There has been lots of coverage of the anti-war protest of Cindy Sheehan — the woman whose soldier son, Casey, was killed in Iraq — outside President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. There has also been plenty of mention of the fact that Bush has so far not met with Sheehan (although he did meet her in June 2004). But there has been somewhat less discussion of the remarkable attention Sheehan has received from top administration officials.
Just look at this picture from the weekend:
The man sitting on the pavement is National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, while the man sitting in the chair to the right is White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin. They discussed with Sheehan at length the president’s thinking in the decision to go to war in Iraq, and Sheehan simply refused to believe that they might have been sincere. Here are portions of an interview with Sheehan on the liberal Air America radio network:
We were setting up our little camp and all of a sudden like 6 secret service SUVs come pulling up and screeching to a halt, and they all jump out and kind of surround us, and I’m like “Oh my gosh, what did we do?”
You know? And then these two men get out and walk over. It was Steve Hadley and Joe Hagin. They sat down with me and were talking with me asking “What do you want to do?” I said I want the president to explain what was the noble cause that my son died in, because that’s what he said the other day when those 14 marines were killed. He said their families can rest assured that their sons and daughters died for a noble cause. And I said, “What is that noble cause?”
Joe Hagin told me that he goes with the president when he meets with families, and that George Bush really cares about the soldiers and the families, and I said, “Don¹t even tell me that! Because I met with him before, and that man doesn¹t even have an ounce of compassion in his body.”
And he looked really surprised. Don’t you think that’s something they would have known about before they had this little tete-a-tete with me yesterday?
Besides, why is my meeting in June of 2004 relevant? Over 1100 more soldiers are dead since then, the Downing Street Memo report came out, the Senate intelligence report has come out, and the 9/11 Commission report has come out. Saddam is gone, they¹ve had free democratic elections in Iraq, and our troops are still there.
But anyway, I finally got to a point where I just said, “You know what? I might be a grieving mother but I am not stupid. I don¹t believe your lies and I really don¹t believe you believe them either.”
They just said, “Well, we didn¹t really expect to come out here and change your mind about policy.”
I said I want to speak to the president, and they said, “Okay, we’ll convey your concerns to the president.”
In her interview with Air America, Sheehan encouraged listeners to go to pro-Democratic websites to make their feelings known:
We need more people hereŠwe¹re getting a lot of press attention and it would be nice for as many people to come whenever they can come. To show them that, truly, 61% of American people want this war over and believe it was a mistake to begin with. So lets show them that. There¹s also vigils and protests and demonstrations being organized around the country. People should go to the Progressive Democrats of America site, or After Downing Street . Daily Kos is posting a lot of events that are happening and ways to support us.