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Soldier's mother gains support of high-profile war critic


Soldier's mother gains support of high-profile war critic
BY DAVID JACKSON

The Dallas Morning News

CRAWFORD, Texas - (KRT) - Cindy Sheehan's Texas vigil has drawn support from another high-profile Iraq war opponent - former ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose criticisms are at the heart of an ongoing grand jury investigation in Washington.

"This White House never wants an open public discussion, and it certainly never wants to be told that it is wrong," Wilson said, accusing President Bush's allies of trying to smear Sheehan. "It always tries to change the message by attacking the messenger."

White House officials denied such an effort Thursday, saying they only disagree with Sheehan's anti-war position.

Wilson is the former diplomat who challenged the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein had sought nuclear-use uranium from Niger - a challenge made after Wilson had conducted a government-backed fact-finding mission to the African nation.

Administration officials challenged Wilson's report in part by saying the trip had been set up by his wife, a CIA operative.

A federal grand jury is investigating whether disclosure of the identity of the wife, Valerie Plame, constituted a crime - an inquiry that touched on various White House officials that include political aide Karl Rove.

Supporters of Sheehan said Bush allies are trying to smear her by questioning the patriotism of the anti-war movement. Wilson issued a statement through a public relations firm that has also worked at Camp Casey, the protest site named in honor of Sheehan's son, a soldier killed in Iraq.

Sheehan, meanwhile, made her first public comments since returning to the camp after leaving last week to visit her ill mother in California.

She disputed Bush's comments this week that she does not speak for other military families who support the Iraq effort.

Sheehan said rising numbers are challenging the reasons behind the war.

"I am not alone," she said after placing a pair of her son's Army boots at a white cross bearing his name. "I am not the only one who wants answers to these questions."

As she and her supporters prepare to break camp at the end of August, Sheehan and anti-war organizations are planning a three-week bus tour next month, winding up with a Washington rally on Sept. 24.

The war protests have also inspired counterdemonstrators in Crawford, in support of Bush and his Iraq policy.

White House officials said all Americans have freedom of expression.

"We certainly empathize with Ms. Sheehan and those who oppose the war," said White House spokesman Trent Duffy. "The president feels fundamentally differently."

© 2005, The Dallas Morning News.

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