Cindy Sheehan

On the Third Anniversary

"More fighting and sacrifice will be required to achieve this victory, and for some, the temptation to retreat and abandon our commitments is strong." --George Bush, Radio Address, March 18, 2006

On March 19, 2003, George Bush "shocked and awed" the world by his premature, if not wholly unnecessary, invasion of Iraq. I can remember that night when he came on to tell us that he had begun his war crimes against Iraq in earnest. I was sitting on my couch sobbing for the innocent people of Iraq and for our children who had been put in harm's way by their careless commander-in-chief.

I was also terrified on a personal and primal level for my son, Casey. As a mother, that terror came from a deep and, up to then, unreachable and unknown place in my soul. I hoped that the predictions of swift and easy victory by the various neocon liars would be true, but I knew in my heart that such a "cake walk" would not be possible.

When the 4th Infantry Division from Ft. Hood captured Saddam in December of 2003, I was hoping against hope that our troops would be coming home soon, since they got the person who took Osama's place as Bush's "most wanted." Again, I selfishly prayed that Casey would not have to go over to the mess for his scheduled deployment in March of 2004.

Many people in Bush's circle told us that the paths of our troops would be strewn with flower petals instead of improvised explosive devises and that chocolates, not bullets, would be tossed at them. No amount of praying, hoping, or kidding myself stopped the invasion from happening or brought a swift conclusion to the war. Right around the first anniversary of the invasion, Casey and the 1st Cavalry left for Iraq. After Casey had been there for five days, he and seven other soldiers were killed on April 4, 2004, in an ambush in Sadr City by the Mahdi forces loyal to Moqtada al Sadr.

Shortly after Casey was killed, power was transferred from Jay Bremer to a puppet government, and Bremer skulked out of Iraq in the middle of the night with $8.8 billion missing from the Coalition Provisional Authority. Bremer came home to a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Casey came home in a cardboard box. We picked him up at SFO's United Airlines loading dock the day before Easter that year. Casey was awarded medals that were pinned on the uniform that covered his lifeless chest.

George Bush said today that the war was going to take more fighting and more sacrifice. I want to know who is fighting. I want to know if the members of the executive and legislative branches that are so willing to leave our troops in the middle of sectarian violence and a militarily undefeatable resistance are willing to send their children to the desert to take the place of the at least 72 percent of the soldiers who want to come home. Are they willing to go over there themselves to fight? George Bush didn't finish his commitment to the country when he went AWOL from the Alabama National Guard; why hasn't he been called back up to go and fight and die in his own "noble cause"? I have heard of other men and women his age who have been called back up. This is not our children's fight. As in all war, the only people who benefit are the war profiteers.

I would also like to know who is making sacrifices in this country besides the soldiers and their families. Where are the shared sacrifices of the past? There was a USA Today poll recently which said that at least 50 percent of our population has "cried" because of the war and so many more have put magnets on their cars. I wonder how many of our citizens wake up everyday with broken hearts and holes in their lives that can never be filled. I wonder how many wake up missing arms and legs, or both? I wonder how many can't sleep because they are afraid of the nightmares that haunt even their waking hours.

In one of George Bush's canned speeches to another handpicked audience, he assured another poor, unfortunate Gold Star mother that he would make sure her son didn't die in "vain." He is still insisting on killing more people because he has already killed so many. I realized a hard fact of life shortly after Casey was killed: He died in vain. He and so many more of his buddies would be alive if their commander-in-chief and the war machine weren't so greedy, heartless and incompetent.

As the country of Iraq disintegrates more every day, and the bodies pile up in the morgues faster than they can be buried, it is time to honor the sacrifices of our young people who were misused, ill-used and killed in Iraq by bringing their still living buddies home immediately. The Iraqi people know that the violence won't stop until the occupiers leave. The insurgency cannot go on without targets. It is time to realize that no matter how hard the Pentagon works at its propaganda machine, terrorism cannot be stopped by killing innocent people. Terrorism can only be stopped by analyzing what is causing the terrorism and changing behavior accordingly.

Buddhists say that everyone dies twice. Once when his/her body dies and once when the last person who remembers him/her dies. I want Casey and his buddies to live forever. I want the memories of our children who have been killed in this war to be honored by remembering them as the last casualties of the military-industrial complex -- not as pawns used in an evil game of corporate greed run amok and governmental corruption and cold-heartedness gone unchecked.

