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Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged

based on a column by Paul Rieckhoff. October 14, 2005

The movie Rocky 6 is now in the works. This film project is clearly a publicity stunt intended to boost Sylvester Stallone’s slumping movie career. Yesterday, the White House manufactured an even greater publicity stunt with a live teleconference featuring 10 soldiers in Iraq. Clearly, the event was designed to bolster the President’s sliding political career.

This thing was not just staged, it was superstaged. In a disgusting display, the President again used our troops as political props in an event so scripted that it basically turned into a conversation with himself. I wish the White House had put this much effort into post-war planning when my platoon hit Baghdad.

Not only were the teleconference troops told what to say by Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Allison Barber, they were also prevented from speaking freely by the looming threat of their ground commanders. Undoubtedly there was a Public Affairs Officer standing directly off-camera making sure the soldiers spoke in line with White House directives. Every troop presented an upbeat view of the situation on the ground in Iraq. There was no talk of armor issues or mortar attacks. A token Iraqi soldier in the group at one point gushed to President Bush, “Thank you very much for everything. I like you!”

The makeup of this group at the teleconference was not an accurate reflection of our forces on the ground in Iraq. Of the 10 troops who spoke with the President, five were officers. None were black. In actuality, officers constitute 15% of the overall military. 20% of that force is black. No wonder the President’s approval rating among African Americans is so low.

This teleconference did not present the real voice of the troops. It was a shameful and misguided use of our military. The Commander in Chief has no right to use America’s sons and daughters as a defibrillator for his ailing Presidency.

You have been reading excerpts from "Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged" by Paul Rieckhoff. You can read the entire piece here: tinyurl.com/ctqp2. Thanks to . We

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