Cindy Sheehan

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Cindy Sheehan in 2005

Cindy Lee Miller Sheehan (born July 10, 1957) is an American anti-Iraq War activist, whose son, Casey Sheehan, was killed during his service in Iraq. She attracted international attention in August 2005 for her extended demonstration at a peace camp outside President George W. Bush's Texas ranch.


[edit] Death of her son

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Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Specialist Casey Sheehan, who served in the U.S. Army. After earning his associates degree Sheehan voluntarily enlisted in May 2000 in the United States Army as a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic, MOS 63B. It has been reported that he had originally considered enlisting as a Chaplain's assistant MOS 56M<ref name="Washington Post">Template:Cite web</ref> (Sheehan acted as an altar server during the Palm Sunday mass on the morning of his death). Near the end of his first tour of duty with the First Cavalry Division, the 2003 invasion of Iraq began. Sheehan re-enlisted. On March 19, 2004 Sheehan's battery, Charlie Battery, arrived at FOB War Eagle in Sadr City as part of the post-invasion Iraq occupation. A few weeks later, on April 4, 2004, Sheehan was killed in action, along with several other soldiers, after volunteering as part of a Quick Reaction Force to aid other American troops.<ref></ref><ref></ref> Casey Sheehan was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with V for Valor and the Purple Heart.<ref></ref>

[edit] Sheehan's campaign against the Iraq war

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Sheehan has "always been a Democrat."<ref></ref> She had initially questioned the urgency of the invasion of Iraq, but did not become active in the anti-war effort until after her son's death.<ref name=buzzflash410></ref>

Sheehan and other military families met with President George W. Bush in June 2004 at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, Washington, nearly three months after her son's death. In a June 24, 2004 interview with the Vacaville Reporter published soon after the meeting, she stated, "We haven't been happy with the way the war has been handled. The president has changed his reasons for being over there every time a reason is proven false or an objective reached." It should be noted that she also stated that President Bush was ". . .sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis. . . I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith."<ref></ref>

On July 4, 2005 she was again interviewed by a local paper in Fort Lewis, Washington, regarding her meeting with President Bush, this time describing it as "one of the most disgusting experiences I ever had and it took me almost a year to even talk about it." She described President Bush as being "detached from humanity" and said that "his mouth kept moving, but there was nothing in his eyes or anything else about him that showed me he really cared or had any real compassion at all." She continued, "He didn’t even know our names," asking "Who we'all honorin' here today?" when he first entered the room, and then referring to her as "Ma" or "Mom."<ref></ref>

Sheehan gave another interview on October 4, 2004 stating that she did not understand the reasons for the Iraq invasion and never thought that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States. She further stated that her son's death had compelled her to speak out against what she feels to be an unjust war, in order to help to bring the troops home and hold politicians accountable.<ref name=buzzflash410 />

Image:Casey Sheehan Photo.jpg
Friends and family of Cindy Sheehan hold a photo of Casey Sheehan at an anti-war demonstration in Arlington, Virginia on October 2, 2004.

During the Presidential Inauguration in January, 2005, Cindy traveled to Washington D.C. to speak at the opening of Eyes Wide Open: the Human Cost of War, a traveling exhibition created by the American Friends Service Committee that displays pairs of combat boots to represent every U.S. military casualty. There she met other families who lost loved ones in Iraq, and together they discussed the need to create an organization for similar families. Cindy wrote about the experience in a commentary article.<ref></ref> She was also a featured speaker when the exhibition opened in San Diego in March, 2005<ref></ref> and traveled with the exhibition other locations. "Behind these boots is one broken-hearted family," she stated as she donated her son Casey's boots to travel with Eyes Wide Open when it stopped in San Francisco later that month.<ref></ref>

Sheehan is one of the nine founding members of Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization founded in January 2005 that seeks to end the occupation of Iraq and provide support for families of fallen soldiers. As of August 2005, at least 63 other relatives of fallen soldiers are listed as members.

