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Cindy on CNN
....Over the weekend, there's been a lot of activity in Crawford, Texas to tell you about. Today, Cindy Sheehan, the mother whose child died serving in Iraq, continued her protest, demanding another audience with President Bush. She's by no means alone out there. Antiwar protester and President Bush's supporters alike have descended on Crawford, along with reporters from around the world. CNN's Dana Bash joins us live with the latest -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. Well, as you said, over the weekend, there were hundreds of people here, both for and against what Cindy Sheehan is trying to do. But today, people seemed to go back to work. The crowds seemed to thin, but Cindy Sheehan is trying to keep the momentum going. She says so herself, and trying to basically come up with events. And one thing that she did today, which even a White House official conceded was quite clever, was ask the president to come pray with her on Friday at noon. Anderson, there's no indication that the president is actually going to do that.
COOPER: Over the past few days, Ms. Sheehan has gone really beyond Iraq, started airing some other political opinions, like U.S. policy in the Middle East. Any more of that today?
BASH: Not today. And you're right, what Cindy Sheehan did was weigh in on the Mideast, certainly a quite controversial issue, the Israeli and Palestinian issue. She used the word "occupation," and said that the U.S. policy is too tilted toward Israel.
Today, Anderson, she said that was a mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY SHEEHAN, LOST SON IN IRAQ: Talking about other things has distracted us from our original mission, and I realize that. But I've been so busy, I haven't had time to reflect. And last night, I had time to reflect, and we all agreed as military families and Gold Star families together, we need to refocus our mission.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: Now, what Sheehan said was that she was up all night thinking about it, thinking about what she calls "the media circus," that she admits she helped create and is essentially benefiting for, when it comes to her cause, but she did say, as you just heard there, that she understands now that she really has to and wants to keep focused on the number one message that she has here, which is to try to tell the president to bring troops home from Iraq, Anderson.
COOPER: Dana Bash, thanks very much.
A little later on 360, I will talk live with Cindy Sheehan. I'll also speak with another mother of a son who died in Iraq. Unlike Sheehan, she supports the president, as well as the war.
We also want to know what you think about this story, about what Cindy Sheehan is doing. Do you think the president owes her a one-on- one meeting -- or I should say another meeting? Or do you think she has gone too far in her protest? E-mail us, cnn.com/360. We'll try to read some of your e-mails at the end of tonight's program.
Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joins us with some of the other stories we're following right now. Erica, good evening....
...COOPER: Well, the war in Iraq continues to be waged in Crawford, Texas. Since August 6th, Cindy Sheehan has been camped near President Bush's ranch. She's waiting to ask him face to face why her son, Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, died in Iraq and she wants U.S. troops to pull out.
Since her vigil began, Sheehan has become a lightning rod to people on both sides of the battle. Some call her a hero, others a pawn of the left. I'll talk live with Cindy Sheehan in just a moment.
But first, a closer look at a mother who's become an anti-war symbol.
COOPER (voice-over): Today, a self-assured activist met the National Press Corp.
CINDY SHEEHAN, SON KILLED IN IRAQ: My name is Cindy Sheehan and you guys all know why I'm here.
COOPER: She's a symbol with savvy, fully aware of the power of her own image, a mother who lost her son to war demanding an audience with the man who sent him there.
SHEEHAN: If he comes tomorrow and meets with me, I'll leave and we won't have a prayer service.
COOPER: To many, Cindy Sheehan has single handedly reignited the anti-war movement, camped out in Crawford feeding a news hungry White House press corps learning to play their game.
SHEEHAN: This one has been asked and answered so many times.
COOPER: In the beginning, it was just Sheehan and a handful of supporters but as her cause caught fire, new comrades emerged.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here to support Cindy and her cause.
