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Editorial: War debate is fair game; censorship is wrong

The debate over the Iraq War reached a new level this week.

Washington was rocked Thursday as long-time hawk and influential Democrat John Murtha called for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The Pennsylvania congressman simply said "it's time to bring them home."

President Bush and Vice President Cheney spent the week assailing some Democrats for accusing the administration of manipulating pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Cheney called the claims "the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired" in Washington.

Meanwhile, Bush and Cheney's approval ratings continued to take a beating.

From our perspective, both Murtha and the Bush-Cheney team have come to the wrong conclusions.

While one admires Murtha's bravery to question the administration's Iraq policy as well as his past military support, an immediate U.S. withdrawal would lead to an civil war, which in turn could devastate Iraq, the Middle East and the world.

A decorated Vietnam veteran, Murtha has long supported the military. One of his primary reasons for calling for a withdrawal is his belief that our military has suffered enough.

One need look no further for the suffering than the injuries to Danube native Adam Standfuss, who returned home Thursday, or former Willmar resident Marine Lance Cpl. Jesse Ortega, injured Monday in Iraq.

While Murtha's experience gives him a better understanding of war, we believe the United States must stay the course in Iraq. Staying the course is better for the future than the alternative.

The Bush-Cheney team is also wrong in their criticism of their critics. If you don't agree with the administration, you are called "reprehensible" or "playing politics" with the war. It was the same prior to the war; critics of the war were hammered by the administration.

Critics of the war have their right under the Constitution to their opinion. It is the American way and the administration was wrong to criticize their critics.

The most important point remains the support of our troops on the ground. Whether one agrees with the administration's reason for going to war or not, we must remain supportive of those who serve -- especially those in harm's way.