WASHINGTON – Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Democratic presidential candidate and no stranger to contrarian views, was the sole congressman Tuesday to vote against the House's Sept. 11 commemoration resolution.
Tuesday's nonbinding resolution was a relatively short document. It had 12 "whereas" clauses — stating things like what happened the day of the terrorist attacks, who was affected and how terrorists have been targeted since then — and six resolution paragraphs establishing Sept. 11 as a day of remembrance, extending sympathies to families of victims who died and honoring those who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"It is important that Congress wake up to the truth and exercise its obligation under the Constitution to save our nation from being destroyed from the lies that took us into Iraq, the lies that keep us there, the lies that are being used to set the stage for war against Iran and the lies that have undermined our basic civil liberties here at home," Kucinich said in a statement.
"The September 11 resolution that Congress considers today should have made reference to those matters. It does not, so I cannot support it," Kucinich said, also calling for a halt for further war funding and the troops to be brought home.
He was outvoted 334-1. Ninety-eight members weren't present; for the most part, they were either attending Sept. 11 commemorations or the out-of-town memorial service for Ohio Rep. Paul Gillmor, or they had departed town early for the Jewish holidays.
The Ohio Democrat's statement mirrored remarks he's made along the campaign trail, as well as those in a recent interview on Syrian television. The interview followed a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad during a Middle East tour.
"The fact of the matter is we are all being weakened by continuing a war that's based on a lie. This war was based on lies. Iraq didn't have the weapons of mass destruction. It wasn't connected to 9/11. It had nothing to do with Al Qaeda's role in 9/11," Kucinich said.
In the Sept. 2 interview in Syria, Kucinich — casting off State Department calls last month for White House contenders to stay out of international politics as well as conventions of U.S. politicians not criticizing each other beyond U.S. borders — described a positive meeting meeting with Assad. He then criticized the war effort and President Bush's handling of it.
Kucinich said it "was a very good meeting. It was a meeting where President Assad showed a real desire to play a role in helping to create a peaceful settlement of the conditions in Iraq, as well as a grander approach towards creating peace. So it was a very important meeting, and I felt honored to have the chance to speak with him."
Kucinich then suggested that the United States should pay war reparations to Iraqis. "The United States must take steps to repair the damage that has been done to the lives of the people of Iraq for the people who have lost their lives," he said, adding that the debate on the Iraq war has been skewed by false information.
Asked if he thought Bush would apply the same thinking in Lebanon — which borders Syria — as he has with respect to Iraq, Kucinich responded: "I think it's probably true, and of course this is part of the tragedy that our president is not understanding the mountain of evidence which indicates what a failure the policy in Iraq has been."
Kucinich said he memorials those who died in the attacks as well as troops in the field, but opposed the wording of the resolution.
"I honor the memory of those who died on September 11 and extend sympathies to their family members and to those who lost their lives trying to save lives. I support the troops," Kucinich said in the statement he issued before casting his vote.