Peace Vigil in Crawford, Texas

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The Peace Vigil in Crawford, Texas, originated August 3, 2005, when President George W. Bush -- speaking about the dreadful loss of life in Iraq -- said:

"We have to honor the sacrifices of the fallen by completing the mission."
"The families of the fallen can be assured that they died for a noble cause."

"In reaction to these two assinine and hurtful statements, members of Gold Star Families for Peace (GSFP) [went] to George's vacation home in Crawford, Tx ... Saturday, August 6th [2005] at 11:00 am to confront him on these two statements." --Gold Star Families for Peace.

The questions which the group would like to ask the president are, Just what is the "noble cause"? and what is "the mission"? After all, it is not WMD, or peace and prosperity for anybody, or freedom or democracy; and it has made the United States less safe and less free. What's so "noble" about any of that?

Cindy Sheehan, a co-founder of GSFP, told reporters that she will "continue her anti-war demonstration for three more weeks, even after counter rallies and a neighbor's gunshot blasts into the air," the Associated Press reported August 15, 2005. Sheehan said "she won't leave 'Camp Casey' until Bush meets with her and other grieving families or until his month-long ranch visit ends."

President Bush, on the other hand, "defending his decision" on August 13th not to meet with Sheehan, "the grieving mom of a soldier killed in Iraq," told reporters

"'But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job ... And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say.'
"'But,' he added, 'I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life.'"

"The moral clarity and political impacts of Cindy Sheehan's vigil in Crawford are greatly enhanced by a position that she is taking: U.S. troops should not be in Iraq," Norman Solomon stated in CounterPunch, August 12, 2005.


Foundations

Accountability

  • "Cindy has drawn a line in the sand for George Bush. In doing so, she has energized tens of thousands of peace activists and tens of millions of Americans. By now, it should be clear that Sheehan is speaking for the silent majority of Americans who want some straight answers from Bush instead of bumper sticker slogans." --Ahmed Amr, Media Monitors Network, August 14, 2005.
  • "This is George Bush’s accountability moment. That’s why I’m here. The mainstream media aren’t holding him accountable. Neither is Congress. So I’m not leaving Crawford until he’s held accountable. It’s ironic, given the attacks leveled at me recently, how some in the media are so quick to scrutinize -- and distort -- the words and actions of a grieving mother but not the words and actions of the president of the United States," Cindy Sheehan wrote August 11, 2005, in The Huffington Post. "But now it’s time for him to level with me and with the American people."
  • "This is not about left or right or center. It’s about the truth and accountability. It’s about the democratic process that Bush claims to champion abroad. We need a little demonstration of his commitment to democracy right here in America. George Bush has an obligation to provide Citizen Sheehan with credible answers as to why 15,000 American soldiers have been killed and wounded in Iraq. We need to remind those in high office that they work for us and we have every right to question their job performance." --Ahmed Amr, Media Monitors Network, August 19, 2005.

Bush Remains Out of Touch with Reality

In his August 22, 2005, speech to the national convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars in Salt Lake City, Utah, "Bush again linked the Iraq war with efforts to protect the United States from another September 11-style attack -- a link critics say is an attempt to shift the justification for war." --Caren Bohan, Reuters, August 22, 2005. [emphasis added]

"President Bush's sunny declaration on Monday that Baghdad's leaders were 'defying the terrorists and pessimists by completing work on a democratic constitution' was unfortunate not only for its timing but for its willfulness. Just hours after Bush's speech, Iraqi leaders announced (again) that they were unable to agree on a draft constitution. Just as disturbing, however, is the continuing disconnect between the president's perspective and Iraq's reality.

In his speech, "Bush again conflated Al Qaeda and Iraq, neglecting to note that Al Qaeda put down roots in Iraq only after the invasion or that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 or Osama bin Laden. His description of Iraq's constitutional negotiations — 'a difficult process that involves debate and compromise' — understates the depth of animosity in Iraq. On Monday, representatives submitted an incomplete draft to the National Assembly because of continued disagreement on basic issues such as the strength of a central government and the role of Islam." --Editorial, Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2005.

Chuck Hagel "has put the [Vietnam] Analogy in play, and that's nothing but bad news for George W. Bush and his policy in Iraq," Eugene Robinson wrote in the August 23, 2005, Washington Post.

