Saturday, August 14, 2004

Strong Words for the Chickenhawks

AP -- Sen. Tom Harkin called Vice President Dick Cheney a "coward" for avoiding service in Vietnam and called on President Bush to end the "backdoor draft."

The Iowa Democrat was responding Friday to the call-up of a Des Moines police officer who has already completed his eight-year military commitment.

Harkin echoed comments earlier this week by Des Moines Police Chief William McCarthy, who said the military's treatment of Des Moines Police Officer Rodell Nydam was "evil."

Nydam, 26, is being called back to Iraq despite finishing his National Guard commitment in April. He's being called up under the military's "stop loss" exemption, which can extend duty in wartime.

Harkin, who served as a jet pilot in the Navy, said the exemption wasn't intended for situations like the war in Iraq. He said first responders like Nydam are needed to protect the community.

"The part of the U.S. code that provides for this anticipates major wars, major national emergencies," Harkin said. "That is not what we're confronting right now. You think about using this law only in (extreme cases), only when we're really in dire, dire need."

Harkin also shot back at Cheney, who said in a visit to Iowa on Tuesday that presidential candidate John Kerry lacks a basic understanding of the war on terrorism and cannot make America safer...

"When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil," Harkin said. "Those of us who served and those of us who went in the military don't like it when someone like a Dick Cheney comes out and he wants to be tough. Yeah, he'll be tough. He'll be tough with somebody else's blood, somebody else's kids. But not when it was his turn to go."

Tom giving blood.

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