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Celebrities Endorse Letter Asking Bush to Stop War Rhetoric

Mike Farrell, left, speaks during a news conference by Artists United to Win Without War Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2002, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. The group including Hector Elizondo, Robert David Hall, Shiva Rose, Shelley Fabares, Samaria Graham and Ken Howard unveiled a letter to President Bush urging a peaceful approach to disarming Iraq. (AP Photo/ Nick Ut)
LOS ANGELES - Part of Hollywood has told Washington to tone down its hostility toward Iraq. Celebrity activists Martin Sheen, Mike Farrell and Tony Shalhoub were among nearly a dozen performers gathered Tuesday to publicize a letter urging President Bush to avoid a pre-emptive invasion of the Middle Eastern nation.

More than 100 entertainers signed the document, which stated that a war with Iraq will ``increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks, damage the economy and undermine our moral standing in the world.''

``This notion of pre-emptive war is setting a precedent ... and we must ask ourselves, where does this end?'' said Shalhoub, star of the ABC detective show ``Monk.'' ``Where is the next pre-emptive strike?''

``Steal This Movie'' director Robert Greenwald and Farrell assembled the signatories mainly by e-mail over the course of several weeks.

Farrell said the Hollywood community was speaking out to show average citizens that it is OK to voice dissent. He also said he did not believe that Bush has proven Iraq is a danger to America.

``It is inappropriate for the administration to trump up a case in which we are ballyhooed into war,'' Farrell said.

Among those signing the letter were Academy Award winners Kim Basinger, Helen Hunt, Olympia Dukakis, Susan Sarandon and director Jonathan Demme.

Other names included former ``X-Files'' stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny; ``The West Wing'' stars Martin Sheen, Janel Moloney, Bradley Whitford and Lily Tomlin; ``CSI: Crime Scene Investigation'' actors Marg Helgenberger and Robert David Hall; and ``Ocean's 11'' co-stars Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Elliott Gould and Carl Reiner.

R.E.M. performers Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills joined fellow musicians Peter Yarrow and Bonnie Raitt.

Sheen, who plays a United States president on ``The West Wing,'' said he believed Bush was eager to go to war with Iraq because he wanted to settle a personal score with Saddam Hussein.

Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush, ended Saddam's invasion of Kuwait but did not eliminate the dictator in the 1990s Gulf War.

``I think he'd like to hand his father Saddam Hussein's head and win his approval for what happened after the Gulf War. That's my own personal opinion -- I don't know if that's true. I hope it's not, but I suspect it is,'' Sheen said.

Asked why the government should care about the feelings of Hollywood actors, Sheen said: ``I think the president should care about all citizens.''

Bush has threatened military force against Saddam, saying the dictator has amassed weapons of mass destruction that pose a danger to the United States.

United Nations weapons inspectors are searching the Middle Eastern country for such devices but have turned up little so far.



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