Support and criticism of Cindy Sheehan

Support and criticism of Cindy Sheehan


In conjunction with her protest of August 2005, Sheehan received a flurry of support from several liberal media outlets, including and the Editorial page of "The New York Times" in an article by Maureen Dowd, as well as publicity from her own blog.

On the week of August 8, 2005 several other groups were reported to be traveling to Texas to join the protest. Sherry Bohlen, field director of the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), was one person traveling to Crawford, and says this of the protest:

"We'll be sleeping in a tent in the ditch along the roadside (the only place that the authorities will allow us to be). I spoke with Cindy by phone again yesterday. She said that local authorities have told her that if we're still there by Thursday we'll be arrested as "national security risks"... She could well be the Rosa Parks of the movement against the Iraq War. Just as Rosa refused to leave the bus, Cindy is refusing to leave the roadside. She's the spark that is igniting the anti-war movement."

The website announced on August 10, 2005 that it was gathering comments via email to place in a two-page newspaper spread in a Sunday edition of the "Waco Tribune" newspaper in support of Sheehan and her efforts. MoveOn gathered more than 250,000 comments, many of which were included in the advertisement.citation
url =
title = Vigils to Support Cindy Sheehan
] Tom Matzzie of MoveOn said:

:"In her grief and bravery, Cindy has become a symbol for millions of Americans who demand better answers about the Iraq War. Though right-wing pundits have attacked her personally, her honesty is unimpeachable. Now more and more mothers (and fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, sons and daughters) are standing up with Cindy. Please join us, and together, we'll make sure that President Bush can't escape the reality of this war—even in Crawford, Texas."

On August 9, 2005, Sheehan began writing a blog concerning (among other things) her experience at Camp Casey, her thoughts on the Iraq War, and her response to criticism of her. It has been featured on several websites, including "The Huffington Post", "Daily Kos", and "Michael".

On August 10, 2005, Maureen Dowd of the "New York Times" wrote that "the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute."

Sheehan's sister DeDe Miller, of Bellflower, California, has spoken publicly in support of Sheehan and protested with her in Crawford, Texas. [citation
url =
title = Peace activist Cindy Sheehan hospitalized for dehydration, exhaustion
journal = WBIR (CBS Affiliate, Knoxville TN)
first= Amanda | last = Dill
date = 8/12/2006

She has spoken at the laissez-faire Ludwig von Mises Institute, whose founder and president, the free-market capitalist Lew Rockwell, regularly features Sheehan's columns on his website.

The criticism of Sheehan by pro-Iraq war pundits and bloggers has in turn been criticized by anti-Iraq war pundits and bloggers. Sheehan supporters, including Phil Donahue and Joe Conason, have criticized such comments, Conason describing the criticism as "baiting a bereaved mother as a traitor". [citation
url =
journal =
title = Ugly acts of desperation
first = Joe | last = Conason

Rush Limbaugh in particular has been attacked for his coverage of the Sheehan Story by MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who described him as the "Worst Person in the World," ridiculed him over a Media Matters for America soundbite which quoted Limbaugh as saying that "There's nothing about [Sheehan's story] that's real," and him of hypocrisy, saying "He also referred to her supporters as dope-smoking FM types. I guess the painkillers wipe out your memory along with your ethics." [citation
url =
title = Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Aug. 17
date = 18 August 2005
journal = MSNBC


