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Friday, August 25, 2006

[Maine] War Widow To Bush: "You're Here To Serve The People. And The People Are Not Being Served With This War." | TPMCafe

By Greg Sargent
I just got off the phone with Hildi Halley, a woman from Maine whose husband is a fallen soldier. Yesterday President Bush met with her privately, and news of their meeting was reported in a local Maine paper, the Kennebec Journal. The paper shared few details of the meeting, saying simply that Halley objected to Bush's policies and that she said Bush responded that there was no point in them having a "philosophical discussion about the pros and cons of the war."

But Halley has just given me a much more detailed account of her meeting with Bush. She told me that she went much farther in her criticism of the President, telling him directly that he was "responsible" for the deaths of American soldiers and that as a "Christian man," he should recognize that he's "made a mistake" and that it was his "responsibility to end this." She recounted to me that she was "very direct," telling Bush: "As President, you're here to serve the people. And the people are not being served with this war."

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I reached Halley at her home in Falmouth, Maine. She told me that her husband, Patrick Damon, who's long been active in Democratic politics, had been in Afghanistan as an engineer building roads when he died in June. She said she was first told that it was of a heart attack, but that subsequently she was told there was no sign that a heart attack had killed him. An invesigation into his death is continuing.

Halley, who's also been politically active for Democrats, said she told GOP Senator Olympia Snowe that she'd like a phone call from Bush. Subsequently Halley got a call from White House staffers looking to set up a private meeting. Bush came yesterday.

Halley tells me that she told the President that she's been opposed since "day one" to both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I talked to him about how important this person was to me," Halley recounted, speaking of her husband. "It's not just a soldier who died. Lives are changed forever...I said, `This doesn't make sense to me.'"

"He said, `Terrorists killed three thousand people, we had to go to war.'" Halley continued to me. "I said, `Well, who put the Taliban into power? The United States did.' He said, `I'm not going to have a philosphical debate over politics.' The whole conversation was very gentle."

Halley says that while Bush was personable and receptive to her, she was very direct and critical of Bush's policies and insisted that the right thing to do was to end the war.

"We literally sat knee to knee...I looked deep into his eyes and talked to him about love and losing people and that he was responsible for this. I said, `I didn't vote for you, but you are my President. And you're not serving me.'"

"I said I believed it was time to put an end to this. His job is to find solutions. I said, `You yourself have said you had erroneous information going into this.'"

She continued: "I said, `As a Christian man, you realize that when you've made a mistake it's your responsiblity to end this. And it's time to end the bleeding and it's time to end the war.'"

"I said, `what would truly bring healing is to start working on changing your policy towards the Middle East...as President, you're here to serve the people. And the people are not being served with this war.'"

She added: "I told him, `It's time as a Christian to put our pride behind us."

Halley said that the President appeared moved by what she'd said, but that she doubted it would bring about any real change. "He cried with me," she recounted. "I feel he responded to me emotionally. I don't know if that's going to change policy. It probably won't. But I hope it makes him think a little bit further."
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Aug 25, 2006 -- 11:53:25 AM EST |
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SOURCE:
War Widow To Bush: "You're Here To Serve The People. And The People Are Not Being Served With This War." | TPMCafe

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