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"I Ask That the American People Be Brave"
Amy Ridenour's National Center Blog | 5/12/04 | Amy Ridenour

Posted on 05/12/2004 8:09:16 AM PDT by Valin

A New E-Mail from the Front in Iraq: "I Ask That the American People Be Brave" I have just received an e-mail from Army Spc. Joe Roche, who was briefly able to take a break from the thick of the fighting against Al-Sadr's forces in Iraq to tell us what he is seeing and experiencing.

Because I am fearful that I will alter the immediacy of his piece if I edit it, I am presenting it here intact (except I removed from the text the name of an injured soldier).

The next time you see one of those photos from the prison abuse scandal story, remember that the soldiers in those photos are aberrant. This is what an American soldier is really like.

Amy, I wrote this super fast, and I have no idea if you can or would want to use it. I have little time on the 'net, so from notes I've made while on missions talking to the guys, I rammed this out. Don't feel committed to using it, but just in case... I wanted to write to the American people about why our fight w/ Sadr is going so well and why they should not be seduced by the media/press image that this is somehow a disaster.

Take Care.

-Joe

------------------------

The fighting we are engaged in against the uprising of Muqtada Al-Sadr is one that is extremely sensitive and risks catastrophe. Had we entered this previously, it would not have been possible for us to win. Over the months, we have been involved in preparations and much planning. Thus, today we are scoring amazing successes against this would-be tyrant.

I ask that the American people be brave. Don't fall for the spin by the weak and timid amongst you that are portraying this battle as a disaster. Such people are always looking for our failure to justify and rescue their constant pessimism. They are raising false flags of defeat in the press and media. It just isn't true.

Last year in April while the main war was still going on to defeat Saddam Hussein's military, I myself gave a class to my company of the 16th Engineers about the threat posed by Sadr and the prospects for conflict with his militias. Though my fellow soldiers didn't appreciate having to attend a class at 8am on one of our last days before deploying to Baghdad, they can tell you that what is happening now is no surprise. I used open and general information that my superiors were already aware of.

The basis of our evaluation over a year ago was that Sadr presented a formidable and possibly impossible threat. Last summer, as my unit covered Sadr City -- the sprawling part of Baghdad that Sadr controlled then -- his militias challenged us by making a show of force in defiance of the effort to open up Iraq society to the new freedoms. Sadr clearly demonstrated that he would deny Iraqis democracy and freedom in his quest for power. By the fall, he had most of Iraq's Shia leaders and the community at large intimidated and kowtowing to his bully tactics. In January through March, his arrogance and thuggery led him to pursue two further attacks upon the hopes for Iraqi freedom.

He vigorously pursued courting and forming alliances with Iranian hard-liners. Upon returning to Iraq, he then welcomed many foreign fighters to train and assist his militia in terrorist tactics and guerrilla warfare.

In fact, we almost went into full conflict with him back then, months ago!

So our leaders, Paul Bremmer, Gen. Abizaid, and countless other US and Coalition leaders all over the land, acted w/ caution and care to secure for the US ever stronger cards against Sadr while simultaneously working to achieve four main goals.

Now we today are in a climactic battle against him and his militia. When the remnants of Saddam's regime were in full uprising in Fallujah, Sadr thought his time had come to make his bid for total power and to oust the US from Baghdad. He was very wrong.

It has been subtle and very well done by our leaders. You should be proud. It would have seemed impossible to have achieved our four main goals against Sadr even just a few months ago. Now today, despite the message of the pessimists who are misleading you into despair, we are have scored all the victories needed to bring this battle to a close. First goal was to isolate Sadr. Second was to exile him from his power-base in Baghdad. Third was to contain his uprising from spreading beyond his militias. And the last goal was to get both his hard-line supporters to abandon him, and to do encourage moderates to break from him. This has been done brilliantly, and now we are on the march in a way that just months ago seemed impossible to do. Sadr is losing everything.

Goal one: His so-called Mahdi Army militia is fighting alone. We are out defeating them day and night, and all the time we find them exposed and vulnerable. The people of Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf are not supporting him. His forces are isolated.

Goal two: His one-time powerbase, Sadr City in Baghdad, has been lost. Sadr has been exiled from there, and we have him on the run. He is trying to cloak his presence and activities in Najaf and Kut as planned, but that is damage control on his part. Yes we confront pockets of his followers. Just a couple days ago, I had to maneuver around such a crowd of 300 in Sadr City. The point is, though, we operate in Sadr City, and his followers are merely trying to raise the lost cause of his. It is perhaps better to understand why he is able to mobilize groups like this by seeing him as a mafia leader who is just sacrificing his own people in a mad last plunge to grab onto power. He is no different from any other thug in the world who manipulates and betrays his followers for his own lost cause. The critical thing to see, however, is that in Baghdad, Sadr is gone. He has been effectively exiled and we are destroying his one-time properties of power and abuse there.

