CHICAGO, Ill.: Show us the evidence, Mr. President

Thirty Chicago aldermen, a majority of the Chicago City Council, signed a letter this week to President Bush urging him to reveal to the nation all the evidence on which his claims of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were made.

The unprecedented letter came on the heels of a White House admission that a prewar claim about Iraqi uranium purchases was false.

The City Council letter to the president noted that the “alleged existence of such weapons of mass destruction provided the principal justification for your decision to wage war against Iraq,” and noted that no such weapons have been found.

Ald. Joe Moore (49th Ward), the drafter of the letter, said, “It’s long past time for the President and his administration to come clean about the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction. In the view of a growing number of Americans, the weapons of mass destruction have become ‘weapons of mass disappearance.’ As members of the City Council, we are the elected officials closest to the people. All of us detect a growing sense of public betrayal about the war. Many lives were lost and billions of dollars were diverted from pressing needs at home to eliminate the alleged threat posed by Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. And yet, the Bush administration has not produced any evidence that these weapons ever existed.”

BATAVIA, Ill.: Riot police ‘greet’ retirees protesting Bush drug plan

On July 21, five busloads of retired workers arrived at the district office of Congressman Dennis Hastert, the Republican Speaker of the U.S. House. They came to lobby on the issue of prescription drug coverage under Medicare. Instead of a handshake, they were greeted by local police outfitted in full riot gear and barred from meeting with their congressman.

Up went a picket line around the congressman’s office. “Don’t privatize Medicare,” read one hand-printed sign. “The Bush Plan is the wrong prescription,” read another. Some blew whistles to literally “blow the whistle” on the proposed drug plan.

The Batavia police chief received a letter from the group, organized by the Alliance of Retired Americans (ARA) and other community groups. The letter outlined a better prescription drug plan for Medicare and how to pay for it.

“I have a pretty good drug benefit now, thanks to my retiree coverage with Utility Workers Local 18007,” said retired utility worker Joseph Botte. “But I absolutely fear I’ll lose it and be forced into a situation where there are huge coverage gaps. I intend to keep protesting. The only thing that will stop me is death and I don’t intend to die in the near future.”

In 2002, the 50 most prescribed medications for seniors skyrocketed in cost at a rate 3.5 times that of inflation.

DALLAS, Texas: Bush gets the money, but no free ride

George W. Bush received “no questions asked” from the commercial news sources while he raised more campaign millions at the Wyndham Anatole hotel on July 18. Supporters forked over $2,000 each for Bush’s short reception and speech. Nobody asked him why he lied about invading Iraq or about the bulging economic deficit.

Outside, 300 protesters chanted “Bush lied, People died!” and held up giant banners and signs describing the agony that the Bush administration is inflicting on America to thousands of people driving home from work. Banners and signs stretched completely around the three public-access sides of the luxury hotel. The temperature was 100 degrees, but the protesters stayed for four hours. Peace activists were joined by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the Coalition for the Advancement of Civil Rights. Press statements also came from leaders of the AFL-CIO and a prominent United Auto Workers local union.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.: No evidence, trial or jury – but deported!

Rabih Haddad was secretly deported to his native Lebanon earlier this month. Haddad, a prominent leader in Ann Arbor’s Muslim community, was detained for 19 months by the Justice Department. Although the Justice Department told Haddad’s family that he was alleged to have aided terrorists, those charges were never filed. The Justice Department had no evidence.

In Lebanon Haddad may face threats due to the hysteria generated by John Ashcroft and the Justice Department Haddad had requested asylum in the United States. At a July 16 press conference, Haddad’s wife, Salma Al-Rushaid, vowed to clear her husband’s name. U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said that he is investigating the events leading up to Haddad’s deportation.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com). Jim Lane, Joel Wendland, Ted Wood, and Roberta Wood contributed to this week’s stories. Joelle Fishman contributed to last week’s story on same-day voter registration in Connecticut.

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