Although she had spoken publicly against the Iraq war and occupation since 2004, and even pledged not to pay her 2004 taxes on August 5, 2005<ref></ref>, Sheehan gained international attention in early August 2005 when she traveled to President Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranch just outside Crawford, Texas, during his five-week vacation retreat there. Demanding a second meeting with the President and an explanation of the "noble cause" for which her son died<ref></ref><ref></ref>, she created a peace camp called Camp Casey by pitching a tent by the side of the road and announced her intention to stay, day and night, for the full five weeks, or until such a meeting is granted. She has also promised that, if she is not granted a second meeting, she will return to Crawford each time Bush visits there in the future.<ref></ref> Toward the end of her vigil, she said she was "very, very, very grateful" Bush did not grant her that meeting because it would have ended the momentum the peace movement gained from the popularity of her vigil.<ref></ref>

Sheehan's actions have led supporters such as Rev. Lennox Yearwood, CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, to describe her as "the Rosa Parks of the antiwar movement."<ref></ref> Later during the demonstration, Sheehan also gained the label of "Peace Mom" from the mainstream media.<ref></ref><ref></ref><ref></ref><ref></ref> Some critics have likened her dissent to an act of treason.<ref></ref><ref></ref>[neutrality disputed]

In her anti-war speeches and writings, Sheehan is blunt and often vitriolic, a characteristic that has been noted by observers on both the left and right, and which Sheehan herself does not deny.<ref></ref> Some of her statements have caused controversy. One such comment she wrote on the Daily Kos Sheehan blog on September 24 2005, complaining about media coverage moving away from her story and focusing on Hurricane Rita, which caused 120 deaths and was the fourth most-intense storm in history:


Of greatest controversy is an incident about which Sheehan's detractors claim she has lied. In March, 2005, James Morris sent an e-mail to ABC's Nightline that allegedly included the statements that Casey "was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel" and that he had "joined the Army to protect America, not Israel." Sheehan denies the allegations, "I've never said that. . . Those aren't even words that I would say. I do believe that the Palestinian issue<ref></ref> is a hot issue that needs to be solved, and it needs to be more fair and equitable, but I never said my son died for Israel." She claims that the email was modified by James Morris to support his own personal agenda. However, James Morris denies altering the email before sending it along to Nightline<ref></ref> on Sheehan's behalf (per her request for him to do so). Two other individuals, Tony Tersch and Skeeter Gallagher, received a copy of Sheehan's email directly from her; both claim that the e-mail they received is consistent with Morris's story, rather than Sheehan's. Tersch posted the email<ref></ref> he received to the "bullyard" Google group. Opponents of Sheehan assert that this essentially proves that she has repeatedly lied about the content of her original e-mail.<ref></ref>

Rumors began spreading towards the end of 2005 that Sheehan would challenge Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for her seat in 2006, which Sheehan publicly considered in January 2006. Sheehan is, however, backing Green Party candidate Todd Chretien in that election.[citation needed]

Cindy Sheehan on May 12, 2006 published a letter titled "Oh no, Canada".<ref></ref> In the letter, Cindy stated that the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was "wildly unpopular from coast to coast up north and there is a growing sense of unease about his emulation of a very unpopular person in the USA but even more in Canada: George Bush." However, two days prior to the letter's publication SES Research released the results of a poll<ref></ref> indicating approval for the Prime Minister in every part of the country. During her visit to Canada, Cindy lent her support to the War Resister Support group, a Canadian activist organization that is currently petitioning the Canadian government to allow deserters from the US Military to be given sanctuary in Canada.[citation needed]

[edit] Reactions

[edit] The White House

On August 6 2005, Sheehan met with two high-level Bush administration officials, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joe Hagin. According to The New York Times (August 6 2005) the meeting lasted 45 minutes. The Times also reported that Ms. Sheehan told the two officials she appreciated their meeting with her.

