The Cindy Sheehan Doctrine

One early morning, exactly five weeks after Casey was killed, I was awakened by a disturbing dream. Casey’s father, Patrick and I had traveled to Santa Barbara for Mother’s Day that year to visit the Arlington West exhibit sponsored by the Santa Barbara chapter of Veteran’s for Peace. This was when we still believed that that our marriage was not going to be a casualty of the illegal and immoral travesty of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

After the initial shock of having a cherished part of me violently torn away, the story that the Army told us about Casey’s death did not ring true. When a former-Lieutenant of Casey’s called a few days after his death to express his condolences, Patrick asked him the question that had been on all of our minds: “Casey was a mechanic, what was he doing in combat?” The Lt. replied: “Didn’t you know, Casey volunteered.” That story about Casey “volunteering” never sat right with me. It did not resonate with Casey’s Chaplain heart, his reluctance to go to Iraq in the first place, and his vow before he left that he would not “kill anyone” because he could not. Then to put the icing on the cake baked with lies, when the Lt. and one of Casey’s Sergeants came to his funeral, they told us what a great mechanic Casey was.

This lie was the one that I found so hard to swallow. Casey joined the Army to be a Chaplain’s Assistant and when he reported to boot camp in September of 2000, he was told that specialty was “full” and he would have to be a “cook or a humvee mechanic.” Casey picked the specialty that was the least abhorrent to him, but he didn’t like it. When the Lt. and Sgt. told me that he was a “great mechanic,” I said: “Really, he didn’t even know how to change his own oil.” This was just a small matter, but if the two soldiers would lie about a simple thing like Casey’s job to try and do damage control, then they would lie about how he died, too.

Like I said, Casey had been dead for exactly five weeks on that early Mother’s Day morning in 2004, and I hadn’t dreamed about him yet. In the first dream, I was at an outdoor amphitheater looking at the stage and I heard a booming voice over the loudspeakers say: “Specialist Casey Sheehan.” I looked up, surprised and overjoyed that he was alive. Casey walked out on stage with a can of Diet 7-up in one hand and an M-16 in the other. He was wearing briefs and nothing else. He nonchalantly put his rifle in his mouth and pulled the trigger. I collapsed on the ground screaming: “The Army made Casey kill himself.” I awakened from the dream and instantly there was an earthquake in Santa Barbara that shook our hotel room.

Of course, the dream fueled my suspicions that the story the Army told us was not true. Since Casey’s death, we have heard so many stories.

About six months after Casey died, one of his “buddies” came to visit. He said that Casey volunteered for the mission, and he said: “Sheehan you don’t have to go.” Casey said: “Where my Sgt. goes, I go.” Then this Sgt. claimed that Casey died in his arms. A year later, the medic who held Casey’s brains in his head said he was alive when he got to the medic station; the doctor who tried to keep him alive confirmed that story independently from the medic.

I spoke to two un-embedded journalists who told me that Casey’s unit, the First Cavalry, was on a “search and destroy” mission and after Casey was killed in the ambush, they went driving through Sadr City slaughtering anything that moved and strafing apartment buildings in the Shi’a slum that was built for three million people but contained ten million. Martha Raddatz, ABC correspondent, wrote a book that repeated the blatant US military lie that the Mahdi Army was using women and children as “human shields” forcing the US to kill civilians. First of all, “human shields” are not a very good barrier (unless the First Cav was using sling shots and pebbles). Second, insurgencies need popular support and do not benefit from killing innocent civilians, and third, the Iraqi people love their women and children as much as we do.

The “Casey volunteered” story was repeated in Martha Raddatz’s book and she got the info from the soldiers that were in the unarmed and open truck bed that Casey was in when he was killed — regurgitating the official US military lies. Recently this email was sent to my campaign office from a soldier who was near Casey when this event occurred:

I’m very sorry what happened to casey. I knew him I was in his unit and lived across the hall. There has been something I have been wanting to get off my chest though. Why am I hearing he volunteered for the mission. He was a humvee mechanic and he honestly sucked at it. He was a great guy but a horrible mechanic. The truth is that when the 1st sgt who was scared to go out himself asked for volunteers all the nco’s literally ran to the potapottys. Sheehans chief told sheehan to get on the lmtv. Sheehan said ” no, I’m a mechanic” well I remember watching ssg (XXXX) say” get your motherfucken ass on the god damn truck” and he literrally grabbed casey by his collar and dragged him onto the lmtv. Don’t believe me you better ask somebody. That’s also what I told Martha Raddatz but I guess for some reason she didn’t think she should write it that way. Well I’m sorry but if you were told different it was a lie. This is the truth I swear on my son. God Bless and good luck, [NOTE: This email has not been altered by me: CS].

