AskWHYBlog: Carol Harvey In San Francisco

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

WHAT IS CINDY SHEEHAN'S UNANSWERABLE QUESTION











IN OCTOBER 2005, WE SEE CINDY SHEEHAN CARTED OFF TO JAIL FOR LYING IN FRONT OF THE WHITE HOUSE IN A VIGIL FOR DEAD SOLDIERS LIKE HER SON, CASEY SHEEHAN.

LET US REVISIT HOW THE SHEEHAN PHENOMENON BEGAN AT CAMP CASEY OUTSIDE CRAWFORD, TEXAS.


During a call for my bank balance, the worried teller confided that her husband had enlisted in the National Guard for an education but ended up in Iraq. He has never seen his infant son. The couple is terrified the hijacked guardsman will be killed before his release. The anguish this woman poured out to me has convulsed America.

The increasingly unpopular Iraq war has put President George W. Bush in a precarious political position. On August 1, 2005, Zogby International polls showed "two-in-five voters (42%) say they would favor impeachment proceedings if it is found the President misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq."

From August to November 2005, Bush's numbers in all available polls have dipped lower than Lyndon Johnson's before public opinion forced him out of office, and, eventually, the U.S. out of Vietnam. Even Republicans are increasingly upset about the series of apparent lies that suggest Bush fabricated a war to line the pockets of his elite base, causing 100,000 innocent Iraqi deaths and 2,000 plus American troop casualties.

Cindy Sheehan, California mother of a slain soldier, and member of Gold Star Mothers for Peace, set up camp two miles from Bush's Crawford, Texas, "ranch" during his five-week August vacation. She named the spot "Camp Casey" for her 24-year-old son, Spc. Casey Sheehan of Vacaville who was killed in Baghdad's Sadr City on April 4, 2004.

Sheehan vowed to stay until Bush leaves or meets with her to answer one unanswerable question: "For what noble cause was Casey sent to die in Iraq?"

California Rep. Maxine Waters, Minnesota State Sen. Becky Lourey, who also lost her pilot son, and Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, joined Sheehan at the peace camp. Joan Baez performed a concert there on Sunday, August 21.

In his movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11," Michael Moore interviewed grieving mother Lila Lipscomb of Flint, Michigan, who said she hated the protesters at first for dishonoring the troops. After receiving the awful blow of her son Michael's death, she came to believe he died for nothing. Later, she realized people were not criticizing the soldiers, but the war.

During a heart-wrenching visit to Washington, Lila stood before the White House where she finally released her suffering and rage. I wondered if Lila wished to be at Camp Casey with Cindy Sheehan.

To justify his attack on Iraq, Bush first falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein threatened the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction. Further allegations of Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda were discredited.

The third justification -- that Bush wanted to give Iraqis democracy -- is laughable. A worldwide influx of "insurgents" currently finds a terrorist training ground complete with hourly practice in suicide car bomb detonations. A puppet government missed the deadline for concocting a "Constitution."

The normally unaware press are covering Sheehan's protest. However, the media avoided reporting the June 2005 release of the top secret June 2002 Downing Street memos sent by the head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service to Prime Minister Tony Blair, detailing talks with the Bush Administration to determine its upcoming plans for invading Iraq. These "smoking gun memos" revealed that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" of Bush's prearranged NeoCon war.

In retaliation against, and to undermine the credibility of, Ambassador Joe Wilson for contradicting claims that Niger sold yellow-cake uranium to Hussein, Karl Rove use Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's top advisor, to leak to reporters the name of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent investigating WMDs. Rove destroyed a 20-year spy operation, endangering national security and Plame's life. It is feared that countless deep cover operatives working with Plame have been compromised or killed.

Such revelations unmasked Bush's pretext for invasion, and answered Sheehan's question. Bush needed Iraq for oil, power, and money for his very rich friends.

When asked why he would not speak to a grieving mother of a dead soldier camped a few minutes down the road, Bush agreed it is nice to be "thoughtful and sensitive," but said, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life." Casey Sheehan can never go on with his.

Sheehan's dangerous question, considered a moment of crucial activism and speaking Truth to Power, seems as close to revolt as the dumbed-down, numbed- down American public can get. Anger about The Downing Street Memos and the Plame affair drew groups of fed-up people to Crawford demanding a response.

A New England Journal of Medicine study showed 17 percent of 955,000 U.S. troops who served in Afghanistan and Iraq "met the screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder." Soldiers describe blood and mutilated body parts strewn in the streets.

Bush and the Neocons designed Iraq as a perpetual war machine, killing or grinding up soldiers, pouring them maimed and homeless onto American streets. Reporter Amy Goodman interviewed one traumatized veteran who lost his home because of delinquent combat pay.

American youth leave for war in the prime of their life. They drag back broken minds and discarded flesh, financing their own rehab. They will sit on sidewalks beside veterans of past conflicts, panhandling, disabled, and self-medicating their post-traumatic stress with alcohol or drugs.

Moore ended "Fahrenheit 9/11" with Neil Young's song "Keep on Rocking in the Free World." The song said it all:

"We got a thousand points of light for the homeless man.
We got a kinder gentler machine gun hand."

Said Moore, the only thing asked by the brave soldiers who enlisted after 9/11 to protect America is not to be sent into harm's way for no good reason.

Cindy Sheehan is simply asking for that reason.