Russian Free Press

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I love this story. (hat tip Amy Ridenour)

Apparently Putin was kinda upset when Bush started getting in his ass about that silly little thing called freedom of press:

George Bush knew Vladimir Putin would be defensive when Bush brought up the pace of democratic reform in Russia in their private meeting at the end of Bush’s four-day, three-city tour of Europe. But when Bush talked about the Kremlin’s crackdown on the media and explained that democracies require a free press, the Russian leader gave a rebuttal that left the President nonplussed. If the press was so free in the U.S., Putin asked, then why had those reporters at CBS lost their jobs? Bush was openmouthed. “Putin thought we’d fired Dan Rather,” says a senior Administration official. “It was like something out of 1984.”

Oh, that is rich. This is the world he lives in and the world he will make Russians to live in. The state now fires reporters.

On a added note, you may remember about this child who saved the Marine patrol not too long ago in Iraq, I blogged about it here. Well it looks like a reporter was given permission to write about it. (hat tip Blackfive)

The little Iraqi girl would not move from the road where she sat.

She kept clutching the white Beanie Baby bear she had received only weeks earlier from a U.S. Marine. Now, a Marine convoy approached.

Here’s how Gunnery Sgt. Mark Francis of the II Marine Expeditionary Force described what happened next:

”Our lead security vehicle stopped in the middle of the street. This is not normal and is very unsafe, so the following vehicles began to inquire over the radio. The lead vehicle reported a little girl sitting in the road and said she just would not budge.

”The command vehicle told the lead to simply go around her and to be kind as they did. The street was wide enough to allow this maneuver and so they waved to her as they drove around.

”As the vehicles went around her, one of the Marines soon saw her sitting there, and in her arms she was clutching a little bear that he had handed her a few patrols back. Feeling an immediate connection to the girl, he then radioed that the convoy was going to stop.

”The rest of the convoy paused as he got out to make sure she was OK. The little girl looked scared and concerned, but there was a warmth in her eyes toward him. As he knelt down to talk to her, she moved over and pointed to a mine in the road.

”Immediately a cordon was set as the Marine convoy assumed a defensive posture around the site.

”The mine was destroyed in place.”

Sgt. Francis received that incredible report from a patrol because it was his efforts that brought the Beanie Baby bear and other toys to Iraq. He had asked his church, his brother’s mother-in-law and his wife to mail toys for the Iraqi kids.

”On each patrol we take through the city, we take as many toys as will fit in our pockets and hand them out as we can,” Sgt. Francis writes. ”The kids take the toys and run to show them off as if they were worth a million bucks. We are as friendly as we can be to everyone we see but especially so with the kids. Most of them don’t have any idea what is going on and are completely innocent in all of this.”

Sgt. Francis asked various units to report back on their giving. He wanted to include some of the stories with ”thank you” notes sent home. It was a report from one patrol that had the story about the little Iraqi girl and the Beanie Baby bear.

I’ve been tracking this story since before Christmas. It took the help of the Web site blackfive.net to find the people behind the story and needed confirmation.

For the rest of us, telling this story is our way of supporting our men and women in uniform and making sure Iraq does not become another Vietnam.

You hear the Vietnam analogy most frequently from critics of the war, ridiculously cited by Sen. Ted Kennedy just days before the historic Iraqi elections. And you hear it from people in the news media. They want to prosecute this war like Walter Cronkite and others did with Vietnam. So they paint things in Iraq with gloom and doom.

But a lot of us ? like the Web site blackfive.net ? are committed to telling the rest of the story about Iraq and the amazing good our men and women are doing. Those stories were lost in Vietnam. And opportunists such as John Kerry returned home to paint our sons as butchers.

The stories of good in Iraq will not be lost. And our heroes from this war ? little Iraqi girls who sit in the road to warn a convoy of danger and Marines who hand out toys to show the power of kindness ? will be celebrated, not castigated.

The reasons that put us over there don’t matter much now. The Civil War did not begin to free the slaves. But it did, and that’s the good it is remembered for. The Iraq war did not begin simply to free the Iraqi people. But now they are, and the fire of freedom and democracy is burning across the Middle East.

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