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Oberstar: No 'fast-track' war in Iraq

A statement by U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar opposing congressional action that would give President Bush authority to make war was the focal point for a peace rally at the Federal Building.

A statement by U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar opposing congressional action that would give President Bush authority to make war was the focal point for a peace rally at the Federal Building.

About three dozen demonstrators listened to Oberstar's statement read by an aide Tuesday and heard a series of other speakers denounce the idea of attacking Iraq.

Northland Action for Peace and Justice has maintained a visible anti-war stance regarding Iraq. Michele Naar-Obed, with Loaves and Fishes, said Oberstar's statement came in response to a request made through his office.

Oberstar said he was pleased the Duluth peace and justice community has mobilized to bring needed attention to this troubling rush to war.

"Let me state in a clear, unequivocal manner that I will strongly oppose any congressional resolution that would provide President Bush with fast-track war making authority," Oberstar said in his statement. "I am greatly troubled that President Bush is eager to place the men and women of our armed forces into harm's way to initiate a war against a nation that does not pose a clear and present danger to the United States."

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Oberstar recalled that in 1991, he had opposed the congressional authorization of force against Iraq, because he believed that the previous Bush Administration had not exhausted all diplomatic and economic options.

He said that a unilateral attack against Iraq would undermine America's ability to combat terrorism and harm relations with U.S. allies and Arab nations.

Oberstar said he is encouraged by the group's advocacy.

Mali Lorenz reported that several members of the group had gone to Sen. Paul Wellstone's office in Virginia. She read a brief statement from the senator in which Wellstone said he would oppose the resolution if it comes to the floor for a vote.

She said Wellstone supports resuming United Nations inspections as soon as possible.

Other members visited Congressman Dave Obey's office in Wisconsin, but nobody was available. The group plans to continue phone campaign to keep Congress aware of its opposition.

Naar-Obed talked about the Voices in the Wilderness campaign to maintain a peace team in Iraq to document pending U.S. military action. The Duluth resident is planning a trip to Iraq next month and said she has the support of her family and friends.

"I feel it's important for me to go," she said. "I don't want to be hurt, but I don't want others to be hurt either."

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