COOPER: Others who had lost loved ones in Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son, Sergeant Ryan Campbell was killed on a farm road south of Iraq April 29, 2004. COOPER: And activists from the professional protest crowd. PR firm Fenton Communications, which also represents the anti-war group Moveon.org stepped in to handle the media. Ice cream peacenik Ben Cohen picked up their tab. And now Move On itself is helping coordinate a candlelight vigil Wednesday.
Not surprisingly from Hollywood there's support as well. Martin Sheen, Vigo Mortenson (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is America's loss. These are America's boys and girls. It's our future who's died over there.
COOPER: If some liberal groups are pouncing, conservative groups are holding back. A grieving mother, after all, is perhaps a target best left alone. This weekend there were anti-Sheehan protesters in Crawford as well branding the woman in the spotlight a tool of the left.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there are some group that have gotten hold of her and are just directing her like a puppet.
COOPER: Well, joining us from Crawford are Cindy Sheehan and Pat Vogel, a mother who has joined her vigil in Crawford. Pat's son Aaron served a year in Iraq and now works in the anti-war movement back home, appreciate both you being with us tonight. Thanks very much.
SHEEHAN: You're welcome. Thank you.
COOPER: Cindy, it has been a very busy weekend for you and Pat. There was a demonstration in support of President Bush as well as your continued demonstration against the president and the war. What's it like for you just day in and day out there?
SHEEHAN: It's very busy, very exhausting and the best thing about being here is hundreds of people are coming from all over the country to stand in unison with us. It's not just a grieving mother now and it's not just military families and other grieving parents. It's all of America. They want the answers to the questions that I'm asking too.
COOPER: Pat, you arrived in Crawford this afternoon. Why did you decide to come out and support Cindy?
PAT VOGEL, SON SERVED IN IRAQ: Well, I just wanted to send a message to Cindy that I support her and the other gold star families 100 percent. I want to send a message to America that there are a lot of military families who feel exactly the same way as she does.
COOPER: Cindy, I was reading some of the essays that you've been writing about the war over the last couple of months. In one you say the war is blatant genocide and you go on to say, and I quote, "Casey was killed in the global war of terrorism waged on the world and its own citizen by the biggest terrorist outfit in the world, George and his destructive Neo-con cabal." Do you really believe the president of the United States is the biggest terrorist in the world?
SHEEHAN: I believe that he's responsible for the needless and senseless deaths of more people than any other organization right now. There was 3,000 people killed on September 11th, which was a tragic day. Our nation still mourned it. I still mourn for those people and their families. But tens of thousands of innocent people are dead in Iraq, Anderson, and there was no reason for the war. The war was based on lies and we know that now.
COOPER: But when you say that the president, I mean you're essentially saying the president is a terrorist. I mean I think a lot of people would hear that and think what are you talking about?
SHEEHAN: Well, you know, I've heard a lot of -- a lot of definitions of that and it's the definition they kill innocent people, you know, and his policies are responsible for killing innocent people and I say the organization is killing innocent people and it needs to stop.
We know that he said there was weapons of mass destruction and we know he knows that there weren't. There was no link between al Qaeda and Saddam and we know he knows that there wasn't, so we need to stop the killing now and I'm here to confront him.
COOPER: You said that it's blatant genocide. I mean you really think the United States is trying to eliminate an entire group of people, all Iraqis?
SHEEHAN: There's 100 -- there's an estimate 100,000 to 200,000 innocent Iraqis dead because of our occupation, either by bullets and bombs or by disease, malnutrition and he says we're doing it for the Iraqi people. How many do we have to kill before we convince them that what we're doing is right over there?
COOPER: You were also quoted as saying, "My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism." How responsible do you believe Israel is for the amount of terrorism in the world?
SHEEHAN: I didn't say that.
COOPER: You didn't say that? OK.
SHEEHAN: I didn't -- I didn't say -- I didn't say that my son died for Israel. I've never said that. I saw somebody wrote that and it wasn't my words. Those aren't even words that I would say.
I do believe that the Palestinian issue is a hot issue that needs to be solved and it needs to be more fair and equitable but I never said my son died for Israel.
