From The Archives: The Iraq War


Today marks the 20th anniversary of the start of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Much has been made about the war in Iraq since it’s start 20 years ago today, but as it’s often said, hindsight is 2020. So it’s valuable to look back, and see what FRCC students and The Front Page staff had to say about the Iraq War when it was happening. This post contains articles from three separate issues of The Front Page. One from March of 2003, another from April of 2003, and a third from September of 2001.

Pulled from the archives and transcribed by Seth Ciancio.

Attack Shocks Nation

Written by Miranda Stapp, Staff Writer

September 28th, 2001

Tuesday, September 11 was a day of terror in New York and Washington D.C., when four hijacked planes crashed, killing all aboard the flights, and workers in the Pentagon and World Trade Center towers. 

According to CNN news sources, the first plane, American Airlines Flight I I out of Boston, Massachusetts, hit the north tower of the WFC, tearing a huge hole in the building, setting it on fire at $:45 a.m. EDT. 

Eighteen minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, hit the south tower of the W TC and exploded. At that point both buildings were on fire. 

Before 9:30 a.m. all New York and New Jersey airports, tunnels, and bridges were shut down. 

At 9:40 a.m., for the first time in U.S. history, the FAA halted åll flight operations at U.S. airports. 

Three minutes later, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, setting a portion of the building on fire. Evacuation began immediately. 

By that point, word of the attacks had spread and the White House was evacuated; officials feared it could be the next target. 

During the chaos on the East Coast, President George Bush was in Florida speaking to schoolchildren. He was advised not to return to Washington for security reasons. Bush was then flown to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. 

From there, Bush made a speech saying, “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.” The President was then flown to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

Approximately one hour after the first plane hit the north tower of the WTC, it collapsed into a cloud of dust and debris, followed by a portion of the Pentagon collapsing. United Airlines Flight 93, also hijacked, crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. It is believed that this plane had another major target, but passengers took over and crashed the plane into the field. 

Students gather on the front lawn to listen to Vice President, Bill Richards address the students on FRCC’s Day of Remembrance. September 14, 2001. Photo by Miranda Stapp.

By this point security had been heightened, and all federal buildings in Washington and state offices in New York were evacuated. The U.S.- Mexico border was also closed.

By late afternoon, officials were speculating that Saudi militant Osama bin Laden may have coordinated the attacks. 

During the terror, thousands of people were injured, including rescue workers. Approximately 200 fire-fighters and 78 police officers were killed during their efforts to save the victims of the terrorist attacks on the WTC. 

Officials in New York would not speculate about the death toll, but as of press time more than 6,400 people were assumed to be missing, or dead at the WTC. The Pentagon has reported 189 lives lost. Rescuers are still working around the clock, searching for victims. 

Since the attacks, airports have reopened, but with tighter security. There have been four main changes in security as a result of the attacks.

First, passengers are the only people allowed at the gates. Second, knives are no longer allowed on planes, including silverware and Swiss army knives. 

Also, curbside check-in of baggage has been shut down. Finally, air marshal’s may begin to appear aboard commercial flights. Security is tighter in the parking areas also, not allowing cars close to the terminal. 

There have also been proposals to train all airline personnel in hand-to- hand combat and knife fighting. Some have even suggested giving pilots 

A CNN poll showed 80 percent of Americans approve of sealing Off the cockpit during flights. One week after the most devastating terrorist attack in America the military campaign is about to begin. 

In a speech televised on Thurs. Sept. 20 President Bush stressed that the Taliban should turn over Osama bin Laden, or share in his fate.

We’re Proud to Be Americans

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To War or Not to War

Written by Travis Mower and Jonathan Siska

Staff Writer and Contributing Writer

September 28, 2001

Editor’s Note: The following article is based on a point vs counterpoint style of debate between the two writers. The question, Should the U.S. go to war, was the basis of the discussion. They start out with their first reaction and then they address the question followed by a conclusion.

Jon: When I think back to my initial reaction to the news on September 11th, I was stunned to say the least. I couldn’t believe it for the first few hours. Everywhere I looked, people’s reactions were the same. The amount of reporters and interviewees that said the experience was “surreal” really hit the nail on the head. It was like looking at a Dali painting and wondering just what in the hell is going on, and as you stare at it more you start figuring it out and you start feeling enraged. I found myself questioning my previous thoughts about how I looked at tragedies like this and about my country going to war. I could hardly see myself with enough clout to unload a rifle into people that are doing the same in my direction, but I wanted nothing less when I came to grips with what had happened. I felt the anger that we all felt and I felt the sorrow that we all endured.

