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CNN - August 7


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Note the original on the CNN site has links to the video from one story run by CNN as well as a Wolf Blitzer interview with Cindy.

Soldier's mom digs in near Bush ranch
Senator sees 'echoes of Vietnam' in vigil to meet president

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- A mother whose son was killed in Iraq says she is prepared to continue her protest outside President Bush's ranch through August until she is granted an opportunity to speak with him.

Later, in a TV interview, a Democratic senator from California said the episode evokes images that were commonplace during the Vietnam War.

Cindy Sheehan's 24-year-old son -- Army Spc. Casey Sheehan of Vacaville, California -- was killed in Baghdad's Sadr City on April 4, 2004. The Humvee mechanic was one of eight U.S. soldiers killed there that day by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. (Full story)

They are among the 1,829 American troops, including 31 this month, who have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

The president -- who is spending a nearly five-week-long working vacation at his Texas ranch -- said in a speech Wednesday that the sacrifices of U.S. troops were "made in a noble cause." (Full story)

Sheehan said she found little comfort in his comments.

"I want to ask the president, why did he kill my son?" Sheehan told reporters. "He said my son died in a noble cause, and I want to ask him what that noble cause is."

Sheehan said hers was one of a group of about 15 families who each met separately with the president one day last June.

"He wouldn't look at the pictures of Casey. He didn't even know Casey's name," she told CNN Sunday. "Every time we tried to talk about Casey and how much we missed him, he would change the subject."

Sheehan said she was so distraught at the time that she failed to ask the questions she now wants answered.

"I want him to honor my son by bringing the troops home immediately," Sheehan told reporters Saturday. "I don't want him to use my son's name or my name to justify any more killing."

Sheehan, who co-founded the anti-war group Gold Star Families for Peace, led about 50 demonstrators near the Bush ranch Saturday. Some protesters were with the group Veterans for Peace, which was holding a convention in Dallas.

The protesters stopped their bus miles from the ranch in Crawford, and walked less than a half-mile before being stopped by local law enforcement officials.

A message on the Gold Star Families Web site says, "We want our loved ones' sacrifices to be honored by bringing our nation's sons and daughters home from the travesty that is Iraq IMMEDIATELY, since this war is based on horrendous lies and deceptions.

"Just because our children are dead, why would we want any more families to suffer the same pain and devastation?"

The message also urges Bush to send his twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, to Iraq "if the cause is so noble."

The site says the group is made up of families of soldiers who have died as a result of war, primarily in Iraq.

Joe Hagin, White House deputy chief of staff, and Stephen Hadley, national security adviser, met with Sheehan for about 45 minutes Saturday, according to White House spokesman Trent Duffy.

Sheehan said that the two men "were very respectful."

"They told me the party line of why we are in Iraq," she said. "I told them that I don't believe that they believed that."

Duffy said Saturday that "many of the hundreds of families the president has met with know their loved one died for a noble cause and that the best way to honor their sacrifice is to complete the mission."

Bush has refused to provide a time frame for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, saying American forces will return home when Iraqis can take care of their own security.

"President Bush wants the troops home as soon as possible, but the U.S. will not cut and run from terrorists," Duffy said.

Sheehan elicited sympathy from both sides of the political spectrum on Sunday.

"What you're seeing with that mom trying to meet with President Bush is echoes of Vietnam," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat. "Because no one is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."

"I think the president ought to meet with this mother," said Sen. George Allen, a Virginia Republican. "What I would say to her is her son will always be remembered as a great hero and a patriot, advanced freedom in Iraq and the Middle East, has made this country more secure."

Boxer said her own message would be different: "I would tell her to do everything she could to spare other families this grief, to get us off this cycle of violence."

Recent surveys have shown decreasing public support for the war.

In a Newsweek poll released Sunday, 64 percent of those asked said they do not believe the war in Iraq has made Americans safer, and 61 percent said they disapprove of the way the president is handling the war.

The telephone poll of 1,004 adults was taken from Tuesday to Thursday last week and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

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