Crawford, Texas!

Support Our Troops and President Bush

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WARNING! THIS PAGE IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN! (Language)
We have had many e-mails from across the country supporting President Bush, our Troops or Cindy Sheehan and her vigil on Prairie Chapel Road. Many have asked for more information, so I will try to post information from both sides on this page.
 
 
 

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LET US NOT FORGET 9/11

"The president feels that freedom of speech is one of the most cherished rights of Americans. It's a free country, and people are free to express their views."
 
White House spokesman Trent Duffy
 
 
EDITOR'S NOTE:
As for me personally, though I do not agree with Cindy Sheehan's views, I do believe that she has the right in this country to voice her opinion as do I with my website. There are many people in Crawford and Central Texas with family members, including myself, that serves our country for that right.
 
I feel that regardless of how you feel about President Bush or the conflict in Iraq, that our troops need to be honored, respected and thanked wholeheartedly for their service and sacrifice. That may be where we can all agree.
 
I would be happy to go out to Camp Casey to cover Cindy's side of the story on this website, if she will allow it. Until then, I will try to gather more information on Cindy, her son and her position and post it here.
 
Links to additional websites and blogs associated with or covering this movement can be found at the bottom of this page for your convenience.

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Bethany Berry stands directly across from Cindy Sheehan's camp in support of her dad & Pres. Bush

August 22, 2005
Camp Reality
The Pro-Bush, Pro-Military camp in a real ditch across from Camp Casey
 
I'm sure that most of the country has absolutely no idea that there are loyal Pro-Bush, Pro-Military supporters that stand in a real drainage ditch on an opposite side of Camp Casey which has been dubbed "Camp Reality" by them.
 
Bush supporters sit in the blazing hot sun with absolutely no shade unless they bring their own tarp or umbrella. Little relief from the 100 degree heat. Have you noticed the ground in the photos of Camp Casey? It is nice and flat, unlike the deep drainage ditch the protesters against the anti-war group is forced to stand in.
 
Rarely does anyone hear about the young daughter of an Army chaplain serving in northern Iraq in the news. Bethany Berry of Crawford stands along side the road almost every day holding a sign that supports her father, President Bush and our troops serving in Iraq. 

“We've endured some rough times, but I firmly believe we need to stay there and finish what we started,” she said. “We don't need to step out a back door.”

Her dad is Rev. John Kent Berry the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Crawford. The Methodist church that the President and First Lady attends while in Crawford.

Nor do you see the former soldiers that have been in Iraq serving our country proudly, like TJ Ware, Jason Baker and Parrish Stevens that now stand in the ditch holding signs of support for their fellow comrades and their Commander-in-Chief.
 
Camp Casey growing because of support from across the country
 
The Sheehan camp has been collecting money from across the world and has gotten quite sophisticated with their new tents, bathroom facilities, air conditioned trailers, shuttle service, PR firm, lawyers and catered meals.
 
The Crawford Peace House alone has collected well over $150,000 and there is no telling how much Sheehan's website among other groups have collected. Mary Duty, owner of a pizza restaurant in Waco told me Sunday that they are getting phone calls every day from people across the country each ordering $50-100 worth of food to be delivered to the protesters. Mary's son has also printed over 1000 T-shirts that the anti-war protesters are selling to raise funds for the camp.
 
SUPPORT FOR CAMP REALITY
 
A kind rancher next to the Sheehan camp has offered us use of his land for parking and for a close place for us to put together and distribute the 500 SUPPORT OUR TROOPS and IM4W signs which were donated by Grassfire and being delivered this week.
 
Not one person in Central Texas that I asked for help with our prayer vigil and rally last Friday declined. Some even offered more of themselves than I had asked for. Volunteers are anxious to do more to show support. 
 
This website has been receiving e-mails from across the country in support of our President and his message that we should stay the course.
 
It looks like the Sheehan camp is here to stay, so we need to get organized too.
 
It is time that these real heroes that stand in the "Right' ditch have some proper support from us. They are our front line in Crawford. They really need a few tents for shade, lawn chairs, bottled water, ice and maybe a port-o-potty if we can get permission for a place to put one close by. They have to drive all the way back into Crawford just to find a bathroom now.
 

