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Iraq War Foes Ready for 2,000th Military Death
By Deborah Zabarenko
Washington - Cindy Sheehan, the military mother who made her son's death in Iraq a rallying point for the anti-war movement, plans to tie herself to the White House fence to protest the milestone of 2,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq.
"I'm going to go to Washington, D.C. and I'm going to give a speech at the White House, and after I do, I'm going to tie myself to the fence and refuse to leave until they agree to bring our troops home," Sheehan said in a telephone interview last week as the milestone approached.
"And I'll probably get arrested, and when I get out, I'll go back and do the same thing," she said.
The death toll among U.S. military forces since the March 2003 invasion stood at 1,996 on Sunday.
The milestone's approach prompted plans for hundreds of other demonstrations across the United States, but for Sheehan, each military death in the Iraqi war has been a tragedy.
"To me, every single member since Number One has been tragic and needless and unnecessary," she said. "My son was somewhere around 615, and I've been working so hard for peace since my son was killed and now almost 1,400 more soldiers have been killed since Casey died."
Army Specialist Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004.
Beyond Sheehan's plans, a candlelight vigil is planned at the White House to mourn the 2,000-death milestone. Hundreds of other demonstrations are scheduled for the day after the milestone number is reached.
"I hope that this milestone marks the point when the American people realize the U.S. military is not going to stop the violence in Iraq, and they instead start demanding a political solution to this problem," Sean O'Neill, a U.S. Marine who served in Iraq, said in a statement.
'Human Cost of a Lie'
The American Friends Service Committee was helping coordinate activists to protest the Iraq war.
"On the day after the 2,000th reported U.S. military death in Iraq, people will gather in communities across the U.S. to say that the countries pro-peace majority wants Congress to stop the deaths by stopping the dollars that are funding the war," a coalition of anti-war groups said online at www.afsc.org.
"The clock has stopped ticking for 2,000 Americans in Iraq, and once again there is a media craze, another reason for people to pay closer attention to the human cost of a lie, but for how long this time?" said Camilo Mejia, an Iraq combat veteran who served a year in prison for refusing to return to the war in Iraq.
"Perhaps it's time for the American public to realize that each death counts, American, Iraqi or otherwise," Mejia said in a statement.
Another anti-war group, Peace Action, called on Congress to pull troops out of Iraq.
"Bush's insistence on continued military occupation feeds the insurgency. Congress must now take the leadership role in bringing our troops home," said Kevin M. Martin, executive director of Peace Action.
At the White House, demonstrators plan a quiet vigil.
"We ask that people do not bring signs or posters, just candles and perhaps pictures of soldiers," the notice for this event read. "No megaphones or speeches. Quiet mourning, prayer and song. No opportunities to offend or exclude."
An early October survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press of U.S. attitudes toward the war in Iraq found only 9 percent of respondents thought the war was going very well; by contrast, 22 percent thought it was going not at all well.
Half of all respondents said the United States made the wrong decision in using military force against Iraq; 44 percent said it was the right decision. The survey had an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.