Finally, today George Bush said that the temptation to abandon "our" commitments is strong. I never made a commitment to preemptive war. I didn't authorize Congress to abrogate its responsibilities to declare war. I didn't give the orders to invade a country that was no threat to the USA. I didn't give the orders to use depleted uranium in Iraq. I wasn't the one who devoted myself to torture and imprisoning people without due process. I didn't lie to the world about the reasons for the invasion. I have no commitments to honor in Iraq but I believe George Bush's commitments are criminal, and they should be abandoned as swiftly as humanly possible.

Most of us are not war criminals; these are not our commitments. It is time for all of us who don't want to be linked or identified with the criminal cabal in D.C. to stand up loudly and repudiate the behavior of the ones who would lead the world to disaster. It is time to declare stridently that these crimes against humanity are not being done in our names, or with our consent or approval. We need to strive together every day to bring our troops home and turn our mourning into celebration and our depression into joy.

Honor the dead. Protect the living. End the war.

Resisting Hillary

I would love to support Hillary for President if she would come out against the travesty in Iraq. But I don't think she can speak out against the occupation, because she supports it.

I will not make the mistake of supporting another pro-war Democrat for president again, as I won't support a pro-war Republican.

This country wants this occupation to end. The world wants the occupation to end. People in Iraq want this occupation to end.

Senator Clinton: taking the peace road would not prove you are weak. Instead, it would prove that you are the strongest and wisest candidate. As a mom, as an American, as a patriot: I implore you to have the strength and courage to lead the fight for peace.

I want to support you, I want to work for you, but like many American moms, I will resist your candidacy with every bit of my power and strength unless you show us the wisdom it takes to be a truly great leader.

Prove that you are "passionate" and reflect our nation's values and refusal to support imperialism, greed and torture.

Senator Clinton: come out against this occupation of Iraq. Not because it is the politically expedient thing to do but because it is the humane thing to do. If you want to make Casey's sacrifice count, bring the rest of his buddies home alive.

I did meet with Sen. Clinton, along with Sen. Harry Reid, on Sept. 22, 2005. No one has asked me how it went with Sen. Reid, but I've been asked about my meeting with Sen. Clinton many times. A few days earlier in Brooklyn, I had referred to her as waiting for a politically "expedient" moment to speak out against the war in Iraq. I, of course, think that this tactic is wrong, because politics has nothing to do with the slaughter going on in Iraq. No one asked the almost 2000 Americans and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who have been killed what political party they were rooting for. When a mother receives the news that her son or daughter has been killed for lies she never thinks "Oh no, how could this have happened? I am a Democrat (Republican)!!!"

Playing politics with our soldiers' lives is despicable.

I thought the meeting with Sen. Clinton went well. I thought she listened and heard what we had to say. I went with another Gold Star Mother, Lynn Braddach, and my sister, Dede Miller. After Sen. Reid left, Mrs. Clinton stayed for a few more moments and she told us that she had met with the other Gold Star Mothers who had a different view from ours. I said it didn't really matter, because our view is right. Lynn, Dede and I don't want our loved ones to be used as political pawns to justify the killing spree in Iraq. I can't believe any mother who has had her heart and soul torn out would wish that on another mother. How often do the lies have to be exposed before every American (elected official, media representative, average citizen) wakes up and says, "enough killing is enough!"

I thought Mrs. Clinton listened, but apparently she didn't because immediately afterwards she said the following to Sarah Ferguson of the Village Voice:

"My bottom line is that I don't want their sons to die in vain ... I don't believe it's smart to set a date for withdrawal ... I don't think it's the right time to withdraw."

That quote sounds exactly like what the few Republicans I talked to that week said. Making sure that our children did not die in "vain" sounds exactly like something George Bush says. A "date" for withdrawal? That sounds like Rush Limbaugh to me. That doesn't sound like an opposition party leader speaking to me. What Sen. Clinton said after our meeting sounds exactly like the Republican Party talking points I heard from Senators Dole and McCain.

Sen. Clinton is in California today to raise money for her political campaigns. An invitation to one star-studded gala reads:

"We must stand with Senator Clinton as she stands up for what we believe in. Hillary is and always has been our champion in the White House and the Senate." And she's one of the "strongest, most passionate and intelligent Democrats."