President George W. Bush did speak to reporters at his ranch, saying:

I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her position, and she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has a right to her position, and I thought long and hard about her position. I've heard her position from others, which is: 'Get out of Iraq now.' And 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.<ref></ref>

Prior to going on a bicycle ride on his Texas ranch on August 13, 2005 Bush gave journalists and aides a defense of his not meeting with Sheehan stating, as reported by Ken Herman of Cox Enterprises

I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life. I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy. And part of my being is to be outside exercising. So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live and will do so.<ref></ref>

[edit] U.S. Congress

At least sixteen Democratic members of Congress signed a letter on August 9, 2005, asking that Bush meet with Sheehan and the other relatives of fallen soldiers, as well as calling on Bush to ensure that no one will be arrested for having a peaceful demonstration.<ref></ref>[neutrality disputed]

[edit] Support and criticism of Cindy Sheehan

[edit] Chronology of activism

[edit] Camp Casey

On 6 August, 2005, Sheehan created a makeshift camp in a ditch by the side of the road about 3 miles from George W. Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranch near Crawford, Texas and announced her intention to stay (sleeping in a pup tent at night) until she is granted a second face-to-face meeting with the President.<ref></ref> Sheehan started her protest the day the President started a planned five-week vacation. A few days later, the media began referring to Sheehan's camp as "Camp Casey."<ref></ref>

She spent the next four weeks in Crawford (except for 5 days spent in California to see her elderly mother, who had suffered a stroke.<ref>]</ref>) On some days as many as 1500 supporters visited Camp Casey<ref></ref>, including members of Congress, as well as several notable actors, singers, and civil rights activists.

Gold Star Families for Peace, of which Sheehan is a founding member, released a TV commercial featuring Sheehan, broadcast on Crawford and Waco cable channels near Bush's ranch.<ref></ref> The group conducted a walk to a police station just outside President Bush's Crawford ranch and delivered a bundle of oversized letters written by them to First Lady Laura Bush, appealing to her as a mother for support towards their movement.<ref></ref>

On 16 August, Sheehan moved her camp closer to the Bush ranch after being offered the use of a piece of land owned by a supporter, Ron Bennington, who also happens to be a third cousin of Larry Mattlage, a rancher who had fired a shotgun on his property near the demonstration site several days earlier.<ref></ref><ref></ref>

In late August, Sheehan stated that she would continue to campaign against the Iraq war even if granted a meeting with the President. She also announced the Bring Them Home Now Tour, to depart on September 1 and arrive in Washington, D.C., on September 24 for three days of demonstrations.

Hurricane Katrina, a Category 4 storm, made landfall in southeastern Louisiana on 29 August. The following day, President Bush ended his five-week vacation early to focus on relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

[edit] September - December 2005

Image:Cindy Sheehan edited.jpg
Cindy Sheehan leading the crowd in cheering "Not one more!"

In September, the Bring Them Home Now Tour was organized by Gold Star Families for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans For Peace. It was a rolling anti-war protest against the Iraq War, beginning in Crawford, Texas, travelling three routes across the country (with rallies along the way) and culminating in a rally in Washington, DC in September 2005. It was inspired by and featured Cindy Sheehan as a speaker at many rallies.

Sheehan's activism continued into the winter of 2005/2006. She met with Senator John McCain (a Vietnam veteran) and, after considering the meeting a disappointment, called him a warmonger.<ref></ref>[neutrality disputed] She later protested Hillary Clinton's stance on the war, stating that Clinton must either speak out against the war or risk losing her job<ref></ref><ref></ref>, and urged Governor Janet Napolitano to withdraw the Arizona National Guard from Iraq at a rally in Phoenix.<ref></ref><ref></ref> After a short trip back home to California, Sheehan said on October 24 during a media interview<ref>,lombardiqa,69280,2.html</ref> that she planned to speak at the White House and then tie herself to the fence, promising to return to the fence as soon as possible if arrested.

