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Actors promote virtual protest march

Garafalo discusses her opposition to war against Iraq during a Wednesday news conference.
Garafalo discusses her opposition to war against Iraq during a Wednesday news conference.

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Many U.N. countries who are not members of the Security Council got their chance to present their views on the crisis in Iraq. CNN's Richard Roth reports (February 19)
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U.S. President George W. Bush is trying to keep the pressure on Iraq despite rifts among allies and solidarity among anti-war demonstrators. CNN's Chris Burns reports (February 19)
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A group of actors including Mike Farrell and Martin Sheen Wednesday announced a virtual march on Washington in which opponents of President Bush's stance on Iraq will fax, e-mail and telephone elected officials in the nation's capital next week.

Farrell and Robert Greenwald, co-founders of Artists United to Win without War, said at a Los Angeles news conference that the "million modem march" will expound on last weekend's massive peace marches, which brought millions of people into the streets worldwide in opposition to a possible war against Iraq.

"The plan is to overwhelm Washington on February 26," said Greenwald, a director known for the films "Xanadu" and "The Burning Bed." "We have been clear and we have been consistent. We are not experts, we are citizens in a democracy and we are using our patriotic rights and our ability to get the attention of the media."

Farrell, who played Korean War surgeon B.J. Honeycutt on "M*A*S*H" from 1975 through the series' end in 1983, said the inspections process should be allowed to continue to its natural conclusion.

"That is our hope, our desire here, the intention of the peace movement, to allow the (U.N.) inspections to work and to give the inspectors the time to do their job," he said. "There may come a time ... when the inspectors say they can do no more. At that point it is upon the community of nations to decide what to do."

Across the continent in Washington, Tom Andrews, former Democratic congressman from Maine who now serves as national director of Win Without War, and actor James Cromwell, made a similar announcement.

"The virtual march on Washington February 26 will be an opportunity for every American opponent of an invasion of Iraq to stand up and be counted in every state in the United States," said Andrews. "On that day we will call, we will fax, and we will e-mail the president of the United States and every member of the U.S. Senate to voice our opposition to this short-sighted and unnecessary war."

"My fondest hope is that President Bush will answer his telephone and look out his window and see millions upon millions of people in America and across the world expressing their opposition and that he will have an epiphany and a change of heart and that this war will not take place," said Cromwell.

Back in Los Angeles, the actors almost unanimously cited the human cost of war, noting that the Pentagon is stockpiling body bags in preparation.

"I think it is unpatriotic not to ask about human costs," said Robert David Hall, who plays coroner Al Robbins on the CBS show "CSI." "I spent months in critical burn wards, I know what amputation is like, and I am damn concerned to know 75,000 body bags are ordered."

Hall lost his legs and was burned over two-thirds of his body in a 1978 car accident.

"I think whatever side of the political spectrum we sit on, we have to ask these questions, and they have to be answered," he added. "I am not hearing those answers."

"How is it that this debate has been twisted on its head, that somehow those that advocate peace and diplomacy are anti-American?" asked actress Janeane Garofalo. "Or those that advocate peace are anti-troops or pro-Saddam?"

Greenwald, Farrell, Garofalo and Hall were joined by Angelica Huston and Sheen, who noted that even the monetary cost of a war would adversely affect the people.

"As the dogs of war slouch towards Baghdad, we need to be reminded that as many as 2 million refugees could become a reality as well as half a million fatalities" said Sheen, who currently portrays President Josiah Bartlet on the NBC series "The West Wing." "We're spending billions on this war while many children in schools across the country are sharing books, many people can't afford doctor, and we're told there's no money for housing or job training.

" ... I think we could use our billions on a whole lot better thing than war."

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