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Bush supporters planted BUSH COUNTRY signs along Prairie Chapel Road and across from Camp Casey

If you would like to mail in a donation, please send your name and address along with a check or Postal money order to:
 
Camp Reality
C/O Western White House Gifts
PO Box 116
Crawford, Texas 76638
 
 
THANK YOU!

 
August 24, 2005
CAMP REALITY UPDATE
Ways you can help
 
Port-o-potties have been delivered this morning! If you have ever been in dire need for one of these miracle inventions, you can understand the joy that went through Camp Reality when they were delivered!
 
Thanks to Grassfire.net, proper tents, tables and chairs will be in place after lunch today and ice has been arranged for delivery to camp.
 
I have been receiving e-mails from people that are hearing about Camp Reality and are looking for ways to show their support.
 
The Subway sandwich shop in nearby McGregor is willing to accept credit card donations for food to be picked up for Camp Reality. (Supporters from around the world, including Iraq, have been calling in donations for the Sheehan camp, so if you decide to call them please be sure to tell them your donation is for the PRO-BUSH camp) You can call them at (254) 840-0555. These are great people that I have the feeling might rather hear from people on our side.
 
We will be ordering pizza from Dominos in Hewitt  (254) 840-0555 for our large group being assembled Saturday at lunch. I'm sure they would accept calls from our donors as well.
 
More restaurants will be added here as arrangements are made.
 
Of course, money for supplies, snacks, poster board, ant and mosquito repellant and general needs are still needed. Ways to provide this type of help are listed above.
 
Above all we need volunteers to come out to Camp Reality Thursday morning Aug 25th at 10 am to help us blanket Crawford with signs.
 
Bethany, with the help of her mom, will leave Crawford this afternoon to move Bethany into her dorm room as she prepares for her first year in college. She will be back Friday in time for the caravan coming from California on Saturday.

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Mugshot of Larry Northern

August 15, 2005
Pick-up truck drives over crosses
UPDATE: DRIVER OF TRUCK HAS FLAT TIRE AND APPREHENDED QUICKLY BY AUTHORITIES
Crosses still lodged in the truck's under carriage... Man rigs pick-up with what is thought to be a metal fence post dropped from the bed of truck with chain. Larry Northern, 59, of Waco was arrested and charged with Criminal Mischief over $1,500 and under $20,000. Judge sets bail at $3000.
 
It has been reported that the driver of a pick-up truck deliberately ran over about half of the crosses set up along Prairie Chapel Road next to the protesters camp under the dark of night this evening just before 10pm Central. The crosses were displayed in honor of our fallen soldiers that honorably served our country and gave the ultimate sacrifice.
 

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Crosses that represent fallen soldier along Prairie Chapel Road (Photo V. Duty)

The crosses were brought to Texas by the Arlington West Project and is quite profound to see regardless of what viewpoint on the way that a person might have.  A bus full of Bush supporters placed American flags beside a great number of crosses on Friday. Now those flags lie broken in the dirt along with the snow white crosses.
 
Whoever did this act of vandalism is not just hurting the peace protesters, but may have hurt the hearts of many soldier's families that agree that their loved ones cross should be there. Those crosses were not a symbol of the protest going on here, they each represented a soldiers soul.
 
No one was hurt.
 
If anyone has any knowledge of the identity of the driver, please call the McLennan County Sheriff's office.
 
If the person that did this is reading this post, I urge you to go back and correct your action by apologizing and putting them back in place.
 
 

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Several crosses have been removed by fallen soldier's families

Not all Fallen Solder's families aprove of the display
 
Not every relative of fallen soldiers agree with the crosses being set up along Prairie Chapel Road. Several parents and spouses have come to Crawford to remove their loved ones crosses from the memorial saying that they do not want their soldier's name being "used" by the Anti-War movement.

Gary Qualls of Temple, Texas has had to remove his son's name from the makeshift memorial three times now. He first went to Camp Casey Wednesday and met with Cindy Sheehan. Qualls removed the first cross and asked that his son's name not be included again. His son, Lance Cpl. Louis Qualls was killed Nov. 16, 2004 by insurgents in the battle for Fallujah in Iraq. He is credited with saving the lives of several of his fellow Marines and the lives of at least 37 Iraqi nationals that day.