Around Thanksgiving, Sheehan returned to Texas to protest Bush's vacation without bringing the soldiers home. Bush planned to stay in Crawford through November 28, 2005.<ref></ref> In early December, Sheehan traveled to Chicago to attend the annual People's Weekly World banquet. The theme of the banquet was "Make 2006 a turning point year in the fight for peace and justice."<ref></ref>

[edit] Europe and South America

Sheehan with Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez

Sheehan went to London in early December. She was interviewed by BBC Radio 4<ref></ref> and by The Guardian.<ref>,,1663388,00.html</ref> On December 10, Sheehan addressed the International Peace Conference, organized by the Stop the War Coalition and held at The Royal Horticultural Halls. Sheehan was received enthusiastically by the British anti-war movement. Later in the evening, she attended a play written by Dario Fo (Literature Nobel laureate) about her<ref></ref>, in which the role of Sheehan was played by Frances de la Tour. On December 13, Sheehan traveled to Ireland, where she met Irish Foreign Affairs minister Dermot Ahern. She voiced her objection to U.S. aircraft refueling at Shannon Airport, stating, "Your Government, even though they didn't send troops to Iraq, are complicit in the crimes by allowing the planes to land and refuel".<ref></ref>

On January 24, 2006, Sheehan took a trip to Venezuela, sponsored by that nation's foreign ministry. Joining more than 10,000 anti-globalization activists in Venezuela for the Caracas World Social Forum with Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez<ref></ref>, she stated "I admire President Chávez for his strength to resist the United States" while saying she agreed with Harry Belafonte's statement that President Bush is "the greatest terrorist in the world." Also, while in Venezuela, Sheehan released a statement that unless Senator Dianne Feinstein voted to filibuster the Supreme Court confirmation of Samuel Alito, she would challenge Feinstein for her Senate seat. Later that day, Feinstein announced that she would support the filibuster against Alito, but it is not clear if this announcement was prompted by Sheehan's statement.<ref></ref> Feinstein did vote for the filibuster, but only 25 of 41 needed were cast in favor.

[edit] 2006 activism

Sheehan in Melbourne speaking in support of David Hicks

On March 7, 2006 Sheehan was arrested in New York "after blocking the door to the U.S. Mission to the U.N. offices" during a protest with Iraqi women against the war in Iraq.<ref></ref>

Sheehan took part in the "United For Peace and Justice" March in New York to protest the war on 2006-04-29.

Sheehan has accused the United States of planning to attack Iran in an effort to halt that nation's development of nuclear weapons. Sheehan has editorialized against any such move. In two articles on BuzzFlash, she said that the passage of the Iran Freedom and Support Act was merely a stepping stone to war, and called on Congress to reject similar measures in the future.<ref name="buzzflash1">Sheehan, Cindy. Mission Accomplished Day. April 30, 2006</ref><ref name="buzzflash2">Sheehan, Cindy. Don't Attack Iran. April 11, 2006.</ref>

On Mother's Day, Sheehan joined Susan Sarandon at a Code Pink organized protest in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House. Sheehan told the crowd that Mother's Day without her son, Casey, was "very emotional" for her.<ref></ref>

On 26 May 2006 Sheehan spoke at a rally in Melbourne, Australia. The rally was held in front of the offices of the Victorian Liberal Party, and it was in support of the release of David Hicks.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Several organizations are planning a hunger strike for 4 July<ref>http:///</ref> in which Sheehan has stated she will participate, although she will not be fasting indefinitely as some others have pledged to do. "Some of us like Dick Gregory and Diane Wilson will be fasting until the troops come home from Iraq, and some, like me, will be fasting for a specified time. My fast will begin on 7/04 and end on the last day of Camp Casey: 09/02."<ref></ref> Hers was a fast from solid foods, but allowing liquids such as blended juice drinks and smoothies.<ref></ref>[neutrality disputed]

