Cindy Sheehan Interview on “Democracy Now” Aug. 12


“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.”—Cindy Sheehan

JUAN GONZALEZ: A year and a half ago, Cindy 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: [That was] 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 why, if he thinks it’s such a noble cause, doesn’t 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, for 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 [the media attention came]. 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: Have 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 [from] 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.


The following press release was posted on the web site bringthemhomenow.org

 

Gold Star and Military Families
Arrive in Crawford, Texas

Call on President Bush to Meet with Cindy Sheehan and All of the Families, And to Bring The Troops Home Now!

CRAWFORD, TX - Members of Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out are beginning to arrive in Crawford, Texas to add their voices to Cindy Sheehan’s, calling for a meeting with President Bush and for troops to be brought home now.

The following Gold Star and Military Families Speak Out members are available for interview:

Celeste, Dante and Raphael Zappala of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Celeste and her son Dante arrived in Crawford on Tuesday August 9; son Raphael will arrive Friday night August 12. Celeste’s son Sgt. Sherwood Baker (Dante and Raphael’s brother) was the first Pennsylvania National Guardsman to die in combat since World War II. He was killed in action in Baghdad on April 26, 2004 while searching for non-existent WMD’s. Celeste is a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

Tammara Rosenleaf of Belton, Texas arrived in Crawford on Tuesday, August 9 th . Tammara’s husband serves in the Army, stationed at Ft. Hood, and will be deploying to Iraq this fall.

Lietta Ruger of Bay Center, Washington will be arriving in Crawford Wednesday morning, August 10th. Lietta’s son-in-law and nephew serve in the 1st Armored Division of the U.S. Army and are currently in Germany. They have both served extended 15-month tours of duty in Iraq; they are both under stop-loss orders and due to re-deploy to Iraq this fall.

Linda and Phil Waste of Hinesville, Georgia will arrive in Crawford Wednesday morning August 10th. Linda and Phil have 3 sons and 2 grandchildren (a grandson and a granddaughter) who are active-duty military. Together, they have already spent a total of over 57 months on tours of duty in Iraq. Several of these children/grandchildren are currently serving in Iraq, and have served extended and multiple deployments.

Jean Prewitt of Birmingham, Alabama will arrive in Crawford on Wednesday morning, August 10 th . Jean’s son Private Kelly Prewitt was killed in action during the first few weeks of the war in Iraq, on April 6, 2003.

Valarie Fletcher of Seymour, Missouri is driving to Crawford and arriving Wednesday evening, August 10. Valarie’s son serves in the Marines and will be deploying to Iraq at the end of this month.

Sherry Bohlen of Scottsdale, Arizona is driving to Crawford and arriving on Wednesday evening, August 10. Sherry’s son serves in the Army and deployed to Iraq on June 10, 2005.

Rebecca Bahr of Scottsdale, Arizona is driving to Crawford and arriving on Wednesday evening August 10.   Rebecca’s daughter serves in the Marines and is currently stateside.

Caryn Unsicker of Silvis, Illinois is driving to Crawford and arriving Wednesday evening, August 10. Caryn’s son serves in the Marines, currently stateside.

Anne Sapp and her daughters Lydia (age 17) and Mary (age 8) of Billerica, Massachusetts will be arriving in Crawford on Thursday morning, August 11th. Anne’s husband/Lydia and Mary’s father is a Staff Sergeant in the Massachusetts National Guard and currently serving in Iraq.

Barbara Porchia of Camden, Arkansas will be arriving in Crawford on Thursday morning August 11th. Barbara’s son, Army Reservist Private 1st Class Jonathan Cheatham, was killed in action in Baghdad two years ago, on July 26, 2003.

Sue Niederer of Pennington, New Jersey will be arriving in Crawford on Thursday morning August 11th. Sue’s son, 1st Lieutenant Seth Dvorin, was killed in action near Iskandariyah, Iraq on February 3, 2004. Sue is a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

Kristin Williams and Matthew Williams of Dallas, Texas will be arriving in Crawford this weekend (August 13-14). Matthew Williams is an Iraq War Veteran who served as a combat medic for one year in Iraq (2003-2004). He was honorably discharged from the Army. Kristin is his sister.

Bill Mitchell of Atascadero, California will be arriving in Crawford in the next several days. Bill’s son Sgt. Michael Mitchell was killed in action in Sadr City, Iraq on April 4, 2004, along with Cindy Sheehan’s son Spc. Casey Sheehan. Bill is a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

Mimi Evans of Hyannis, Massachusetts will be arriving in Crawford on Tuesday, August 16th. Mimi’s son serves in the Marines; he will be deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in the next two weeks.

