Americans Against Escalation in Iraq

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This article is part of the SourceWatch coverage of MoveOn.
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Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI)—a Democratic Party-oriented coalition of groups that includes Political Action, SEIU, USAction, Campaign for America's Future, Win Without War,, United States Student Association, and Center for American Progress Action Fund—launched a campaign in a January 11, 2007, press conference held at the National Press Club to "oppose escalation of the war in Iraq".[1] AAEI is a "major, multi-million dollar national campaign that opposed the President's proposal to escalate the war in Iraq by sending more than 20,000 additional troops into the violent civil war between Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias," its website states.[2]

Campaign to Defend America is a Tom Matzzie-run spin-off of AAEI that began running anti-John McCain TV ads in March, 2008. [1]

February, 2008, $20 Million Dollar Iraq/Recession Campaign

On February 25, 2008, AAEI announced the launch of a twenty-million dollar Iraq/Recession Campaign in a news release stating, "The $20 million campaign will include paid advertisements, lobbying Congress not to pass blank check funding bills, urging Congressional action to bar President Bush from making a long term commitment to Iraq that could tie the hands of the next president, and campaigning in key Senate states and House districts. The Iraq/Recession campaign is a joint venture of, the Service Employees International Union,, USAction, the Center for American Progress and Americans United for Change." [2]

Brief History of AAEI 2007-2008

Despite spending millions of dollars, Americans Against Escalation In Iraq failed in its objective when, in May 2007, the Democratic-controlled Congress gave President Bush the full funding he requested for the US war in Iraq.

In Summer 2007, AAEI hired over 100 organizers to work within the districts of targetted Republicans who supported the war.[3]

On January 17, 2008, Ryan Grim reported on that the Americans Against Escalation in Iraq coalition was no longer advocating that Congress end the war. In 2008 "the groups instead will lower their sights and push for legislation to prevent President Bush from entering into a long-term agreement with the Iraqi government that could keep significant numbers of troops in Iraq for years to come. ... The groups believe this switch in strategy can draw contrasts with Republicans that will help Democrats gain ground in November..." [3]

In a February 9, 2008, blog posting on The Nation's website, professor and activist Tom Hayden wrote: "Tom Matzzie,leader of America's most well-financed anti-Iraq [war] organization, has resigned his position and dissolved the organization, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq." However,after posting this blog Hayden the wrote: "Minutes after this story was posted, Matzzie sent an e-mail to me claiming 'the story is wrong.' He said, 'We haven't quit,' but are in transition. But the story is based on Mattzie's own February 7 e-mail response to a question from me: 'I've essentially quit anti-war organizing and gone into politics.' " [4] In fact, Matzzie now runs the AAEI spin-off Campaign to Defend America which is using the issue of the war to help Democrats win elections in 2008 and is run, funded and supported by the same organizations and money behind AAEI.

In February, 2008 journalist Matt Taibbi analyzed how the MoveOn-led AAEI has become "a political tool for the Democrats — one operated from inside the Beltway and devoted primarily to targeting Republicans. ... At the forefront of the groups are [former MoveOn lobbyist] Tom Matzzie and Brad Woodhouse... [M]uch of the anti-war group's leadership hails from a consulting firm called Hildebrand Tewes Consulting — whose partners Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes served as staffers for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. ... This is the kind of conflict of interest that would normally be an embarrassment in the activist community. ... The really tragic thing about the Democratic surrender on Iraq is that it's now all but guaranteed that the war will be off the table during the presidential campaign. Once again — it happened in 2002, 2004 and 2006 — the Democrats have essentially decided to rely on the voters to give them credit for being anti-war, despite the fact that, for all the noise they've made to the contrary, in the end they've done nothing but vote for war and cough up every dime they've been asked to give, every step of the way." [5]

Press Contacts for AAEI


AAEI personnel include:[4]

Former staff

Coalition members

Campaign to Defend America, Inc.

Campaign to Defend America, Inc., registered in 2006 with the State of Washington (Registration #23820) under "Charities and Trusts".[7]


"Iraq Summer" 2007

"Iraq Summer is a nationwide, 10-week long campaign with nearly 100 organizers in 15 states and 40 congressional districts to turn up the heat on members of Congress who have opposed setting a timeline to bring a safe and responsible end to the war in Iraq. The effort will culminate with a national 'Take a Stand' day on August 28th, when Members of Congress will have the opportunity to explain their stance on the war to their constituents in a town hall setting," according to an August 27, 2007, press release.[8][3]

  • September 7, 2007: "New hard-hitting ad hitting on the reality of what Susan Collins and her GOP colleagues have gotten us into -- an intractable, endless civil war. Versions of this ad ran in Kentucky against [Mitch] McConnell, in Minnesota against [Norman] Coleman and in New Mexico against [Pete] Domenici."[9][10]


Contact Info and Website

1825 K Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202 454-6200
Fax: 202 263-4530
Email: info AT


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