US Officials Distressed By
Graffiti On Bomb In Iraq
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defence Department officials are expressing dismay about "thoughtless graffiti" referring to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on a navy bomb being prepared for dropping on Iraq.  The Associated Press transmitted a photograph last weekend of a 900-kilogram laser-guided bomb on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in the Persian Gulf waiting to be loaded on F-14 and F-18 jet fighters.  

The bomb bore several inscriptions, including one that said, "Here's a Ramadan present from Chad Rickenberg."  

"Department of Defence officials were distressed to learn of thoughtless graffiti mentioning the holy month of Ramadan written on a piece of U.S. ordnance during Operation Desert Fox" in Iraq, chief Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said Monday in a statement.  "Religious intolerance is an anathema to Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and to all Americans who cherish the right to worship freely," he added. "The United States deeply respects Islam. We are grateful for our good relations with Arab and Islamic peoples, and we appreciate the important contributions of Muslim-Americans to the U.S. military and to our nation as a whole.  

"I know our people in uniform respect and appreciate religious practices different from their own. This incident is a rare exception that does not reflect American policy or values."