Thanksgiving 2005 outside of the Bush vacation ranch near Crawford, Texas with Cindy Sheehan.
Daily reports and photos to come . . .

 

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

 

War undoes a mother's work

Sick of those 30-second "Cindy speaks" sound bites served up by CNN? You should have been here tonight at Camp Casey where we had the opportunity to listen to her speak at her leisure. Cindy began by telling us wonderful stories about her son Casey when he was little, like the time he stood on a prayer kneeler in church and sang out to the hushed congregation, "I'm Popeye the sailor man!"-- and for years afterwards, fellow parishoners would call him their little "Popeye." She told us about his strong sense of duty and responsibility nutured during his days as an altar boy and Eagle Scout: "He always wanted to help people and serve his country. His decision to join the army was totally unexpected in some ways, but then we knew he always had that commitment to his country."

Then Cindy reiterated her mission here outside Bush's ranch. She said she is determined that no other mother go through what she went through when her son was killed. Camp Casey is "the place where the end of the occupation of Iraq began!" Finally, she expressed what so many of us want to say to President Bush: "You might be able to lie to Congress, and to the media, but you can't lie to us! This war will end when mothers say no!!!"

Photograph by Emily Sharpe, copyright 2005

 

Joan sings with Cindy looking on...

Cindy was so thrilled to make it to Crawford before Joan Baez left. Joan asked Cindy if she had any requests, and indeed she did: Cindy asked her to sing "Joe Hill."

Photograph by Emily Sharpe, copyright 2005.

 

Cindy laying flowers


Photograph by Emily Sharpe, copyright 2005

 

Footage of tonight's events

To see archived and streaming footage of tonight's events here at Camp Casey-- from Cindy's arrival to Joan's performance to Cindy's talk to her supporters, head on over to www.bradshow.com.

 
Susan and Melanie House (mother and widow of John House, Navy corpsman killed in Iraq), Cindy Sheehan, Marine LCpl Jeff Key, and Joan Baez. Sunset at Camp Casey II, Crawford, Texas, August 24, 2005.

Photograph by Jeff Paterson, copywrite 2005.

 

Taps


Cindy Sheehan and Joan Baez stand by as Lance Corporal Jeff Keys plays taps this evening. Have you ever seen a more beautiful grouping of people?

As I write, Joan Baez is sitting behind me warming up with "Imagine" and Cindy is meeting with other military families. Jeff is doing what Jeff does best-- hanging out with other campers and being his charming self. Life is good here at Camp Casey.

Photograph courtesy of Kim Terpening, copyright 2005

 

Welcome home, Cindy!!!

We had the banner up hours before Cindy's return to camp, but nothing prepared us for the thrilling sight of America's heroic mom stepping out of the van with a huge grin on her face. Likewise, I don't know if she was expecting to be so overwhelmed by the sight of dozens of new supporters, the new field of crosses or especially the beautiful mural of Casey commissioned for the new site. Moments after arriving, she went to lay flowers at the base of one of the gravemarkers, then made her way, smiling, over to the tent with a throng of media following her. When she laid eyes on the mural of her son, however, the tears began flowing and didn't let up for nearly 15 minutes. Now Cindy's getting some food and settling back into her home away from home. We'll keep you updated as the night goes on!


p.s. About an hour after Cindy pulled up, we saw three military helicopters fly overhead and land at the Bush ranch-- the President was returning from his "vacation away from his vacation" in Utah and Idaho. I hope he took a good look at the new neighbors living in the big white tent.

Photograph by Emily Sharpe, copyright 2005

 

Coming back to Crawford

Posted by Cindy on www.huffingtonreport.com

I'm coming back to Crawford for my son. As long as the president, who sent him to die in a senseless war, is in Crawford, that is where I belong. I came here two and a half weeks ago for one reason, to try and see the president and get an answer to a very simple question: What is the noble cause that he says my son died for?
The answer to that question will not bring my son back. But it may stop more meaningless deaths. Because every death is now a meaningless one. And the vast majority of our country knows this. So why do more young men and women have to die? And why do more parents have to lose their children and live the rest of their lives with this unbearable grief?