A former housewife, Sheehan has no formal instruction in public speaking. She is blunt and often vitriolic in her anti-war speeches and writings, a characteristic that has been noted by observers on both the left and right, and which Sheehan herself does not deny [citation
url =
date = August 20, 2005
journal =
title = Hypocrites and Liars
first = Cindy | last = Sheehan
] In March 2005, James Morris sent an e-mail, allegedly written by Sheehan, to ABC's "Nightline" that included the statements that Casey "was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel" and that he had "joined the Army to protect America, not Israel." Sheehan denies the allegations, "I've never said that... Those aren't even words that I would say. I do believe that the Palestinian issue is a hot issue that needs to be solved, and it needs to be more fair and equitable, but I never said my son died for Israel," and claims that Morris modified the email to support his own personal agenda. [ [ - Transcripts ] ] [ [ Daily Kos: Putting out Fires ] ] However, Morris denies altering the email before sending it along to "Nightline" [ [ Representative Press ] ] on Sheehan's behalf per her request for him to do so. Two other individuals, Tony Tersch and Skeeter Gallagher, received a copy of Sheehan's email directly from her; both claim that the e-mail they received is consistent with Morris's story, rather than Sheehan's. Tersch posted the [ email he received] to the "bullyard" Google group. [ [ Cindy Sheehan's moral blackmail. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine ] ] Christopher Hitchens says that Sheehan is anti-Semitic. [] Supporters, meanwhile, claim that she is being set up and such e-mails can be faked.

In remarks on April 27, 2005 at a rally for self-described radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, Sheehan said "America has been killing people, like my sister over here says, since we first stepped on this continent, we have been responsible for death and destruction. I passed on that bullshit to my son and my son enlisted. I’m going all over the country telling moms: 'This country is not worth dying for'. If we’re attacked, we would all go out. We’d all take whatever we had. I’d take my rolling pin and I’d beat the attackers over the head with it. But we were not attacked by Iraq." [citation
url =
title =The Best of Cindy Sheehan
first = Mark | last = Goldblatt
date = 8/29/2005
journal = American Spectator

Sheehan also gave a speech on August 5 2005, at the Veterans for Peace convention in Texas, stating, "You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine". [citation
url =
journal = Representative Press
date = August 03, 2005
title = The Gorilla in the Room is US Support for Israel
] In a letter to author William Rivers Pitt, she wrote, "And most importantly and devastatingly, this war is based on lies and betrayals. Not one American soldier, nor one Iraqi should have been killed. Common sense would dictate that not one more person should be killed for lies. One of the people, my son, was more than enough for me and my family. I will live in unbearable pain until I die. First of all, because my first born was killed violently, and second of all, because he was killed for a neo-con agenda that only benefits a very chosen few in this world. This agenda and their war machine will chew up and spit out as many of our children as they can unless we stop them now."

In a column relating her experience on a June 28, 2005 "Larry King Live" show, Sheehan described President Bush as having "moronic and callous foreign policies" and said Senator John Warner "fell in lockstep behind his Führer." She said, "this war is a catastrophe" and "we should bring the troops home and quit forcing the Iraqi people to pay for our government's hubris and quit forcing innocent children to suffer so we can allegedly fight terrorism somewhere besides America. How absolutely racist and immoral is it to take America's battles to another land and make an entire country pay for the crimes of others? To me, this is blatant genocide." [citation
url =
title = Still Not Worth It
first = Cindy | last = Sheehan

In an August 15, 2005 interview [citation
title = Sheehan plays 'Hardball' with Matthews
url =
] on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews", Sheehan told Matthews that she thought she would not have responded differently to her son's death had he died in Afghanistan rather than in Iraq. Sheehan argued that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was "almost the same thing" as the Iraq war and that in both cases it was wrong to invade an entire country to fight an ideology that did not necessarily represent all of the people of that country. When Matthews pointed out that "...Afghanistan was harboring, the Taliban was harboring al-Qaida which is the group that attacked us on 9/11," Sheehan replied, "Well then we should have gone after Al-Qaeda and maybe not after the country of Afghanistan." Sheehan also argued that American efforts in Afghanistan were not "having any success" and that "our troops should be brought home [from both Iraq and Afghanistan] ."

In an interview given to Mark Knoller of CBS, Sheehan states her belief that the Iraq War has made terrorism worse and referred to the foreign insurgents coming to Iraq as "freedom fighters". "But now that we have decimated the country, the borders are open, freedom fighters from other countries are going in..." []

On August 31, Sheehan wrote that "George is finished playing golf and telling his fables in San Diego, so he will be heading to Louisiana to see the devastation that his environmental policies and his killing policies have caused. Recovery would be easier and much quicker if almost ½ of the three states involved National Guard were not in Iraq."

