With George W. Bush increasingly isolated, the antiwar movement this week demanded that Congress act to bring the troops home or face ouster in next year’s congressional elections.

Scott Lynch, a spokesman for Peace Action, cited President Bush’s assertion in Panama that his administration “does not torture” detainees.

“It tore away the last shred of credibility from this administration,” Lynch said. “Nobody actually believes that. There are volumes of evidence that this administration engaged in torture.”

The trial of Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, I. Lewis Libby, on perjury and obstruction of justice, “is going to shine a bright light on the web of lies they used in going to war,” Lynch added.

Col. Larry Wilkerson, chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, recently accused Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of forming a “cabal” that promoted torture of detainees at “black sites” in Iraq, Afghanistan and other secret locations around the world. “They began to authorize procedures in the armed forces that led, in my opinion, to what we have seen,” Wilkerson said, referring to torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid convened a news conference Nov. 8 to announce that he and other Democratic leaders sent a letter to Bush demanding that he not pardon Libby and warning that no official is “above the law,” including Cheney and Bush himself. Last week Senate Democrats forced the Senate into closed session to air their charges that Bush lied in pushing the nation into the Iraq war.

Peace Action is circulating a petition in support of a resolution, yet to be introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), that would limit the use of Pentagon funds to providing for “the orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and for costs associated with transition to an Iraqi/international security structure.” It would also allow funding for the civil reconstruction of Iraq, but not for the armed occupation of that country.

Friends of John Kerry are seeking 400,000 signatures on a petition demanding that Bush bring home 20,000 troops from Iraq during the Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday. Kerry, for the first time, called for an exit from Iraq based on a “real and strict” timetable with the goal of having all U.S. troops home by the end of 2006. If the Republican majority House and Senate “fails to call the Bush administration to account, we will use the 2006 elections to take the decision out of their hands,” Kerry wrote.

Lynch welcomed the Democrat’s newfound combativeness. The polls showing majority opposition to the war “has put some steel in their backbones,” he said. Peace Action’s “Peace Voter” project is looking ahead to the 2006 Senate and congressional elections, seeking candidates who will “speak out strongly for removing us from Iraq and also for realigning our foreign policy.”

Ellen Barfield, a leader of Veterans for Peace in Baltimore who served in the U.S. Army in Germany and South Korea, expressed pride in the role played by veterans and military families, who represent those who have suffered most directly from the war. She too praised the McGovern bill. “McGovern’s bill cuts to the chase,” she said. “This bill would provide funds only to bring the troops home.”

Barfield said, “We are encouraging our members to support candidates in next year’s election who have the backbone to oppose this war.”

Elizabeth Rivera Goldstein, chairperson of the National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth, told the World that antiwar protests are surging among the nation’s youth and their parents. They are outraged by the lies used by military recruiters to trick young people into joining the armed forces, she said. In an interview from her home in Port Townsend, Wash., Goldstein said thousands of high school students risked suspension in staging a walk-out of their classrooms Nov. 2 to protest military recruiting and the war.

“The recruiters are still telling lies,” Goldstein said. “They are desperate. They are not meeting their recruiting quotas. They are between a rock and a hard place. I don’t know how they sleep at night.”

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