Archive for Sunday, March 30, 2003

State & Region War Briefs

March 30, 2003


Brownback addresses soldiers at Fort Riley

Fort Riley -- Sen. Sam Brownback told soldiers about to leave for Iraq that he came Friday to Fort Riley to "see their faces, look in their eyes and see how ready" they were for war.

"They are ready," Brownback told reporters after meeting with members of the 1st Battalion, 13th Armor, a tank unit of around 600 soldiers that is preparing to go to Iraq to join two other battalions of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division.

"Basically, right now, we're pretty much on a two-hour recall," said Sgt. Jeremy Collette, a soldier from Russell, one of nine Kansans in the battalion.

Tritt entertains troops

Fort Riley -- Country singer Travis Tritt diverted his "Spirit of America Tour" to Fort Riley on Friday to meet soldiers about to deploy to the war in Iraq.

"Listen, I just want to tell you something: I am so proud to be here today to get an opportunity to let you folks know face-to-face just how much we appreciate what you do for us," Tritt said from the stage.

Hundreds of members of the 1st Battalion, 13th Armor filled the theater. That tank unit and its support teams are part of the "Bulldog Brigade" of the 1st Armored Division. The soldiers, who already were wearing desert camouflage uniforms, soon will ship out to Iraq to join other Fort Riley-based troops.

"We believe that you are going to be able to carry out any mission that you are put to the task to do successfully," Tritt said before spending about 45 minutes signing autographs and posing for photos with the soldiers.

FBI to question Iraqis who live in Missouri

Kansas City, Mo. -- As part of a nationwide effort, FBI agents have been trying to interview more than 600 Iraqis living in western Missouri and Kansas, an FBI official said.

The interviews are designed to gain intelligence about the Iraqi government and military and to learn the identities of any spies or terrorists in the United States.

Those being questioned were selected for immediate attention from a larger list of about 50,000 because they had recently traveled to Iraq or had ties to the Iraqi military, officials said.

FBI supervisor Hilary Jenkins in Springfield said most interviews had taken place in Kansas City, Joplin and Jefferson City.

Special Agent Jeff Lanza, of Kansas City, said the interrogations were voluntary and conducted in interviewees' homes.

"If they don't want to talk with us, they can say 'no,"' Lanza said.

Blunt denounces Iraq's treatment of POWs

Springfield, Mo. -- House Majority Whip Roy Blunt denounced Iraq for its treatment of prisoners of war.

Blunt said Friday during a stop in Springfield that he and other members of Congress saw tape of the bodies of dead soldiers being pushed around and of a group of terrified prisoners being questioned.

Blunt said the apparent execution of U.S. prisoners of war was "an example of the things Saddam Hussein and his gang have done to the Iraqi people for two decades."

Earlier this week, Blunt voted in favor of a House resolution condemning treatment of members of U.S. prisoners of war by Iraqi authorities. The resolution passed unanimously.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Iraq had executed prisoners of war, an apparent reference to some of the U.S. Army troops captured Sunday by Iraqi forces in the city of An Nasiriyah. Iraqi state television later showed video footage of five living POWs and the bodies of at least five U.S. soldiers.

Blunt also said Friday that he saw Iraq as a logical seedbed for democracy in the Middle East. "Iraq had one of the biggest middle classes and one of the longest commitments to capitalism, pre-Saddam Hussein, of any country in the world," Blunt said.

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