Organizers call for timetable to bring troops home
May 11, 2007 – The debate over the Iraq war echoed across Lansing on Thursday.
Three veterans of the war flew into Capital City Airport just long enough to criticize U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers for not sufficiently breaking ranks with President Bush.
Meanwhile, about 45 anti-war protesters gathered outside U.S. Sen. Carl Levin’s Lansing office to urge him to do more to end U.S. involvement.
“We’re four years into this war, and it’s getting worse,” said retired Lt. Col. Andrew Horne, a 27-year Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. They (American service men and women) didn’t sign up for incompetence, they didn’t sign up for disregard of the will of the American people.”
The event was organized by votevets.org, a national group that says Bush has mismanaged the war and supports a timetable for withdrawal. The Lansing stop was near the end of a two-day blitz through six states.
Rogers, R-Brighton, was targeted because he has criticized Bush’s surge strategy but voted against the funding bill that would have set a timetable for withdrawal. Horne said that Bush will only respond to pressure to change course if he’s worried about his vetoes being overturned.
The group also is running television ads in the targeted areas in which retired Major Gen. John Batiste disputes Bush’s claim that he took the advice of the commanders on the ground.
Rogers said the trip to Lansing only served to divide, not find solutions.
“This is not a veterans group. It’s a Democrat group that’s trying to inject partisan politics that may affect and jeopardize the life and safety of U.S. soldiers,” he said.
Rogers said he offered an alternative to the surge, which included beefing up forces to fight al-Qaida terrorists in Al Anbar province while seeking to improve conditions in Baghdad through such things as better intelligence, combat air support and a new approach to reconstruction.
He said he voted against the spending bill that included a timetable because “it tells the enemy exactly what your game plan is.” It was subsequently vetoed by Bush.
The downtown protest was sponsored by the Greater Lansing Network Against War and Injustice.
The protesters beat drums made of 5-gallon buckets and wore T-shirts with anti-war slogans. They waved signs reading “Troops Home Now,” “Out of Iraq” and “Fight Greed, Not Iran” at cars passing on Capitol Avenue. A few honked in support.
Margaret Nielsen of East Lansing, 65, has opposed the war since its beginning. She said she hoped Levin would lead others in cutting off future spending on the war.
Levin, D-Detroit, chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee and has been highly critical of Bush’s handling of the war.
Messages for Levin
“He’s given a lot of leadership trying to stop it, but he hasn’t done enough,” Nielsen said. “He needs to push our president.”
Elizabeth Jesse and her 13-year-old son, Cody, made the trip from Eaton Rapids for the protest. Jesse’s older son, Michael, 22, has served with the Army in Iraq. She held a sign over her head that read “Senator Levin, Bring Them Home Now.”
“I want our guys home and I don’t want anyone else to die here or in Iraq,” Elizabeth Jesse said.
Several protesters carried a letter, a fabric scroll decorated with a dove of peace and messages to Levin from people around mid-Michigan, and a rhubarb pie upstairs to Levin’s office.
“We appreciate the work that he has done,” said Jack Smith of Williamston, one of the protest organizers. “He has a position of leadership and will have a lot to say about the future of the war.”
Contact Chris Andrews at 377-1054 or email@example.com. Kathleen Lavey contributed to this report.