Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Atrios's guest blogger cites a Washington Post story from late last week about the rather calculated Bush photo op:

Stars and Stripes is blowing the whistle on President Bush's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, saying the cheering soldiers who met him were pre-screened and others showing up for a turkey dinner were turned away.

The letter cited in the Post story is here. It's from Sergeant Loren Russell:

...Our D9 teams helped push units as famous as the 101st Airborne Division from Kuwait to as far as Mosul. We took mine blasts and got shot at as we breached obstacles and cleared roads. Again, all we asked for was leadership and three squares a day.

During the war, Meals, Ready to Eat were naturally the way to go. They were appreciated, even by the vegetarians who had only crackers and cheese after the veggie meals were gone. Now that we’re stationed at Baghdad International Airport almost 10 months later, my soldiers believe that several comforts have finally arrived for them, like the post exchange and dining facility. But imagine their dismay when they walked 15 minutes to the Bob Hope Dining Facility, only to find that they were turned away from their evening meal because they were in the wrong unit.

The one thing that they find a requirement was denied to them. They understand that President Bush ate there and that upgraded security was required. But why were only certain units turned away? Why wasn’t there a special meal for President Bush and that unit in the new dance hall adjoining the 1st Armored Division’s band building?...

The subsequent Stars and Stripes article cited in the Post story is here. It claims -- I assume accurately -- that hours were rejiggered at the dining facility and no one was refused a meal. But

only those pre-selected got into the facility during Bush’s visit.

Everyone else was turned away -- they could come back later or make do with MREs.

How were these troops "pre-selected"?

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