Naked City

Calling on Doggett

Since Sunday's U.S./British assault on Afghanistan, almost daily anti-war demonstrations have taken place around town. Monday afternoon, protestors held a press conference at the downtown Federal Building, where representatives of Austin Against War, Public Citizen, and Peace Action sharply criticized Congressman Lloyd Doggett for his early support for the Bush administration's military policy. Some activists also criticize House Bill 2975 ("The Patriot Act"), which would allow expanded domestic spying by police agencies.

Endorsing a proposal for a cabinet-level Dept. of Peace, Tom "Smitty" Smith of Public Citizen argued that the Bush administration's claim to oppose "terrorism" is hollow as long as the U.S. continues to operate its foreign-officer training facility, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (more widely known under its old name, the School of the Americas). The administration's claims of national security interests in the Middle East rest on a wasteful energy policy, "with no serious attempts to promote energy sustainability," he added. Smith called on Doggett to take a leadership position against further military assaults, saying, "Doggett has been a man of courage, time and time again, and should be one now. War is never an answer."

Backing him up was Rahul Mahajan of Peace Action and the Austin NOWAR Collective, who attacked the administration's "humanitarian" food campaign, a "complete PR sham." The bombing is actually creating millions of starving refugees and forcing the suspension of substantive aid efforts such as the World Food program, he said.

Doggett was unavailable for comment at press time, but in response to the protests, his office sent an excerpt from a recent Doggett letter. "I wish there was a way to avoid violence in our response," Doggett wrote, "but I do not believe this is possible at a time when American civilians are being targeted. However, we must have close monitoring to ensure the maximum use of diplomacy, that our conduct is directed only at the guilty, and that our humanitarian efforts continue."

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