If you are a family member of a fallen soldier and you would like the members of Camp Reality to remove their cross from both Camp Caseys, please e-mail me at [email protected] or contact www.grassfire.org with your full contact information and the soldier's name.

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TJ Ware, USMC, served in Iraq and supports President Bush in Crawford, Texas

August 14, 2005
My visit to Camp Casey
 
I went out to Camp Casey Sunday to see it for myself. I have to work for a living, so this was my first opportunity to drive out. Cindy Sheehan was not at the camp when I arrived. Some friends of mine with the NBC national news bureau arrived shortly after I did to interview her, so I knew she would be arriving shortly.
 
As I waited I noticed a young man and his family with a large sign on a trailer with American and Marine Corps flags waving. They were set up on the opposite side of the road where the Pro-Bush/Troops supporters were standing their vigil. His name is TJ Ware from Ft. Worth, Texas and he made the sign and came to Crawford to support his former Commander in Chief. You see, TJ was a Marine who proudly fought for his country in Alisad, Iraq. This Marine enlisted and fought willingly as do the majority of those who serve, as he says. Ware noted that our soldiers are well trained, including Casey Sheehan. Casey Sheehan enlisted in the Army in 2000 and reenlisted in 2003 and in Ware's opinion, "Knew what he was getting into. There was no reason to blame President Bush for his death. He is a hero."
 
 
The sentiment on TJ Ware's sign bears merit to be quoted here:
Who should define a noble cause? I was there... A marine on the ground in Iraq. The only crimes against humanity were the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered by their own government. Please do not further sadden the families of the fallen by telling them that their loved ones died for nothing. Do you have sympathy for Hitler? Why not? Were we wrong to stop him too? Please do not criminalize your own sons. Instead remember them as the heroes who died protecting the freedoms of those abroad and at home. God Bless our President. Heroes in the Armed Forces.

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Cindy Sheehan is interviewed as campers try to hold up the awning over her tent Sunday in Crawford

 
A van with the word Cindy Shuttle painted on the windows pulled around the triangle on Prairie Chapel Road into the protester's camp. Out of side door stepped a weathered looking woman wearing a T-shirt that had been airbrushed with the words We Support our Troops on the front. A large gathering of supporters, press and her PR people surrounded her like moths to a flame. Cindy Sheehan had arrived in Camp Casey.
 
I noticed a rather large tattoo with the word Casey and dates permanently inked into her ankle. A remembrance to her fallen son, Casey Sheehan.
 
Cindy was rushed into place on the make shift NBC set the crew had prepared for their interview. A strong wind had abruptly come up from the south of the camp, eventually ripping away the awning that had been placed there over Sheehan's tent to help protect her from the Texas elements as she sleeps. Lightening could be seen in the distance.
 
MORE ON MY VISIT WITH CINDY SHEEHAN LATER....
 
 
 
August 11, 2005
RESIDENTS OF CENTRAL TEXAS...SEE WHAT THE SUPPORTERS OF CINDY SHEEHAN ARE REALLY SAYING ABOUT US!
I've done some 'homework' mostly on their websites...and here are my results (I've had to edit a few words by replacing some letters with astericks ** in case a child accesses this page. Other than that, these are direct quotes.)
 
A SAMPLE OF THE DECENT (NOT RAVING CURSING)COMMENTS THAT THIS WEBSITE HAS RECEIVED FROM SUPPORTERS OF CINDY SHEEHAN
Is this ranting from 'people next door' as Cindy Sheehan and her followers continue to portray themselves as, or radical left wingers?  Even received a few from 'conspiracy theorists' that were so long that they were not worth posting... funny though. (Please note that none of these comments are from Sheehan herself, but from supporters of her cause.)
Can I count dealing with these e-mails as 'hours' Toni?
 
name: Glenn Lincoln
comment: Is anyone from Crawford Texas in Iraq Fighting for our Freedom. I didn't think so

 
name: vic smith
comment: I've been reading about the treatment that your sheriff has accorded the protesters on the road to his ranch. My god, you folks are barbaric, making them walk in a ditch instead of the road. It surely reminds me of Selma, Alabama in the 60's. What's next, shoot them and bury their car in a hill? I suggest that you enter the current century and recognize that Bush is nothing but a two-bit thug and a dumb one at that. Have you even heard of free speech?
 
