I recently had the opportunity to conduct a quick e-mail interview with Cindy Sheehan, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace. Cindy and the GSFP were present in Washington on June 15, 2005, to meet with Rep. John Conyers and other members of Congress to demand a Resolution of Inquiry into the Downing Street Memo and related documents.
Cindy says that "the mission of GSFP is to stop the war so other families won't have to suffer as we are." The organization's web site states a dual purpose: To bring an end to the occupation of Iraq, and to be a support group for Gold Star Families.
We talked about her son Casey and her thoughts on the war in Iraq. Casey was 24 when he was killed in an ambush in Sadr City on April 4, 2004, as he rode in the back of an unprotected trailer while on a mission to rescue wounded soldiers.
AntiChimp: Were you politically active before your son Casey was sent to Iraq?
Cindy Sheehan: No. I still don't consider myself politically active. I don't consider peace a political issue, although I know it is, it is a bipartisan human issue. So, I still don't think I am politically active in that sense... even though I meet with Congressman and Senators and spoke at the hearing.
AC: Did your son ever express his feelings to you about his deployment?
CS: He didn't think the war was right, but he thought it was his duty to go.
AC: Because he made a commitment to military service? Or was it more complicated than that?
CS: Because he thought it was his duty, and they (the soldiers) are brainwashed into thinking their buddies and the mission are the most important thing.
AC: How did you become affiliated with Military Families Speak Out (MFSO)?
CS: I found them shortly after Casey died, and joined.
AC: Were you referred to MFSO by someone, or did you find them on the Internet?
CS: A friend of mine, Bill Mitchell, whose son Mike was killed in the same ambush as Casey, found them on the internet.
AC: Why did you establish Gold Star Families for Peace (GSFP)?
CS: To be an effective and compelling voice for peace and truth. To support each other forever in our grief.
AC: Do you think that young Americans are still being misled by military recruiters?
CS: I know they are.
AC: Do you believe that the administration uses religion in either a positive or negative way?
CS: Negative; it is manipulative and hypocritical.
AC: How so?
CS: They have corrupted the Gospel message to be one of hate, war, and greed.
AC: Your son was very active in the church; how do you think he would feel about the administration's use of religion?
CS: He would hate it and think it is hypocritical, too.
AC: Is the mainstream media complicit in promoting the war in Iraq?
AC: What could they be doing differently?
CS: Reporting the truth, and making Iraq the front page and lead-off stories.
AC: Do you think they've been reluctant to present stories critical of the war or the Bush administration?
AC: How would you argue for impeachment of President Bush? Do you think he should face charges in an international court?
CS: He lied to the American people about WMDs and Saddam's link to 9/11. Of course he should be impeached. At the very least the DSMs should be investigated. Our country has ignored the Geneva Convention, and the lies have caused tens of thousands of innocent deaths.
AC: Who do you think is primarily responsible for your son's death?
AC: Why do you say that?
CS: I didn't teach him not to die for this country.
AC: Do you believe that we as private citizens have the power to change the course our government is taking?
CS: Yes, we in GSFP have already made a major impact.
AC: Can you give any examples?
CS: Helping to publicize the Downing Street Memos, exit strategies coming from Congress... Our work has helped change public opinion.
AC: Do you have hope for the future?
CS: Yes, or I wouldn't be doing this.