- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The global war on terrorism exists no more.

That’s according to the House Armed Services Committee, which has banned the phrase coined by President Bush after the September 11 terrorist attacks from the 2008 Defense Authorization Act.

Rep. Ike Skelton, Missouri Democrat and committee chairman, said yesterday the omission is intended to standardize grammar and differentiate between battles fought in Iraq with those fought in Afghanistan in this key legislation that will authorize all spending for the war next year.

A March 27 memo issued by committee staff director Erin Conaton says the move is designed to “avoid using colloquialisms,” including use of the phrase “long war.” The memo lists as acceptable phrases “the war in Iraq” or “the war in Afghanistan.”

“The Iraq war is separate and distinct from the war against terrorists, who have their genesis in Afghanistan and who attacked us on September 11, and the American people understand this,” Mr. Skelton said.

The decision raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill and the White House, where officials questioned the intent of the censored phrases.

“All they have to do is look at Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, who believe that Iraq is a crucial fight in their effort to battle the forces of freedom,” said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel.

“It makes you wonder if House Democrats don’t think the challenge we are facing is global, if it is not a war or if the threat we confront is not terrorism,” Mr. Stanzel said.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, yesterday said the decision shows Democrats “have completely failed to take the threat of global terrorism seriously.”

“The attempt by Democrats to erase the words ‘global’ and ‘terror’ from our current war is an absurd effort to deny the fact that America is battling terrorism on a global scale,” Mr. Boehner said yesterday. “How do Democrats expect America to fight and win a war they deny is even taking place?”

The memo was first reported Tuesday by the Military Times, which cited unnamed committee aides saying the references are political elements that question whether the war in Iraq is part of the effort to combat terrorism or is actually a distraction from fighting terrorists.

Mr. Skelton called objections to his rule “a tempest in a teapot” and a “typical Republican leadership attempt to tie together the misadventure in Iraq and the overall war against terrorists.”

Rep. Sam Johnson, Texas Republican, called the move “absurd.”

“Who do the Democrats think flew airplanes into the World Trade Center towers? What do they call those who behead innocent people and then broadcast the horrendous act on the Internet for all of the world to see? What do they call those who plowed into the USS Cole? What would they call [militant Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Muqtada] al-Sadr?” Mr. Johnson said.

“Blatantly ignoring the role of terror is just as bad as tolerating it. It’s just a shame that the Democrats in Congress can’t figure out that radical jihadists are terror defined.”

Brian Kennedy, Mr. Boehner’s spokesman, called the censorship “a first in the history of speech and debate in Congress.”

“What’s next, banning the use of the phrase ‘tax hike?’ ” Mr. Kennedy said.


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