Saturday, May 01, 2004

Iraq War Veteran Criticizes Bush on Radio
National Guardsman says U.S. Leaders Failing Troops

WASHINGTON - An Iraq war veteran expressed disappointment with President Bush on Saturday, saying the country's leaders refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of continuing violence in Iraq.

"I don't expect our leaders to be free of mistakes. I expect our leaders to own up to them," said Army National Guard 1st Lt. Paul Rieckhoff, who was a platoon leader in Iraq.

Rieckhoff's comments, distributed by Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign, were the Democratic response to the president's weekly radio address. Usually, a public official gives the response.

I believe in freedom of speech, unequivocally.

That said, a man speaking as a National Guardsman, on behalf of a presidential candidate, in criticism of the Commander-in-Chief is in very poor taste. This is not to say that he should not have the right to speak his mind as a citizen, but doing so as a military officer in a political venue is disturbing. Perhaps, it may also be illegal, but at the very least it is disturbing.

Even more disturbing is that John Kerry and his campaign would not only sanction it, but instigate it.