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Casualties of war stir a N.H. chill

Here, on Super Sunday, when a hero will be hailed in Houston as soon as the game clock expires, we have the official roster of recent American dead in Iraq: Army officers Michael Blaise, 29, from Tennessee, and Brian Hazelgrove, 29, of Alabama, killed when their Kiowa helicopter fell from the sky near Mosul; Pfc. Ervin Dervishi, 21, of Fort Worth, Tex., dead after his Bradley Fighting Vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Baji.

Sgt. Keith Smette from Fargo, N.D., a member of the National Guard, was 25 when a roadside bomb exploded alongside his convoy truck near Fallujah. Another member of the same North Dakota Guard unit was killed by the same device. He was Sgt. Kenneth Hendrickson, 41, from Bismarck.

We also lost Spec. Gabriel Palacios, 22, of Lynn, Mass., and Pfc. James Parker, 20, of Bryan, Tex. Then, in the hours before the primary in New Hampshire, three more soldiers died at Khalidiyah as a suicide bomber detonated a truck alongside their Humvee: the casualties were Spec. Jason Chapell, 22, of Hemet, Calif., Spec. William Sturges, 24, of Spring Church, Pa., and Sgt. Randy Rosenberg, who was 23 and from Berlin, N.H., where his mother works as a clerk in the City Hall.

Tuesday, while a picture of young Rosenberg appeared in the local papers, Democrats raced across the state in a last-minute grab for votes. In his hometown, the temperature was 11 degrees and the ground of the graveyard was hard as cement.

News of his death arrived 36 years after another war and another primary changed the course of the country. In February 1968, the Tet Offensive in Vietnam helped drive Lyndon Johnson from office as Eugene McCarthy campaigned across New Hampshire, his candidacy strengthened by the increased awareness that thousands of brave young Americans of that generation were dying in a war created from a lie.

Now it appears that more than 500 of our finest young people are gone because a handful in Washington wanted to beat up Iraq simply because we could.

This is a White House that frames itself as a model of corporate efficiency. But there isn’t a successful company in the country that would tolerate the loss of treasure and life caused by executives who relied on bad and twisted information and were then allowed to avoid responsibility for their actions. The only people who have paid a price have been the dead and the families left behind to bury a son or a daughter killed because of political impatience and arrogance.

Today we have the ultimate American spectacle, the Super Bowl, being played days after David Kay told the Senate about the ultimate obscenity: that the judgment used to invade Iraq was flawed. His testimony left a cold, hard question that lingers in the air: Were soldiers like Sgt. Randy Rosenberg, 23 years old, dead when war could have waited?