Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) made an unannounced trip to Iraq today, telling reporters, “what I see here today is progress, significant progress.” Hours later, he was confronted by U.S. soldiers with a very different message: “We don’t feel like we’re making any progress.”
McClatchy reports tonight on Spc. David Williams, who collected questions for Lieberman from 30 other troops.
At the top of his note card was the question he got from nearly every one of his fellow soldiers:
“When are we going to get out of here?”
The rest was a laundry list. When would they have upgraded Humvees that could withstand the armor-penetrating weapons that U.S. officials claim are from Iran? When could they have body armor that was better in hot weather?
Williams missed six months of his girlfriend’s pregnancy when he was given six days’ notice to return to Iraq for his second tour. He also missed his baby boy’s birth. Three weeks ago, he went home and saw his first child.
“He looks just like me,” he said. “I didn’t want to come back. . . . We’re waiting to get blown up.” [...]
Next to him, Spc. Will Hedin, 21, of Chester, Conn., thought about what he was going to say.
“We’re not making any progress,” Hedin said, as he recalled a comrade who was shot by a sniper last week. “It just seems like we drive around and wait to get shot at. … It’s just more troops, more targets.”
In the past two months, the unit has lost two men. In May alone, at least 120 U.S. troops died in Iraq, the bloodiest month in 2007 and the highest number since the battles of Fallujah in 2004.
Spc. Kevin Krasco, 20, of Medford, Mass., and Spc. Kevin Adams, 20, of Moosup, Conn., chimed in with their dismay before turning the conversation to baseball.
“It’s like everything else in this war,” Adams said, referring to Baghdad. “It hasn’t changed.”
Later, Lieberman walked in to see the soldiers “wearing a pair of sunglasses newly purchased from an Iraqi market that the military had taken him to in southeast Baghdad.” In response to their questions about leaving Iraq, Lieberman said it would be a “victory for al-Qaida and a victory for Iran.”