"Which is a good thing," he says, "since the president's policy amounts to the belief that if he concentrates really hard -- and stays in shape by regularly doing the Tour de Crawford on his mountain bike -- he'll be able to summon a miracle."

Public Relations

The problem for Bush

"The problem for Bush: Cindy Sheehan has also discovered the power of Crawford. Sheehan has been speaking out about Iraq for some time now, but she didn't receive the kind of attention she's getting now until she set up camp outside Bush's ranch. As they've played out in front of a whole lot of reporters with not much else to do, Sheehan's attempts to see the president are capturing far more press coverage than they would have if she had pitched a tent in Washington's Lafayette Park. Her P.R. successes could 'start a trend' among protesters of every stripe, the [Wall Street] Journal notes, and the president's Crawford getaways could soon become a lot less pleasant, both personally and professionally." --Salon, August 10, 2005.

Swift Boating Cindy

"Cindy Sheehan couldn't have picked a more apt date to begin the vigil that ambushed a president: Aug. 6 was the fourth anniversary of that fateful 2001 Crawford vacation day when George W. Bush responded to an intelligence briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" by going fishing. On this Aug. 6 the president was no less determined to shrug off bad news. Though 14 marine reservists had been killed days earlier by a roadside bomb in Haditha, his national radio address that morning made no mention of Iraq. Once again Mr. Bush was in his bubble, ensuring that he wouldn't see Ms. Sheehan coming," Frank Rich wrote August 21, 2005.

"True to form, the attack on Cindy Sheehan surfaced early on Fox News, where she was immediately labeled a 'crackpot' by Fred Barnes. The right-wing blogosphere quickly spread tales of her divorce, her angry Republican in-laws, her supposed political flip-flops, her incendiary sloganeering and her association with known ticket-stub-carrying attendees of 'Fahrenheit 9/11.' Rush Limbaugh went so far as to declare that Ms. Sheehan's 'story is nothing more than forged documents - there's nothing about it that's real.'

"But this time the Swift Boating failed, utterly, and that failure is yet another revealing historical marker in this summer's collapse of political support for the Iraq war."

Spreading the Word

Opportunity knocked and within a week from the time Cindy Sheehan set up Camp Casey a few short miles from Bush's Crawford ranch on August 6, 2005, her mission gained momentum through those seeking her out for interviews and arriving to lend support in any number of ways, not the least of which are handling media coverage and helping Cindy to get the word out.

  • A video ad paid for by Gold Star Families for Peace began airing August 7, 2005, on cable channels in Crawford near Bush's ranch with an initial ad buy of $15,000 with plans to air the ad throughout Bush's August vacation in Crawford or wherever else Bush visits during his vacation.
  • "TrueMajority -- an antiwar group founded by Ben Cohen, one of the creators of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream -- hired Fenton Communications, a Washington public relations firm that has worked intermittently with Sheehan over the past year to coordinate media coverage." [1]
  • "Joe Trippi, the political consultant behind former Vermont governor Howard Dean's early success in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary race, hosted a conference with Sheehan for liberal Internet bloggers, hoping their online dispatches will draw even wider attention." [2]
  • Bush loyalist, Republican Senator George Allen, Jr. of Virginia "instructed the president to meet with Cindy Sheehan, the mother camping out in Crawford, as 'a matter of courtesy and decency.' Or, to translate his Washingtonese, as a matter of politics. Only someone as adrift from reality as Mr. Bush would need to be told that a vacationing president can't win a standoff with a grief-stricken parent commandeering TV cameras and the blogosphere 24/7," Frank Rich wrote in the August 14, 2005, New York Times.
  • "United for Peace and Justice, the nation's largest umbrella organization of anti-war groups, is organizing supportive vigils across the country. Donors large and small have poured thousands of dollars into Sheehan's organization, Gold Star Families for Peace, and other groups that oppose the war." [4]
  • The VelvetRevolution announced August 15, 2005, that it is launching "a long-term advertisement and awareness campaign to galvanize American citizens into taking their country back from those who believe that they are untouchable and unaccountable. This campaign will graphically show that those in power have lost touch with real people through a pattern of lies, corruption, fear mongering, incompetence, indifference and arrogance. ... The first ad [appeared August 15, 2005] as a full two-page spread in the Crawford, Texas Iconoclast newspaper and will be delivered to the President's ranch during his long five-week vacation. Cindy Sheehan and hundreds of others opposed to Iraq war are protesting nearby and they will all be given free copies of the paper. VR supports Cindy and her cause ..."
  • Progressive radio's "The Ed Schultz Show" broadcasted from Crawford near Camp Casey on Wednesday, August 17, 2005, during its regularly scheduled 3:00 - 6:00 PM time slot. [5]
  • Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former vice presidential candidate John Edwards wrote an "impassioned open letter calling for support on behalf of Cindy Sheehan."
  • "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees" on CNN aired live from Camp Casey, August 17, 2005.
  • "Real Time with Bill Maher" was to interview Cindy Sheehan via satellite from Crawford, Texas, on Friday, August 19 at 11:00 PM.
  • Raymond McGovern of "'Tell the Word,' the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in Washington, DC," and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, after spending five days at Camp Casey, said that Cindy Sheehan "provides prophetic example for us all ... [that Cindy] while giving a talk at a conference in Dallas, spontaneously asked if someone would come with her to Crawford, because she needed to ask the president what it was that he was describing as a 'noble cause.' ... [had] used her conference speech to speak out clearly, as she has been doing for these past several months, and then she acted."