On September 16, Sheehan likened the National Guard presence in New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina relief to that of occupied Iraq stating, "George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power." [citation
url =
date =September 16th, 2005
title = A Bright Spot in Bush World Amid the Miserable Failures on the Same Planet
first = Cindy | last = Sheehan
] On September 24, Sheehan wrote "I am watching CNN and it is 100 percent rita [sic] ... even though it is a little wind and a little rain... it is bad, but there are other things going on in this country today... and in the world! ...the media will cover anything else besides the war." [ [ Daily Kos :: Comments My Speech ] ]


Since embarking on her campaign in early August 2005, Sheehan has been criticized by various individuals, especially conservatives.

Media personalities

Early criticism of Sheehan was led by Internet news analyst and conservative talk radio host Matt Drudge, who on August 7, 2005, said Sheehan had been inconsistent in her description of her meeting with President Bush. Drudge quoted part of a June 24, 2004, interview with Sheehan published in the Vacaville "Reporter" newspaper shortly after her meeting with Bush, as evidence that Sheehan had previously spoken highly of him.citation
url =
title = Protesting Soldier Mom Changed Story on Bush
journal = Drudge Report
date = August 08 2005
] In it, Sheehan says, "I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis. . . . I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith." [] This criticism was also repeated by other pundits including Bill O'Reilly. Sheehan is also quoted as saying, "We haven't been happy with the way the war has been handled. . . . The president has changed his reasons for being over there every time a reason is proven false or an objective reached."

On August 9 2005, "The O'Reilly Factor" host Bill O'Reilly spoke critically of Sheehan, stating:

I think she has been hijacked by some very, very far left elements . . . there is no question that she has thrown in with the most radical elements in this country. . . . …there is no question that she has thrown in with the most radical elements in this country…I think Mrs. Sheehan bears some responsibility for this and also for the responsibility of other American families who have lost sons and daughters in Iraq, who feel that this kind of behavior borders on treasonous. citation
title = Criticism of political and financial backing
url =
date = 11 August 2005
first = Bill | last = O'Reilly
journal = Fox News O'Reilly Factor (on
That same day, Sheehan stated her reasons for cancelling her appearance to a blogger, via telephone. [] On the August 15, 2005, episode of "The Rush Limbaugh Show", host Limbaugh said:

"I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left." This was criticised on the MediaMatters blog. [citation
url =
date = Tue, Aug 16, 2005
title = Limbaugh baselessly compared Cindy Sheehan to Bill Burkett: "Her story is nothing more than forged documents"
journal = MediaMatters

:"The media is exploiting her like she is a genuine spontaneous eruption. They are not telling the truth about how this woman has been shepherded by Joe Wilson. There are pictures of her with Joseph Wilson -- yes, of Valerie Plame fame. She has showed up at all these anti-war rallies. She was an anti-war mother before any of this began to happen... I first said on August 12th and in ensuing days, acknowledged she lost her son, talked about it, was even sympathetic and then went on to make the point that all she is, is an opportunity, like Bill Burkett was an opportunity to bash Bush, like the Jersey Girls are an opportunity to bash Bush, like Valerie Plame is an opportunity to bash Bush and bash Rove. Like the Jersey Girls were, she's just the next in line..."

Various bloggers have written that another parent of a U.S. serviceman had made a similar protest 11 years earlier, but garnered much less media coverage than Sheehan: Herbert Shughart, the father of Randall Shughart, a Medal of Honorcitation
url =
publisher = U.S. Army Center for Military History
title = Medal of Honor Recipients, Somalia
] recipient and member of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Delta Force, who had been killed during a rescue mission in Somalia in 1993, accosted President Bill Clinton during a face to face meeting on May 23, 1994, accusing the president of being responsible for his son's death and asserting that Clinton did not deserve to remain as Commander in Chief. [citation
url =
title = Clinton slammed, US press silent: Dead Hero's Father Tears into Clinton
journal = London Sunday Times
date = May 29, 1994
first =James | last = Adams
] Shughart and fellow Delta sniper Master Sgt. Gary Gordon were killed in the famous "Black Hawk Down" incident of the Battle of Mogadishu, in which they knowingly sacrificed their lives to protect fallen pilot Michael Durant from a hostile Somali mob.