Eric Blickenstaff of Portland, Oregon will be arriving in Crawford early next week. Eric’s brother Spc. Joseph Blickenstaff served in the Army and was killed when his Stryker vehicle rolled into a ditch on December 8, 2003 in Balad, Iraq.

For more information:

Military Families Speak Out: www.mfso.org
Gold Star Families for Peace: www.gsfp.org


The following notice was posted August 12 on the web site  bringthemhomenow.org

One More Way To Spread The Word

Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan has touched the hearts of millions of Americans as other Gold Star mothers and military families head for Crawford, Texas to join the showdown with George Bush at the gate of his ranch. People around the country have responded by quickly calling support rallies, flooding the White House with email and phone calls and actively planning to attend the big demonstration called by United For Peace and Justice in Washington, DC on September 24-6

Activists in Seattle have developed another clear way to back up the folks at Camp Casey in Crawford (named for Cindy’s son, killed in Iraq). For the last two days they have stood on the freeway overpass at 41st and Aurora during evening rush hour (4 to 6) with a big banner that simply says: “BUSH, TALK TO CINDY!

Please let BTHN! know if you do freeway bannering or devise other methods to spread the message from Cindy and many other military families: we are sick of having our loved ones sent to fight and kill and die for a pack of lies.

1. Speak out at forums and teach-ins

This means getting networked. Check the local entertainment weeklies, the local activist email lists, university groups, and public bulletin boards to find out when public events are happening. Depending on your comfort level, you can attend as part of an audience and speak out during open-mike or audience-comment periods, or you can push to get onto actual panels and speaker lists. Military families and veterans are often welcomed with open arms to these events.

The key thing is to show up. Bring flyers about the Bring Them Home Now campaign with local contact information included. We can assist in the preparation of oral or written material if we have enough lead time.

You can also organize these events. Do not re-invent the wheel if you don’t have to. Contact a sympathetic activist group who has done this kind of thing before and solicit their assistance in coordination and planning.

2. Write letters to editors

This is an extremely effective action, especially if there is an organized effort to get multiple letters placed. The letters section is the most read section of any newspaper, and politicians watch letters to the editor obsessively. Here’s advice on writing ‘letters to the editor’ from FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting):

  1. Make one point (or at most two) in your letter or fax. State the point clearly, ideally in the first sentence.
  2. Make your letter timely. If you are not addressing a specific article, editorial or letter that recently appeared in the paper you are writing to, then try to tie the issue you want to write about to a recent event.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the coverage and editorial position of the paper to which you are writing. Refute or support specific statements, address relevant facts that are ignored, but do avoid blanket attacks on the media in general or the newspaper in particular.
  4. Check the letter specifications of the newspaper to which you are writing. Length and format requirements vary from paper to paper. (Generally, roughly two short paragraphs are ideal.) You also must include your name, signature, address and phone number.
  5. Look at the letters that appear in your paper. Is a certain type of letter usually printed?
  6. Support your facts. If the topic you address is controversial, consider sending documentation along with your letter. But don’t overload the editors with too much info.
  7. Keep your letter brief. Type it whenever possible.
  8. Find others to write letters when possible. This will show that other individuals in the community are concerned about the issue. If your letter doesn’t get published, perhaps someone else’s on the same topic will.
  9. Keep the letter to 250 words or less.

3. Seek opportunities to speak with the media

There are three keys to working with the media. (1) Build relationships. (2) Build a database. (3) Give them a story.

The media are not disembodied abstractions. They are people with names and addresses. Arranging visits with specific reporters and with editorial boards will double your chances of getting your material placed in the future. Nothing substitutes for relations between real people with faces and handshakes. These meetings are an opportunity to hand over the research and evidence that supports your case. Editors and writers are far more likely to review your arguments if they receive your material in person. A very good set of how-to instructions for meeting editors and writers is here.

Contacting media is part of almost every other organized action. So it is something you are likely to do a lot. And the way to ensure SOME coverage is to ensure that ALL media in the area are notified. This means a database with all contact information (including fax numbers!) for your local media and national wire services (who often have a local representative). It only takes an hour or so to put this together in a database, which will become a key piece of your organizing infrastructure. Make sure that you continue to collect names and contact information as your media coverage grows.

Reporters are looking for something different and dramatic, for real people with real stories, and for a local angle. TV reporters are, in addition, looking for a visual. A couple of good how-to sites for media events can be found here and here. A good primer on what makes a good news story is here.

For advice and assistance on any of these actions, contact BRING THEM HOME NOW!