Ar-Ramadi, Iraq -- Three weeks ago, Andy Rooney, a syndicated newspaper columnist and commentator for CBS News' "60 Minutes," wrote a column titled, "Our Soldiers in Iraq Aren't Heroes." Rooney is part of a team of "journalists" at CBS News who, especially over the past few weeks, have gone out of their way to protest the administration's policies in Iraq and the war on terror. Interviews with former White House adviser Richard Clarke and Washington Post editor Bob Woodward to promote their respective books were nothing more than forums to condemn and criticize President Bush and the war in Iraq. While it is unfair and disappointing, such bitter behavior is expected from those who have long been openly contemptuous of this president.
But for Rooney to sit atop his ivory tower in New York City, where this war on terror began, attack our young men and women in uniform, and essentially question their patriotism, is about as low as it gets.
Rooney, who to my knowledge hasn't been to Iraq to visit the troops, nonetheless smeared them by charging, "You can be sure our soldiers in Iraq are not all brave heroes gladly risking their lives for us sitting comfortably back here at home." I've spent the last three weeks with Marines and soldiers in Iraq, and they're pretty damn heroic as far as I'm concerned. I can't imagine that Rooney's viewpoint from Black Rock is somehow clearer than here in ar-Ramadi.
Not heroes, Andy? Meet Lance Corporal Conyers, a member of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. On April 6, Conyers was on patrol with his squad when they became engaged in a firefight. "I was out in front at an unlucky moment and took a round to the chest," Conyers told me, "then one ricocheted off the light pole next to me and hit me in the leg." The corpsman rushed to Conyers side and treated him, and Conyers stayed in the fight.
In his column, Rooney insists that our troops "want to come home," and says if he had the chance to interrogate our guys in uniform to prove his point, he would ask them, "If you could have a medal or a trip home, which would you take?"
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.