name: Adam Henry
comment: your town is doomed and you all suck and most of you will probably go to hell for your sins.  Victory to Iraq!
 
name: 
comment: F*** YOU AND SECRET SERVICE!! F*** THUG BABBY KILLER DUMB-ASS BUSH!!
 
name: david lewis
comment: Hi ! I have been reading the news that your so called police are going to arrest a mother of a slain solder . Makes you proud to see so many fools . I hope that your wonderful cite dosen't lose 20 like Ohio did in one day . The mother is being tarted by your city . As a Native Texan { bushe is not } and bron in waco . I an ashame of you , but what can you epect from heartless republacans . Over 1800 of our youg have been murdered by this fool  , and put him ao a pastel . Well the chicken always come home to rost . Your town will be know as the town that help muder our young . Shame on you .
 
name: An Angry Patriot
comment: I notice the lovely sign. I find it amusing that anyplace in TX has to go to such lengths to coddle a coward. If any officer of your city, county or state lays a finger on Cindy Sheehan, then Crawford TX will be remembered in infamy for as long as their is a free America.
 
name: Betty Boop
comment: This is the most lame ass site. Your president should be tried for treason.
 
name: cathy emmanuil
comment: I would like to send Cindy Sheehan
food
water
clothes
port-a-John/port-a-shower
cots
and my best wishes
 
name: matt sanford
comment: You look up to a president that chooses to vacation, yet again, while American troops die in Iraq?  You should be ashamed of yourselves.  Georgie, Dick Cheney, your idols huh?  How many defermants did they get during the Vietnam War, and now they are in charge of sending our troops to their deaths?  For loving this president you are neither American, nor a human being with a spine.

 
name: Jonmark Pierce
comment: I'm so glad that real Americans, enlisted military families by the hundreds, are streaming to Crawford to express their contempt for George Bush and every un-American value he represents.  The real patriots are out there on Prairie Chapel Road, helping  to expose this corrupt and evil poser for what he is.  If you're not with them, you're against our troops!

 
name: Ann Phillips
comment: Your treatment of American Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Mother for Peace, is shameful.You have her living in a ditch! Crawford brings shame on itself by this act.

 
name:
comment: BUSH IS EVIL, WORKS WITH KRACKER
 
The people of Crawford have the right to know what they are dealing with here. I'm sure some of the protesters camped out on Prairie Chapel Road are good descent people, but with all these people coming into Crawford, even some of the core Cindy protesters are worried.
 
POSTINGS ON SOME OF THEIR WEBSITES:
They are even attacking our Democrat neighbors!

From an article in the Houston Chronicle 8/11/05
(this part was actually found on democraticunderground.com)
But Larry Mattlage, who owns the farm across the road from where Sheehan and her supporters are encamped, was not pleased by the new visitors, who hung protest signs in the trees. Sitting on his parked tractor across the road, Mattlage said he supported the right to protest but that the demonstrators should not be allowed to stay for prolonged periods.

"In the morning I usually wake up and see the morning sun," he said. "Now I wake up to stuff hanging in trees."
A member of DemocraticUnderground responded by posting Larry's home address and phone number and asked members to contact (yes, harass) him. Thank goodness the website took his personal information off and members were asked not to bother him, saying "We shouldn't harass him or it will make it worse."
Still, there were further posts like this: "Aw, pooooor baby.Few can imagine the anguish of having to see "stuff hanging in trees." Hey Larry! Go tell your neighbor at the pig farm to meet with Cindy!!!
 
Then, on their websites, where they think they are out of our view, they say things about Crawford like these taken from democraticunderground.com:
 
