What Hillary Told Cindy

Sheehan and company get face time with senators Clinton, Reid, Lieberman. McCain’s next.

“She didn’t take any notes, but hopefully the emotions we evoked in that meeting will say more than any notes would,” said Al Zappala of Philadelphia, whose son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was killed in Baghdad last year.

Sheehan and the other members of the Bring Them Home Now tour say they won’t give up until they get every member of Congress to take a stance on U.S. withdrawal.

They’ve launched a new campaign, Meet With the Mothers, to mobilize other military family members to go to every member of Congress and ask them what noble cause their loved ones are fighting and dying for. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, has agreed to meet with Sheehan on Tuesday, after refusing earlier requests.

Cindy Sheehan keeping a vigil in Senator Bill Frist's office with another activist
photo: Sarah Ferguson
Cindy Sheehan keeping a vigil in Senator Bill Frist's office with another activist

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Buttonholing Joe Lieberman

On Thursday, the anti-war activists with Bring Them Home Now also succeeded in ambushing Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, who was downstairs in the Senate office building for a photo shoot.

“This is my nephew, and we really need to know from you what he died for,” announced Beatriz Saldivar of Fort Worth, Texas, holding up an enlarged picture of Dennis Torres, who was killed in February when his unarmored Humvee was blown up outside of Baghdad. In her other hand, she held a photo of his pregnant fiancée weeping over the coffin.

“My heart goes out to you and everyone who’s lost somebody in the war,” said the former presidential hopeful, doing his best to smile kindly.

Noting that he had traveled to Iraq three times, Lieberman said: “I have supported this war and I still do. I’m not a big fan of Bush’s foreign policy and believe we could have done much more to win the support of other countries before we went in. But I do think the world is safer without Saddam Hussein.”

Lieberman pointed out that in 1988, he and Senator John McCain called for the overthrow of Saddam after Iraqi troops massacred more than 100,000 Kurds and attacked Iran with chemical weapons,

“But the evidence? The whole reason we went over there?” demanded Hart Viges, a 29-year old Army specialist who filed for conscientious objector status after serving a year in Iraq. “We never found any weapons of mass destruction. The whole reason we went was a lie.”

Lieberman said he thought the idea that Saddam possessed WMD’s had been “overplayed” by the Bush administration and wasn’t the only reason for invading in any case. Sounding very much like Bush, who defended the war again Thursday, Lieberman said: “If it doesn’t end well, that country will go into a civil war and the whole Middle East will be destabilized. And the terrorists who are there now … they’ll claim it as a big victory and then they’ll go on to the next country.”

“But you know they’re only there because we’re there,” Viges pressed, speaking of the foreign insurgents who have flocked to Iraq since the U.S. invaded.

“I believe these people have given their lives in a cause that will make your lives and your children’s lives safer,” Lieberman insisted.

Saldivar wasn’t having it. “My nephew will never see his daughter, who was born just 72 hours ago.”

Noting that the next time Lieberman travels to Iraq, his Humvee will likely be fully armored, she demanded: “What makes your life—or Donald Rumsfeld’s life—more valuable?”

To which the senator could only respond: “I’m glad you’re doing it, and I respectfully disagree.”

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“If the politicians don’t answer, there will be constituent Camp Caseys on their doorstep, just like in Crawford,” vows Jonathan Read, the former chair of Park Plaza Hotels and Resorts, who helped launch the campaign after camping out in Crawford with Sheehan for three weeks.

Earlier in the day, Sheehan and several other military moms held a press conference to announce a $1 million campaign of TV commercials and print ads.

The hard-hitting TV ad was funded by donations to Gold Star Families for Peace. It features four women challenging the president for taking the country to war, including Melanie House, a former supporter of invading Iraq, whose husband, Petty Offficer John House, was killed when his helicopter was shot down earlier this year.

“How many more soldiers have to die for your mistake? My husband never got to hold his baby. What will I tell our son his father died for?” House asks in the commercial, which is set to run nationally on the Fox News Network and on CNN in Washington, D.C., over the next 12 days. The print ads were paid for by Win Without War. They feature the banner headlines, “They lied. They died,” and juxtapose the faces of Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice with a full-page list in tiny fine print of the more than 1,900 American soldiers killed in Iraq. The ads are running in 14 papers, including USA Today. A two-page spread appeared in Thursday’s Washington Post.

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