Widows Oppose Bush's Effort To Link Iraq War and Sept. 11

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Mar 21 20:50:01 MST 2003


March 19, 2003
PERSONAL JOURNAL
THE HOME FRONT

Widows Oppose Bush's Effort
To Link Iraq War and Sept. 11
By DAVID ARMSTRONG
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

WESTFORD, Mass. -- When she first heard President Bush
cite the Sept. 11 attacks in his justification for war with
Iraq, Loretta Filipov felt as if her "husband was dying all
over again."

Now, with war imminent, Mrs. Filipov and several other women
widowed in the 2001 attacks have decided to go public with
their objections. The women are of different ages, religions
and economic backgrounds, but they share anger at the Bush
administration's effort to link the two events.

"He is trying to drum up energy that is so fake to me," says
35-year-old Susan Retik, who was a stay-at-home mom with two
small children and another on the way when her husband,
David, died in the World Trade Center. "We were the ones
most deeply affected and we don't see the connection."

Adds Mrs. Filipov: "If I close my eyes and think of the one
thing they found of my husband, a bone, and all those
innocent people who will be killed, that is why I oppose a
war."

The decision to speak out was a difficult one and some of
the women still grapple with doubts about publicly opposing
military action in Iraq. They also know that there are other
families who lost mothers, fathers and children on Sept. 11
who support President Bush and the war.

One of them is Stephen Push, a director of the New
York-based Families of September 11, whose wife was on the
plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Mr. Push says he is
supportive of Washington's approach to Iraq, even though the
link to Sept. 11 is tenuous. "Based on the evidence
presented so far, they have overstated the connection," he
said.

Mr. Push says his organization of 1,500 has decided to stay
out of the Iraq debate, in part because "it is potentially
divisive among the families." The only survivor group he is
aware of that has taken a public position on the war is
Peaceful Tomorrows, which also opposed military action in
Afghanistan.

"There are different viewpoints even within my own family on
this," says Colleen Kelly, a spokeswoman for Peaceful
Tomorrows, whose brother Bill worked in the World Trade
Center.

Mrs. Filipov and three other women who also lost husbands in
the attacks sat down last week to talk about the decision to
voice their opposition. They're concerned about possible
negative fallout for their families, and also worry that
Saddam Hussein may be emboldened if the U.S. doesn't take
military action.

"Even though we would like to see a peaceful resolve, the
message is if you deal with these situations earlier in the
cycle you can somewhat prevent them," says Lauren
Rosenzweig, 45, whose husband, Philip, was an executive with
Sun Microsystems Inc.

They also fear that their opposition will be viewed as
criticism of U.S. soldiers fighting in the war. In fact, the
women said they admire the troops and their dedication to
the country.

Nonetheless, the women are motivated by their grief. "Here
we are four women sitting around a table. People might say
what do they know," says Mrs. Filipov, 66, whose husband,
Al, was on a routine business trip to California when he was
killed. "We know sorrow. We know evil."

And all of the women agree Mr. Hussein is evil. But they say
that is not justification for a war that they fear will kill
Iraqi civilians and devastate families.

"It keeps coming back to the families," says Gail Hayden,
whose husband, James, the chief financial officer for
Netegrity Inc., was aboard the second plane to crash into
the World Trade Center. "I have such a strong feeling inside
that families can't be destroyed this way."

Write to David Armstrong at david.armstrong at wsj.com





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