Travis: When I saw the the[sic] two smoking buildings of the World Trade Center I was filled with an unbearable amount of rage. About two minutes after I turned on the television, I watched one of the greatest buildings in America collapse before my eyes. As that tower dropped on hundreds of rescuers and working Americans, my heart sunk into my stomach. I was so filled with hate at that moment I wanted to puke. I choked back tears and continued to get ready for my normal day. My day was hardly normal though. I was constantly fighting back tears as I watched those planes bury themselves into the Twin Towers over and over again. As I watched the coverage all day, a feeling grew inside me. This feeling continued to grow until it got so heavy I thought I might explode. I calmed down and a realization came over me; something must be done. The U.S. must fight back so hard that future Americans will never have to worry about this happening again. Americans must continue on. “United We Stand.” Let freedom reign. 

The biggest question on American minds is how are we going to strike back? The hive has been disturbed, war is in the air and someone is going to pay. What better way to figure out the goods on the war to be, then to have two unqualified Americans lash it out with words. So where do we move next?

Jon: I am afraid to say what comes next for our country. It seems that war is likely and more will soon die after we figure out who is to blame. Is it a single man we must ferret out or is it a mass of allies and bordering countries we must cleanse? I hope it is all figured out soon so that we can get a head of this and really move on. 

What I am most afraid of is the loss of more innocent lives. Whether it be our women and children or theirs, the outcome is the same. People that didn’t need to die, died for a cause they may or may not have agreed with. I do think the attackers need to be “brought to justice” but as long as we take care not to inflict the same kind of damage as they inflicted on us. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

Travis: When I think about the question, where do Americans go from here? One word comes to mind, war. We must retaliate with more force and show the terrorists that Americans are good people but they will not back down to anyone. 

These feelings of war, retaliation, destruction, and even death, conflict with the life I have lived. I never really liked the idea of war. I have tried to be a good hearted, open minded person my whole life. I tried hard to be good to other people no matter what situation. I also have tried to never back down to anyone who tries to take my freedom of choice away no matter the situation. What happened to America is: we were stripped of our freedom to choose. We must take that right back. They awoke the sleeping giant. 

America has its problems and we are even a nosy country and we are not perfect, but what country is? We always do our best to strive for good. We did not deserve this. No one deserves what those animals did. Anyone who would think this upon another human does not deserve to live. If the cost to end further pain is more death of innocent or guilty lives, then so be it. The people responsible obviously did not think badly about taking innocent lives when they killed thousands of them. I am ready to stand up for my country. It was only a small stone that David used to bring down Goliath and it was, in retrospect, only small stones that brought America to its knees. Unlike Goliath, America is slowly rising back to its feet. Thousands were killed but millions are suffering. All of this was done because of hatred. 

All over the United States people are arguing over what we should do now. Should the U.S. take up arms and go to war or should we simply search out the man and his organization and punish them accordingly? This episode of terror is over, we were struck hard and knocked down, but we are getting up, continuing on. Where do we go from here, though? We as a country need to look to the future to answer this question. 

The real question Americans need to ask themselves right now is do we want to live a life where planes are flown into our great buildings and we search the perpetrators out and punish them. Or do we want to live a life where freedom of choice and life prevail and we do not worry about terror?

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Bush’s Personal Agenda Still Not Convincing

Written by Andrew Fedge, Assistant Editor

March 31, 2003

George Bush and his administration have not convinced the world of the necessity of immediate war with Iraq. What’s more, they haven’t convinced me, an American, of the need. In fact, the longer the separation between September 11, 2001, and today, the less I’m convinced. Actually, I am more convinced of some things, but not what Bush wants me to be convinced of. 

I didn’t vote for Bush. I was not a part of the great Republican landslide that wanted a new direction in the White House- I basically cringed with fear when the voting scandal started, and my fears were realized when Bush took office; this automatically makes me biased when it comes to anything Bush says, I realize that.

What’s been happening since Bush took office has convinced me that there should be a familial as well as a chronological limit on the presidency. If a person is president, I think it would be a good idea to impose a ban on anyone else from that family, either immediate or extended, becoming president at three down the line. This would remove the strong possibility of a previous generation’s goals or prejudices negatively affecting a current one. If this little idea of mine was in place, George W. Bush would not be president today, and I wouldn’t be having the doubts about his character and motives that I do. 

art by Andrew Fedge

I understand that America has suffered grievous attacks from terrorism, and I do believe that we have a right to defend ourselves. We rallied and did our best to break the back of the Al Qaeda terrorist network. We’re still searching the world for Osama bin Laden. It is in no way over. I understand the need for continued vigilance. I don’t even disagree with the notion of a pre-emptive strike to protect ourselves. Where I differ with the administration is in the details.

