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Bill Orton
(D-Long Beach)

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Americans in the crosshairs of death

by Bill Orton

Thursday, April 12, 2007 -- The announcement yesterday by the Secretary of Defense that the length of combats tours in Iraq will grow to 15 months means that America's bravest citizens will spend 90 more days in the crosshairs of death, seemingly as mere pawns in our President's chessgame with history.

Our fighting forces are not pieces on some game board, but they're being treated like pawns.

In chess, the pawn is the piece that a cynical player cares least about losing, as they are the most numerous force on the board. The cynic laughs at the loss of a "mere pawn," yet without them, protection of the strategic players is impossible.

Our warriors are the finest among us, brave Americans who volunteer to willingly place themselves in harm's way so as to defend the ideals upon which this nation is based.

Yet, the President -- like a cynical chess player -- puts our finest citizens in the crosshairs of death -- now for 15 months at a time -- in a war begun on the basis of lies and continued against the will of the American people.

We're losing young men and women by the thousands. More than 3,200 dead. Over 24,000 returning home with lifetime injuries.

We're sending maimed warriors to hospitals with rats and mold. We've seen cuts in access to military health care. Govt doctors turn their back on those with traumatic brain injuries and those who talk openly of suicide.

And now, with the stroke of a pen, we say: "Three more months in the crosshairs of death."

Our troops carry themselves with honor and fulfill the orders given to them, but the President is wrong to extend the length of tours, and to thus force yet one more sacrifice from forces who already risk their lives in this war.

The All Volunteer Force is the finest military in the history of the world. Our warriors are better able to protect themselves and to do their mission than any the world has seen.

Let us be clear: It is wrong for the President to treat our military forces as mere pawns. This war is not simply a chess game for history.

This war is all the president has got as the yardstick against which his terms shall be measured. Using our warriors in his gambit to checkmate history is a disservice to the brave Americans in the crosshairs of death.

End this war now.

Let the Iraqi people make their own history. Let them face their demons. Give them the weapons and responsibility to defend their own freedom.

Don't use America's bravest citizens as pawns any longer.

Bring our warriors home now.


Bill Orton is a writer and historian living in Long Beach, California.