Senator calls for return of Nevada guard from Iraq | NevadaAppeal.com

Senator calls for return of Nevada guard from Iraq

Sen. John Lee, D-Las Vegas, called on fellow legislators Thursday to join his efforts to get Nevada National Guard members out of Iraq.

Lee told the Senate about 1,500 Nevada guardsmen have served in Iraq, and there are now about 300 there.

He said he remains a strong supporter of the military, but that it’s time they came home.

“Over the last few months, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it is no longer right for us to stay the course in Iraq,” he said.

He asked fellow senators to join him in signing a letter to Gov. Jim Gibbons urging him to join governors of the other states in telling the president that, “we do not wish to send any more of our men and women of the National Guard to the Iraqi front.”

He said the letter also asks that all those presently serving there should be returned home by Thanksgiving.

He said he believes Saddam Hussein was an enemy who would hurt the nation if he could and has never debated the president’s motives in the war.

“We have a responsibility to speak up on behalf of our National Guard who report directly to the governor,” Lee said.

Lee was immediately supported by at least two other senators, Democrats Dina Titus and Bob Coffin, both of Las Vegas.

But Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said the letter is inappropriate.

“I want to see our troops come home,” he said. “But I’m not willing to do anything that sends a message to the other side that we are willing to give up.”

Raggio said the conduct of the war is in the president’s hands, not those of the states or the Congress.

Lee planned to offer members of the Assembly and Senate a chance to sign the letter.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.