This war can best be told by narrating the stories of two women. One woman played an instrumental role in launching the invasion of Iraq and the other is determined to end the occupation and bring the troops home. One woman wants to shed light on the lies that led to war and the other is willing to hide in jail to avoid telling the truth about her role in this catastrophe.
One lady is the mother of a fallen soldier who only demands a few rational answers as to why her son died. The second is a warmongering tramp and WMD huckster who refuses to divulge her role in outing Valerie Plame. One woman is an outsider demanding a single hour of the President’s attention. The other is a power broker from Sulzberger’s New York Times with ready access to Bush administration insiders like Karl Rove and Lewis Libby. One woman is invigorating the entire peace movement and the other is a bona fide neo-con operative of a War Party in retreat.
Cindy Sheehan wants to tell the very same tale that Judith Miller refuses to narrate. Miller was a one-woman propaganda squad on a mission to blast American minds with weapons of mass deception. She marketed the war that Cindy refused to buy. Even so, it was Cindy’s son who ended up paying the ultimate price at the age of 24.
Cindy has been compared favorably to Rosa Parks who ignited the civil rights struggle by refusing to move to the back of the bus. I think a more apt historical comparison is to a union electrician and a Polish patriot -- Lech Walesa. Cindy and her band of supporters in Crawford are electrifying the nation with a crusade for the truth as to the reasons we went to war.
If the war wasn’t for the WMDs that Miller promised. If it wasn’t justified by the neo-con canard that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda and was involved in the 9/11 atrocities. Then why did Bush send Casey Sheehan and nearly two thousand of his comrades to kill and die in the deserts of the Gulf? For the record, Casey Sheehan died after volunteering for a dangerous mission to save wounded soldiers in Sadr City. Why can’t Bush demonstrate a fraction of Casey’s courage by sparing an hour to meet Cindy?
The Mess on Potamia started when the president decided to illegally attack Iraq under the cover of the “war on terror.” We now have ample evidence that his decision resulted in establishing a production line for insurgents fueled by anger and rage at the humiliating conquest of their country. Recent reports reveal that by the summer of 2002, Bush and Blair had already initiated hostilities by intensifying air strikes to soften up Iraqi targets. The Downing Street Memos are yet another confirmation that WMD intelligence was fixed and that the decision to go to war was made long before it was announced to the public. And the Plame games prove that Joseph Wilson was punished for refusing to go along with the Yellow cake uranium scam and for exposing the ‘intelligence failure’ cover-up.
Bush’s neo-cons brigades -- including Judith Miller -- continue to dodge any further probing of the WMD hoax. They lied in the firm belief that -- once their delusional expectations materialized -- they would be forgiven for the minor sin of telling WMD fibs.
Cindy Sheehan’s only sin is that she wants to force a frank and constructive national debate about the hidden agenda behind this war. She is demanding a clear definition of the “noble mission” the President keeps talking about. And she wants an exit plan. So far, the response from the White House is that no such discussion is warranted.
Bush continues to hide behind the 9/11 atrocities -- a blow back catastrophe that happened on his watch and as a result of foreign policies engineered by his dad. He responded to the 9/11 assaults by immediately putting Iraq on the short list of countries that were in dire need of an American invasion. He lied about the WMDs and was wrong about the cost and wrong about the outcome. It took him a year to cope with the fact that he had an insurgency on his hand. He now insists on “staying the course” while navigating a maze that brings a new unexpected twist every day. By now, even Bush must realize that the net result of his misadventure in Mesopotamia will be a theocratic republic or a civil war or both.
Judith Miller and Cindy Sheehan’s tales are intertwined. Both narratives are directly connected to this war of choice. One of them is a hero and one of them is a villain. One of them seeks answers for the nation and the other keeps secrets to protect her neo-con friends in high place. The hero of this epic is taking on the combined forces of the administration and mass media moguls -- both intent of drowning her voice in the shark infested waters off the coast of Aruba.
The mass media pundits have taken to writing odes to Miller as a “free speech martyr” while simultaneously unleashing Karl Rove’s neo-con attack squads to muzzle Cindy. They send their investigative reporters in search of the flimsiest excuse to smear the lady from Vacaville. They attack Sheehan’s character and motives while refusing to probe Miller’s neo-con ideological baggage and her intimate connections with the Office of Special Plans.
Even as she emerges as a unifying leader of the anti-war movement, Sheehan is being portrayed as a vulnerable woman manipulated by leftist “peace extremists” who are exploiting her grief. Of course, the reality is that conservative and libertarian pundits were among the first to man the barricades in opposition to this war. This is not Vietnam. This time around, the anti-war movement includes Americans from across the political spectrum -- from Patrick Buchanan on the right to Ralph Nader on the left.
The War Party fixers are now claiming that Cindy has already been granted enough face time with Bush. Apparently, the president is already sacrificing enough of his five-week siesta for Republican fundraising. It doesn’t seem to matter that most of the questions Cindy wants answered relate to matters that became public knowledge long after her one and only ten minute encounter with the president -- a meeting where Cindy generously accepted the President’s condolences for her son’s death.
By now, Bush must realize that Sheehan is not going to pack up and return to Vacaville. Thanks to journalists from the alternative and international press, her compelling message is getting through to millions of Americans. After denying her coverage for the first week, even the mainstream media is now on the story -- if only to defuse her message and smear her reputation.
The administration is now trying to reduce their conflict with Sheehan to a dispute between Americans who want to “cut and run” and those who want to “stay the course and complete some yet to be defined noble mission.” But Cindy Sheehan is not only demanding an immediate withdrawal of American troops -- she also wants to know why they were sent to Iraq in the first place and she wants Bush to explain their current mission and elaborate on why he considers it noble. She is also demanding that the President desist from using Casey’s sacrifice to justify sending more young soldiers to an early grave.
The only thing Bush has going for him now is the neo-con mass media brigades. We’ve all had excellent exposure to their talent for burying a story. To avoid embarrassing themselves, the media moguls have gone to great lengths to bury the Plame/Miller scandal. Karl Rove and Lewis Libby have drifted already back into the background without sustaining a scratch in the Plame games. The Israel/AIPAC spy ring at the Pentagon is another story that vanished without a trace. CNN and FOX have permanently relocated their staff to Aruba and can hardly be expected to chew gum and cover a tourist homicide at the same time. Instead of confronting the president with the same questions that Cindy is asking -- they insist on joining a smear campaign led by the usual low life suspects.
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. One out of three Americans already backs her demand for an immediate withdrawal and two out of three think that the war was a rotten idea from the start. Given the cost in blood and treasure, shouldn’t every American support a spirited debate between citizen Sheehan and her President? Doesn’t the disastrous outcome of this venture entitle Cindy Sheehan to ask a few uncomplicated questions about Judith Miller’s war?
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