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Antiwar protesters target Congress

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Across the country, retiree Beverley Wiskow of Inverness, Fla., whose son-in-law has been serving in Iraq since July, will drive with three others to Washington for the protest rally and march.

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"Congress clearly is not doing anything," she says. "The only hope for ending this is for the American people to say if you won't listen to us at the ballot box, perhaps you'll listen to us in the streets. I think our democracy is at stake."

Charlie Williams will leave his coffee shop in Daytona Beach, Fla., to drive north. "I think it's the moral thing to do, the right thing to do," he says. "I don't want my country getting involved in all this stuff."

These days, Phil Restino of Daytona Beach, Fla., has been spending most of his waking hours fielding calls from people in Florida and Georgia who are looking for rides to Washington or wanting to donate money.

"The phone has been ringing off the hook," says Mr. Restino, an Army veteran active with Veterans for Peace. "I haven't shaved in two days."

Eileen Fleming of Clermont, Fla., already has appointments with representatives of her two US Senators Mel Martinez (R) and Bill Nelson (D) in Washington. "We just have to hold [members of Congress] to the fire to do what we elected them to do, which is rise up and question this president, not just rubber-stamp everything."

Antiwar activities began earlier this week. A coalition of student, labor, church, and veterans' groups visited the offices of 17 US senators the morning after Mr. Bush's State of the Union address to Congress. Veterans for Peace formed up for a political assault in Washington beginning Thursday and scheduled to include a "grass-roots congressional education day" when lawmakers return to work Monday.

"The 109th Congress shirked their responsibility," says Michael McPearson, executive director of the veterans' group based in St. Louis. "The 110th Congress must stand up to the president. This is why they were elected."

Meanwhile, state legislators in half a dozen states are expected to introduce resolutions opposing what critics say is an "escalation" of US forces in Iraq.

But nonbinding resolutions don't satisfy many war opponents. Some activists want Speaker Pelosi to launch an investigation under congressional powers of impeachment.

"We're pressuring her to see if she'll let the Judiciary Committee do their work," says Norah Foster, co-chair of a San Francisco-area antiwar group that's also launched a "Pelosi Watch" to keep the spotlight on the new House speaker. "We feel that it's too important to wait; it's too serious."

"What's happening is, the left is trying to stiffen the resolve of the mainline Demo-crats," says Dr. Williams, who's also a retired naval reserve captain. The question for the political left on the eve of major demonstrations, he says, is "Do you want to be effective, or do you want to be cathartic?"

Amy Green in Orlando, Fla., and Randy Dotinga in San Diego contributed to this report.

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