Concern for troops tempers happiness
December 14, 2003
By Susan Wood
Tribune staff writer
As the sun chased away the blustery weather in South Lake Tahoe on Sunday, local residents hoped news of Saddam Hussein’s capture would lead to U.S. troops returning home before Christmas.
“I’m glad (Bush) got the job done, but I’d like them to come home,” Juan Rocha said while coming out of Kmart.
Rocha’s wife, Crystal, agreed, calling the capture in Tikrit an act of justice. The Rochas, who moved to the South Shore in July, have a suggestion for Hussein’s punishment.
“They should lock him up for the rest of his life. He killed his own people,” Juan Rocha said.
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Fred Wright wants Hussein put away, but that’s not his focus. He’s occupied with two other aspects of the Middle East war.
“Saddam doesn’t bother me so much. I want bin Laden (captured),” Wright said, referring to the alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Wright has a relative reason for wanting to lessen forces across the globe. His son, Jaryd Garrett, joined the Army in June and ended up stationed in Oklahoma. He wants him to stay on American soil.
“Why do we need so many troops over there?” he asked.
For Linda Barron, she believes the United States should carry on its mission to the end.
“I’ve been behind Bush the whole time. We should continue until there is peace over there. I’m glad we caught him,” she said.
Although the news of the capture represents the most significant breakthrough in eight months, political leaders shied away from believing the troubles in Iraq are over.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., approached the news with cautious optimism. He issued a statement from Iraq.
“Once again, I am proud and grateful for President Bush’s leadership and conviction, which has brought about this joyous event. And although this is an historic day of celebration, we must remember that the danger facing our men and women is not over and we must continue to pray for their safety,” he said.
On the other side of the state border, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., wants to know once and for all whether there are weapons of mass destruction. She added there’s much work to do, but she’s pleased with the historic event.
“As long as Saddam Hussein remained at large, there was a feeling held by many Iraqis that he could return to power and this gave a boost to the insurgents attacking our troops or killing innocent civilians under the guise of the Baathist party,” Feinstein said in a statement.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., hopes the capture sends “a strong signal to the remaining terrorists and insurgents operating in Iraq that their days are short in number.”
Lining up to respond with other political leaders, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., directed her praise to the American troops, who acted on intelligence leading them to the hideout.
“Saddam should be tried for the crimes against humanity that he inflicted on hundreds of thousands of people including his own countrymen,” she said. She believes attacks on American soldiers will lessen with the capture.
Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville, sent kudos to Bush for his leadership during the post-war effort.
“(I’m) grateful that we have a commander in chief who understands that while this is a huge victory in the war on terror, it’s not the end of it,” he said.
Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Reno, was unavailable for comment.
– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at email@example.com