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U.S. Senate candidate working to promote peace

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Capping off a weekend of peace-related activities, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jean Hay Bright of Dixmont joined hundreds of other Maine peace activists Sunday at Portland High School in southern Maine for a town hall meeting on the Iraq War hosted by First District Congressman Tom Allen. At the session, Rep. Allen was urged to take a stronger stand against the Iraq war, to support a resolution calling for a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and to support the establishment of a cabinet level Department of Peace.

On Saturday, Hay Bright had traveled to Aroostook County in northern Maine to join with Democrats from around the state marching in the Annual Maine Potato Blossom Festival parade in Fort Fairfield. An organic farmer, Hay Bright passed out part of her crop of shell peas to remind parade watchers that she is a "peas " candidate. Among those marching with her was Lynn Ellis of Wilton, Second District Coordinator for The Peace Alliance, which is promoting the Department of Peace concept. Hay Bright has endorsed the Department of Peace proposal and will work for its passage in Congress.

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Despite a half-hour extension, only about a third of the speakers who had signed up to address the Portland forum were able to make their presentations. In a written statement prepared for Sunday 's Portland hearing and submitted for the record, Hay Bright told Rep. Allen "I share the frustration felt in this room over the Iraq war. "

"As time goes on, " Hay Bright said in that statement, "more and more details, such as the Downing Street memos, are being made public. Those details are serving to reinforce the analytical conclusions, basic understandings, historical perspectives, and -- frankly -- gut instincts of so many of us that the Iraq War is George Bush 's private war, waged not for the public good, but at great public expense, in terms of our tax dollars, the devastating impact on our federal, state and local economies; waged at great threat to our homeland security; and waged at a great cost in the lives of our good military men and women. "

Hay Bright quoted President Bush 's father, former President George H.W. Bush, as saying several years after the first Gulf War, "by the time we finished pushing the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, they were in such bad shape that most of their troops were, in effect, defenseless. The United States does not massacre helpless people simply to prove a point. Furthermore, if we had gone into Baghdad to look for Saddam Hussein and to establish a government more favorable to our point of view, two things would have happened. First, our coalition would have shattered, and our Arab friends would have lost their trust in the United States. Second, American troops would have been bogged down in a very dangerous kind of urban warfare, and I was not going to let that happen to our people. "

Hay Bright said it was apparent the second President Bush chose to ignore the wisdom of his father.

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"It looks like George W. Bush decided from the very beginning to define his presidency in terms of Iraq and Saddam, " Hay Bright said.

She said she was "astonished " to hear President Bush 's claim, in a speech earlier this year, that "we are fighting terrorism in Iraq so we don 't have to fight it here. "

"So our good military men and women are in Iraq to act as decoys, drawing the fire of terrorists who didn 't exist before we got there? Is this why he is seemingly so unconcerned about securing our own borders? " Hay Bright questioned.

Hay Bright said Congress must now follow the leadership of the majority of the public and "come to terms with the fact that this war was a mistake, and that it needs to end. "

"I know that for many people, admitting that the United States of America was wrong in something this major will be very hard to swallow. But misplaced pride must not be a substitute for moral courage, " she said.

Secondly, Hay Bright said, Congress must act "to pull our troops out as quickly as possible with as little additional carnage as possible. "

She noted that last month seven members of Congress and one senator offered House Joint Resolution 55, a bill to establish a plan to begin the end of the war in Iraq. The bill, entitled "Homeward Bound," requires the Administration to announce a plan no later than the last day December of this year to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, and to begin bringing our troops home not later than October 1, 2006.

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"If I were in the Senate now, as I hope to be in 2007, " Hay Bright said, "I would sign on to this resolution. I hope and pray that when I get to the Senate in 2007, that this issue will be moot. "

Hay Bright also said that talk of impeachment should not stop with the President, but should extend to the Vice-President and Secretary of Defense as well, "for their high crimes of lying to the American people and of waging an unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign nation that had not attacked us, had not threatened to attack us, and did not have the means to attack us. "

She acknowledged that impeachment is "a major step for the American people and the U.S. Congress to undertake, but our Founding Fathers, in their wisdom and understanding of human nature and the potential for the misuse of vast power, provided us in our great Constitution with a way of dealing with such abuses of power. "

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