"Wanna puke, check this out! Major league bush suck ups!"
"What a sh**hole of a town."
"It really is and apparently just full of bush** zombies!"
"Armpit comes to mind."
"That would be a kind description of the sh** hole. But what a bunch of suck ups!"
"Ignorant moran! No wonder they love bush**."
"Assholes. Be sure to join me in sending a comment to these idiots that Crawford, TX will go down as the black hole of the U.S."
"Right near Waco, how fitting!"
"Ok, who made up the street name Prairie Chapel Road? How many focus groups did that take? I'm gonna barf. Everything choreographed right down to the hay stacks."
"A "Chapel" is a house of GOD... Hypocrisy Squared n/t"
"Prairie Chapel Road leads to a pig farm how fitting"
"you call yourselfs the western whitehouse ...this is part of the package ass-hats." referring to having protesters in town
"When you're done with the port o potties be sure to "accidentally" spill the contents on Bush's motorcade!"
"Better target (for the port o potties) Not the motorcade. Into the ditches near the MAILBOX. You HAVE to roll down your window to open the mailbox to add/remove mail. That will be one or two lungsful of BLACK FLIES, etc, hovering thickly in the air..... (From one good sh** to another!)"
"what a prick they are to grieving mothers f*** you mr president f*** you"
""peein' ON the shrub,..." Better than the shrub pissin' on us and telling us it's raining." Referring to the President
"Send lawyers ,guns, and money cuz the sh*t's gonna hit the fan. Impeach the fraWd"
 
About the lady who owns the land that the protesters were asked to vacate "The BIT** who owns the land...should be smacked sh**less. How can you force a peace contingent, and mothers of dead vets, into the f***ing DITCH?Have some class, Texas Landowning Bit**. It always amazes me what kind of person could do something like that. It's nowhere in my personality to diss a woman like Cindy Sheehan. Like the Landowning Bit** is USING the f***ing land? It just sits there, day in, day out, but OH, NO, you can't just sit on it and hang out....no, that's just not allowed."
 
Be sure to check out some of their websites to see for yourself an array of their negative comments about how bad Crawford and President Bush is! They even have satellite photos of the President's ranch up on them for anyone, including terrorists, to see.
 
Where is the blog that Cindy is regularly posting updates to? MichaelMoore.com! That should tell it all! Sheehan is also using Moore's PR firm to spread the word and MoveOn.org is supporting her by attempting to place a two page ad in next weeks Waco Tribune Herald newspaper bashing the president and demanding that he see her. As they say, "you are a reflection of the company that you keep".
 
We are all sorry that Mrs. Sheehan lost her son. Even her family released a statement to drudgereport.com saying that they are tired of her using her son's death as a way to make a political statement. Her family stated that they support "the troops, our country and our President, silently, with prayer and respect."
 
As one Crawford resident that lives close to the protesters compound put it today, "She has made her point, now it's time for her to go home"

August 12, 2005
SOME OF FRIDAYS RANTINGS ON WWW.DEMOCRATICUNDERGROUND.COM
 
This post was about the local Coca Cola company donating water to their group... this is a prime example of how they work. If you don't agree with them, by golly, you better be prepared for their wrath! (This went on and on... they tried to call the guys boss and talked to Coke's corporate office in Atlanta with the same rhetoric. Heads up Dr. Pepper and Pepsi... they are calling you next!) 
 
"I just got off the phone with Coca Cola in Waco

After talking with them earlier in the week about furnishing some water to Cindy and the people out marching.
I was routed around and ended up talking with a guy named Craig who basically blew me off after promising to get back with me.
Anyway--I heard on the Randi Rhodes show that Coca Cola was going to be furnishing drinks for the counter protest.
So I called back and left a message on Craig's voicemail (you are welcome to if you like 254-399-****).
THEY GAVE THE NUMBERS)
Basically told him that it was very unprofessional for him not to get back to me as he had promised. That I understood that Coke wouldn't take water to the thirsty mother of a dead soldier, yet they would furnish it for the ones who were making a point of harrassing a dead soldier's mother.
I informed them that I would NEVER again drink a Coke product.
I also told them that I would make sure that everyone knew that Coca Cola was anti-mother/anti/family."

Watch out Rangers and Pioneers! They are coming after you too! This was on democraticunderground:

Great idea from www.whatreallyhappened.com - got after * donors

Ok, who are the pioneers and rangers? Anyone know?

"Some 230 people were attending the fund-raiser at Stan and Kathy Hickey's Broken Spoke Ranch, a 478-acre spread next to Bush's ranch. All have contributed at least $25,000 to the RNC, and many are "rangers," an honorary campaign title bestowed on those who raised $200,000 or more for Bush, or "pioneers," those who have raised $100,000 or more."

Comments by the webmaster:

"Want to send a message to Bush that he cannot ignore? Go after the donors. Publicly point out the names of those whose money paid for the lies that sent our young men and women off to die in a war based on lies. Picket their homes. Demand they explain how they can give money to a man who committed the gravest crime a government can commit against its own people; to lie the nation into a war of conquest against an innocent people.

