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On “Mission Accomplished” Anniversary, WV Groups Tally Impact of War

May 1, 2008

Charleston, WV – Today is the five-year anniversary of President Bush's "mission accomplished" announcement, proclaiming an effective end to the Iraq war. Critics of the war here in West Virginia are using the date to highlight the ongoing costs of the war, in terms of American casualties and spending.

Gary Zuckett of the group West Virginia Citizen Action says, both have seen massive increases in the five years since the announcement. On top of that, he says, a number of growing problems here at home could be tackled with the money being spent on the Iraq War.

"We have bridges that are falling down, we have this mortgage crisis, we have a lot of investments in this country that have been neglected because of the enormous cost of the war in Iraq -- and I think it's really time to invest in America."

Continued deployment of National Guard troops in Iraq is another hot topic. Zuckett believes it has compromised safety at home, by limiting the country's ability to respond to natural disasters. And, for all the costs, Zuckett doesn't see a benefit to the United States, in terms of safety.

"I don't think that our country, our homeland, is any safer today than it was five years ago when the President declared 'mission accomplished.' Bin Laden is still running around the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al Qaeda is probably stronger now, because Iraq is now a breeding ground for terrorism."

Supporters of a continued American presence in the Middle East insist that it is necessary to prevent chaos in Iraq. But Zuckett believes the presence of U.S. military forces is fanning the flames of the conflict, as well as fueling anti-American sentiment.

Rob Ferrett/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - WV