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Subject: Letter to Pickles

Laura  Bush
First Lady,  The White House

Dear Mrs.  Bush,

I am writing  to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind
invitation to  give a presentation at the National Book Festival on
September 24,  or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or
the breakfast  at the White House.

I tried to see  my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear
witness -- as  an American who loves her country and its principles
and its  writing -- against this undeclared and devastating  war.

But I could  not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that
if I sat down  to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning 
what  I see to be the wild, high-handed actions of the Bush Administration.

What kept  coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking
food from the  hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration 
that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation,  even to the extent 
of permitting "extraordinary rendition":  flying people to other countries 
where they will be tortured for  us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish
and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of 
the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, 
and I could not stomach it.


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