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Lourey calls on Bush to admit mistake


Kevin Duchschere, Minneapolis Star Tribune
August 22, 2005

Becky Lourey the activist said Sunday that her brief trip to Texas helped convince her that the United States went to war in Iraq for the wrong reasons.

And Becky Lourey the mother said the trip brought her closer to her fallen soldier son, Matt, and helped her move beyond her grief.

The DFL state senator from Kerrick received a warm welcome home Sunday on the steps of the State Capitol, where the DFL party held a rally for Lourey and congressional candidate Coleen Rowley.

The two went to Texas on Thursday to show support for Californian Cindy Sheehan, who, like Lourey, has lost a son in the war, and who for the last two weeks has staged a vigil outside President Bush's ranch. Sheehan says she wants a meeting with Bush.

But Lourey and Rowley arrived in Texas just after Sheehan left her post to care for her ill mother in California. Lourey and Rowley returned to Minnesota late Saturday, but Lourey said she will go back to Texas if needed to ensure that at least one Gold Star mother is on the scene at all times. A Gold Star mother is one who has lost a child in war; Lourey said three are in Crawford right now.

Sheehan's son Casey, an Army specialist, was killed in an ambush in Baghdad in April 2004. Lourey lost her son Matt in May when his helicopter was shot down in central Iraq.

In St. Paul on Sunday, Rowley told a crowd of about 250 supporters that Sheehan's quest to speak to Bush -- which has fueled war protests around the country -- may well mushroom into a critical mass of opposition that could force the administration to bring U.S. troops home.

"I think we will, in fact, reach the tipping point," Rowley said.

In her remarks Sunday, Lourey called on Bush to admit that the United States made a mistake going to war in Iraq and to invite other nations to help straighten out what she called "a mess." She said she believes Bush's motives had more to do with oil and private profit than eliminating weapons of mass destruction.

What surprised and moved her about the trip, Lourey said, was how close it made her feel to Matt, her second son and a skilled pilot who was on his second tour of duty in Iraq when his chopper went down. The Texas heat and the fire ants nipping at her feet gave her some idea, she said, of what he endured in the Iraqi desert.

Rowley, a former FBI agent from Apple Valley who is running against Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline in the suburban Second District, won national attention when she criticized the FBI's pre-9/11 terrorism work as sloppy and predicted that war with Iraq would only lead to more terrorism.

That's come true, she said Sunday, citing statistics showing that terrorist acts since then have skyrocketed. "So how can we buy the fact that [the war is] making us safer?" she asked.

State Republican Chairman Ron Carey said that Second District voters would have been better served if Rowley had been listening to their views on the war rather than Sheehan's.

As for Sunday's rally, Carey said he respects Lourey's right to express her grief as she sees fit. "Unfortunately, groups like MoveOn.org and the Minnesota DFL have politicized this story beyond that of a grieving mother seeking comfort for her loss," Carey said.

State DFL Associate Chairwoman Donna Cassutt said the party was simply taking the lead in calling for discussion of the war. "This is about what's right. This is asking for a conversation," she said.

Kevin Duchschere is at

kduchschere@startribune.com

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