Goal three: Other Shia leaders are breaking from him now in large numbers. The overall Shia leader of Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, has left Sadr's call for jihad and uprising to flounder on deaf ears. Bremmer and Gen. Abizaid stunned the overall Shia community by negotiating a calm in Fallujah. That has tail-spinned Sadr and his efforts to intimidate Iraq's Shia leaders. They see the US hand is strong, and that therefore they are making a mistake in kowtowing to Sadr's terror and violence.

Sadr is now running scared in Najaf. This is great. The Iraqi people of Najaf are offended by this Baghdad thug coming to their city and trying to hijack them into conflict with us. His militias have moved into Karbala too, and the same sentiment is being expressed by the people there. Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia are occupiers of those cities, and are insulting the most sacred sites of Shia Islam daily in their actions. Sadr's forces have stockpiled weapons in mosques and schools, and he continuously is going into the Imam Ali Mosque to call for jihad against us. This is offending Iraq's Shia leaders very much, and the Shia people are not following.

Our units, in fact, are operating w/in 500 meters of the most sacred Shia religious sites in these cities, and you should notice that the local people are not resisting. This is what the pessimists amongst you are preventing you from understanding. Something like this would have been impossible before Sadr and his militia thugs went into there to hijack Iraqi Shia Islam. The people of Najaf and Karbala know we are not there to conquer and occupying the religious sites; we are there to liberate them from this would-be tyrant who is trying to hijack them. His uprising has been contained, despite Sadr's desperate efforts to expand.

Goal four: Now Sadr's patrons and mentor in Iran are breaking from him. Grand Ayatollah Hossain Kazzam Haeri in Qom, Iran, is no longer backing him and has instead made it clear that Sadr's uprising is not sanctioned. Haeri is his mentor, and was a close intimate to Sadr's respectable father. The Teheran Times has run stories that are largely exaggerated, but still are making clear that Sadr's uprising is counter to Iranian interests and does not have the support of even one of Iran's grand statesman, Hashemi Rafsanjani.

In lieu of this, Sadr has exploded increasingly desperate and offensive. On Friday, he offended perhaps the whole Muslim world when he issued a fatwa (a religious edict) that if his forces in Basra capture a female British soldier, they can keep her as a slave. And as I pointed out already, his militia thugs in Najaf and Karbala are keeping weapons in mosques and schools.

In this, quite frankly, Sadr has done it to himself. He has compelled his would-be supporters amongst Iran's hard-liners to break from him and to put distance between Iran's interests and Sadr's uprising. Along with this, Shiites all over Iraq are breaking from Sadr and ignoring his frantic calls for jihad and slave-taking. Sadr has been abandoned.

I'm not writing you blind to the casualties this is causing us. My battalion, the 16th Armored Engineers, should be home reunited w/ family and friends after serving a full year here. Instead, we are still here where the temp is reaching 115-125 degrees. And some of my fellow soldiers have fallen. Units of my battalion are right in the front of the fighting. Your prayers are needed. [A soldier] lost his eyes and a hand last week. The surgeons are trying to salvage his hand now by re-attaching it. This tragedy is a real nightmare. Another suffered shrapnel wounds in his abdomen. Others have been cut badly. Miracle of miracles, however, Sgt. Morales on Friday was shot in the CVC (helmet) -- the bullet ricocheted around his head and fired into the back of his seat, never cutting his skin!!!

I'm telling you this because you need to know that your soldiers are working their hardest. My unit is just one of many in this fight. What you need to do is be strong and persistent in your faith with us. Sadr's militia is in panic and desperate, so they are dangerous, but you need to keep this all in perspective. The pessimists would have you believe this is a disaster. Don't listen to them. I think some of them feel that their reputations require our failure because they have been so negative all along, so they are jumping at every opportunity to sensationalize what is happening here as a disaster. Eliminating Sadr's threat is part of the overall mission and we are further ensuring the liberation of the Iraqi people. This has to be done, and we are doing it.

