One question remains: Who killed Alaska-based troops?

Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2007

Five servicemen from Alaska's Fort Richardson were killed in Iraq about the time that President Bush was giving his State of the Union address.

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Nine to 12 gunmen drove boldly into an American station, 50 miles south of Baghdad, disguised as American security forces. They killed one soldier and abducted four others. Those abducted were later found 25 miles away, dead or dying.

In his speech, the president said he is sending 21,000 more troops to Baghdad to bolster security and rout the terrorists. He also is putting Lt. Gen. David Petraeus in charge, a proven expert in guerilla warfare. And the rules of engagement were revised, lifting restrictions on the troops' actions.

The reaction? Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Delaware, criticized the president for sending more troops. The Foreign Relations Committee, which Biden chairs, passed a resolution demanding the president refrain from sending the troops.

Then the Bush haters piled on, especially those, such as Biden, who are running for president in 2008. Other resolutions were offered against the troop buildup. None of them were binding, and none came to the floor of the Senate.

House members will try next to embarrass Bush and encourage our enemy.

What is missing is any attempt to identify the enemy. Where did the black Suburbans used in the attack come from? Ditto the American uniforms and weapons? And who were the gunmen who spoke English well enough to get by the gate guards?

Not one senator from the states that are home to the dead troopers has made an inquiry. And we haven't heard from Alaska's senators about the identity of the enemy and their source of supplies. Our delegation should at least support the president and our Alaska-based troops.

Actually, Biden and others of his ilk, contributed to the death of those soldiers. During Petraeus' confirmation hearing, the general acknowledged that Biden's resolution and similar anti-war, anti-administration resolutions give aid and comfort to the enemy. Then the Senate unanimously confirmed Petraeus for his new post. Huh? Oppose the president's plan but approve the man to carry it out? Sounds like Sen. John Kerry's famous: "I voted for it before I voted against it."

Wouldn't the troops and their families, and the families of the dead soldiers, want to know what happened, who the enemy is and how the enemy is supplied, rather than hear a politician encourage the enemy?

Some don't realize there is a war going on. The current major battlefield is in Iraq. Since 1970, various terror groups around the world have killed 3,700 Americans. Nearly 3,000 of those died on Sept. 11, 2001.

Some like to claim there has been no attack on America since 9/11, but there have been 30 attacks, all overseas but outside Iraq, claiming 45 Americans. Defeat in Iraq, or a precipitous pullout, would only encourage more attacks.

The Jihadists have pledged publicly to kill Americans. The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, repeated recently on Arab TV that he wants to defeat the West and wipe Israel off the map. He further said, "We hope to have a big nuclear celebration by the end of the year (March 2007, by their calendar)." Isn't that more newsworthy than Biden's baloney?

More recently, new, sophisticated missiles have downed five American helicopters in Iraq. Who supplied the missiles? Who supplies the roadside bombs that have caused more casualties than other weapons?

There is a very sophisticated enemy out there - not roving bands of neighborhood gangsters. These people are well led, equipped, trained and funded - by whom?

Who bought the nice new black Suburbans for the hit squad? They were turned out of a General Motors plant somewhere in the world and have vehicle identification numbers to trace them. Did a wealthy Arab buy them? Did they come from Iran, or were they stolen from an American motor pool?

There are answers Americans would rather hear than polemics from armchair pundits and politicians.

• Lew M. Williams Jr. is the retired publisher of the Ketchikan Daily News who has been a Southeast Alaska journalist since 1946.

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