Volumes of data have been brought forth to support the president’s claim that Iraq should fall under the classification of “imminent threat,” but much of that data has also fallen apart under scrutiny. I think the last straw for me was when it was revealed that some of Britain’s information had been lifted, typos and all, from a graduate student’s paper. The information in that “report” was over five years out of date. Now, I do agree that Saddam Hussein is no angel, and he’s certainly no one I would care to have over for dinner. Saddam Hussein is someone that will have to be dealt with, but I’ve yet to see a compelling reason why it’s happening now. 

However, I do have my theories, and none of them include a true national interest. President Bush’s dogged pursuit of open hostilities with Iraq seem to have more to do with his own political and personal interests, to the exclusion of all else. Remember that pesky economic down-turn that hasn’t turned sunny-side up yet? We still hear about it, but it’s taken a second seat to news stories about the war. Bush has to campaign soon to retain that seat in the White House, and the less news about the bad stuff he can’t fix, the better. It’s like drawing the audience’s attention to the bright flash while hoping the elephant gets off stage in time. 

Another thing convincing me that this is more about President Bush and less about the American people is the pronounced lack of concern about international relations. Bush has repeatedly told the international community their opinions and advice don’t matter, and that he’ll do what he sees as right no matter what. With diplomatic skills like that, it’s no wonder the world is angry with us. It isn’t that anyone’s specifically pro-Iraq as much as they are anti-Bush. Unfortunately for America, many people around the world don’t separate their dislike for Bush from their opinion of other Americans. We’re the ones who are going to suffer, and it’s probably going to be more from lost trust than it is from terrorist attacks. 

Bush has also publicly stated that there’s a grudge match going on between his family and Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein has tried to have George Bush Sr. assassinated. That would certainly fill me with bad feeling towards the man. However, that’s exactly what makes me ultimately suspicious of anything George Bush suggests regarding Iraq and Saddam Hussein. That alone, above all else, makes me question the objectivity of our president in this matter. It seems too as though, with the immediacy and fire of the war on terror at his command, Bush is using out a bullying action against a regime he despises for personal reasons. What I see when looking at President Bush is a man who has decided to abuse his power while he’s got it, in a far deadlier way than former President Clinton ever did.

While I have no direct contact with the preparations being made for war, I do know several people in the armed forces who are either on standby or already deployed. I fear for them. Their lives might be sacrificed for a cause, for a president, I don’t believe in. There is such a thing as doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. There’s also the concept of the wrong person for the wrong time. I’m left wondering if America’s suffering from a little bit of both.

Between the initial writing of this article and its publication, war began. Now American and coalition forces have suffered their first casualties, and my distaste for this action grows. While I have no direct contact with the war, I do know several people in the armed forces who are either on standby or already deployed. I fear for them. Their lives might be sacrificed for a cause, for a president, I don’t believe in. There is such a thing as doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. There’s also the concept of the wrong person for the wrong time. I’m left wondering if America’s suffering from a little bit of both. In the end I hope America, and Iraq, come out of this feeling it has been worth it, instead of being left bitter and used. 

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Students Share Thoughts On War With Iraq

March 31, 2003

“At first, I didn’t feel it was a correct thing for the United States to do. But after understanding and realizing what it’s about I agree completely with what the situations that American citizens are upholding.”

Beth Lister, sophmore

“I’m a little bit torn on the issue because I think that in one respect the Bush administration is forcing the rest of the world into their own views as far as the U.N. vote… so they could get enough votes for a strong measure against Iraq.

On the other hand I’d like to think that the president of the United States is not going after Iraq because of oil or because of a personal vendetta or a personal grudge that he has against Saddam in relation to his father’s administration, I’d like to think that there are certain moments in time when a leader steps up to the plate and does what’s right even though it may not be the most popular thing to do. But unfortunately, this is becoming popular. The administration is making it popular with pro-war propaganda and eventually he [Bush] is going to have the whole world on his side except for a few holdout nations that hold their beliefs that this would be an unjust war.”

Mike Anderegg, junior

“I think that the United States is acting like a big school ground bully and that it’s changing evidence and changing support just to get the results that they want.”

Kelly Yaker, junior

“I thought a lot about the war with Iraq. and my opinion is this: because we elected Bush as our president and he is our leader, I think we owe him the respect of allowing him to handle the situation to the best of his ability. And I think that if the war is what we have to do, then that is what we have to do. I don’t say that I’m for it, but I don’t say that I’m against it. So I guess I am sort of in the middle of the road here.”

Lynette Coulter, junior

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War Debate Creates Tension and Annoyance

Written by Andrew Fedge, Assistant Editor

April 28, 2003

Not all debates are created equal. Neither are all debaters. What’s truly depressing is that not all debate audiences are, either. On April 2, 2003, a debate on the war with Iraq took place in the Rocky Mountain Room at Front Range Community College’s Westminster campus, and the crowd was more than a little fractious. The debate was between Dr. Neil Dobro, director of Americans Against Terrorism, who spoke for the pro-war side, and Dr. Alan Gilbert, Evans Scholar at the Graduate School of International Studies at University of Denver, who spoke for the anti-war side. 

