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Congresswoman calls for return of troops


JAMIE STENGLE
Associated Press

CRAWFORD, Texas - U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee visited the anti-war inspired "Camp Casey" near President Bush's ranch on Monday, lending support and words of encouragement to several families whose loved ones died in Iraq.

"It is time to bring our troops home," Lee said at the demonstration started by Cindy Sheehan, of Vacaville, Calif., on Aug. 6.

Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son Army Spc. Casey Sheehan died last year in Iraq, is currently in Los Angeles to be with her mother, who had a stroke. But about 60 other people were spread between two anti-war campsites near the ranch on Monday.

"What we want to do is give America a sense that it's OK to speak up and ask questions," said Lee, a Democrat from Houston.

She said that coalition forces of U.S. allies could come in to fill the security gap in Iraq.

Across from "Camp Casey," about eight people were gathered at "Camp George" in support of the president. Parrish Stevens, of Indiana, said people need to know all of the positive things that are happening in Iraq because of the troops - such as hospitals opening and children attending school. Stevens is on break as a contractor in Iraq.

Earl Johnson, of Seattle, asked what would happen to the women and girls in Iraq if American troops left.

"The consequences of their proposal are not dealt with at all," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, folk singer Joan Baez spent part of the day talking with families at a second anti-war camp, which has been set up on private property up the road from "Camp Casey."

"There are so many Gold Star families that have questions (about) why we're continuing this war," said Michelle DeFord, of Colton, Ore. Her son, who was in the Army National Guard, was killed in Iraq last fall.

Gold Star Families for Peace was co-founded by Sheehan and is made up of relatives of fallen soldiers.

Also making an appearance at an anti-war camp was actress Margot Kidder, whose screen credits include four "Superman" films. Kidder spoke with the families gathered and said she felt obligated to visit.

"I came in support of Cindy and all the other Gold Star families," said Kidder, who traveled to the site from Montana. 'I couldn't not come."

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