Ten days after backing off a formal resolution supporting President Bush's anti-terrorism and Middle East military policies, the Orange County Board of Supervisors signed a letter praising the president's efforts.
The letter, written on board stationery and signed by all five supervisors, supports the administration's homeland defense and anti-terrorism campaigns, which Bush is using to justify removing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"In these challenging times, the United States and all freedom-loving peoples must work to end the threat of global terrorism," the letter states. "We in Orange County are working to do our part."
Unlike an official county resolution, the two-page letter dated Thursday doesn't require a public hearing or vote. Supervisors decided against taking more formal action last month in part because of an expected public outcry.
"It's a sneaky, cowardly act," said Jeanne Costales of the Orange County Peace Coalition. "They should have done this in public.... They speak for us as a county when they do things as a board. They're doing the same thing Bush is, which isn't hearing a dissenting opinion at all."
Public comments in Los Angeles stretched over two days before the City Council joined 113 cities, counties and states to formally oppose a unilateral war.
Board Chairman Tom Wilson said supervisors wanted the president to know that Orange County leaders support him.
Several board members also were reluctant to lodge official county statements on foreign policy, saying the board has avoided doing so in the past.
Supervisor Bill Campbell, who proposed drafting the resolution, said the letter balances official criticism elsewhere.
"In these troubled times, I felt it important that Orange County's elected leaders make a positive statement about the outstanding efforts put forward by the president and his administration in protecting America."