On July 5, Sheehan appeared on MSNBC's Hardball to discuss the war and her upcoming hunger strike. She affirmed her view of George W. Bush, calling him "the biggest terrorist in the world" and "worse than Osama Bin Laden," and conceded that she would rather live under Venezuela's Hugo Chávez than President Bush.<ref></ref>

In July 2006, Sheehan surreptitiously purchased five acres of land in Crawford, Texas, near George W. Bush's private residence. In a written statement, Sheehan wrote that she "decided to buy property in Crawford to use until George's resignation or impeachment, which we all hope is soon for the sake of the world." She also stated that she "can't think of a better way to use Casey's insurance money than for peace", and that she is sure that Casey would have approved.<ref></ref> In an interview on The Stephanie Miller Show, Sheehan stated that once her need for the land is over, she intends to donate the land to Crawford for the purpose of converting it into The Casey Sheehan Memorial Peace Park.<ref></ref>

In September 2006, Sheehan released her memoir, entitled Peace Mom: A Mother's Journey Through Heartache to Activism. The book recounts her experience of losing her son, along with fantasies of suicide and revenge against President Bush, and her transformation into an anti-war activist. Also included in the book is a criticism of Senator John McCain for allegedly lying to the media about his private statements to her, along with criticisms of John Kerry, whom she says she regrets voting for, and Hillary Clinton, whom she calls a "powermonger."<ref></ref>

[edit] Family

Sheehan lived with her husband and four children (Casey was the oldest) in Norwalk, California, before moving to Vacaville in 1983. While in Norwalk, the family was active in the city's Roman Catholic church. In Vacaville, Cindy Sheehan has been a youth minister at St. Mary's Church.<ref> Mother puts face on antiwar cause. Retrieved on September 25, 2006.</ref>

After being married for 28 years, Sheehan's husband, Patrick Thomas Sheehan (Casey's father), filed for divorce on August 12, 2005. Although Patrick Sheehan has not spoken publicly about his beliefs or the reason for the divorce, according to Cindy, her husband "[did]n't support [her] activities, although he knows the war is a lie." Patrick and Cindy were high-school sweethearts.<ref name=snopes></ref>

Cindy Sheehan has a living elderly mother. After her mother suffered a stroke on August 18, 2005, Sheehan had to leave her protest in Crawford in order to be with her mother in a hospital in Los Angeles. She rejoined the protest a week later.

Sheehan's sister DeDe Miller, of Bellflower, California, has protested publicly with Sheehan in Crawford, Texas.<ref></ref> <ref></ref> Following his death in 2005, Casey's sister Carly wrote a poem in his memory, which is critical of the Bush administration.<ref>Jonathan Curiel, "MISSING CASEY: When a soldier dies, nothing back home is ever the same", San Francisco Chronicle, March 20, 2005.</ref>

On 11 August 2005 Matt Drudge made public an email he claims to have received from Sheehan's sister-in-law (and Casey's paternal aunt), Cherie Quartarolo, in which she was quoted as saying:


The email is signed "Sincerely, Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins." <ref name="WND">Template:Cite web</ref> <ref name="WND2">Template:Cite web</ref> <ref name="DRR">Template:Cite web</ref> <ref name="WashP">Template:Cite web</ref>

During a series of interviews published on several websites, Sheehan responded to Quartarolo's statement:

"My in-laws sent out a press conference disagreeing with me in strong terms; which is totally okay with me, because they barely knew Casey. . . . "

"We have always been on separate sides of the fence politically and I have not spoken to them since the elections when they supported the man who is responsible for Casey’s death."[1]

" . . . my immediate family, Casey's dad and my three children and my sister, we're all on the same page. And I really think that some of my husband's siblings are with us too." [2]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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[edit] External links

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[edit] Background

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Cindy Sheehan

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