Raising Doubt and ...

  • "In a departure from past policies, newspapers around the country, with the U.S. death toll in Iraq again soaring, increasingly are reporting the antiwar sentiments of family members of the deceased in their coverage of funerals." --Editor & Publisher, August 14, 2005.

Telling the Truth

"But we aren't doing the country a favor when we present recent history in a way that makes our system look better than it is. Sometimes the public needs to hear unpleasant truths, even if those truths make them feel worse about their country.

"Not to be coy: election 2000 may be receding into the past, but the Iraq war isn't. As the truth about the origins of that war comes out, there may be a temptation, once again, to prettify the story. The American people deserve better." --Paul Krugman, New York Times, August 22, 2005.

Call for Media Involvement

"It's time for newspapers, many of which helped get us into this war, to consider using their editorial pages as platforms to help get us out of it. So far, few have done much more than wring their hands, or simply criticize the conduct of the war, or the lack of body armor. ...

"I have challenged major U.S. newspapers for more than two years to be first to clearly call for a phased withdrawal. Once a few do so, they will show that it is safe for others to stick their toes in the water." --Greg Mitchell, Editor, Editor & Publisher, August 22, 2005.

Already Won

"All the protests, all the articles, all the books, all the whistleblowers, all the criticism combined has not packed the kind of punch that one mother in a ditch has delivered to this administration’s carefully crafted fantasy vision of what is happening in Iraq. Suddenly, Bush has been forced to go before cameras and try to explain why staying in Iraq is the only option available. Suddenly, the accepted wisdom isn’t so accepted anymore. A majority of Americans, according to every available poll, agree with the lady in the ditch and not with the president. ...

"Cindy Sheehan has done this with one act of conscience. She has managed to do what no other protest or action or statement has been able to do. She has knocked the wheels right off this absurd applecart. She has already won." --William Rivers Pitt, August 14, 2005.

Relevancies

"Camp Casey has grown and prospered and survived all attacks and challenges because America is sick and tired of liars and hypocrites." --Cindy Sheehan [6]

As Frank Rich pointed out in the Sunday, August 21, 2005, issue of the New York Times, August 6, 2005, the day the vigil started, was also the fourth anniversary of that fateful 2001 Crawford vacation day when George W. Bush responded to an intelligence briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" by going fishing.

6 August 2005 is also the 40th anniversary of the Federal Voting Rights Act [7]

Comfort for the grieving

"... even if this entire thing doesn't change a single mind about the war, it will still be worth it for the comfort it provided to the bereaved and for them to see that so many people around the nation are supporting them." --Amanda Marcotte, AlterNet. Posted August 22, 2005

Solidarity

"This is what the Camp Casey miracle is all about. American citizens who oppose the war but never had a conduit for their disgust and dismay are dropping everything and traveling to Crawford to stand in solidarity with us who have made a commitment to sit outside of George's ranch for the duration of the miserable Texan August. If they can't come to Texas, they are attending vigils, writing letters to their elected officials and to their local newspapers; they are setting up Camp Casey branches in their hometowns; they are sending flowers, cards, letters, gifts, and donations here to us at Camp Casey. We are so grateful for all of the support, but I think pro-peace Americans are grateful for something to do, finally. ...

