Troops come first with Tahoe representatives |

Troops come first with Tahoe representatives

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

Lawmakers and officials from South Lake Tahoe to Washington, D.C., were somber as they watched the United States enter into the inevitable conflict with Iraq.

“I think all of us in South Lake Tahoe should pray for the safety of our men and women who are fighting for our freedom,” Mayor Judy Brown said, adding she’s not surprised by Wednesday night’s official missile launch.

In some respects, Brown felt relieved it had finally started after months of threats and a 48-hour deadline that finally came to an end.

“I think the anticipation was driving everyone crazy,” she said.

Councilman Tom Davis was slightly antsy lounging in his recliner in the living room, witnessing the blow-by-blow of events surrounding a war that started with an early strike on a single target.

The strike against the military’s “target of opportunity” caused some to believe the operation had failed to begin.

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“Wouldn’t it be great if that surgical strike against the bunker hit (Saddam) Hussein and it was all over?” asked Davis, who identified himself as a patriot supporting the federal government’s efforts 110 percent.

When it became certain the war had actually begun, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. — who serves on the Senate Defense Subcommittee, reminded his constituents the fighting has taken place “to disarm Saddam Hussein and remove his brutal regime from power.”

Reid admitted the operation is not without risk, but he stands with his fellow Nevada senator in support of the troops and its commander-in-chief.

He also asked Americans to “remain vigilant here at home to guard against the possibility of terrorist attacks.”

“Americans, while wanting to protect ourselves, we also hope the Iraqi people can be free,” Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said during a press conference.

He called for a quick removal of Saddam from power and the safety of the troops.

The senator related the experience to his own in which his brother-in-law was shipped off to the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

“It was a difficult time for our family, and we need to support them,” he said.

Nonetheless, Ensign labeled this war as “unavoidable” but necessary “to avoid putting innocent Americans’ lives at an unacceptable risk.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was interrupted on the “Larry King Live” show by air raid sirens that marked the beginning of the operation.

The senator called for a quick solution to the conflict, but she warned the transition of “change will be extraordinarily difficult” because the Iraqi people have never known democracy.

“I think we’ll need an American presence there for a while,” she said.

Feinstein’s fellow federal lawmaker, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., surrendered to the idea that diplomacy lost out to war. She added her support for the military and hope the action will spare “innocent lives.”

State Sen. Rico Oller, R-San Andreas, launched a Support Our Troops campaign that includes a rally on the west steps of the state Capitol at 1 p.m. Saturday.

“As Californians and Americans, I believe it is our duty to staunchly support our troops and our president during this time of crisis,” Oller said in a statement.

Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, started Wednesday in prayer during his weekly Legislative Fellowship meeting.

Leslie said he was more convinced than ever that the military action represents “a very appropriate step.”

When asked if he’s convinced the intelligence proves an al-Qaeda-Saddam connection, he said it “doesn’t matter.”

-Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at