Martha Raddatz confirmed that she was told this, but did not follow up because this soldier was “not on Casey’s truck.” This account of Casey’s last minutes of life upsets me so much, but this account makes more sense to me then the other accounts. The Army had him for almost four years, but I had him for 24 years.

Iraq Vets Against the War is holding a “Winter Soldier” event soon, and they will recount stories of how they participated in war crimes or witnessed war crimes, which is not in dispute because the entire invasion and occupation is a war crime. These young people came home alive and many of them will have to deal with their demons forever as my Vietnam veteran friends still do, but we families of soldiers who were killed will also be haunted by things we know and things we will never know or never know for sure. The stories of military neglect, abuse (sexual, physical, mental, emotional) or lies are almost as many as there are troops: living or dead.

Casey joined the US Army to be a Chaplain’s Assistant, was made a mechanic, then died five days after deployment as a very reluctant infantry soldier who had never been trained in urban guerrilla warfare. Do I want to sue someone for the wrongful death of my son caused by the criminal behavior of his Commander in Chief and for the cowardice and blood-lust exhibited by Casey’s superiors in the First Cavalry? Of course I do, not to bring Casey back (obviously) but to prevent future heartache and frustration. We families cannot sue because of the “Ferris Doctrine” which prohibits soldiers or family members from suing the government if a soldier is harmed or killed while in service… even for “gross negligence.”

If we cannot sue the military or government, I want to propose a “Casey Sheehan Doctrine” that will read something like this:

Whereas, citizens of the United States have basic and profound legal rights protected by this country’s Constitution, irrespective of enacted laws or executive orders, past, present, and future, that violate, weaken, or render nil the very core of those rights, and

Whereas, US citizens serving in the US military, and by virtue of military unilateral enlistment contracts, are by default denied these basic legal rights afforded others of the citizenry, and

Whereas, wars of aggression, imperialist in nature, unprovoked in substance, and profitable by design have been deemed illegal globally, and immoral universally; and that the purveyors of such atrocious events are to be held in contempt of humanity for their crimes of war, and

Whereas, the only justifiable use of force is for protective purposes, for life, liberty, and property, the last of which may be construed to mean one’s country in a broader sense, and

Whereas, any member of the US military has the legal and moral responsibility to refuse any order that is illegal or immoral in nature, especially one that may constitute a crime against humanity, and

Whereas, the US invasion/occupation of the country of Iraq, known as the Iraq War, soon into its sixth year of prosecution, has been shown to have been caused directly on the basis of lies, deceit, manipulation and duplicity on the part of the Executive branch of the government of the United States, and the acquiescence of the US Congress, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, that all members of the US military war machine–soldiers, marines, airmen and women, and sailors–and those adjunct to them, are called upon to follow their conscience in all matters relating to their military service; and such persons should refuse any orders that might contradict matters of conscience, morality, or law, and further

BE IT RESOLVED, that those in uniform, and families, friends, advocates, and others, of those who serve their country will seek redress for any wrongdoing, abuse, mistreatment, injury, or death upon their person; and this justice should be pursued by any means available, legal and otherwise, up to and including acts of civil disobedience.

Resolved this day of March 5, 2008

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan who was killed in Bush's war of terror on 04/04/04. Sheehan is a congressional candidate running against Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco. You can visit her campaign website at She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and The Camp Casey Peace Institute. Read other articles by Cindy, or visit Cindy's website.

21 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. D.R. Munro said on March 6th, 2008 at 7:28am #

    You may some very good points, Cindy. I agree you with on a great many things, but it seems to me like you are taking out the human element. By that I mean, you say “any member of the US military has the legal and moral responsibility to refuse any order that is illegal or immoral in nature,” and I agree with this completely.

    But think for a minute what would have happened to him if Casey had refused (assuming the email is the true story) to be party to his fateful trip?

    Things look great on paper, but when you arrive on the battlefield, they go right out the window. There is not a single way to assure responsible action of commanding officers in the field. This is not a new problem.

