Mudcat Café message #1537922 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1537922
Posted By: Amos
08-Aug-05 - 05:02 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
From the Lone Star Iconoclast:

...By Nathan Diebenow
Associate Editor

CRAWFORD The mother of a U.S. soldier slain in Iraq was denied a face-to-face meeting with President Bush here Saturday after she walked through a ditch-like path in the August heat to the President's Prairie Chapel Ranch.
"I didn't come all this way from California to stand here in a ditch," said Cindy Sheehan, 48, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, attempting to continue her trek to the ranch.
Even though two of the President's aides later agreed to deliver her message to him, Sheehan said that she would remain in Crawford for the whole month, if need be, until she is granted a private audience with the commander-in-chief to ask him for what "noble cause" did her son die overseas.
"If he doesn't come out to talk to me in Crawford, I'll follow him to D.C., and I'll camp out on his lawn," she said, to a round of applause from her supporters. "I'll go to prison. I don't want to live in a country where people are treated this way."
Sheehan's actions, she said, were sparked by President Bush's comments like those made last Wednesday in Grapevine to about 1,800 members of the American Legislative Exchange Council: "Our men and women who've lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and in this war on terror have died in a noble cause and a selfless cause."
"We all know by now that that's not true, and I want to ask George Bush, 'Why did my son die? What was the noble cause that he died for?'" said Sheehan. "I don't want [President Bush] to use my son's name or my family name to justify any more killing or to exploit my son's name, my son's sacrifice, or my son's honor to justify more killing. As a mother, why would I want one more mother to go through what I'm going through, Iraqi or American?
"And I want to tell him that the only way to honor my son's sacrifice is to bring the troops home now."
Her son, Casey Sheehan, 24, of Vacaville, Calif., died in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 4, 2004, when his unit was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Bush's comments Wednesday coincided with the deaths of 12 Marine reservists from Ohio who were killed in perhaps the deadliest roadside bombing of U.S. troops in Iraq. So far, the lives of about 1,821 Americans in uniform have been taken since the 2003 invasion. Pollsters indicate that Bush's approval ratings are declining in relation to the rise in U.S. casualties in Iraq.
Sheehan, joining anti-war activists at the Crawford Peace House, arrived with a busload of veterans from the Veterans for Peace convention which was held in Irving, near Dallas, since Thursday. The total group of activists there numbered over 50 and included members of Veteran's for Peace (VFP), Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), CodePink, and the Crawford Peace House.
Vietnam veteran Jim Waters, not affliated with any activist group, said that he drove overnight from Lubbock alone in support of Sheehan and the Gold Star Families for Peace because he is "very concerned" about the war in Iraq and wants to ask President Bush, "Why aren't his daughters there?"
"One of the principles of leadership is you don't ask people to do what you yourself don't have the courage to do, and [President Bush] is asking people to fight to their deaths when he himself and most of the architects of this war never served," said Waters, a retired Navy commander and former hospital administrator. "[President Bush] served, but he jumped over 10,000 people to get into the National Guard Champagne Unit, so he could avoid duty in Vietnam. I had to go to Vietnam, and now he's sending them to their deaths over 1,800 so far.
"I'm sick and tired of what's happening to our country," he continued. "To me it's almost like the White House operation is a mob operation. These guys are scary, and they're dangerous, in my opinion."
The demonstrators gathered around one side of Sheehan as she spoke with the news media. A World War II veteran, Archie Goodwin from Naples, Fla., carrying a sign, stated away from the group that he is for peace, but "Bush isn't." His sign read, "Somebody lied."
Sheehan was accompanied on Saturday by her sister, Dede Miller, and Amy Ranham, another mother of a slain U.S. soldier. Among her fellow supporters present were Ann Wright, a former U.S. diplomat who resigned her post in March 2003 in protest of the invasion of Iraq; Camilo Mejia, a reservist in the Florida National Guard who became a consciousness objector upon returning from service in Iraq; and Persian Gulf War Veteran Dennis Kyne, a former battlefield medic who is outspoken on the effects of depleted uranium weapons.
Captain Kenneth Vanek of the McLennan County Sherriff's Department agreed to lead the caravan of anti-war demonstrators to the Bush Ranch. "As long as y'all work with us, we'll work with y'all," he said.
The situation, however, turned less friendly as the afternoon progressed.
At a checkpoint, the demonstrators, on orders from the peace officers, exited their vehicles about eight miles from the ranch and were told to walk in the direction of the ranch on the shoulder of the road, not the roadway itself, so as to not impede the traffic. The conditions of the shoulder made it increasingly difficult for the demonstrators to walk. Five-to-10-feet wide, the shoulder was sloped inward ditch-like to two-to-three feet in some places and lined with dry, uncut grass and damp dirt.
The deputies finally ordered the demonstrators to halt miles from the ranch because the group had not agreed to its side of the "bargain" by walking on the roadway. "The media is allowed on the road, so why aren't we?" asked one of the demonstrators, to which an officer of the Sheriff's Department replied, "Because they were following you."
Sheehan, making one last attempt to push forward, said, "In the name of 1,828 soldiers that should be alive, I'm going to see the president. He killed my son."
Holding signs that said, "No more blood for oil," "Support our troops, bring them home now," "Iraq is Arabic for Viet Nam," and "Frodo failed. Bush has the ring," the demonstrators then chanted, "W. killed her son. W. killed her son."
This first attempt to meet the President ended up futile. Members of the group, including Sheehan, exchanged a few heated words with the Sherriff's deputies, Secret Service agents, and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers who kept their composure through the afternoon. There were no arrests made during the demonstration.
Other political slogans and chants were heard, including one from Hadi Jawad of the Crawford Peace House who urged the news media keep reporting on the Downing Street memos. These documents are a series of classified, British reports made during a planning session between British and American officials over Iraq months before its invasion. The British officials note in the memos that the United States was "fixing" evidence around the administration's policy to justify the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Sheehan, after the mainsteam media had left to file their reports, said, "This is the beginning of the end of the occupation of Iraq." A wild round of applause followed.
White House spokesman Trent Duffy said in response to Sheehan's actions that President Bush also wants the troops to return home safely but their mission must be completed in their honor. Two aides to the President, national security adviser Steve Hadley and deputy White House chief of staff Joe Hagin, later met with Sheehan to say that the president cares, but she, though appreciative, said in a message through The Iconoclast to the President, "George Bush, if you really care about me, why aren't you meeting with me?"
Sheehan, an opponent of the war in Iraq since its inception, took part in a meeting with other military families and Bush in June 2004 at Fort Lewis, near Seattle, Wash. This occured two months after her son was killed in Iraq. In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Sunday, she said that during her first meeting with President Bush, she felt that the President seemed more jovial than sorrowful and expressed no interest in knowing the name of her son or seeing pictures of him.
Sheehan intends to continue to attempt to gain an audience with President Bush. "I'm filled with hope now, too, that we might be able to turn things around," she said, noting that additional support is on its way from throughout the country as she continues her efforts, which will include a candlelight vigil. Caravans from Louisiana and San Diego are on the way, to name a couple, she said.
Before her first attempt to speak to President Bush in Crawford, Sheehan met with two victims of the Hiroshima nuclear bombing, Dr. Satoru Konishi and ex-Marine Paul Ritthaler, and Ritthaler's wife, Betty. A press conference was held at the Peace House on the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.
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