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The Truth Can Move Us Forward

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By Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich
September 10, 2008

Before the Congress adjourns, I will bring forth a new proposal for the establishment
of a National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, which will have the power
to compel testimony and gather official documents to reveal to the American
people not only the underlying deception which has divided us, but in that process
of truth seeking set our nation on a path of reconciliation.

We suffer in our remembrance of 9/11, because of the terrible loss of innocent
lives on that grim day. We also suffer because 9/11 was seized as an opportunity
to run a political agenda, which has set America on a course of the destruction
of another nation and the destruction of our own Constitution. And we have become
less secure as a result of the warped practice of pursing peace through the
exercise of pre-emptive military strength.

It is not simply 9/11 that needs to be remembered. We also need to remember
the politicization of 9/11 and the polarizing narrative which followed, locking
us into endless conflict, a war on terror which has wrought further terror worldwide
and which has severely damaged our standing worldwide as an honorable, compassionate
nation. As we were all victims of 9/11, so we have become victims of the interpretation
of 9/11.

Our government’s external response to 9/11 was to attack a nation which did
not attack us. Indeed on the first anniversary of 9/11, the Bush Administration
issued a well-publicized stern warning to Iraq, which was part of a campaign
to induce people to believe Iraq had something to do with 9/11.

The deliberate, systematic connection of Iraq with 9/11 has led America into
a philosophical and moral cul-de-sac as over one million Iraqis and over 4,155
US soldiers have died in a war that will cost over $3 trillion. Additionally,
soldiers from twenty-three other countries have died in the Iraq war.

We attempt to unite Iraq by further dividing it. We talk about restoring Iraq
while taking steps to place control of its vast oil wealth in the hands of US
oil giants. And we intend to impose upon the Iraqi people the cost of rebuilding
a country our government ruined, keeping a once-prosperous nation lashed to
debt and poverty for a long, long time. Iraq has paid for 9/11. We all continue
to pay for 9/11.

The heartbreaking loss of the lives and injuries to America troops further
binds us to the Administration’s illogic of the Iraq War: We remember our troops’
sacrifice by demanding more sacrifice; we support our troops by continuing the
war.

The dominant color of our new national security since 911 is neither red, white
nor blue. Every day is orange. Every day, reminders of fear of 9/11 become banal.
Yet we no longer hear the airport announcements nor see the orange-colored warnings
because they have commonplace standards in our new national security state,
as is the Patriot Act, wiretapping, and a host of invasions of privacy and diminution
of civil liberties. The Constitution has been roundly attacked by the very people
who took an oath to defend it.

There is a powerful desire across America for change, not necessarily from
control by one political party to another, but a change from living with lies
to living with truth.

Over two dozen nations, facing peril within and without, deeply divided by
politics and war have travelled down a path of restoring civil society through
a formal process of reconciliation. At some point within each of those countries
it was understood that the way forward is shown through the light of truth.
This process is not without pain because it requires a willingness to study
evidence from which eyes had been averted and ears had been closed. But in the
process of truth and reconciliation, nations found new strength, new resolve,
and new commitment.

The South African Truth and Reconciliation enabled that nation to come to grips
with its past through a public confessional, bringing forward those who committed
crimes and having the power to grant amnesty for full disclosure of crimes against
the people. Of course, our path may necessarily be different: High US government
officials stand accused in impeachment petitions of violating national and international
law. Our continued existence as a democracy may depend upon how thoroughly we
seek the truth. I will call upon the America people to join me in supporting
this effort.

The truth can move us forward, as a unified whole, so that we can one day become
a re-United States. 9/11 is the day the world changed. It is the day America
embraced a metaphor of war. If we are open to truth and reconciliation, we may
one day be able, once again, to embrace peace.

About Rep. Dennis J.Kucinich
At age 31, Dennis Kucinch was elected mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, making him
the youngest-ever elected leader of a major American city. Since 1997, he has
represented Ohio’s 10th District in Congress, and he is currently the co-chair
of the House Progressive Caucus. He ran for the Democratic presidential nomination
in 2004.

Source URL: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080922/kucinich