ABC's "Nightline" received an email signed by Sheehan which said that the Iraq War was being fought for Israel. Sheehan's explanation for this email has been that while it is indeed authentic, i.e. signed by her, the email was "doctored" by a [now former] friend with an anti-Israel agenda. Sheehan denied that the email's words represented her thinking regarding Israel. Sheehan has on several occasions made public remarks which cast aspersions on Israel and Israeli policy, though not nearly as extreme as the language used in her ABC email.Fact|date=July 2007

heehan's relatives

On August 11, 2005, Drudge made public an email he claims to have received from Sheehan's sister-in-law (and Casey's paternal aunt), Cherie Quartarolo, in which she was quoted as saying::"We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the expense of her son's good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect." the email is signed "Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins." but does not mention the individual names of these relatives.

During a series of interviews published on several websites, Sheehan responded to Quartarolo's statement::"My in-laws sent out a press conference disagreeing with me in strong terms; which is totally okay with me, because they barely knew Casey. . . .":"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." [citation
title = Sheehan Family Announces Their Support for Bush
journal = Sacramento
date = August 12, 2005

Sheehan clarified that::" . . . my immediate family, Casey's dad and my three children and my sister, we're all on the same page. And I really think that some of my husband's siblings are with us too." [citation
url =
journal =
title = Smearing Cindy Sheehan
first = Farhad | last = Manjoo
date = August 13, 2005

Family of other military personnel killed in Iraq

Linda Ryan, mother of Corporal Marc T. Ryan, a Marine who was killed in Ramadi, says of Sheehan:

:"She's going about this not realizing how many people she's hurting. When she refers to anyone killed in Iraq, she's referring to my son. She doesn't have anything to say about what happened to my son." [citation
url =
title = Best of the Web Today: The Sad Story of Cindy Sheehan
journal = Wall Street Journal (Opinion Journal section)
first = James | name= Taranto
date = August 12, 2005

On August 15, 2005, Matt and Toni Matula, parents of Matthew Matula, a Texas Marine killed in Iraq, requested that the white cross representing their dead son as a victim of the war in Iraq be removed, stating that they did not wish their son's name to be part of an anti-war demonstration. Mr. Matula said:

:"It's fine for people to grieve their own way. It aggravates me to see them using other people's names to further their cause." [citation
url =
date = 08/15/05
title = Parents Upset About Sheehan's Protest
journal = KXAN TV (NBC affiliate, Austin TX)

Natalie Healy, mother of Dan Healy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Iraq, organized a rally on August 20, 2005 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in order to counteract Sheehan's message, stating:

:"We just want to let the fellas know that we’re supporting them and that we’re not going to wimp out on them." <--dead link [] -->Refimprove|date=February 2008

Gary Qualls, whose son, Marine Corporal Louis Wayne Qualls, died in Iraq, started what was dubbed "Fort Qualls" in Crawford, Texas to counter the "Camp Casey" protests. Qualls has repeatedly removed the white cross bearing his son's name from the Arlington West display set up by "Camp Casey." <--dead link []

Gregg Garvey, whose 23-year-old son died in Iraq, joined the pro-Bush counter protests stating "people have had enough Bush bashing", and that Sheehan "does not represent all of America". <--dead link []

Laura Youngblood, whose husband, Travis, was killed in action in Fallujah, has had a number of run-ins with Sheehan. On MSNBC in September 2005, Sheehan told Youngblood that her baby would be "fatherless for a lie."<--dead link [] --> Youngblood responded by stating her children "will never be fatherless. They know who their father is." In April 2006, Youngblood crashed a Sheehan-led protest in Waco, Texas, imploring Sheehan's protesters to applaud the troops.<--dead link []

