Let the history books show that the Democrats, and the tiny number of Republicans, who voted NO on giving authority to George W. Bush to wage war in Iraq (and virtually everywhere else) anytime he wished, in October of 2002, were right on every score.
Those who spoke out, and were publicly tarred and feather, labeled as unpatriotic, left-wing fringe, out of step with the country, and generally loons for having done so -- folks like Feingold, Kennedy, Durbin, Waters, Lee, Kaptur, Kucinich, Wellstone, Woolsey, Waters, Conyers, Hinchey, and perhaps, most prophetically, according to Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue's the new documentary film, Body of War, Robert Byrd of West Virginia -- are all owed a great debt of thanks by every American, particularly those of whom had maligned them for having the temerity to be right back then.
Last night I went to see Body of War, which opens this weekend in Los Angeles, and was struck by the simple message that an entire swath of courageous Congressional members, who had stood up, to little notice, to say the right thing, were almost entirely - to a man and a woman - branded as moonbats and traitors back in the dark days of 2002. To this day, they have never received the appropriate recognition for having resisted the systematically orchestrated lies and fear tactics of the pro-Bush crowd (which includes both Ds and Rs), nor have they received the appropriate thanks and apologies from those who were absolutely, undebatably, undeniably, 100% wrong in their horrific assessment of what will go down as perhaps the greatest policy mistake in American history.
To that same end, I would suggest that history will eventually regard the much-maligned Gold Star mother, Cindy Sheehan, as belonging side-by-side with courageous Americans before her like civil rights hero, Rosa Parks. I predict that Sheehan will, one day, receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. I only hope she'll be alive to receive that honor, from that body, in person, when that day comes. And it will.
Donahue was on hand last night for a Q&A following the film, which I attended along with PDA's national chair, actress Mimi Kennedy. As I, personally, played a small part (and am seen briefly in the film) in originally helping to tell the story of disabled Iraqi vet Tomas Young, whose remarkable story is told in stark parallel to the fateful -- and often shameful -- words heard during the "so-called" Congressional debate on the resolution to allow the use of force in Iraq back in 2002, just three weeks prior to that year's election, I was delighted to be able to thank Donahue personally, for placing the entire story, finally, in correct, often maddening, often gut-wrenching historical context.
(See bottom of this article for my audio interview with Young in August of 2005, his first for a national audience, from on the ground at "Camp Casey" in Crawford, TX.)
Body of War should be seen by every American, left, right, center and other. It should be mandatory viewing for every current and future Congressional representative. It should be shown over and over again, in an endless, Clockwork Orange-like loop, in the jail cells of those who will likely never be convicted for the unspeakable crimes they have knowingly and callously committed, at the expense of thousands of courageous dead American troops, and more than 100 thousand dead world citizens, who have all fallen victim to the cowardly and shameful actions of those entrusted to know better.
The film, and its main anti-war heroes -- Young, shot and paralyzed from the chest down in Sadr City, just five days into his tour in Iraq, on the same day Cindy Sheehan's son Casey was killed, and Democratic Senator Byrd, shown powerfully throughout the film, on the floor of the Senate in 2002, pleading directly to the American people to speak up and to let their representatives know they must stop what would become an atrocity before it begins -- are the central protagonists in a remarkably simple and direct story of good versus evil, right versus wrong, and sometimes-fearful, sometimes-knowing recklessness versus moral truth, clarity and courage.
I was also struck, as the tallies from the October 2002 "debate" are documented -- along with the contemporaneous and fateful words of Congressmen and women, both pro and con, along side them -- that while it took no small measure of courage for Democrats like those named at the beginning of this article who voted against the resolution to do so at that time, there were also a handful of Republicans who voted the right way on that resolution, to whom this nation may owe even more thanks for what was likely an even more difficult vote to cast. Namely, the lone Senate Republican to vote against the resolution, Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee. Over in the House, only Republicans Duncan (TN), Hostettler (IN), Houghton (NY), Leach (IA), Morella (MD), and Paul (TX) displayed the moral courage to stand up to an unprecedented propaganda campaign, illustrated all too clearly in the film, by one Republican after the next, seen echoing the same precise White House talking points, word-for-word, on the Congressional floor.
They stood against their own party, the White House, and as dangerously, the corporate mainstream media who unforgivably enabled both of them.
Lastly, as mentioned, I'm pleased to have played a small part in the early telling of Young's story. In August of 2005, Young came down to "Camp Casey" in Crawford, Texas where Sheehan was making her initial, extraordinary stand. It was Young and his wife Brie's honeymoon, incredibly enough. I was there, as the only on-the-ground voice broadcasting daily, live programming -- sometimes as many as 9 hours a day -- directly from the ground under the big white tent that had become the center of the world that summer, until Hurricane Katrina would hit just days later.
As Young came down to offer his voice and support to the protesters, and the mother who was not allowed to meet with the cowardly George W. Bush, in order to ask him to explain the "noble cause" for which he claimed her son had died, I interviewed both Tomas and his wife, in what was, I believe, his first nationally broadcast interview.
The interview resulted in a photograph, run by the AP, showing Young holding a hand-painted sign asking Bush, "Why won't you meet with me?," as he struggled and sweltered in the 100+ degree heat of central Texas in August, ice-packs crammed into his clothing, unable, due to his injury, to regulate his own body's heat.
The audio of my interview with Thomas, from August 28, 2005, as seen briefly on camera during Body of War, can be heard in its entirety below. I'm happy to have played a small part during a moment in American history that I believe will be regarded as a defining moment, when the real evil-doers amongst us began to finally have their masks pried away for the first time, in the middle of what will be seen as one of the darkest periods this country has ever known.
Please go see Body of War as soon as you are given the opportunity in your home town (see the film's official website for screening dates and locations.)
As Donahue alluded during the Q&A after the film, the corporate media are ultimately, perhaps, the greatest culprit in this entire shameful saga. He should know. His MSNBC show was the cable channel's highest rated before it was yanked off the air at the order of his corporate bosses, even after he'd followed their instructions requiring the presence of two "conservative" guests on the air, for every voice he presented who was against going to war.
Since that media answers to only one master -- your all-mighty dollar -- please spend some of them, if you can, supporting this film, so perhaps that failed American 4th Estate may finally begin to get the message and be reminded of their Constitutionally-protected duty to this nation. And so that sacrifices, like the extraordinary one made for his country, by U.S. Army Specialist Tomas Young, on one fateful day in Sadr City, as he was sent on a rescue mission in a canvas-covered truck -- after having joined the military to heed George W. Bush's opportunistic call to action from atop a pile of World Trade Center rubble on September 13th, 2001 -- will not have been in vain.
Audio from The BRAD SHOW's interview with Tomas Young on 8/25/05, including the harrowing story of his injury, the experience he had afterward, what brought him to Camp Casey on his honeymoon, and our attempt to paint a sign in hopes of helping the corporate media do the job that America needed them to...all with the live sounds of Camp Casey in the background, follows...
PART 1: Young's story, with wife Brie (MP3, 22 mins) ...
PART 2: More w/ Young, hatching the plan to demand a meeting with George W. Bush (MP3, 14 mins) ...
Follow Brad Friedman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheBradBlog