Monday, October 08, 2001

Local congressmen send their support




By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Greater Cincinnati congressmen expressed strong support for President George W. Bush's decision to attack Afghanistan Sunday, while urging patience from Americans for what is likely to be a long military campaign.

        “Like most Americans I'm 100 percent with the president in carrying out his war against terrorism,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio. “It is absolutely critical that we prevail.

        “The president is following through on his commitment to fight this war against terrorism,” Mr. Chabot said. “We waited until we had our military resources ready and able to strike, and now this is the first step in what is going to be a long war.”

        Mr. Chabot was at a community event near his Westwood home early Sunday afternoon with his family when people began telling him they had seen reports of the attacks on television.

        “We went home and started watching it on TV just like everybody else,” he said. “But I did do some flipping back and forth between the news and the Bengals game.”

        Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the strikes send a message that “America is united, and we will stand together to defend our freedom.

        “This will be a conflict unlike any other, and we must be patient as our government works to dismantle the al-Qaida terrorist network,” he said.

        U.S. Senator Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said he believes the American people will back leaders in Washington because they understand the country's safety is at stake.

        “People understand this isn't going to be easy. They understand we really have no choice but to take action,” Mr. DeWine said. “I think people understand this won't be just a military action. What we're seeing today is a military action, but we'll have to do many things that don't fall under the definition of a classic military action.”

        Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was spending a peaceful Sunday afternoon with his wife and children when he got a phone call from the White House around 12:30 p.m.

        “It was a White House official, and he told me that in a few minutes I would be seeing the beginning of our military campaign on the news,” Mr. Portman said from his Terrace Park home. “They just wanted to give me a heads up.”

        Mr. Portman stressed the importance of remembering that the United States was drawn into the conflict by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks American officials say were planned by Osama bin Laden.

        “This is not a war we sought,” he said. “But it is one we must win to ensure our security here at home and to ensure a peaceful world.

        “Now we must be patient,” Mr. Portman said. “Today was more of a softening up of the Taliban defenses and a disruption of the terrorist network. But it's only the beginning. This is not going to be a 24-hour war. It's going to take a long time.”

        Rep. Ken Lucas, D-Kentucky, had gone to church Sunday morning and was settling in for lunch at the Ground Round restaurant in Florence when he saw news of the attacks on TV.

        “I learned about it through the media, and really in most cases that's the way it should be,” Mr. Lucas said. “When you have 435 members of Congress we don't need to be telegraphing our plans to all of them. You can't say anything to that group of people without it leaking out.”

        Mr. Lucas joined his colleagues in stressing that the U.S. attacks are designed to strike the Taliban government and terrorists in Afghanistan, not the Afghan people.

        “I'm totally behind the president on this and I know we're sensitive to causing as little harm as possible to people in Afghanistan,” he said.

        “We're sending in food. We're sending in humanitarian help,” he said. “We're not against Afghanistan. We're not against Islam or any religion. We are out to get terrorists and those helping them.”

        The Associated Press contributed.

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