in a televised speech from the Oval Office.

David Potorti, who lost his brother in the WTC bombing, told the People’s Weekly World, "There was no connection between the September 11, 2001, attack and Iraq. The war has been a hopeless exercise of power and a terrible waste of lives and money."

Potorti is the director of September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. In commemoration of the fifth anniversary, the group brought people from around the world who suffered personally from terrorism to New York for a weekend conference. The meeting established a new International Network for Action and Policy Change to "break the cycle of violence by creating an organisation devoted to healing, reconciliation and peace."

Said Potorti, "Five years after September 11, we’ve seen the limitations of our military actions which have often provoked more violence, more civilian casualties and more anti-American sentiment than before. It’s time we listened to those who have been most affected by terrorism, violence and war and learn how they have successfully promoted conflict resolution in their own countries and communities."

Delegates came from Rwanda, Afghanistan, Algeria, Israel, Palestine, Indonesia, Spain, Japan, Italy, South Africa, Ireland and Russia. Potorti said, "We found out how important it is to make that person-to-person contact. You can talk to someone from Rwanda by e-mail. But there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. It brings us back to our united humanity and getting the work done."

Bush tried in his speeches to "make the case that there are dangerous people in dangerous places" who must be destroyed with military might, Potorti said. "We think it is better to look at courageous people in dangerous places who are working for peace."

Meanwhile, across the nation, thousands joined in "9/11 Call for Freedom from Fear" rallies and vigils initiated by the Friends Committee on National Legislation. "The ‘war on terror’ isn’t working", said Robin Aura Kanegis, FCNL campaign director. "We call on congress members … to reject the failed policies … and develop new policies to protect the people."

More than 200,000 people signed petitions demanding that the American ABC network cancel the airing of a scurrilous docudrama, The Path to 9/11, that blames Democrats for failing to apprehend the 9/11 terrorists during Bill Clinton’s years in office. The petition blasted the film for advancing the Republican Right’s "cheap, callous, political agenda just in time for the election."

People’s Weekly World (abridged)

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