“End the occupation, Investigate the lies, Bring the troops home now!” are some of the key slogans under which peace groups are organizing for local actions for peace to mark the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Aug. 6-10.

In a Call to Action issued last week, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), a national coalition of over 600 groups, said that although President Bush announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq nearly three months ago, “Iraqi civilians and U.S. GIs are being killed every single day as our military tries to force an unpopular occupation on the Iraqi people.” The coalition estimates that 6,000 to 8,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, as well as over 230 American soldiers.

As of July 28, CNN reports that there have been 28 U.S. combat deaths in July – one per day.

The occupation’s cost has skyrocketed to at least $3.9 billion per month – $46.8 billion per year – with barely 10 percent going to Iraq’s reconstruction. The Call points out that at the same time U.S. domestic spending for schools and important social services are being slashed.

While worldwide peace groups commemorate the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki between Aug. 6-10, UFPJ-initiated local protests will be marking those days by linking today’s U.S. occupation of Iraq with the continuing threats of pre-emptive, first-strike war danger promoted by the Bush administration.

The Call encourages a range of actions – vigils, rallies, religious gatherings, letter-writing campaigns, “or even a few people holding up signs at a busy street corner.”

United for Peace and Justice is collaborating with other peace groups to coordinate a massive “Grassroots Congressional Action Day” on Aug. 27, while members of Congress are in their home districts. Activists will urge senators and representatives to support “a genuine investigation” into whether the Bush administration misled the public with claims that Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S. and its neighbors. “We want open, thorough, timely, televised public hearings and an investigation with a broad mandate,” organizers say.

Both Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) have introduced legislation (H.R. 2625 and H.Res. 307, respectively) calling for a congressional investigation. The number of co-sponsors of these bills has shot up over the last few weeks as UFPJ and other anti-war coalitions have turned up the heat on Congress.