SEATTLE, Wash. – President George W. Bush met some heated opposition when he visited the Puget Sound region last week, posturing about his weak environmental policies and raising $1.7 million for his reelection campaign at a single reception in Hunts Point at the home of telecommunications billionaire Craig McCaw.

Bush was met by demonstrators in Seattle, Bellevue, and Hunts Point (a tiny, ultra-rich community on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, across the lake from Seattle). On Aug. 21, several hundred demonstrators rallied in Bellevue, led by a delegation of workers from the Bremerton Naval Yard local of the International Association of Machinists. Their jobs are threatened by privatization.

Later that evening, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) sponsored a packed public forum on whether Bush misled the country about Iraq. The forum attracted an overflow crowd of 1,100. The turnout, partly organized by MoveOn.org, surprised Inslee, who had originally reserved a room for 200. The event was moved to a larger conference room, and spilled over into five additional rooms.

The panel featured the last U.S. diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who debunked the claim that Iraq was obtaining uranium from Africa. Ambassador Wilson said he was sent by the Bush administration to investigate claims that Iraq was buying uranium in Niger, and found such claims to be groundless. His report was ignored by the administration in its rush to war.

Rep. Inslee is among those calling for a congressional investigation into the White House’s case for invading Iraq. The audience loudly applauded his call.

Retired Navy Adm. Bill Center, a former deputy to Secretary of State Colin Powell, said he never believed administration claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, and asked why the administration had not passed on intelligence to the UN weapons inspectors.

Panelists and audience members condemned Bush’s misleading statements as an attack on the foundations of U.S. democracy, often evoking loud applause. No one rose to defend White House policies, despite Inslee’s appeal for someone to do so.

Earlier in the day, about 500 demonstrators chanted along the route Bush’s motorcade took to the McCaw mansion. They were pushed back by police from the previously okayed site and split into two groups. At the same time, in downtown Seattle, about 1,000 demonstrators met at Victor Steinbruck Park, at the north end of the Pike Place Market, protesting Bush’s visit to the region and rejecting his lies about the environment and Iraq, and attacking his opposition to women’s reproductive rights.

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