Name the dictator's henchmen. Put them on public view."

As for groups like Free Republic staging Pro-Troops rallies in Crawford Saturday:
 
" the Idiots are taking the bait. More free publicity for this story."

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President Bush meets with the Defense Policy and Program Teams at the Bush Ranch in Crawford, Texas

In this press conference at the ranch today, President Bush addressed the issues in Iraq and also replied to Cindy Sheehan's position. The press conference is reprinted here in it's entirety.

President Meets with Defense and Foreign Policy Teams
Bush Ranch
Crawford, Texas

August 11, 2005 12:01 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. I'm pleased to welcome Secretary Rumsfeld and members of his team back to Crawford, and I'm pleased to welcome Secretary Rice and her team. We just had a meeting with the -- the Vice President and I had a meeting with the defense team and earlier this morning with Condi Rice and Don Rumsfeld. We'll have a joint luncheon, and then we'll visit with the Secretary of State's folks.

We discussed recent developments in Iraq, including the political progress that is taking place in that country. Despite the acts of violence by the enemies of freedom, Iraq's elected leaders are now finishing work on a democratic constitution. And later this year that constitution will be put before the Iraqi people for their approval.

The establishment of a democratic constitution is a critical step on the path to Iraqi self-reliance. Iraqis are taking control of their country. They're building a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.

And we're helping them succeed. We have a strategy to help them succeed. On the one hand, we're hunting down the terrorists, and we're training the Iraqi security forces so Iraqis can defend themselves. Our approach can be summed up this way: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. And when that mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will come home to a proud and grateful nation. The mission in Iraq is tough, because the enemy understands the stakes. A free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will deliver a serious blow to their hateful ideology.

The second part of our strategy is to help freedom prevail in Iraq. The recent violence in Iraq is a grim reminder of the brutal enemies we face in the war on terror. And we are a nation at war. The war arrived on our shores on September the 11th, 2001. And since that day, the terrorists have continued to kill. They have killed in Madrid and Istanbul and Jakarta and Casablanca and Riyadh and Bali and London and elsewhere, and they are determined to do more harm. And they kill indiscriminately. In other words, they don't care who they kill.

And they kill because they're trying to shake our will. They're trying to drive free nations out of parts of the world, so they can topple governments across the Middle East, and establish Taliban-like regimes in the Middle East, and turn that region into a launching pad for attacks against free people, and they will fail.

After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people that this nation will not wait to be attacked again, and we're going to stay on the offense. And we're fighting the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere so we do not have to face them here at home.

We're also fighting the murderous ideology, the hateful ideology of the terrorists, and we're doing so by spreading freedom. See, our ideology is hopeful and optimistic and uplifting. I've got great optimism about the spread of freedom because I believe deep in everybody's soul is the desire to be free, and I know that history has shown that peaceful societies are those that are free, that democratic neighbors don't war, that democracies promote peace.

In these times of war, a heavy burden falls on the men and women of our Armed Forces and their families. This morning, we discussed the steps we're taking to deal with the increased demand on our forces. For example, we've been working to rebalance our forces, moving about 80,000 people out of skills that are in low demand into the skills that are high demand, so we do not have to call upon the same forces repeatedly.

We've also taken steps to improve the call-up process for our Guard and for our Reserves. We've provided them with earlier notifications. We've given them greater certainty about the length of their tours. We minimized the number of extensions and repeat mobilizations.

We're working hard to ensure our troops and their families are treated with the dignity they deserve, and the respect they've earned. In the war on terror, our troops are serving with courage and commitment, and their courage is inspiring others. All of our services met or exceeded their active duty recruitment goals in July. The Army, which was below its monthly recruiting targets earlier this year, exceeded its July active duty recruitment goal by nearly 10 percent, though it's still behind for the year. The Navy, Air Force and Marines are on track to meet or exceed their active duty recruiting goals for 2005. And the troops closest to the fight continue to reenlist in impressive numbers. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are all on track to meet or exceed their reenlistment goals for the year. Americans can have pride and confidence in our all-volunteer force.

I appreciate so very much the Secretaries and their teams who've joined me today. I want to thank the Vice President for being here. We've had fruitful discussions so far, and we'll continue to have fruitful discussions throughout the day.

