Actor Sean Penn Bashes Bush, Iraq War in Newspaper
Friday, May 30, 2003; 8:16 PM
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actor Sean Penn published a 4,000-word open letter in the front section of the New York Times on Friday defending his December trip to Baghdad and criticizing the U.S.-led war on Iraq.
Penn would not comment on why he chose to place the full-page advertisement, preferring to "let the essay speak for itself," the actor's publicist Mara Buxbaum said.
Penn wrote that he was moved by a sense of patriotism to question the underlying purpose of U.S. policy to force out Saddam Hussein, who he described as a "beast among men."
"Our flag has been waving, it seems, in servicing a regime change significantly benefiting U.S. corporations," said Penn, questioning whether rebuilding the nation would benefit the "people of either Iraq or the United States."
Penn said U.S. claims that an invasion was necessary over fears of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were false.
"We found that our secretary of state presented plagiarized and fictitious evidence of WMD's in Iraq to the American people and the world," he wrote. "Any responsible person must ask, in whose hands our flag now waves and what perception the world may have of it in those hands."
Penn's agent declined to comment on how much the advertisement cost. A Times spokeswoman said the standard price for a full page ad in that section of the newspaper is about $135,000.
"We see Bechtel. We see Halliburton. We see Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld," Penn wrote. "We see dead Iraqi civilians. We see no WMDs. We see chaos in the Baghdad streets. But no WMDs. We see the disappearance of a murderous Iraqi dictator, who relented his struggle and ran without the use of WMDs."
Friday's piece was not the first Penn has placed in a major newspaper. He wrote an open letter to President Bush published in October 2002 by The Washington Post at a reported cost of $56,000, expressing his anti-war views and concerns about the administration's "intolerance of debate."
Penn wrote in the Times that following the October letter, "I was hit by a tidal wave of media misrepresentation, and even accusations of treason."
© 2003 Reuters