The presidency is not bigger than the people's will.

And when the people speak out, it's the president's reponsibility to listen. He is there to serve us, not the other way around.

This isn't about politics. It's about what is good for America and what's best for our security and how far this president has taken us away from both.

I'm coming back to Crawford because -- now and forever -- this is my duty for my son, for my other children, for other parents, and for my country.

 

Message from Camp Casey organizers

If you plan to come to Camp Casey anytime in the next week (and we do hope you plan to come), please keep in mind two very important things:

1. BRING WATER!!!

2. Leave your pets at home.

Thanks!

 

My Private Idaho

From the New York Times:

By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: August 24, 2005

W. vacationed so hard in Texas he got bushed. He needed a vacation from his vacation.

The most rested president in American history headed West yesterday to get away from his Western getaway - and the mushrooming Crawford Woodstock - and spend a couple of days at the Tamarack Resort in the rural Idaho mountains.

"I'm kind of hangin' loose, as they say," he told reporters.

As The Financial Times noted, Mr. Bush is acting positively French in his love of le loafing, with 339 days at his ranch since he took office - nearly a year out of his five. Most Americans, on the other hand, take fewer vacations than anyone else in the developed world (even the Japanese), averaging only 13 to 16 days off a year.

W. didn't go alone, of course. Just as he took his beloved feather pillow on the road during his 2000 campaign, now he takes his beloved bike. An Air Force One steward tenderly unloaded W.'s $3,000 Trek Fuel mountain bike when they landed in Boise.

Gas is guzzling toward $3 a gallon. U.S. troop casualties in Iraq are at their highest levels since the invasion. As Donald Rumsfeld conceded yesterday, "The lethality, however, is up." Afghanistan's getting more dangerous, too. The defense secretary says he's raising troop levels in both places for coming elections.

So our overextended troops must prepare for more forced rotations, while the president hangs loose.

I mean, I like to exercise, but W. is psychopathic about it. He interviewed one potential Supreme Court nominee, Harvie Wilkinson III, by asking him how much he exercised. Last winter, Mr. Bush was obsessed with his love handles, telling people he was determined to get rid of seven pounds.

Shouldn't the president worry more about body armor than body fat?

Instead of calling in Karl Rove to ask him if he'd leaked, W. probably called him in to order him to the gym.

The rest of us may be fixated on the depressing tableau in Iraq, where the U.S. seems to be delivering a fundamentalist Islamic state into the dirty hands of men like Ahmad Chalabi, who conned the neocons into pushing for war, and his ally Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric who started two armed uprisings against U.S. troops. It was his militiamen who ambushed Casey Sheehan's convoy in Sadr City.

America has caved on Iraqi women's rights. In fact, the women's rights activists supported by George and Laura Bush may have to leave Iraq.

But, as a former C.I.A. Middle East specialist, Reuel Marc Gerecht, said on "Meet the Press," U.S. democracy in 1900 didn't let women vote. If Iraqi democracy resembled that, "we'd all be thrilled," he said. "I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy."

Yesterday, the president hailed the constitution establishing an Islamic republic as "an amazing process," and said it "honors women's rights, the rights of minorities." Could he really think that? Or is he following the Vietnam model - declaring victory so we can leave?

The main point of writing a constitution was to move Sunnis into the mainstream and make them invested in the process, thereby removing the basis of the insurgency. But the Shiites and Kurds have frozen out the Sunnis, enhancing their resentment. So the insurgency is more likely to be inflamed than extinguished.

For political reasons, the president has a history of silence on America's war dead. But he finally mentioned them on Monday because it became politically useful to use them as a rationale for war - now that all the other rationales have gone up in smoke.

"We owe them something," he told veterans in Salt Lake City (even though his administration tried to shortchange the veterans agency by $1.5 billion). "We will finish the task that they gave their lives for."

