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Barack Obama in Afghanistan Protest Email

Summary:
Email from a US soldier stationed in Afghanistan claims that Senator Barack Obama snubbed troops during a recent visit to the region (Full commentary below).



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, July 2008)
Subject: a word from a MARINE who just saw barack obama in the middle east

Hello everyone,

As you know I am not a very political person. I just wanted to pass along that Senator Obama came to Bagram Afghanistan for about an hour on his visit to 'The War Zone'. I wanted to share with you what happened.
He got off the plane and got into a bullet proof vehicle, got to the area to meet with the Major General (2 Star) who is the commander here at Bagram .

As the Soldiers where lined up to shake his hand he blew them off and didn't say a word as he went into the conference room to meet the General. As he finished, the vehicles took him to the ClamShell (pretty much a big top tent that military personnel can play basketball or work out in with weights) so he could take his publicity pictures playing basketball. He again shunned the opportunity to talk to Soldiers to thank them for their service.

So really he was just here to make a showing for the American's back home that he is their candidate for President. I think that if you are going to make an effort to come all the way over here you would thank those that are providing the freedom that they are providing for you.

We got more thanks from the NBA Basketball Players or the Dallas Cowboy Cheer leaders than from one of the Senators, who wants to be the President of the United States. I just don't understand how anyone would want him to be our Commander-and-Chief. It was almost that he was scared to be around those that provide the freedom for him and our great country.

If this is blunt and to the point I am sorry but I wanted you all to know what kind of caliber of person he really is. What you see in the news is all fake.

In service,
[Name of Soldier Removed]
Battle Captain
TF Wasatch
American Soldier




Commentary:
A rapidly circulating protest email from a US soldier stationed in Afghanistan claims that Barack Obama "blew off" US soldiers during a recent visit to the area. According to the message, Obama ignored soldiers lined up to greet him as he made his way to a conference with a commander at Bagram, Afghanistan. The message claims that he again "shunned the opportunity" to talk to troops after this conference, opting instead to play basketball and pose for publicity pictures at the Clamshell, a recreational venue for military personnel.

However, this description of Obama's visit has been strongly refuted by military officials and others who were on the scene. An article published on New York Daily News notes:
WASHINGTON - The latest chain e-mail smear against Barack Obama: He "blew off" troops at an Afghan base to shoot hoops for a publicity photo.

The letter was apparently written by a Utah Army National Guard intelligence officer in a linguist unit at Bagram Airfield who claimed the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee was rude to G.I.s.

"As the soldiers where [sic] lined up to shake his hand he blew them off," wrote the Task Force Wasatch "battle captain."

But angry Army brass debunked the Obama-bashing soldier's allegations, which went viral Thursday over the Web and on military blogs such as Blackfive.

The e-mail claims Obama repeatedly shunned soldiers on his way to the Clamshell - a recreation tent - to "take his publicity pictures playing basketball."

"These comments are inappropriate and factually incorrect," said Bagram spokeswoman Army Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, who added that such political commentary is barred for uniformed personnel.

Obama didn't play basketball at Bagram or visit the Clamshell, she said. Home-state troops were invited to meet him, but his arrival was kept secret for security reasons.

"We were a bit delayed ... as he took time to shake hands, speak to troops and pose for photographs," Nielson-Green said.
Moreover, various media reports feature photographs of Obama meeting with troops during his visit to Afghanistan, including one of the Senator addressing troops at Bagram. And, in a report about the visit by NBC's Richard Engel published on YouTube, Senator Obama is seen having breakfast with US soldiers. Engel notes that, during the breakfast, Obama thanked US troops for their service. In his report, Engel also identifies visiting with troops as a "main focus" of Obama's trip:


Thus, it seems that the Bagram soldier's interpretation of Obama's behaviour during the visit is in no way supported by the facts. And, in any case, the soldier has now recanted his original statement. A blog entry by NY Daily News reporter James Meek notes:
Now the Bagram captain is dialing back, having signed the viral e-mail with his name, rank and unit - a possible violation of military regulations barring political statements. This morning, he sent The Mouth a new statement (punctuation corrected): "I am writing this to ask that you delete my email and not forward it. After checking my sources, information that was put out in my email was wrong. This email was meant only for my family. Please respect my wishes and delete the email and if there are any blogs you have my email portrayed on I would ask if you would take it down too. Thanks for your understanding." An Army officer familiar with the incident told The Mouth today that the writer is "devastated that the letter was made public. It was never his intention that it go beyond members of his family."

References:
Army officials refute claim of Barack Obama snub in Afghanistan
Obama's visit to Kabul begins tour
Obama-bashing G.I. retracts claim senator 'blew off' Afghanistan troops


Last updated: 28th July 2008
First published: 28th July 2008

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen

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