Casey Sheehan's grave

Casey Sheehan's grave remained unmarked [ [ Urban Legends Reference Pages: Cindy Sheehan's Son's Grave ] ] except for a simple placard until May 25, 2006, more than two years after Casey's death. [citation
url =
title = Grave Concern 'Peace Mom' defends tombstone choice (Hurl Alert)
date = April 24, 2006
first = Julie | last = Kay
journal = Free Republic, although it may be a link to one or more other sites

Cindy Sheehan explained [citation
url =
title = A Markerless Grave in Vacaville
first = Cindy | last = Sheehan
journal =
date = 11 April 2006
] reasons for the lack of the headstone at Casey's grave site, including grief, disputes with the Department of Defense over funeral service funds, and disputes with the mortuary owner, Steve Nadeau. "For the first year after Casey was killed, I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to place a tombstone on my son's grave. I didn't want one more marble proof that my son was dead. I couldn't even call where he was buried a 'cemetery,' I had to call it 'Casey's Park.' I placed fresh flowers in the cup every week and journaled there almost on a daily basis, and often laid on it and fell asleep and dreamed of my needlessly killed son. We had a Casualty Officer who abandoned us when our mortuary refused to pay the cemetery and told us that the government sent the money to the mortuary, so now it [is our] problem. [We now] have to sue the mortuary."

According to Steve Nadeau, the owner of the mortuary, he not only paid the cemetery, but did so with his own funds and donations from other citizens. " [T] he amount of money the military gave the mortuary for Casey's funeral service and cemetery arrangements didn't even come close to covering the costs. Several kind citizens made donations, [and] I absorbed the rest." [18 April 2006 - "Sheehan Refuted: Director Rebuts 'Peace Mom's' Story. [] ]

This was not the only way in which he went above and beyond his responsibilities following Casey's death, said Nadeau. According to his account, he also provided a stretch limousine and a driver at his expense and invited the family to go to the airport with him so that he could accompany them. None of this was required, said Nadeau. "Having known the Sheehan family for many years through St. Mary's Catholic Church where Ms. Sheehan had previously been the youth director, it was my desire to provide care and dignity to Casey and the family. I did this in every respect."

Nadeau said the military provided his mortuary $5,736 in funding to pay for the funeral service and cemetery arrangements. The funding came in May 2004, said Nadeau, and he paid the cemetery as soon as the costs had been totaled.

Upon placing a headstone, Sheehan said, "It is important for the rest of Casey's family to have one. I guess the pain of seeing it etched in marble that he is dead is another pain I will have to deal with." The headstone was very expensive, Sheehan wrote. She said that the government should have paid for it because of its responsibility for his death. The government does provide headstones free of charge to burial sites not already marked. [ [ ICFA: Cemetery Questions ] ]

Criticism of political and financial backing

In October 2006, Catherine Moy and Melanie Morgan released their book "American Mourning: The Intimate Story of Two Families Joined by War, Torn by Beliefs", in which they allege that Sheehan was paid by John Kerry's campaign in 2004 to speak out against President Bush.cite book| last = Moy| first = Catherine| authorlink = | coauthors = Melanie Morgan| title = American Mourning: The Intimate Story of Two Families Joined by War, Torn by Beliefs | publisher = WND Books| date= October 16, 2006| pages = 232pp| id = ISBN 1-58182-540-4 ] On Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes", Morgan stated:

We have documents from the FEC that tracked the money, and that's generally how you get to a good investigative stories. And we've spent a lot of time in putting this all together.

It was John Kerry's political campaign, John Kerry personally, along with Michael Moore, went to Cindy Sheehan just days and a couple of weeks after the death of her son and asked her to make a commercial for him.

And they did the same thing, political operatives, they asked the other families.cite web | title = Hannity & Colmes| work = transcript| publisher = Fox News| date= 2006-10-16| url =,2933,221519,00.html| accessdate = 2006-10-20 ]

ee also

*Christopher Hitchens' critiques of specific individuals#Regarding Cindy Sheehan


External links

* [ MediaMatters articles on Cindy Sheehan]
* [ Unofficial Sheehan for Congress Support Site]

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