"The Camp Casey movement will not die until we have a genuine accounting of the truth and until our troops are brought home. Get used to it George, we are not going away." --Cindy, BuzzFlash, August 20, 2005.

Ongoing Media Coverage

  • Ongoing live coverage:
  • Also see the Cindy Sheehan article for articles and blog entries made by Cindy.

Support

Crawford Peace House

"Army" of Supporters Growing

  • "Despite the temporary departure of Cindy Sheehan to care for her ailing mother, the antiwar vigil outside President Bush’s estate in Crawford is continuing to grow. Hundreds gathered on Saturday night to hear musician Steve Earle perform at Camp Casey. Legendary folk singer Joan Baez also held a concert Sunday evening. Military families, veterans and other supporters are coming from around the country - as far away as Alaska, California and Massachusetts - to support Cindy’s efforts." -- Democracy Now!, August 22, 2005.
  • "Protesters are digging in their heels, vowing to stay by their tents in the heat or rain until President Bush talks to Sheehan or until his five-week ranch visit ends later this month." --CBS 2 (Crawford, TX), August 12, 2005.
  • Bill Mitchell, who like Cindy "lost a son, Mike, in the same attack in Sadr City [as Cindy Sheehan]. Also wants the troops home." [8]
  • Karen Meredith, "whose only child was killed by small arms fire in Najaf, May 30, 2004, is making the trip from Mountain View California" to Crawford, Texas this weekend. "Active in Gold Star Families for Peace, Meredith handles the mounting email traffic for the group and corresponds with many other families who have lost loved ones in Iraq." Meredith says the reason she's going to Crawford is "'... we never got a proper explanation for why we should invade Iraq.'" BuzzFlash, August 18, 2005.
  • Also see articles & commentary for daily news items about those going to Crawford to meet with and support Cindy Sheehan.

Gaining Momentum

"The protesters at 'Camp Casey' can claim some victory for forcing Bush to talk so extensively about the military deaths when he'd rather focus on indictors of progress in Iraq. The campers' call to bring the troops home now dominated news coverage out of Crawford this week while Bush stayed on his ranch with no public events," Nidra Pickler wrote August 21, 2005, for the Associated Press.

Peace Vigil in Salt Lake City August 22, 2005

Peace Vigil in Washington, DC

"After Aug. 31, Sheehan said she and others will move the vigil to Washington, D.C. Sheehan hopes to continue applying pressure on the president amid what she sees as a 'turning tide' on popular sentiment on the war." [9]

Opposition

"Cindy Sheehan's vigil outside the President's ranch has galvanised the anti-war movement - and provoked a vicious political slanging match." --Paul Harris, The Observer (UK), August 21, 2005.

Pro-war "Fort Qualls" in Crawford

A pro-war encampment "named 'Fort Qualls,' in memory of Marine Lance Cpl. Louis Wayne Qualls, 20, who died in Iraq last fall," has sprung up in Crawford, complete with a "God Bless Our President!" banner downtown to counter the anti-war encampment at Camp Casey.

"Large counter-protests were held in a ditch near Sheehan's site a week after she arrived, and since then, a few Bush supporters have stood in the sun holding signs for several hours each day," Associated Press correspondent Angela K. Brown wrote August 21, 2005. "Bill Johnson, a local gift shop owner who created 'Fort Qualls,' said he wanted to offer a larger, more convenient place for Bush supporters to gather."

Johnson "and others at 'Fort Qualls' have asked for a debate with those at the Crawford Peace House, which is helping Sheehan," but the prospect of that happening is unknown.

Sheehan Family

  • Sheehan's protest has "divided parts of her own family, some of whom sent an e-mail to news organizations distancing themselves from her protest." Sheehan said "that the admonition came from in-laws who often disagreed with her. ... '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,' Sheehan said. 'The thing that matters to me is that my family, Casey's dad and my other three kids, are on the same side of the fence that I am.'" --Washington Post, August 13, 2005.

Gallagher's Army

"Bush brings in an Iraqi ringer (again)"

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