On the final weekend of Sheehan's anti-war protest near the Bush Ranch, Hollywood stars and politicians join anti-war movement. Pro Bush supporters arrive in big numbers, calling Sheehan a traitor and telling her to go home.
August 29, 2005
CRAWFORD, TX – Tempers flared in the hot, sweltering Texas sun this weekend as at least four arrests were made during a heated exchange of words, nearly leading to violence, between Cindy Sheehan and President Bush’s war supporters separated only by a two-lane country road.
Two people from each side of the war protest were arrested by local law enforcement officials on disorderly conduct and public disturbance charges, reflecting the electricity in the air over the controversial war issue.
Although Sheehan is staying until Wednesday, crowds gathered for the final weekend of the three-week long war protest began leaving late Sunday afternoon as both pro and anti war supporters tried to garner last minute media attention from major news outlets gathered for the event that has captured national attention.
Earlier on Sunday, Rev. Al Sharpton addressed Sheehan supporters, calling for "Bush accountability" in the Iraq War while adding his unique, emotionally charged brand of speaking to excite and energize protestors.
Known for his anti-war activities, actor and activist, Martin Sheen, also spoke at Camp Casey later in the evening, lending his support to Sheehan and adding an important Hollywood name to the growing list of anti-war supporters, a list that has swelled to millions across the country.
"The war is based on wrong reasons and I commend Cindy for her bravery and courage," said Sheen, who has lent his name to many other anti-establishment causes throughout his many years as a Hollywood star.
Prior to Sheen’s arrival, folk singer Joan Baez, known for her anti-Vietnam songs, made a second appearance this weekend in Crawford, singing several of her old folk songs and leading crowds in the singing of "Amazing Grace." Also, several Iraqi veterans against the war in the crowd could be heard saying "Sheehan’s movement will eventually will bring peace" as they chanted "impeach Bush."
And while and endless list of speakers took the weekend stage, supporters on both sides of the war issue estimated at least 5,000 people ascended on the sleepy Texas town where President Bush is taking a five-week vacation behind the fences of his Crawford ranch.
Sheehan arrived on Bush’s doorstep three weeks ago, vowing to remain until the end of August or until the President granted her a personal meeting to answer tough questions about his true motives concerning the Iraqi War.
Even though the President has referred to Sheehan by name in two press conferences, he has refused to meet with the outspoken war critic, who lost her son in a 2004 Baghdad firefight. Bush has also refused to speak with thousands of other anti-war supporters, who have gathered on a lonely country road near his ranch.
Although Bush has failed to answer serious questions about his true motives about the war with the Sheehan group, representing a majority of Americans who now oppose the war, Bush openly has granted several "photo ops" with war supporters who arrived for the weekend Crawford rally.
Bush on Saturday was seen smiling, sharing hot dogs and cajoling with a group of war supporters who made the trek in their motor homes and cars from California to oppose the Sheehan movement. Later several of these same supporters openly called Sheehan a traitor as well as used obscenities and foul gestures, telling Sheehan in no uncertain terms she was "not welcome on Texas soil."
"Go home, bitch," said one Bush supporter as he was escorted from the roadway by a contingent of at least nine sheriff’s deputies who set up a barricade to separate protestors.
In the Sheehan camp, dozens of supporters chanted anti-Bush lyrics as Bob Dylan’s "Knocking on Heaven’s Door" played in the background. One large anti-war banner labeled Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as "pigs of war’ while repeated chants of "Bush is a liar" ringing in the background.
On the other side of the road from the original Camp Casey set up three weeks ago by Sheehan when she first arrived, several Bush supporters road on horseback with "Go, Home Cindy and Cindy is Nuts," painted on the hind quarters of their horses in a display of how they really felt about Sheehan’s anti-war movement. One specific pro war banner especially displayed the deep contempt for Sheehan, saying "Repent, you treasonous scum, go home!"
However, the pro Bush riders acting like angry cavalry soldiers, failed to realize that even the horses they rode could be slated for the glue factory as Bush recently allowed a little known Republican bill to slip through Congress without a veto, leading to the eventual slaughter of thousands of wild horses grazing on public land previously protected by law.
Bush supporters also took over a nearby high school football field as several parents who also lost sons or daughters in the war condemned Sheehan and labeled her a "terrorist threat and a traitor."
As crowds chanted pro war slogans, a group of unruly protestors in the football stands turned on a pair of news reporters, as one reporter from was grabbed and told to leave, accused of glamorizing the Sheehan movement.
During the heated weekend rally, both camps distinguished their causes by name with Sheehan’s group gathered under the name of "Camp Casey" in honor of her fallen son and Bush supporters taking the name "Camp Reality."
Both groups are also backed by well-oiled liberal and conservative groups. MoveOn.org, Democrats for Peace and True majority are largely underwriting the Sheehan movement while the pro war group is primarily sponsored by Move America Forward, a California conservative group largely responsible the recall of former Gov. Gray Davis.
Although mostly Republican and conservative, one of the pro war speakers, Mike Crowley of California who also lost his son in Iraq, said he denounced Sheehan and supported Bush even though he was a democrat and never voted for Bush.
During his speech, he asked Sheehan to remove his son’s name from one of the white crosses placed by the anti-war group on the side of the road, adding: "It’s really not right what she is doing and I don’t want my son’s memory or his name associated with her."
Whatever side of the war issue is taken, the cold, hard reality is that more than 1,870 troops have perished and hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed since the beginning of the Iraqi invasion.
And whether the Sheehan movement is termed a success, it comes in the wake of bad news for the Bush administration as a Gallup poll released last week showed his lowest job approval rating, 40 percent, of his presidency. And even among Republicans support for the war is at a all-time low, although still comfortably high at 82 percent.
However, Gallup reports overall that only 34 percent of Americans are satisfied with how things are progressing in the country, another all-time low for Bush’s presidency.
And the stark reality at the Crawford war rally is Bush supporters spent a large portion of the weekend, spewing obscenities and attacking Sheehan, calling her a traitor while failing to address any concrete issues behind the anti-war protest movement.
On the other hand, speakers in the Sheehan camp acted more civilized, keeping Bush attacks to a minimum while asking that he address the issues, including accusations that he doctored intelligence WMD reports well in advance of the war to justify the invasion.
Bush, however, remained hidden at his ranch, preferring to boost his sagging war report in his weekly nationwide radio address while addressing his reasons for keeping troops in Iraq.
"Our continued efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve," he said, adding Israel's recent departure from the Gaza strip as surefire signs of success.
While Bush spoke on the radio, anti-war supporters, included Sheehan, claim the President needs to respond openly to the infamous Downing Street Memo, an official British document verified by Tony Blair, revealing the President was guilty of doctoring WMD intelligence data months prior to the invasion.
Greg on the Radio.
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This Monday, August 29, 2005, my guest will be Janet Parker, long time friend and informant of former top FBI agent and terrorist specialist, John O’Neill, suspiciously killed at the WTC on 9/11. Janet for the first reveals her professional relationship with O’Neill and how top FBI officials "shut him down" in the months preceding 9/11. If you ever had any doubts about whether the government was involved in allowing 9/11 to happen, Parker should end all doubts.
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