COOPER: OK, I'm glad I asked you that because, you know, as you know, there's tons of stuff floating around on the Internet on sites of all political persuasions.
SHEEHAN: I know and that's not -- yes.
COOPER: So, I'm glad we had the opportunity to clear that.
SHEEHAN: Yes, and thank you because those are not my words. Those aren't -- that doesn't even sound like me saying that.
COOPER: OK. I'm very glad we got that...
SHEEHAN: And I have read it. I have read it. I'm glad you did too.
COOPER: OK. I want to put -- I read an interesting website called the Iraqi model today. It's written by I think two Iraqi dentists and they posted a letter to you. I know you've been very busy. You probably haven't seen it in which in the letter they basically oppose, of course, U.S. withdrawal and they say and I just want to read you part of it.
They say, "Ma'am, we asked for your nation's help and we asked you to stand with us in our war and your nation's act was (and still is) an act of ultimate courage and unmatched sense of humanity...You are free to go and leave us alone but what am I going to tell your million sisters in Iraq? Should I ask them to leave Iraq too?
Should I leave too? And what about the eight millions who walked through bombs to practice their freedom and vote? Should they leave this land too? Your son sacrificed his life for a very noble cause? No, he sacrificed himself for the most precious value in this existence; that is freedom," your thoughts?
SHEEHAN: Well, Anderson, we're still -- we're getting away from what -- what the president said when he went to Congress and asked for the authority to invade Iraq. He said because they had weapons of mass destruction and he said because there was a link between Saddam and al Qaeda and those have been proven to be wrong.
He also has said that they attacked us on September 11th because they hate our freedom and democracy but we're going over there and innocent Americans are being killed and innocent Iraqis are being killed to spread our idea of government. If he had told the American people that was their -- that was their goal, we wouldn't have gone for it.
COOPER: But can you make -- can you make now, I mean there are those who might agree with you about, you know, getting into the war but the fact is there are more than 100,000 U.S. troops there now. The Iraqis have had elections. They are trying to move toward a more democratic style of government, whether you believe it or not.
Is there an argument, I mean do you accept the argument that, you know, looking at the past it's now about the U.S. troops are there and the question is what to do with them there now?
SHEEHAN: We need to get our military presence out of Iraq. It wasn't necessary in the first place. Not one person should be dead because of this and not one person should die. People are dying every day.
To show the Iraqi people that we mean business to let them govern their own country and rebuild their own country we need to pull our military presence out of there. You know and I know that they're building bases the size of Sacramento, California in Iraq and they plan on never leaving.
It's not about freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people and we all know that and I didn't raise my son, I didn't give birth to him, I didn't nurse him for two years to die in a desert for other people's hunger for greed and power and that's what it's all about, Anderson, and we shouldn't be allowing the continued killing to go on. I think we should ask Pat how she felt about her son being over there during that time.
COOPER: Well, I mean we'll actually -- actually, I still try to do this program myself. Pat, let me just finally say what is it, what's different about being there than what you thought it was going to be? From what you saw on television to what it is actually like?
VOGEL: Being here at Camp Casey?
COOPER: Where you are now? Yes.
VOGEL: Well, I would say that it's probably what I expected, except that I didn't expect the tremendous energy that's here and the buzz of activity that's everywhere. It's just been a wonderful gathering of people who feel the way that Cindy does and just a very, very positive situation in all respects.
COOPER: Pat, I'm going to have to leave it there. Pat Vogel, I appreciate you joining us and Cindy Sheehan it's good to talk to you again. Thank you very much.
SHEEHAN: Thank you, Anderson, anytime.
VOGEL: Thank you.
COOPER: All right. As you know, we don't like to take sides. We try to cover all the angles on this program. We've asked Tina Lucero to join us. Her son, Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Lucero was killed last year in Iraq. She supports the war and the president. I spoke with her earlier.
COOPER: Tina, what do you think about what Cindy Sheehan is doing?