I didn't get an invitation to any of the events, but maybe it's because she doesn't stand up for what I believe in. I don't believe in continuing this occupation of Iraq and I don't believe in killing more of our soldiers because my son has already been needlessly and tragically killed. I don't believe she is passionate. I think she is a political animal who believes she has to be a war hawk to keep up with the big boys. She is intelligent, there's no doubt about that. However, I believe that the intelligent thing for Democrats to do for 2006 and 2008 would be to come out strongly and correctly against the botched, bungled, illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq.

Sixty-two percent of Americans now believe that this war is based on lies and betrayals and want our troops to start coming home. Fifty-three percent of Americans want our troops to come home immediately. The last time I looked, Democrats did not comprise 62 percent of our population. Americans oppose this war in overwhelming numbers and it crosses party lines. Because America can see that the war in Iraq has fueled terrorism and has made the world and our country less secure. America can see that the murder of innocents is not a "right and left" issue, it is a "right and wrong" issue.

Sixty-nine of our best and brightest have been sent meaninglessly and unnecessarily to their premature deaths since I met with Mrs. Clinton on September 22nd. Sixty-nine mothers and fathers, and who knows how many spouses, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, cousins, and friends, have been meaninglessly and unnecessarily sent into tailspins of grief and emptiness since that meeting.

We all know that Sen. Clinton, along with many other Representatives and Senators voted to give George Bush the authority to invade a sovereign nation that was no threat to the U.S.A. We know that they spinelessly abrogated their constitutional responsibility and duty to declare war. We (and most of them) know that voting to give an irresponsible person authority to wage war was a devastating mistake. But I know that knowing all of that will not bring my son or almost 2000 other Americans back, and it won't bring back that nation's war dead, either.

My Response to George

Editor's Note:The italicized portions below are quotes from AP stories.

President Bush charged Tuesday that anti-war protesters like Cindy Sheehan who want troops brought home immediately do not represent the views of most U.S. military families and are "advocating a policy that would weaken the United States."

Bringing our troops home from the quagmire that he has gotten us into will be weakening the United States? George: Even if you pretend you didn't know that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction and Iraq was not a threat to the USA before you invaded -- Americans know differently. We have read the reports and the Downing Street Memos. We know you had to "fit the intelligence around the policy" of invading Iraq. I want to know what your real reasons were.

In brief remarks outside the resort where he is vacationing, Bush gave no indication that he would change his mind and meet with Sheehan after he returns to his Texas ranch Wednesday evening. Sheehan lost a son in Iraq and has emerged as a harsh critic of the war.

I will be back in Crawford, George: Even closer to you now, in Camp Casey II. Why don't you channel some courage from my son and come down and face me? Face the truth. Your house of cards built on smoke and mirrors is crumbling and you know it.

Sheehan has been maintaining a vigil outside Bush's ranch, a demonstration that has been joined by more and more other anti-war protesters.

Because I am not the only one in America who wants the answers; America wants the answers.

Bush said that two high-ranking members of his staff already met with her earlier this month and that he met with her last year.

I didn't go to Crawford to meet with Steven "Yellow cake uranium liar" Hadley or the other "high ranking" official they sent out. I went to meet with George. Does he get that yet? I did meet with him 10 weeks after his insane and arrogant Iraq war policies killed Casey and nine weeks after I buried my oldest child. George: Things are different between you and I now.

"I've met with a lot of families," Bush said. "She doesn't represent the view of a lot of families I have met with."

I never said I did. I want one answer: What is the "noble cause" MY son died for? There are also dozens, if not hundreds of families from all over the country who want to know the same thing.

On Iraq, Bush said that a democratic constitution "is going to be an important change in the broader Middle East." Reaching an accord on a constitution after years of dictatorship is not easy, Bush said.

A Democratic constitution? Is anyone else insulted that he thinks we are stupid and think that the constitution they will form in Iraq will be democratic and insure equal rights to all citizens? Does anyone else know what "democratic" means? It simply means majority rule. Not some high-minded, free-floating, pie in the sky ideal. It means 50% plus one. Up to 62% of Americans think our troops should be coming home soon. That is a majority, so why don't we force our employee, the president, to do what we want him to do?

He spoke after the head of the committee drafting Iraq's constitution said Tuesday that three days are not enough to win over the minority Sunni Arabs, and the document they rejected may ultimately have to be approved by parliament as is and submitted to the people in a referendum.

Another sham election where the country is shut down for the day and no one knows what the heck they are voting for?