Don't be seduced by those who would rather that we sit back and just enjoy the freedoms past generations of Americans have sacrificed to gain for us. This is our time to earn it. I remember President Bush saying after the September 11th attacks: "The commitment of our Fathers is now the calling of our time."

posted by Amy at 5/12/2004 12:03:08 AM


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: army; engineers; heroes; personalaccount; soldiers; unitedstatesarmy
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1 posted on 05/12/2004 8:09:18 AM PDT by Valin
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To: Cannoneer No. 4
Here you go.

2 posted on 05/12/2004 8:10:58 AM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: Valin
Thanks, pard.
3 posted on 05/12/2004 8:13:26 AM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (I've lost turret power; I have my nods and my .50. Hooah. I will stay until relieved. White 2 out.)
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To: Valin
Very much worth reading, especially the analysis on what's being done to destroy Sadr. Once you limit the problem of Fallujah and knock out Sadr's support, you have a much brighter future.
4 posted on 05/12/2004 8:14:02 AM PDT by Numbers Guy
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To: Valin
Great! Thanks for posting
5 posted on 05/12/2004 8:14:10 AM PDT by nuconvert ("America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." ...( Azadi baraye Iran)
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To: Valin
great post!
6 posted on 05/12/2004 8:14:11 AM PDT by votelife (Elect a Filibuster Proof Majority)
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To: Valin
Here's the soldier's web page
7 posted on 05/12/2004 8:15:22 AM PDT by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: af_vet_rr; ALOHA RONNIE; American in Israel; American Soldier; archy; armymarinemom; BCR #226; ...
ping







8 posted on 05/12/2004 8:16:35 AM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (I've lost turret power; I have my nods and my .50. Hooah. I will stay until relieved. White 2 out.)
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To: Valin
Thank you. Now, fight that, Gasbag Bill.
9 posted on 05/12/2004 8:18:31 AM PDT by vandykelastone (Nuts to Governor Goober: let's get serious now!)
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To: Cannoneer No. 4
Yup I have to admit it I'm really pretty great! :-)


Seriously I've just recently discovered the wonderful world of blogs.
Blogwise
http://www.blogwise.com/

10 posted on 05/12/2004 8:19:41 AM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: Valin
Wow! That's all I can say! Thank you for this post!
11 posted on 05/12/2004 8:21:36 AM PDT by jwpjr
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To: Valin; WhyisaTexasgirlinPA
Good news!
12 posted on 05/12/2004 8:21:55 AM PDT by SeeRushToldU_So (Confused yet?)
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To: Valin
Memo to many freepers:

Don't fall for the spin by the weak and timid amongst you that are portraying this battle as a disaster. Such people are always looking for our failure to justify and rescue their constant pessimism. They are raising false flags of defeat in the press and media. It just isn't true.


13 posted on 05/12/2004 8:22:00 AM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: Valin
Excellent post.
14 posted on 05/12/2004 8:22:37 AM PDT by 68skylark (.)
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To: Valin
I put the link here on the Iran Thread.
Thought others would like to read also.
15 posted on 05/12/2004 8:23:52 AM PDT by nuconvert ("America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." ...( Azadi baraye Iran)
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To: Valin
Miracle of miracles, however, Sgt. Morales on Friday was shot in the CVC (helmet) -- the bullet ricocheted around his head and fired into the back of his seat, never cutting his skin!!!

Sgt. Morales will not get a Purple Heart for this action. Kerry would have out himself in for three plus a Silver Star...

16 posted on 05/12/2004 8:24:22 AM PDT by 2banana (They want to die for Islam and we want to kill them)
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To: Valin
I certainly hope his optimism is justified!
17 posted on 05/12/2004 8:24:29 AM PDT by Unam Sanctam
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To: Valin
Extraordinary post; my thanks to you for it.

I do have a friend over in this particular AO; he's a commander of a air cav unit. He expresses the exact same thing.

I often wonder how the media is missing the whole point!

At any rate: does anyone know of a website that will provide e-mail address for troops over there so that we can write to them?

Thank again...
18 posted on 05/12/2004 8:24:47 AM PDT by Logic n' Reason (Don't piss down my back and tell me it's rainin')
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To: All
http://www.nationalcenter.org/RochePage.html
Show the Soldiers You Appreciate their Sacrifices - Send a Care Package Today


Care Packages Needed for Soldiers Whose Deployment was Extended After Personal Possessions Had Been Shipped Home



Send care packages directly to the unit in Iraq via:
1LT Stephen Oliver
ATTN: Soldier Care/Support
Headquarters, 16th Engineer Battalion
Unit 92890
APO AE 09324-2890
(Postage is the same as for domestic U.S.)



