Ads Featuring Wounded Mark Iraq Debate
Wednesday, February 14, 2007; 5:24 PM
WASHINGTON -- Army Spc. Tomas Young, shot and partially paralyzed on his fifth day in Iraq, is in the vanguard of a new deployment.
On Wednesday, Young, a 27-year-old Missourian, wheeled himself in and out of elevators and navigated the corridors of congressional office buildings in an effort to build opposition to President Bush's troop increase in Iraq.
War critics are running a million-dollar campaign with ads, rallies and personal appeals to members of Congress by wounded war veterans.
"Iraqis want us out of there. A majority of Americans want us out of there," Young said. "Sending more troops is just putting an Ace bandage over a gaping wound."
The mobilization against troop increases is just a preliminary maneuver for what activists say is the ultimate battle _ a fight to restrict spending on the war itself.
On Thursday, Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat who has emerged as a leading voice against the war, is expected to spell out a strategy that would link any deployment of troops in Iraq to their readiness status. Democratic leaders appeared to be rallying around that message Wednesday, calling on Bush to make sure soldiers have the equipment and training necessary to fight.
"It is wrong to deploy troops to the Iraqi theater until they have the up-armored Humvees, equipment, lodging, training and other support required to carry out their mission," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wrote in a letter to the president.
Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, added: "Right now we are not prepared. ... Funds provided last year and funds proposed in this year's budget should go a long way toward repairing and replacing Army equipment, but it will take many years to restore readiness to acceptable levels."
Murtha has prepared a video message that the liberal group MoveOn.org plans to show Thursday night at more than 1,200 house meetings across the country. He also has videotaped an interview with former Rep. Tom Andrews, D-Maine, head of Win Without War, another group opposed to the war. The interview will be posted on the Internet.
"This is where the rubber meets the road," said Andrews, a former member of the House Armed Services Committee. "It's all about Congress using its constitutional power of the purse."
Both MoveOn and Win Without War are members of Americans Against the Escalation in Iraq, a coalition that includes VoteVets.org, a group of veterans that has been active against Bush's war policy since last year's congressional elections.
No outside groups appear to be taking as aggressive a stance in favor of Bush's plan. The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have publicly supported the administration while conceding mistakes in the conflict. They have not mounted a campaign to counter Bush's opponents.