"The Iraqi people are working hard to reach a consensus on their constitution," Bush said, speaking outside the Tamarack Resort, in the mountains 100 miles north of Boise. "It's an amazing process to work. First of all, the fact that they're even writing a constitution is vastly different from living under the iron hand of a dictator."

As hard as George is working riding bikes and taking naps? If he cares so much about an Iraqi Constitution, why doesn't he take some time from his busy vacation activities and read the U.S. Constitution? He may find out that he started an un-constitutional war in Iraq. He may lose some sleep over it. (What am I saying?)

"The Sunnis have got to make a choice," Bush said. "Do they want to live in a society that's free? Or do they want to live in violence?"

Too bad George didn't give them that option before he invaded and occupied their country, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people. I bet they would choose to live in a peaceful country free of foreign occupiers.

He said he thought that most mothers, regardless of their religion, would prefer to live in peace rather than violence.

Amen to that, George. You got one thing right. Thanks to you and your lies, the people of Iraq are suffering from a tragic and unnecessary war, and my son was violently killed and ripped out of the heart of our family.

He said Rice had assured him that the rights of women were being protected. "Democracy is unfolding," the president said. "We just cannot tolerate the status quo."

Then bring our troops home. The status quo in Iraq is awful. Besides the Iraqi people suffering from lack of adequate infrastructure, clean water and medical attention, our troops still don't have armored Humvees or proper body armor. I got a letter from a soldier over in Iraq who says that he feels like an innocent man in prison. All of the soldiers and Marines who contact me say that they were lied to about the "mission." They were told that they would be rebuilding the country and all they are doing is trying to survive so their moms won't go through what I am going through.

I think the Camp Casey movement is taking hold and growing because America is sick of the status quo. We are sick of needless death and suffering on both sides. We are sick of paying for a war with our taxes and with our lifeblood that is not making our country more secure. George: Your employers cannot tolerate the status quo.

On Sheehan, the grieving mother who has camped near his ranch since Aug. 6, the president said he strongly supports her right to protest. She expressed her opinion. I disagree with it," Bush said. "I think immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake," he said. "I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States."

This is the biggest smokescreen from him yet. I didn't ask him to withdraw the troops; I asked him, what "noble cause" Casey died for. I am still waiting for one of the press corps to ask him that. I am still waiting for that answer.

First, we were told WMDs -- false. Then we were told Saddam=Osama -- false. Then we were told Saddam was a bad man to his own people and we had to get rid of him -- he's gone. Then we were told the Iraqi people had to have elections -- they did. Now we are spreading "freedom and democracy" but we are building 14 permanent bases, some the size of Sacramento, California. To me that indicates that we are spreading the cancer of imperialism and usurping THEIR natural resources.

Bush has scheduled more than two hours to meet with family members of slain soldiers Wednesday at the Mountain Home Air Force Base near Boise.

I am just asking for an hour from his vacation, and he just has to come down the road --not travel to Idaho. I wonder if any of the hand-picked family members will ask what noble cause their child died for. I hope so.

Bush said he planned to go on a hike and have dinner later Tuesday with Kempthorne and the Idaho congressional delegation. Bush said he also planned to spend "quality time" with first lady Laura Bush, who is traveling with him.

I would give everything I own, will own, or have owned to have one more glimpse of my son. Dare I even say ... one last hug or phone call? How dare Bush go on vacation and live a normal life when he has ruined mine by his lies? How dare he take five weeks off when he is waging a devastating and needless war?

Bush, who is seeking to quell growing criticism at home over the Iraq war, told the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Salt Lake City on Monday that "a policy of retreat and isolation will not bring us safety."

His policies of preemptive wars of aggression for power and greed don't bring America safety, either.

Bush made a rare reference of the U.S. military death toll -- more than 2,000 killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. "We owe them something. We will finish the task that they gave their lives for ... by staying on the offensive against the terrorists, and building strong allies in Afghanistan and Iraq that will help us win and fight -- fight and win the war on terror," he told the VFW convention."

How does he honor the soldiers by killing more of their buddies? People say Casey is ashamed of me and that I dishonor his memory! I knew my son better than anyone on earth and I know he is appalled by the continued carnage in his name.

George: You can't win the war on terror by killing more of our soldiers and innocent Iraqi people. You are breeding more terror. And judging from the fact that you are now tied with the worst president in U.S. history (Nixon) in your abysmal poll numbers, the people of our country realize this too, and want you stopped.
BRAND NEW STORIES

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.