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Iraq Vet: Pullout Ratifies bin Laden's View

Friday, 08 September 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- A premature withdrawal from Iraq would ratify Osama bin Laden's position that the United States is a "paper tiger" and jeopardize American security in the view of Vince Micco, an Iraq War veteran who is running for Congress as a Republican in New Jersey.

"The only beneficiaries of a hasty pullout would be our two chief antagonists in Iraq — Iran and Syria — because they'd see it as a defeat of American resolve," Micco said in an interview.

Micco is running against incumbent Steve Rothman in New Jersey's ninth district, which includes Bergen County and part of Hudson, and Passaic counties. Rothman has endorsed the call of Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., for pulling out of Iraq within six months.

Micco served in Iraq as an Army sergeant assigned to counterintelligence from March 2003 to April 2004. When he returned to New Jersey, he was appalled by the way the media emphasized setbacks and ignored progress in Iraq. Micco said he found that, by and large, Iraqis are grateful to America.

"I was stationed throughout the most volatile regions, primarily in the Sunni Triangle," Micco said. "I would meet with Iraqis in a safe house to get actionable intelligence. Week after week, these brave Iraqis would tell us who is selling weapons out of their basements for use against the coalition or which preacher at the local mosque is preaching jihad against our forces. Or they would say they heard that an attack will be mounted at this time and location against coalition forces."

If the informants provided reliable intelligence, Micco would recommend them for a reward.

"I would say to them, ‘I realize how much you risk by helping me. On behalf of grateful Americans, thank you so much for helping us,'" Micco said. "They would interrupt me and say, ‘No, no, we need to thank you for getting rid of Saddam.'"

Micco said that just about all the informants had a gruesome story to tell about a family or someone they knew who was suspected of having dissident political opinions.

"Their door was broken down in the middle of the night by Saddam Hussein's security agents," Micco said. "They were whisked off to some prison and raped, tortured, killed, and forgotten."

Micco said Iraqi children treat American military forces as rock stars.

"We would receive packages of goodies from our loved ones," he said. "Before going out in the morning, we would pack the goodies we received into our uniforms in case we saw the children. It's such a delight to see their faces when we pulled out a Snickers bar or handed them a bag of potato chips."

These children will eventually run Iraq, he said.

"Candidly," he said, "the prevailing age demographic in Iraq is used to Saddam's rule. When the young generation of Iraqis is old enough to run the country, we'll begin to see dividends that'll get better every year. A lot of the Shiites don't know how to handle their new power, influence, and freedom, so they take their marching orders from clerics, who take their marching orders from Iran. Eventually, the U.S. will have the greatest ally in the Middle East, where we especially need allies. What we are doing in Iraq is visionary because it will pay dividends for generations to come."

Micco acknowledged that sectarian violence has increased in recent months. But he said the "troublemakers" account for 1 percent of the Iraqi population yet account for 99 percent of the TV coverage of the war.

"These troublemakers will explode a device knowing full well it will be on TV all over the world," Micco said. "The media's lopsided, negative coverage of the war helps the resistance, which is funded, equipped, and directed by Iran and Syria, to recruit impressionable people. The media's fixation with the roadside bomb explosions and the resistance in general emboldens the troublemakers."

Micco said Democrats have found a wedge issue they think will defeat the Republicans.

"But by calling for a premature pullout," Micco said, "they are belittling the service of those who served and died in Iraq and jeopardizing American security."

He said, "We have come so far so fast in Iraq. Iraqis are enlisting in the military forces and the police. With each passing month, Iraqis are coming on line. American resolve — or lack thereof — is something that our enemies pay close attention to when planning attacks."

According to Micco, "The entire Muslim world is watching Iraq and waiting to see if Osama bin Laden was right when he was quoted calling America a ‘paper tiger.' The Democrats need to recognize this fact: We are there, and we need to win."

The Pentagon has set up a new program to provide recently returned service members as speakers at events. The events cannot be for partisan purposes or to raise funds. The Web site for the program is www.whyweserve.dod.mil.


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WASHINGTON -- A premature withdrawal from Iraq would ratify Osama bin Laden's position that the United States is a "paper tiger" and jeopardize American security in the view of Vince Micco, an Iraq War veteran who is running for Congress as a Republican in New Jersey. "The...
Friday, 08 September 2006 12:00 AM
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