IDEAS FOR CARE PACKAGES
Powdered Kool-Aid and Gatorade
Batteries
Magazines
Beef jerky
Baby wipes
Hand-held games
CDs and CD players
DVDs and DVD players
Paperbacks
Cookies or chips
Snacks of any kind (especially ones that don't melt)
Tobacco products


The soldiers appreciate all care packages of any size!
/subtle hint
19 posted on 05/12/2004 8:25:04 AM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: Valin
I hope that SPC Roche is keeping a journal (or that someone is saving his emails). He's a very articulate writer.
20 posted on 05/12/2004 8:25:07 AM PDT by 68skylark (.)
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To: Valin
Excellent analysis. A credible explanation of the situation.
21 posted on 05/12/2004 8:25:34 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: nuconvert
Thanks
22 posted on 05/12/2004 8:25:57 AM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: Valin
Engineer Bump!
23 posted on 05/12/2004 8:28:15 AM PDT by Cold Heat (Politicians are interested in people. Not that this is always a virtue. Fleas are interested in dogs)
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To: billorites
Bump
24 posted on 05/12/2004 8:28:18 AM PDT by Richard Kimball
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To: Valin
Excellent read, thanks alot for this post.

There is no report like one from a Soldier who is there fighting this war.

Sadr and his thugs 15 minutes is about to expire.

25 posted on 05/12/2004 8:29:56 AM PDT by No Blue States
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To: Valin
Great post -- thanks!
26 posted on 05/12/2004 8:30:17 AM PDT by sionnsar (sionnsar: the part of the bagpipe where the melody comes out)
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To: Valin
But, but I've seen so many posts here on FR that say that Bush is running a PC war, he's making all the same mistakes as the Vietnam war and that we're losing because we won't just 'Nuke em". Now I realize that many of those posts are probably site pests from DU trying to sow seeds of dissent but unfortunately many are from Freepers whom I beleive have the best intentions but get understandibly anxious.

While I wouldn't cry over mass extermination or the leveling of mosques I think I trust our leadership who has the big picture in front of them to do the right thing. After all this is Bush and Rumsfeld not JBJ and McNamara!

27 posted on 05/12/2004 8:32:55 AM PDT by marlon
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To: Valin
What a different perspective from our "this is a disaster!" media and politicians. I am going to print this for all my doom and gloom friends. Thank you!
28 posted on 05/12/2004 8:33:22 AM PDT by used2BDem (Navy Vet/ Navy Mom)
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To: marlon
Is it possible that they could be wrong in error?
What a ridiculous notion.
29 posted on 05/12/2004 8:37:24 AM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: marlon
You are right.
I am tired of all the arm chair generals second guessing it all... If Bush says anything to the military its "What do you need"...It is also clear if something is not going right Bush simply takes the hit.


This is as it should be. A Clinton or a Kerry couldnt do that
30 posted on 05/12/2004 8:39:02 AM PDT by woofie ( 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.)
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To: Valin
bump! Thanks for sharing the email
31 posted on 05/12/2004 8:41:42 AM PDT by Txslady
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To: Cannoneer No. 4
"white 2, where is your wingman? OVER"

BTW, 'nods' are your defenses, yes? or, what are they? ( not a tread head... )
32 posted on 05/12/2004 8:41:45 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitor)
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To: Valin
reference BTTT
33 posted on 05/12/2004 8:48:32 AM PDT by spodefly (A 12.7mm attitude in a .17 caliber world, or something.)
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To: Dog; Pukin Dog; hchutch; Molly Pitcher; ABG(anybody but Gore); Howlin
I thought you folks might like to read what's really going on in Karbala.
34 posted on 05/12/2004 8:50:06 AM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: Valin
Ping
35 posted on 05/12/2004 8:55:07 AM PDT by KansasConservative1
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To: Valin
Don't be seduced by those who would rather that we sit back and just enjoy the freedoms past generations of Americans have sacrificed to gain for us. This is our time to earn it.

Worth repeating! Thanks Valin.

36 posted on 05/12/2004 8:55:46 AM PDT by SAMWolf (SOME DAYS IT'S JUST NOT WORTH GNAWING THROUGH THE STRAPS.)
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To: woofie
A Clinton or a Kerry cWouldnt do that.

