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Thursday, December 31,2009

A look back at the Aughts

By Pamela White

2003: The Iraq war

How Boulder County responded to the first week of conflict

March 27, 2003

In early 2003, the message coming from the mainstream media was clear: Most Americans support launching a pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein. The White House took it a step further, claiming that there was very little opposition to the war.

Boulder Weekly set out to measure the veracity of those statements, which seemed more like pro-war PR than fact. After months of watching the Bush administration manipulate the American people with propaganda about WMDs, yellowcake uranium and Iraq’s ties to al Qaeda — there were none at the time — we were suspicious.

The paper had opposed the war from the moment the Bush and crew hinted that it was on the horizon, but in the weeks leading up to the invasion, the paper made a concerted effort to keep the topic in the public eye. Editor Pamela White wrote a column, titled “Baghdad tonight,” about the innocent Iraqis — men, women and children — who were alive at that moment but would die if the United States and its “coalition” allies attacked.

“It was an appeal to compassion,” White says. “The rhetoric surrounding the proposed war focused on Saddam and terrorists. It ignored the fact that we would be killing a lot of the human beings we claimed to be liberating.”

In the days immediately preceding the invasion, which began on March 20, Boulder Weekly staff and freelancers attended dozens of protests, speeches, meetings and public forums in an effort to record the reaction of Boulder County residents to the war against Iraq. The information was put together in the form of a timeline that juxtaposed the local response to the war with the unfolding of international and national events.

While most papers covered a single anti-war event, Boulder Weekly reported on almost every war-related event that occurred during that seven-day period. The coverage served as proof that the attack on Iraq was undertaken against the wishes of many educated, wellintentioned Americans.

The article also described the emotional conflict so many Boulder County felt when they saw their president and their nation embark upon a morally unjustifiable course of action — one that has cost more than 4,000 American lives, together with unknown hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. The outcome of the conflict there is still uncertain, and U.S. troops continue to die.

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