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Local reaction mixed to airstrikes

August 20, 1998|By MATTHEW BIENIEK

Some Hagerstown residents interviewed Thursday said they supported U.S. cruise missile strikes against terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Sudan.

Others suggested the move might be President Clinton's attempt to direct attention away from his domestic political troubles.

Richard C. Nicholson, of Hagerstown, who said he served in the Army for eight years, said he thought the strike was right on target.

By retaliating against those who took American lives, Clinton was acting the way a president should act, he said.

"If you have concrete evidence that they're terrorists I say take them out," he said.

Jo Anne Johnson, of Hagerstown, who was mailing a letter at the West Franklin Street post office, said she wondered about President Clinton's motives.

"I just feel it may be a ploy to make us quit thinking about Monica Lewinsky," she said.

Johnson said she thought any ploy was unnecessary because the country is sick of hearing about the sex scandal involving Clinton and the former White House intern.

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"We want to hear about stopping child abuse, and getting medical care for people," she said.

Raymond Barnhart said he thought Clinton was right to strike at terrorist bases.

"I think we need to get a handle on the terrorists, as difficult as that may be," he said.

Gordon Shannonhouse, a Baltimore resident who was in Hagerstown on business, said the Clinton administration's action was out of character.

"I'm suspicious of the timing as a way of distracting from his personal problems," he said.

John Eury, of Hagerstown, said he thought the strikes were a good idea, but feared they might not work.

"I agree with it. But I don't think it will stop them. It's an ongoing thing," Eury said.

One Hagerstown resident who supported the strikes thought U.S. embassies needed to be better protected so terrorists would not find them such easy targets.

Tom Washington said he wondered how likely it was that the right targets were found.

"The way the world is you don't know who is who anymore," he said.

Susan Shank, of Hagerstown, said she didn't like being cynical, but wondered if President Clinton might have ordered the strikes to take the national focus off the Lewinsky investigation, she said.

Shank had just heard the news of the strikes on her car radio and said she had not had enough time to think about her reaction.

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