A determined mother of a fallen U.S. soldier who has pledged to hold a roadside peace protest near President Bush’s ranch until he talks to her said Sunday that she met with the president shortly after her son died.
Cindy Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., said she was among several relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq who were invited to meet with Bush in June 2004 at Fort Lewis near Seattle, Wash.
She said her meeting with Bush occurred two months after her son, Casey, was killed in Sadr City, Iraq, on April 4, 2004. Since then, she said, various government and independent commission reports have disputed the Bush administration’s claims that Saddam Hussein had mass-killing chemical and biological weapons — a main justification for the March 2003 invasion.
“I was still in shock then,” Sheehan said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “It takes about eight or nine months for the shock to subside. Now, I’m angry. I want the troops home.
“All of those reports prove my son died needlessly. This proved that every reason George Bush gave us for going to war was wrong.”
Sheehan has not seen Bush, but she did talk for about 45 minutes on Saturday with Steve Hadley, Bush’s national security adviser, and Joe Hagin, deputy White House chief of staff, who went out to hear her concerns.
Appreciative of their attention, yet undaunted, Sheehan said she planned to continue her roadside vigil, except for a few breaks, until she gets to talk to Bush. Sheehan, who formed a group called Gold Star Families For Peace, has spoken out against the war across the nation.
She alleged that Secret Service agents in Crawford were trying to coerce her into leaving. She said the agents have told protesters that if they stay along the road, about five miles from Bush’s ranch, they may be hit by Secret Service vehicles.
The Secret Service in Washington said it was unaware of any such incidents.
“We respect the right of the public to demonstrate to express their views,” said Secret Service spokesman Jonathan Cherry. “Our goal is to have a safe environment for our protectees — in this case — the president — and the demonstrators who want to express their views.”