Boycott this shameful propagandaSteve Hammer

Just when you think that the gang in Washington couldn't possibly get any more idiotic, they surprise you with yet another outrage. The latest comes from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who announced last week that the government's official commemoration of the Sept. 11 attacks will be something called the "America Supports Your Freedom Walk."

On the anniversary of the worst attack in American history, Rumsfeld will lead a march of people from the Pentagon to the National Mall, where country singer Clint Black will perform a free concert.

There are so many things wrong about this that it's hard to know where to begin.

It's bad enough that our president, who so ably calmed the nation in the days following Sept. 11, 2001, used the tragedy during his presidential campaign for partisan purposes.

It was even worse when he tried to link Saddam Hussein, who by all accounts had nothing to do with Sept. 11, with the attacks and initiated a massive war against Iraq.

Now his henchmen are sullying the sacred territory of Sept. 11 once again, this time for a P.R. campaign to bolster support for the failing war in Iraq. This is not only shameful, it is disgraceful and no right-thinking American should participate in this propaganda campaign.

Once again, this president is trying to divide the American people by implying that one must support his policies in order to support our troops.

Listen up, Mr. President: America does indeed support our troops. There is no question about that. Democrats and Republicans alike wish our fighting men and women well. This is not a party issue.

We support the troops because the people serving in Iraq are our brothers, sisters, friends, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles. They deserve all the respect and admiration we can give them.

But to stage a Triumph Of The Will-style march on the anniversary of Sept. 11, with a hand-picked audience - only those who register with the Department of Defense will be allowed to participate - is despicable. Bush is once again trying to link Sept. 11 with his failed policies overseas in order to regain public support for his war.

Nobody living in America at the time will ever forget Sept. 11, 2001. It was a day of chaos and shock and anger. The terrorists had brought their jihad to America for the first time, and we all watched on television in horror as the towers fell.

Nobody was thinking about politics at that moment. We were filled with compassion and concern for those who died. We mourned with the families of those who were lost that day. And we pledged as a nation to find the persons responsible for the attacks - not by bringing them to justice, but by sending them to hell.

When the military campaign in Afghanistan was launched, it was with the express purpose to hunt down and kill the terrorists responsible for Sept. 11. As such, nearly every American supported it.

Four years later, we have 10 times the amount of troops in Iraq than we do in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden still hides. As John Kerry asked during the 2004 campaign, does that mean that Saddam Hussein was 10 times more important than Osama bin Laden?

I don't think so.

And now we're in Iraq and the president calls it the center of the war on terror. Iraq was nowhere near the center of terrorism until President Bush invaded it. Now terrorists from around the world are flocking there with the goal to kill or injure as many Americans as they can.

Parents of soldiers are still buying armor off the Internet and sending it to their children. That is patently wrong - and shameful.

Mainly, I support our troops by making sure they never again are sent into a war sold to the world under false pretenses. Our former secretary of state apologized to the world for lying to the United Nations before the war.

And it is a desecration of their service to hold a costly parade and concert in their honor on Sept. 11 just to bolster the president's approval ratings. Parading soldiers through the streets and glorifying war is not something Americans do.

It's what the Soviet Union used to do. It's what North Korea does. And it's a mark of his desperation that it's now what our president is doing.

We should observe Sept. 11 with thoughtful reflection and mourning for those who died that day, not turn it into a parade and country music concert. And any memorial service should be held in New York City, which paid the biggest price that horrible day, and not in Washington.

The goal, say the parade organizers, is to hold a similar parade in all 50 states next year on Sept. 11. Not in my America. Not in my state, Mr. Bush. We mark the sacrifices of our troops twice already each year - Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We're not going to forget the sacrifices made on Sept. 11.

In the final analysis, it's all about the numbers, most notably the 51 percent of people who voted for Bush last year and the 30-some percent of people who currently support his Iraq policies.

I never thought I'd live in an America like this. Maybe the terrorists have, indeed, won, and this is their victory: the creation of a military state.

No thank you, Mr. President. I support the troops. I don't support your cheap political tactics.


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