Rule #1 Clinton or Kerry are always right.
Rule #2 in the unlikely event that they are wrong...see rule #1

37 posted on 05/12/2004 9:02:34 AM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: Valin
Very interesting; the media critics had assured us that Sadr's actions had taken our military completely by surprise, that we had never even heard of him. Apparently the facts are otherwise.
38 posted on 05/12/2004 9:14:55 AM PDT by Steve_Seattle ("Above all, shake your bum at Burton.")
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To: Valin
Great post. Thanks.
39 posted on 05/12/2004 9:15:25 AM PDT by Rummyfan
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To: Valin
This is an Ernie Pyle caliber report - inspirational. A lot different than the dung the media whores try to feed us.
It would be great to have a collection of such reports. This type of communication is much better than the Fox News Sunday story that Chris Wallace ran (even though it was way past time for that).
Thanks, I needed this! My prayers and best wishes for our troops.
40 posted on 05/12/2004 9:16:44 AM PDT by OrioleFan (Republicans believe every day is July 4th, DemocRATs believe every day is April 15th. - Reagan)
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To: Valin; Cannoneer No. 4; American_Centurion; MJY1288; xzins; Calpernia; TEXOKIE; Alamo-Girl; ...
Thank you, Valin, Cannoneer No. 4 - our awesome bloggers, and our brave troops charged with both saving civilization, and, finding they have to report their own story, doing that, too! Hoo ah!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The fighting we are engaged in against the uprising of Muqtada Al-Sadr is one that is extremely sensitive and risks catastrophe. Had we entered this previously, it would not have been possible for us to win. Over the months, we have been involved in preparations and much planning. Thus, today we are scoring amazing successes against this would-be tyrant.

I ask that the American people be brave. Don't fall for the spin by the weak and timid amongst you that are portraying this battle as a disaster. Such people are always looking for our failure to justify and rescue their constant pessimism. They are raising false flags of defeat in the press and media. It just isn't true.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

8 Winning in Iraq: The public puts Abu Ghraib in perspective. ~ (polls prove Americans are wiser than their press.) ~ Opinion Journal | 5/12/04


41 posted on 05/12/2004 9:17:37 AM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl
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To: Valin
Our soldiers are the best in the world, bar none. We owe them everything and give them so little. Godspeed to them all.
42 posted on 05/12/2004 9:24:59 AM PDT by Peach
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To: Peach
See reply #19
43 posted on 05/12/2004 9:30:52 AM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: Valin
Thanks for that address. We've sent out several care packages, especially when my stepson was in Iraq.

I have some books I've been wanting to send and will use the address you supplied.
44 posted on 05/12/2004 9:32:57 AM PDT by Peach
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To: Numbers Guy
The interesting angle, that he just alludes to really, is the idea that the cease fire in Fallujah was an implicit threat to Sistani and company. It told them, essentially, "we can make a deal with the Sunnis and bring back a Sunni strongman from Baathist days, if you insist on making trouble". That was a new take on it to me, and makes sense. Sistani's interests are all on the side of keeping things reasonably quiet until a handover of power - our interests too.
45 posted on 05/12/2004 9:33:30 AM PDT by JasonC
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To: Valin; Salem; Happy2BMe; Ragtime Cowgirl
I am sending this to everyone on my email list that is praying daily for our Military!

The LORD God of Israel bless the US Military, enlarge their territory, keep HIS HAND upon them and keep them from all evil. In The Living Name of Y'shua. Amen.

46 posted on 05/12/2004 9:39:46 AM PDT by TrueBeliever9 (aut viam inveniam aut faciam (where there is a will - there is a way)
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To: Valin; Kathy in Alaska; MoJo2001; LindaSOG; LaDivaLoca; Fawnn; Bethbg79; bentfeather; ...
"The next time you see one of those photos from the prison abuse scandal story,
remember that the soldiers in those photos are aberrant."


Ignore FOX, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC The alphabet liberal media. PING
Too bad they don't show pics of Hanoi Kerry in his post Viet Nam era.

Valin : Thanks!
47 posted on 05/12/2004 9:43:17 AM PDT by 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub (FOX, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC The alphabet liberal media.)
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To: Valin
thanks for the post. BTTT!

Carolyn

48 posted on 05/12/2004 9:45:33 AM PDT by CDHart
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub
Great post. And don't worry, Joe. We are with you all the way. More importantly, so are the President and the Secretary of Defense.
49 posted on 05/12/2004 9:49:46 AM PDT by Bahbah
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub
I'll remember that about our troops and remember that chopping off heads of innocent people is SOP for islamic terrorists.
50 posted on 05/12/2004 9:50:34 AM PDT by cyborg
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