Hey Joe: What U.S. Troops Really Told Sen. Lieberman on His Iraq Visit

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By: E&P Staff

In a kind of re-run of Sen. John McCain’s visit to Baghdad last month, Sen. Joe Lieberman, another well-known hawk on the war, made a surprise visit to Iraq today, complete with market stroll dressed in helmet and flak jacket and surrounded by troops.

When it was over, like McCain, he declared the escalation off to a promising start.

But Leila Fadel, a longtime McClatchy reporter there, found many soldiers with a somewhat more pessimistic view. Here is the opening of her report today.
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Spc. David Williams, 22, of Boston, Mass., had two note cards in his pocket Wednesday afternoon as he waited for Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Williams serves in the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., the first of the five “surge” brigades to arrive in Iraq, and he was chosen to join the Independent from Connecticut for lunch at a U.S. field base in Baghdad.

The night before, 30 other soldiers crowded around him with questions for the senator.

He wrote them all down. 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.”

Williams wasn’t sure if he’d say how he really felt. But if he could, he’d ask about body armor.

“I don’t want him to snap his fingers to get things fixed,” Williams said, referring to Lieberman. “But he has influence.”

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.”

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