With that, I'll be glad to answer some of your questions. Deb.

Q Mr. President, on Iran again, has the U.S. intelligence sorted out what role the new Iranian President might have played in the '79 embassy take-over? And will he be given a visa to attend the U.N. meetings in New York early next month? And wouldn't denying him a visa damage the EU3 negotiations on their nuclear program and inflame the anti-American sentiment that Karen Hughes -- is the very thing that Karen Hughes is trying to abate?

THE PRESIDENT: That's a really long question. Whew. Let me start off by saying that we're still investigating allegations and/or this guy's potential involvement in the hostage crisis. We're in agreement with -- we have an agreement with the United Nations to allow people to come to meet, and I suspect he will be here to meet -- at the United Nations.

On Iran, I can't remember the first four questions you asked on the question, but --

Q Well, those are the first two and then -- (laughter) --

THE PRESIDENT: No disrespect, by the way.

Let me talk about Iran. As you know, the IAEA today issued a report that expressed serious concerns about Iranian decisions, and that's a positive first step. You know, our strategy is to work with the EU3 -- France and Great Britain and Germany -- so that the Iranians hear a common voice speaking to them about their nuclear weapons ambitions. And I appreciate the IAEA's positive first step. As you know, there will be a report back after a period of time, and we look forward to working -- hearing what that report says.

But the point is that -- is that the world is coalescing around the notion that the Iranians should not have the means and the wherewithal to be able to develop a nuclear weapon.

Steve.

Q Thank you, sir. You're increasing U.S. troops -- increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq for the upcoming elections. What happens -- is it possible those troops will be asked to stay on longer if needed to help improve security? And if I may, what happens if Iraq misses the deadline for drafting the new constitution?

THE PRESIDENT: Right. As to the constitution, one of the meetings we had this morning was with Zal, our ambassador in Baghdad. And he gave us a briefing as to the progress on the constitution. We have made it clear that we believe that constitution can be and should be agreed upon by August 15th. And so I'm operating on the assumption that it will be agreed upon by August the 15th. And Zal said that, you know, obviously there are some difficult issues -- federalism being one, role of religion. Hopefully the -- the drafters of the constitution understand our strong belief that women ought to be treated equally in the Iraqi society. But those are issues that still are out there. Although -- and he did say that there seems to be a spirit of cooperation and a deep desire for people to work closely together.

As for the troops, no decision has been made yet on increasing troops or decreasing troops. I know there's a lot of speculation and rumors about that. We did, as you might recall, increase troops for the Iraqi election and for the Afghanistan elections. It seemed to have helped create security, and I know the Secretary of Defense is analyzing that possibility.

I also know there's a lot of folks here in the United States that are, you know, wondering about troop withdrawals. They're concerned about the violence and the death. They hear the stories about a loved one being lost to combat. And, you know, I grieve for every death. It breaks my heart to think about a family weeping over the loss of a loved one. I understand the anguish that some feel about the death that takes place.

I also have heard the voices of those saying, pull out now, and I've thought about their cry, and their sincere desire to reduce the loss of life by pulling our troops out. I just strongly disagree. Pulling the troops out would send a terrible signal to the enemy. Immediate withdrawal would say to the Zarqawis of the world, and the terrorists of the world, and the bombers who take innocent life around the world, you know, the United States is weak; and all we've got to do is intimidate and they'll leave.

Pulling troops out prematurely will betray the Iraqis. Our mission in Iraq, as I said earlier, is to fight the terrorists, is to train the Iraqis. And we're making progress training the Iraqis. Oh, I know it's hard for some Americans to see that progress, but we are making progress. More and more Iraqi units are becoming more and more capable of fighting off the terrorists. And remember, and that's a country where 8.5 million Iraqis went to the polls. They've said, we want to be free. And our mission is to help them have a military that's capable of defeating those who would like to dash their ambitions to be free.

Withdrawing before the mission is complete would send a signal to those who wonder about the United States' commitment to spreading freedom. You see, I believe and know that we're at war, and we're at war against a hateful ideology. And the way to defeat that ideology in the long-term is to spread a hopeful ideology, one that says to young girls, you can succeed in your society, and you should have a chance to do so; one that says to moms and dads, you can raise your child in a peaceful world without intimidation; and one that says to people from all walks of life, you have a right to express yourself in the public square.

