Why we protesters occupied Van Hollen’s office for hours

I read with interest your online story about the occupation of Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s office (“Anti-war protesters vow more office takeovers,” March 21). There is a slight inaccuracy in the story, and there is much more to be said about this particular action.

We were actually there from 3 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. in the lobby of Rep. Van Hollen’s Capitol Hill office — a total of eight and a half hours! While those of us occupying his office were, for the most part, his constituents, we had an additional reason for focusing on Congressman Van Hollen. As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Mr. Van Hollen is in a leadership position, and should he decide to do so, he could have a lot of influence among his colleagues, motivating them to work toward an immediate end to the Iraq war. Unfortunately, he has chosen instead to side with the Democratic Party leadership, and against the wishes of the majority of his constituents on this issue. ...

Any conditions attached to the supplemental appropriations bill with timelines for withdrawal of U.S. troops are sure to be stripped from the bill later in committee, and if not, President Bush will simply issue a signing statement, or will just ignore the restrictions, and spend the money the way he pleases — for continuing the war in Iraq, and widening the conflict to Iran! With this president, the only way to end the war is to cut off the funding for it. Members of Congress who claim to want an end to this war should remember the lessons of Vietnam! ...

Unfortunately Mr. Van Hollen seems to be more concerned about furthering his political ambitions on the national scene than on the wishes of his constituents. In this case, that means a supporting a legislative strategy that will engulf our nation even more deeply in a tragic, senseless, immoral and illegal war. ...

Chevy Chase, Md.

‘Boo’ to headline on Pelosi-AIPAC story

From Joshua S. Block, AIPAC director of media affairs

(Regarding article, “Pelosi is booed at AIPAC,” March 14.) Your headline about the Speaker’s address to AIPAC’s Policy Conference should have read: “Pelosi cheered at AIPAC.”

Speaker Pelosi’s speech was greeted by standing ovations and applause more than 40 times during her 25-minute remarks. There were some 5,500 people cheering for her over and over again, Democrats and Republicans, united in support of the message the Speaker came to deliver: “America’s commitment to Israel is unshakable.”

To ignore the admiration of 5,500 in favor of the discord of a scattered few is sensational and misleading, at best.
Speaker Pelosi’s remarks were a powerful testament to the strength and importance of America’s relationship with Israel. Her entire speech, including her comments on Iraq, was met by applause.

Video of the entire speech is available online at AIPAC.org and from two public affairs sites: JerusalemOnline.com and C-Span.org. We urge your readers to watch and judge the accuracy of your coverage for themselves.

Washington, D.C.

Editor’s note: The story did not ignore the applause; it reported it.