What twisted logic: with no W.M.D., no link to 9/11 and no democracy, now we have to keep killing people and have our kids killed because so many of our kids have been killed already? Talk about a vicious circle: the killing keeps justifying itself.

Just because the final reason the president came up with for invading Iraq - to create a democracy with freedom of religion and minority rights - has been dashed, why stop relaxing? W. is determined to stay the course on bike trails all over the West.

This president has never had to pull all-nighters or work very hard, because Daddy's friends always gave him a boost when he flamed out. When was the last time Mr. Bush saw the clock strike midnight? At these prices, though, I guess he can't afford to burn the midnight oil.

E-mail: liberties@nytimes.com

 

Crawford Gold Star Moms Respond to President Bush

Dear Mr. President,

We respect the opportunity given to a selected group of military families to speak with you. As Gold Star moms and military families, we’ve been anxious to have the same opportunity to speak with you for just an hour out of your five week vacation here in Crawford.

We heard you say you want to get on with your life, but with all due respect, getting on with our lives isn’t an option. Many of our families have paid the ultimate price for your administration’s lies leading up to the war in Iraq. For the rest of us, every day brings new fears that our loved ones will be wounded, psychologically damaged or killed. We all deserve answers. Harm, danger, death and grief entered our living rooms the moment you went to war with a country that posed no threat to America and had nothing to do with the war on terrorism. You may think not all military families are like Cindy Sheehan. But Cindy Sheehan is not alone. We all stand by her side outside your ranch. We are joined by thousands of other military families across the country. And thousands more Americans held vigils last week to show their support for us.

We still need answers and wait patiently outside your vacation ranch to ask you what noble cause our sons and daughters fight and die for? Too many of our loved ones have already paid the ultimate price. For those of us with loved ones deployed or about to deploy, every day threatens to transform us from a military family to a Gold Star family. You put our troops in harm’s way based on a lie. We are military families who demand and end to the lies, and call for you to bring our troops home now.

Sincerely,

Celeste Zappala, on behalf of Gold Star Moms for Peace

www.gsfp.org

 

Update

There have been at least 82 soldiers killed in Iraq since the beginning of Bush's vacation. Are you listening, Mr. President?

 

Camp Meeting

In true democratic fashion, we hold a "camp meeting" every morning here at Camp Casey. Ann Wright, 29 year Air Force veteran and camp organizer, listens to campers' concerns and recruits volunteers for such tasks as traffic duty, shuttle driving and kitchen help. Everything here happens thanks to the muscle power of regular Americans who have come here to speak out against the war!

 

Statement by Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson

(Press Release)

The Bush White House and its right wing allies are responding to Cindy Sheehan and the military families’ vigil in Central Texas in the same way that they always respond to bad news– by unleashing personal attacks and smears against her.

This White House never wants an open public discussion, and it certainly never wants to be told that it is wrong. It always tries to change the message by attacking the messenger.

They did it with former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill when he wrote a book that suggested that the White House used 9/11 as an excuse to invade Iraq.

They did it when Richard Clarke revealed that the White House ignored warnings about Bin Laden.

They did it in a most despicable way, as everybody now knows, when they revealed my wife’s identity as a CIA employee because they were unhappy when I spoke the truth and told the American people that President Bush’s claim was false concerning Niger’s giving uranium to Iraq, part of the trumped up rationale for our invasion.

So no one should be surprised that when these mothers and families who have lost loved ones in Iraq step up to question the President, the White House responds not with the respect due them, but with hateful attacks and smears. But enough is enough. Ours is a government of the people, by the people and for the people; and the people in the name of Cindy Sheehan are right in demanding accountability for the tragedy foisted upon our great nation by this administration. To smear her rather than hear her is un-American and undemocratic.


Joseph C. Wilson IV was U.S. Ambassador to Gabon from 1992-1995 and is an international business consultant.

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