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2005-08-12

Protest on the Range: Cindy Sheehan Calls for Mass Demos at Bush’s Crawford Ranch

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Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed last year in Iraq, is finally getting major media coverage after months of protesting George Bush’s policies in Iraq. We go live to Crawford, Texas to speak with Cindy Sheehan. [includes rush transcript]

We turn now to the story of Cindy Sheehan. A year and a half ago Sheehan’s oldest son, Casey, was killed in Iraq. He was 24 years old. Sheehan is now in Crawford Texas — taking part in a vigil near President Bush’s vacation ranch.

Sheehan has asked to meet with President Bush. But so far the White House has said no. Now she is threatening to stay in Crawford until the President grants her a meeting.

  • Cindy Sheehan, speaking last week in Crawford, Texas
  • President Bush, speaking Thursday

Sheehan’s protest has generated headlines around the world. Military families from around the country are heading to Crawford to join her vigil. Meanwhile Sheehan has come under attack by right-wing websites and commentators. Earlier this week Bill O’Reilly of Fox News suggested that Sheehan was committing treason.

  • Cindy Sheehan, Her son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004. She is the co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: A year and a half ago, Sheehan’s oldest son, Casey, was killed in Iraq. He was 24 years old. Sheehan is now in Crawford, Texas, taking part in a vigil near President Bush’s vacation ranch. She has asked for a meeting with the President, but so far the White House has said no. Now she is threatening to stay in Crawford until the President grants her a meeting.

CINDY SHEEHAN: And if I have to stay out here all month in this heat, it’s not anything compared to what our soldiers are going through and what the people of Iraq are going through.

JUAN GONZALEZ: On Thursday, President Bush was asked about Cindy Sheehan.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: You know, listen. I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her — about her position, and I — she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has the right to her position. And I thought long and hard about her position. I have heard her position from others, which is, get out of Iraq now. And it would be a — it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long run if we were to do so.

AMY GOODMAN: Cindy Sheehan’s protest has generated headlines around the world. Military families from around the country are heading to Crawford to join her vigil. Meanwhile, she has come under attack by right wing websites and commentators. Earlier this week, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News suggested that Cindy Sheehan has committed treason.

BILL O’REILLY: I think Mrs. Sheehan bears some responsibility for this and also for the responsibility of other American families who have lost sons and daughters in Iraq who feel that this kind of behavior borders on treasonous.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill O’Reilly. Well, we’re joined now on the phone from Crawford, Texas, by Cindy Sheehan. Welcome to Democracy Now!

CINDY SHEEHAN: Hi, Amy, thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. We’re also here with Juan Gonzalez. Can you talk about President Bush’s statement yesterday and what your demands are?

CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, I want to know what the noble cause is that Casey — you know, the supposed noble cause that Casey died for. You know, I don’t believe that a war of aggression against a country that was no threat to the United States of America, dying for that is a noble cause. I don’t believe sending our children to die for something like that is a noble cause. I would like him to tell me if he thinks it’s such a noble cause, does he encourage his own daughters to enlist and go over there and take the place of some soldiers who might want to come home. And then another thing, he always says that we have to honor the sacrifices of the fallen by completing the mission. Well, you know what? I don’t want him to use Casey’s death to justify his killing anymore. And his press conference yesterday, he said, I have his sympathy. I don’t want his sympathy. I want answers.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And your response to the fact that now more people are joining you there outside of the ranch in Crawford?

CINDY SHEEHAN: We had over 700 people come through our camp yesterday, and we are expecting thousands this weekend. It is just so incredibly amazing to me. I think people in America just needed a way to stand up and have their voices count. And for some reason, this is a way for them to do it.

AMY GOODMAN: Cindy Sheehan, the Drudge Report has been leading a campaign against you, along with Bill O’Reilly. And one of the points they make is that when you first met with President Bush, you came out with a very different impression, satisfied with the meeting, they say. And then you changed your tune. And they also talk about dissent within your family about what you’re doing.

CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, for one thing, June of 2004 and August of 2005 are two different months. They’re 14 months apart. And in June of 2004, we had buried Casey nine weeks before when we met with the President. I was still in a deep state of shock and a deep state of grief. And I’m still in a deep state of grief, and I will be for the rest of my life, thanks to George Bush, but I’m not in shock anymore, and I have informed myself. And I have known that four different reports have come out proving that this war was based on deceptions and lies, and it’s for greed. And not one person should be dead. My son shouldn’t be dead. And the killing shouldn’t continue. Every day, people are dying, and we need to get our troops out of there right now. And dissent within my family — the members of my family that wrote that letter are my in-laws. We have never been politically on the same page. But you know what? These people, I think, are using Casey’s death, because they didn’t know Casey, they didn’t have a relationship with Casey, they didn’t go out of their way to get to know him. They never spent time with him. And they can’t speak for Casey. I can speak for Casey. My children and Casey’s father, the five of us are all on the same page, united in our message of this war was a mistake, and we need to bring the troops home.

AMY GOODMAN: Will you continue the protest, if you don’t — if President Bush doesn’t meet with you in Crawford, will you go to the White House and continue?

CINDY SHEEHAN: We’re planning on going to the White House and setting up a 24-hour vigil until the troops are brought home.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Has anyone else from the White House, other than Stephen Hadley when he came out to talk with you, have they attempted to communicate with you, or in one way or another dissuade you from your protest?

CINDY SHEEHAN: No, not me. They haven’t talked to me.

AMY GOODMAN: What does it feel like to be discovered by the media right now? I mean you have been extremely outspoken for quite some time now. What do you think happened? What is different right now?

CINDY SHEEHAN: You know, I don’t know. That’s what I keep telling everybody. You know, I keep telling them I didn’t just crawl out of the woodwork on Saturday. You know, because they say, 'oh, you're so articulate,’ you know, 'how can you do this? You're very well spoken. You handle the media. You act like you’re an old pro.’ I say, 'I am an old pro. I've been doing this for months.’ You know, everybody in the progressive media and the progressive circles, I’m a very well-known figure. And I’ve been on your show many times, Amy. You know, I’ve been doing this a long time. And I don’t know why. I think it was just a good idea and a good time, and I never thought of this when I started, but the press is always with the President, and they’re here in Crawford, Texas, and, you know, they always look for something to cover, something to do. And you know what? This is the right thing at the right time.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the fact that the President spends so much time every year at Crawford, Texas, and at the ranch there, any response from you on that?

CINDY SHEEHAN: I think it’s an obscenity. You know, I think, he takes five weeks off, the longest vacation a President has ever had, and he has troops suffering in Iraq right now. And you know what? Because of him, I’m never going to fully enjoy another vacation. There’s always going to be a hole in my life, a hole in my heart. And it’s caused by him, and I hope this is putting a little crimp in his vacation.

AMY GOODMAN: Cindy Sheehan, are you calling for people to come to Crawford to protest? Are you calling for a massive protest?

CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, that’s what we have been calling for. It’s starting to scare me a little bit, because that’s what’s happening. There’s people coming from all over the country and all over the world to stand in solidarity with us, and I think it’s what needs to happen, though, because, you know, 52% of America think this war is a mistake and want our troops to come home, and the media and the government need to see the numbers, need to see that we mean business. And I just think that this is just totally spontaneous, and people have told me they have dropped everything to get in their car and get down here, and to me, it’s just amazing. People are tired of what’s going on in this country, and they’re standing up and saying, 'Enough is enough! I want my country back, and we want our troops home.'

AMY GOODMAN: Has President Bush’s girls come to visit him? Have his two daughters, at the ranch?

CINDY SHEEHAN: Come down to visit us?

AMY GOODMAN: Yes.

CINDY SHEEHAN: No.

AMY GOODMAN: Or him.

CINDY SHEEHAN: With him, I don’t know. They don’t go by us. They fly in in helicopters. You know, who keeps us well abreast of what’s going on up there so whatever we need to know is the media.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Cindy Sheehan, we thank you very much for being with us. We will continue to visit you on your lounge chair in Crawford, Texas, just outside the ranch. Thank you.

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