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Meeting the President in WV - by Invitation Only

July 5, 2007

President Bush's July fourth visit to West Virginia is getting criticism from local peace activists. Reverend Jim Lewis with Patriots for Peace says he tried to get a ticket to the event at the Martinsburg National Guard base but found out it was by invitation only. He says by making the event private, the president is avoiding tough questions about the war, including heavy deployment and extended tours for the National Guard.

“How come he's sending National Guard troops, our own here in West Virginia included, with about 50 percent or less of the equipment than they're supposed to have? But we're not able to ask that, he's turned this into a private event.”

He says the peace group organized its own Fourth of July event -- a protest at the office of West Virginia Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito. The Bush administration says the recent surge of troops needs more time to have an impact in Iraq. But Reverend Lewis believes the administration's policy has failed, and he's calling on the president to work with Congress on bringing troops home.

Lewis adds that he's worried the administration is isolated from Americans who are concerned about the ongoing deployment of troops in Iraq.

“The president likes to have us come and send the troops off, likes to have us come to welcome the troops home, but doesn't like us at all to raise any serious critical question about how our Guard is being used, how is active military being used, or about this war itself.”

Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WV