The debate started out calm, with each side explaining their main points. Everyone seemed to remain in respectful silence with those initial comments. From there, things deteriorated. Dobro had a tendency to repeat his comparison of Saddam Hussein as a new Hitler, and Gilbert had a tendency to repeat that this was a war of aggression that violated the spirit America was founded on. In between those repetitions there began some rather juvenile sniping at the other participant. The audience then followed suit. 

I’ll get to the audience reaction in time, but before I focus too heavily On the negatives, I should point out the positive aspects of the debate. Dobro made some very persuasive arguments in favor of this military action. Some of the facts he brought forth about how ineffective the UN has been in the past hit home with me. He made me realize I have a lot more points of a ent with the pro-war stand than I thought I had. He also made me distrust the UN, simply because of the various coun- tries with bad human rights records that hold some key committee positions. For example, I didn’t know the UN has actually approved of only two wars in its history. On the other hand, I believe Gilbert made it very clear just how damaging this military action has been to international relations.

Things broke down with the debaters when it started getting personal. Gilbert wasn’t exactly respectful of the other person’s right to talk uninterrupted, and a big part of Dobro’s defense was about how liberals love to see conspiracy theories where there are none. Those were the light guns in the verbal exchange of fire. 

I found that Gilbert really turned me off with two things in particular. He seemed to have a hard time controlling his volume, and I’m not talking about the difficulties in getting the microphones to work all the time. At seemingly random points he would get very loud and angry, as if stridency could substitute for clarity. Gilbert also turned me, as well as many other people in the crowd, Off with his name-dropping. He expressed a disappointment in his former student, Condoleeza Rice. Then he expressed it again. And again. Okay, so she was a student of his and she’s participating in a government action he disagrees with. A little less of the betrayed father figure act, please. I found myself in opposition to both the war plans and to Gilbert. I suppose this just proves that the enemy of my enemy does not always provide me someone I’d want to be friends with. 

Dr. Alan Gilbert. Photo by Andrew Fedge.
Dr. Neil Dobro. Photo by Andrew Fedge.

Dobro had some serious meat on the bones of his arguments, and I have to congratulate him for that, but he descended into some pretty rocky landscapes of my patience as well. I agreed with him that America is indeed a great country with a lot to offer. That’s all well and good. I think he crossed a line when he put forth the argument that America has a responsibility to go fonh and multiply democracy throughout the world. I suppose I could be reading too much into his statements, but it seemed he was one step away from saying America had a “divine right” to do so. Anyone straying that close to saying his or her way is right and no other way is possible gets me nervous. 

Now that I’ve covered the two main figures in the debate, I’ll get to my issues with the observers. Perhaps I’m just old-fashioned in my thoughts on respect for a public speaker, but I found it more than a little irritating when people would vocally disagree with something one of the debaters said. Then they would begin a side conversation with their friends. I can only assume these are the same types of people I would glare menacingly at in the movie theater. Luckily everyone seemed to have enough respect to turn off all cell phones.

As with most debates, there was a portion of time set aside at the end for questions. No one used it for questions, at least not while I was present. I think everyone took it as an official invitation to rant. Several members of the audience got up and yelled at Gilbert for his ideas, basically charging him with treason for not “supporting our troops.” 

I have two things stuck in my head that compete for winner of the “most outrageous behavior at the debate.” One is the soccer moms sitting behind me who felt it was their duty to loudly proclaim, “That’s right!” and, “You tell ’em!” after everything Dobro said. I’m sorry, ladies, your cheerleading days are long gone, and that was not the high school gym. The second thing was infinitely worse, in its own special way. A Student Government Association member stood up and tried to hijack the debate into a discussion of how World War II started. An SGA member, an actual representative of our student body. He was quickly shouted down, but was laughing and joking with his friends about the cool thing he’d done. So much for respect. 

I realize that debates, by nature, stir up emotions and promote opposing viewpoints. People are going to be made angry by what they hear. I was one of the people made angry, if that isn’t already clear. The audience members are just as much participants in a debate as those up on the podium. I think it’s not too much to ask of everyone to keep his or her emotions in check. If someone else is dis- playing some uncouth behavior, take it as a signal to act better than that, not as an excuse 10 behave the same. Listen to the points being made by others and keep calm. The minute the argument is taken to a personal level, credibility is lost. 

Several people I’ve talked to who attended the debate have related to me their dissatisfaction with it. Simply too many of us walked away from the room enraged, no closer to understanding the other side of the argument than we were when walking in, and a lot of it had to do with our fellow members of the audience.

A large crowd attended the debate. Photo by Sarah Davis.

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