A nation at war? Somebody tell the recruiters

Bush uses the W-word 15 times in a speech today, but some Army recruiters are telling applicants that Iraq is old news.

Published November 6, 2006 9:08PM (EST)

Out on the campaign trail, the president likes to remind voters that we're a nation at war. At a rally in Florida today, he used the W-word 15 times. "I wish I could tell you we weren't at war, but we are," he said. It's a "different kind of war"; Iraq is the "central front in the war"; Osama bin Laden thinks this is the "third world war"; Americans have to decide "which group of folks can best win the war."

"And as you go the polls," the president said today, "remember, we're at war."

It would be hard to forget -- unless you're an Army recruiter, it seems.

ABC News sent kids armed with hidden video cameras into Army recruiting centers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to see what recruiters are telling people about Iraq. Among the "misleading" comments the students caught on tape: A recruiter telling a would-be soldier: "We're not at war. War ended a long time ago."

When a student asked another recruiter about the odds that he'd be sent to Iraq, the recruiter said "slim to none." A third recruiter told a student that the United States isn't sending troops to Iraq anymore. "No," he said, "we're bringing them back."

An Army official tells ABC that recruiters who tell lies are the exception rather than the rule. But after watching video clips recorded by the students, the official acknowledged that he found it "hard to believe some of the things" his people were telling potential recruits.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2006 Elections Iraq Iraq War Middle East War Room