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Obama's visit prompts some to protest in Public Square

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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Sure, President Barack Obama is pulling 33,000 troops out of Afghanistan by 2012.


But what if he turns around and puts them back in Libya?


Those were among the concerns of a handful of protesters Thursday on Public Square, there to welcome Mr. Obama — who has pledged not to use ground troops in Libya — on the day he visited soldiers and their families at Fort Drum.


"There's a new front," Justin B. Chouinard said. "There was no authorization for Libya. It's politically motivated."


Mr. Obama has been accused of flouting the provisions of the War Powers Act, which requires congressional approval of military hostilities within 90 days. Mr. Obama has not sought that approval, but his administration has argued that the mission in Libya — an international coalition that includes airstrikes and monetary support for forces fighting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's government — does not constitute hostilities.


Members of the group said they had no organizational structure; just a group of concerned neighbors who live near Watertown High School and who communicate via email.


The antiwar protest also included concerns about searches performed at airports, a perceived disregard for the Constitution and Mr. Obama's economic policies. But the fact that it was held in a military town made it unusual.


"I support the military," Watertown resident Troy M. Walts said, holding a sign calling for Mr. Obama's impeachment. "I support defending our own borders."


In an even more stark sign of the military town's influence on the demonstration, one of the attendees was an Army medic.


Today was an opportunity to demonstrate that some people don't agree with the "illegal war" in Libya and Mr. Obama's "tax and spend" policies, Sean P. Niemi said.

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