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Turkish women rip Karen Hughes a new one on her 'listening tour'

Chimpy’s Undersecretary of State Karen “Mommy” Hughes was scorched by a group of Turkish women when they blasted her boss and his Iraq policy, which has not done a hell of a lot for women.

“This war is really, really bringing your positive efforts to the level of zero,” said Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal, an activist with the Capital City Women’s Forum. She said it was difficult to talk about cooperation between women in the United States and Turkey as long as Iraq was under occupation.

Hughes, a longtime confidant of President Bush tasked with burnishing the U.S. image overseas, has generally met with polite audiences — many of whom received U.S. funding or consisted of former exchange students — during a tour of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey this week.

In this case the U.S. Embassy asked Kader, an umbrella group that supports woman candidates, to assemble the guest list. None of the activists currently receive U.S. funds and the guests apparently had little desire to mince words. Six of the eight women who spoke at the session, held in Ankara, the capital, focused on the Iraq war.

War makes the rights of women completely erased and poverty comes after war — and women pay the price,” said Fatma Nevin Vargun, a Kurdish women’s rights activist. Vargun denounced the arrest of Cindy Sheehan, the activist mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, in front of the White House Monday at an antiwar protest.

Hughes, looking increasingly pained, defended the decision to invade Iraq as a difficult and wrenching moment for President Bush, but necessary to protect America.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding