Iraq war veteran who might challenge Rep. Hall leads protest
By SHAWN COHEN
THE JOURNAL NEWS
BEDFORD HILLS - An Iraq war veteran who is considering challenging Rep. John Hall for Congress led a protest outside a Hall fundraiser yesterday, decrying an appearance there by David Crosby - the singer who recently declared that American troops are killing innocent Iraqis.
The veteran, Kieran Lalor of Peekskill, even challenged the former Orleans band member to a debate on the Iraq War. He did so when representatives for Hall greeted the dozen protesters outside the event, held on the Bedford Hills estate of Jim Attwood and Leslie Williams.
"I want to know, does John Hall think that the mission in Iraq is killing mothers and daughters?" Lalor asked Hall's chief of staff, Jean Bordewich. "He said David Crosby has the right to say it, but does he agree with it? He didn't unequivocally condemn it."
Bordewich declined to answer him and later defended the anti-war singer's constitutional right to free speech.
At issue were Crosby's comments earlier this month on Chris Matthews' television show "Hardball," on MSNBC. Speaking about the U.S. mission in Iraq, Crosby told the host that "on the one hand, you have got a young kid who is patriotic, who loves his country, believes in it. And he's being told, yes, this is the truth. And we have got to go in there to protect your mother and your sister."
"Yes," Matthews replied, and Crosby continued, "And he goes over and he finds out the job is killing somebody else's mother and sister."
Crosby later added, "We can't be wasting some of the best young people we have, sending them over there to be killed, and then killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis at the same time."
The protesters, who included several Iraq War and Vietnam veterans, gathered alongside Harris Road, playing patriotic songs from car speakers while raising placards with slogans such as "Support our Troops and their mission," and "Caution: Troop Hating Liberals."
The fundraiser was a private affair attended by Hall and featuring Crosby and Graham Nash - two-thirds of the Vietnam-era trio Crosby, Stills and Nash. Lalor said Hall was legitimizing Crosby's remarks by featuring him at the event and using him to help raise future campaign money.
"Congressman Hall should have defended the troops, condemned the comments and canceled the fundraiser," said Lalor, a Marine who fought in Iraq in 2003 and has formed an exploratory committee to consider challenging Hall in 2008 on the Republican and Conservative lines. "Somebody had to be here to hold them accountable."
Two Hall aides, including Bordewich, came out to shake hands with the protesters while praising the veterans for their service to the country.
Hall has been an outspoken critic of the war, but Bordewich said he has been a strong supporter of veterans causes and met earlier this month with soldiers in Iraq.
"I'm not here to speak for David Crosby," she said, "but I will say that the issue they seem to be here about today is supporting our troops. And I think Congressman Hall has already been recognized in less than a year in office as one of the strongest defenders of veterans in the U.S. Congress."
Asked whether Hall was tacitly endorsing Crosby's remarks by featuring him at the event, she replied, "I don't think there's any relationship."