2:06 am, August 11, 2005
Cindy Sheehan Is Working To Bring Our Troops Home: ”Mr. President. You have daughters. How would you feel if one of them was killed?“
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW
Casey Sheehan re-enlisted with the Army in August of 2003, knowing that his unit would eventually be deployed in Iraq. Casey, a Humvee mechanic with the 1st Calvary, was killed in Sadr City on April 4th of this year. He was only 24 years old. He is and forever will remain an American hero.
Casey’s mom, Cindy Sheehan, is a hero too. Angered that her son was sent to fight and die in an unjust war for reasons that have proven to be lies, Cindy is speaking out about the Iraq invasion. Cindy has joined other moms and families who have lost loved ones in the conflict to tell Americans about the true costs of the war. Their group, Real Voices http://realvoices.org/rv/index.html , is running television ads featuring the voices of Americans like Cindy speaking directly to President Bush about the impact of his failed policies and lies.
We are honored to bring you our interview with Cindy Sheehan about her son Casey and why she decided to speak out about the Iraq war.
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BuzzFlash: Your son Casey died April 4 in Iraq. Whom do you hold responsible for your loss?
Cindy Sheehan: George W. Bush.
Cindy Sheehan: I think he rushed into this war -–this invasion –- without having proper intelligence. And the reasons he went are so clearly wrong -–from his false claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction to there being no connection between Iraq and Saddam and Osama bin Laden. He diverted attention and troops and resources from Afghanistan and Al Qaeda to Iraq.
I don’t think Iraq has anything to do with the war on terror, except now terrorists are crossing the borders to go and kill innocent Iraqis and our troops. So he went almost unilaterally, with very little international support, to invade a country. They didn’t have a plan for the peace or for the occupation of Iraq.
My son was killed by Shiite insurgents. I believe George Bush created the insurgency by his failed policies and that’s why my son was killed.
BuzzFlash: Tell us a little bit about Casey. What kind of a young man was he? I know he was only 24 years old when he died.
Cindy Sheehan: He was an amazing person. He has been an altar server for 10 years. He finally quit when he graduated from high school and asked me, ”You know, Mom, can I quit altar serving? Can I be an usher or something now at Mass?“I was the coordinator of our youth Mass at our parish. And he was an Eagle Scout. He was a Eucharistic Minister, and he had trained to be a Eucharistic Minister in the field when they went to Iraq, to help the priest. But he was only there for two weeks before he was killed on Palm Sunday. He never missed Mass.
He had joined the Army because they promised him he could finish his college degree. He had already been going to college for three years before he joined the Army. My husband and I just went to Ft. Hood a couple weeks ago because the Catholic chapel he always went to was starting a new Knights of Columbus Council, and they decided to name it after Casey. It’s the Specialist Casey Austin Sheehan Knights of Columbus Council because they say that his love for his God, his church, his country and his family embodied what they want to stand for.
He was amazing. He was just the most calm and peaceful and gentle person that anybody would ever know. He was so quiet, but he had such an impact on everybody’s lives. And he was so brave. He saved American lives, but our question is, what are any of them doing there?
BuzzFlash: Casey, as I understand it, technically did not have to go to Iraq since he was a field mechanic. Is that correct?
Cindy Sheehan: He was a Humvee mechanic. He re-enlisted in August of 2003 because he didn’t want his buddies to do the job by themselves. It’s all about what they’re doing now — our soldiers are trying to keep themselves alive and trying to keep each other alive at this point right now.
BuzzFlash: When did Casey receive news that his unit was being sent to Iraq?
Cindy Sheehan: I think it was probably around last October, 2003, because they went to the National Training Center (NTC) at Ft. Irwin in the California desert in November. So we knew before he went to Ft. Irwin that they were going to be deployed sometime in March. Casey knew the First Cavalry was going to end up going to Iraq when he re-enlisted.
BuzzFlash: Did you have any correspondence with Casey while he was in Iraq before he was killed? Did he say or did you hear about what the situation was like on the ground?
Cindy Sheehan: He called me one time from Kuwait. They still hadn’t gone to Iraq. And he never complained. He said that it was hot and he was really busy because he had to get their vehicles ready to go on the convoy from Kuwait to Baghdad. He was on his way to Mass, and we talked about when he stopped in Ireland to refuel. We’re Irish, so he found an airport employee that was telling him about the history of our name, the Sheehan name.
He started writing us a letter on March 31st, because we didn’t know where we could send him mail or presents or supplies or anything yet. They didn’t tell them until they got to Saudi City where we could send them things. But he started writing us letters. And he said the convoy from Kuwait to Baghdad was real peaceful, and it looked like it was going to be an easy year of deployment. He wrote that on March 31st, and he was killed April 4th.
We never got the letter. It was in his things that we got from Baghdad. He didn’t even finish it.
BuzzFlash: President Bush told you, Casey, and every American, that we needed to invade Iraq to remove weapons of mass destruction — an assertion that, as you said, has proven to be a lie — and to fight terrorism, which is also untrue. When Casey left to go to Iraq, did the two of you talk about why you both felt that the United States was in Iraq, and what the United States was fighting for?
Cindy Sheehan: We didn’t understand why the United States was there. We never thought that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States. But Casey told me, ”Mom, this is what we trained for. I’m ready. It’s my job. Because the sooner I get there, the sooner I’ll come home.“And he came home three weeks later in a flag-draped coffin.
BuzzFlash: Right now you, along with many other families who have lost loved ones in Iraq, are speaking out in various ways, part of which is a television ad criticizing Bush’s decision to mislead our country into a war. What made you decide to speak out, knowing the toll that it would take on you?
Cindy Sheehan: I have to. I can’t bring my son back. I can’t go back to April 3rd and bring Casey home. I can’t stand on the side while other mothers and families will have to go through what we’re going through. I have to speak out, and I have to help try to bring the troops home.
No matter who wins November 2 -–I hope it’s Kerry -–but no matter who wins, we have to hold them accountable. We have to start putting pressure on our elected officials to bring our troops home from the most unjust and mess of a war that our selected president has got us into.
BuzzFlash: Every month, there have been higher and higher American casualties.
Cindy Sheehan: Except for April, that was the highest. That’s the month my son was killed.
BuzzFlash: Right now, the situation is clearly deteriorating into a civil war. As a mom who’s lost a son in this war, how do you respond when you hear the president say that we need to stay the course in Iraq?
Cindy Sheehan: I respond: How can you stay a course that is so obviously not working? You’re going the wrong way. If you’re on a wrong course, you turn around and go the other way. He has betrayed us. He’s still betraying us, by telling us that everything is going well there. It’s shameful.
BuzzFlash: What would you say to President Bush if you could sit down in the same room and speak to him directly?
Cindy Sheehan: I actually got to meet face to face with the president. He called me ”Mom“ because he didn’t know my name, and he didn’t know my son’s name — he just knows that he’s meeting with these families that have lost loved ones. He said, ”Mom, I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through.“
I said, ”I think you can imagine it a little bit, Mr. President. You have daughters. How would you feel if one of them was killed?“
I told him, ”Trust me, Mr. President –- you don’t want to go there.“
He said, ”You’re right. I don’t."
BuzzFlash: Cindy, thank you so much for speaking with us.
Cindy Sheehan: Thank you.
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW
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RealVoices.org Web Site http://realvoices.org/rv/index.html Cindy Sheehan’s TV Ad Speaking Directly to George W. Bushhttp://realvoices.org/rv/cindy.html