Not long after 9/11, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former head of NATO, visited friends at the Pentagon and was told that the Bush/Cheney administration was planning on invading Iraq. Clark said so openly on "Democracy Now!" in an interview with Amy Goodman. So everyone knew, and everyone, including the three leaders of the Democratic opposition in the Senate — John KerryJohn Forbes KerryWarren shows signs of broadening her base Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy The Memo: Democrats struggle to find the strongest swing-state candidate MORE (Mass.), Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMissing piece to the Ukraine puzzle: State Department's overture to Rudy Giuliani On The Money: Trump downplays urgency of China trade talks | Chinese negotiators cut US trip short in new setback | Trump sanctions Iran's national bank | Survey finds Pennsylvania, Wisconsin lost the most factory jobs in past year Meghan McCain, Ana Navarro get heated over whistleblower debate MORE (N.Y.), and Joe BidenJoe BidenJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE (Del.) — knew that the attack on Iraq had no bearing whatsoever on the tragic events on 9/11.

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But they were not brave when it was time to be brave. Others besides Clark spoke out, especially Jim Webb, future senator from Virginia, who had been President Reagan's secretary of the Navy. But something had happened in America at that time. We had become what John Kenneth Galbraith called in a 1992 book of the same name the "Culture of Contentment" and had no inclination to challenge a federal approach to anything. Instead, like Clinton, Biden and Kerry, opposition would bide its time. It would be different when they were in power.

Bush had used the phrase "preemptive" — a phrase we were not used to in America. And understandably, the first instinct after 9/11 was to attack; I felt it and so did a vast majority of Americans. Then it began to descend: There would be no honest reporting as journalists would be imbedded. There would be no regard for property or human life as Edward Snowden's disclosures since reported (over 60,000 innocents and noncombatants killed, according to the National Security Agency). And there would be torture.

Still, America did not respond.

I am a veteran, having volunteered for Vietnam service, and felt at every moment of danger to myself and others that at every turn, in any action, the individual must ask himself what is to be done; but nothing at any time in my life called clearly on the responsibility of every individual with the claim to citizenship as finding a response to this regime in Washington, which had exploited the heartbreak and anger every American felt after 9/11 for an adventure that had secretly been long in the planning. I contacted a retired professor friend in Vermont, Thomas Naylor, and suggested that under Thomas Jefferson's "Kentucky Resolutions," which claimed that if the federal government became egregious and totalitarian, its relationship with the states became null and void.

As Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) report indicates today, the situation was worse than anyone thought.

Galbraith thought our idea of sending our own representatives to the U.N. "wonderfully to the good." Naylor, citing Jefferson, proposed that Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine need not participate in the Bush/Cheney invasion.

Webb, like two of the famous Eisenhowers, Susan and John, would leave the Republican Party. But the greatest indictment of the Bush/Cheney actions came from George Kennan, the engineer of post-World War II Europe and probably the most important ambassador since Benjamin Franklin. He openly joined Naylor's separatist instinct; an idea (devolution) which has since spread here and abroad like wildfire.

On his deathbed, he wrote to Naylor: "All power to Vermont in its effort to distinguish itself from the USA as a whole, and to pursue in its own way the cultivation of its own tradition ... I continue to be of poor and deteriorating health, and too much should not be looked for from me. But my enthusiasm for what you are trying to do in Vermont remains undiminished; and I am happy for any small support I can give to it."

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.