It's the spread of liberty that is laying the foundation of peace, and is very important for our citizens -- no matter what side of the political aisle you're on -- to understand that the mission is a vital mission and it's one that will be -- that we obviously couldn't complete if -- if we -- if we didn't fulfill our goals, which was to help the Iraqis.

Yes, Steve.

Q Just to make clear, you're referring to Mrs. Sheehan here, I think?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm referring to any grieving mother or father, no matter what their political views may be. Part of my duty as the President is to meet with those who've lost a loved one. And so, you know, listen, I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her -- about her position. And I am -- she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has a right to her position. And I've thought long and hard about her position. I've heard her position from others, which is, get out of Iraq now. And it would be -- it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long-run, if we were to do so.

But no, Steve, I've met with a lot of families, and I have done my best to bring comfort to the families and honor to the loved one, and get different opinions when you meet with moms and dads and sons and daughters and wives and husbands of those who have fallen. One opinion I've come away with universally is that, you know, we should do everything we can to honor the fallen. And one way to honor the fallen is to lay the foundation for peace.

Hutch.

Q Mr. President, these rumors about a troop draw-down really took flight when some of your military people starting talking about drawing down in spring. What was that about? Are they out of line?

THE PRESIDENT: I think they were rumors; I think they're speculation. One of the things that we did announce was a joint Iraqi-U.S. commission to look at the security situation in Iraq. Clearly -- my position has been clear, and the position -- therefore, the position of this government is clear, that as Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down. And that means that there's a -- obviously, the conditions on the ground depend upon our capacity to bring troops home, and the main condition, as to whether or not the Iraqis have got the capability of taking the fight to the enemy.

And so I suspect what you were hearing was speculation based upon progress that some are seeing in Iraq as to whether or not the Iraqis will be able to take the fight to the enemy. In other words, you've got people -- obviously, it's important to plan. It's important to think down the road. And you've got people saying, well, if the Iraqis are capable, if more and more units are capable of taking the fight to the enemy, it would then provide an opportunity to replace coalition troops with those Iraqis. I think that's what you're seeing. I think it's kind of what we call speculation. And the decision finally will be made by me upon the recommendation of General Casey, through Secretary Rumsfeld, to me.

Q Does that speculation grounded in fact, to you, given the way things have gone just recently?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the -- I am pleased with the progress being made when it comes to training Iraqi units. One of the things I announced at Fort Bragg was our strategy to embed our troops within Iraqi units so to better facilitate the training of those Iraqi units. And this morning, General Casey reported to me and Secretary Rumsfeld and -- the folks standing right back here -- reported to us that more and more units are becoming more and more capable, and that the embedding process is working.

Now, there's not that many that can stand alone yet, but there are a lot more that are -- have gone from raw -- you know, that raw recruit stage, to plenty capable. In some cases, some units need no United States or coalition force help; in some cases, they need minimal help. But the point is, is that there is a matrix, and we're following that matrix as more and more troops become capable and competent. And so my answer to you is that we are making progress.

And I've said all along we'd like to get our troops home as soon as possible -- but soon as possible is conditions-based. And so we're monitoring progress. The important thing for the American people to know is we are making progress. There's a political track on which we're making progress, and the security track on which we're making progress. And I know it's tough and I know it's hard work, but America has done hard work before. And as a result of the hard work we have done before, we have laid the foundation for peace for future generations.

And I remind people, when they think about the conflict we're in, to think about World War II, when an enemy of ours -- Japan, for example -- is now a loyal friend and an ally because of the hard work we did, not only during the war, but in the post-war reconstruction of Japan.

And the sacrifices that our troops are making, our family are making, are -- are unbelievably noble, and I am incredibly proud of our military, and I know most of the American people are, as well.

LINKS TO INFORMATION:
 
Up to the minute information from Camp Casey
(Some with photos and video from Cindy Sheehan's camp):
 
 
 
 
 
 
Conservative Websites
 
 
www.drudgereport.com  (letter from Sheehan relatives)
 
Click here: Move America Forward ("You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" caravan led by Deborah Johns of Northern California Marine Moms due to  lead a "WE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS & THEIR MISSION" rally in Crawford on Saturday, August 27th, 2005.)
 
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