  2. D.R. Munro said on March 6th, 2008 at 7:29am #


  3. Thomas Mc said on March 6th, 2008 at 9:31am #

    The bottom line is that Bush/Cheney and their supporters murdered Casey, and at least a million other innocent people.

    If the USA does not try them for their war crimes and crimes against humanity, then the USA will look much worse than Germany did after Hitler. At least they didn’t let the Nazis go, like Obama is promising to do with the NeoCons responsible for this horrific tragedy.

  4. Wendy said on March 6th, 2008 at 9:56am #

    Thomas Mc bleated: “The bottom line is that Bush/Cheney and their supporters murdered Casey, and at least a million other innocent people.” I see that Saddam Hussein gets a free pass. Mass graves, rape rooms, people getting put in shredders feet first if they expressed dissent. None of that existed, right? Casey Sheehan and all the troops are heroes for bringing down this regime. Cindy, it is sad to watch you self-destruct into irrelevancy. Peace on Earth. Wendy.

  5. hp said on March 6th, 2008 at 10:15am #

    The rotten truth is the same miscreants who were responsible for WWI and WWII are also responsible for these so-called wars. This ‘Clash of Civilizations.’ We know who they are but the brainwashing and conditioning through decades of repeating lies and propaganda on tv, in the newpapers and movies, in schools and universities, continues. Look at our head of Homeland Security and our US Attorney General. Both dual citizen ISRAELIS. The architects of this latest demonic enterprise. Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith. ALL dual Israelis. Can you say ZOG?

  6. Arch Stanton said on March 6th, 2008 at 1:31pm #

    Zog? Wasn’t he one of the bad guys in one of those Superman movies? Oh, that was Zod. Nevermind.

  7. D.R. Munro said on March 6th, 2008 at 3:27pm #

    Wendy, maybe you forgot where Saddam got all these instruments of torture?

    I bet Congress kept the invoice, you might go ask them.

    Gassing Kurds with American VX gas and helicopters given to him when we he was fighting the Iranians. It is quite alright, the State Department’s actions say, to carry out acts such as these . . .

    . . . until we need a scapegoat.

  8. blackoakmoon said on March 6th, 2008 at 3:35pm #

    the bottom line is that US hegemony put Hussein in power, we are all just pawns to their kings, we go first and die first, and the psychopaths and sociopaths that people “voted” into office go home and don’t think twice about the cost to anyone. A salesman will tell you anything to make a sale. Either you believe the lies or you make up your mind to stop listening. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to here it…

  9. hp said on March 6th, 2008 at 8:34pm #

    Arch Stanton? Wasn’t that where Tuko was looking for the buried gold?

  10. Hue Longer said on March 7th, 2008 at 2:16am #

    lol…I told you Wendy was a repug

  11. Arch Stanton said on March 7th, 2008 at 8:50am #

    “There are two kinds of people in this world: Those with loaded guns, and those who dig.”

  12. John Wilkinson said on March 7th, 2008 at 1:34pm #

    “Thomas Mc bleated: “The bottom line is that Bush/Cheney and their supporters murdered Casey, and at least a million other innocent people.” I see that Saddam Hussein gets a free pass.”

    I see that this Bush/Cheney supporter has no qualms of conscience, preaching morality to others is OK, not applying it to themselves. He (Hussein) was their tyrant, to be handled by them, when ready. They (B/C from 1 million BC) are our tyrants, but the individual responsibility you keep bleating about doesn’t extend that high — or to you. Yes, and they (the murdered Iraqis) should be thankful, we had to kill them to save them, poor devils, that was our Christian duty, commanded by our Lord.

    “Cindy, it is sad to watch you self-destruct into irrelevancy.”
    Yes, insult someone who has lost everything that matters. She shouldn’t be raising questions about it, it was only her son after all. How effing callous, are you a human being or some lizard from outer space? She’s irrelevant because she caught the military LYING to her about the most precious thing? Have you no effing decency?

    “Peace on Earth.” That’s right. That’s what you religious types say when you screw someone over, when you suck the life out of them. Let there be peace (possibly obtained through bombs), and no questions, after you plunge the knife into someone and turn it over, for good measure. So you can leave in peace and noone should bother you about taking responsibility for your hateful words. You’ve done your duty, defended your Fuehrer. I am sure you have one of those “support the troops” decals, you’ve done your part, and screw these pesky people who actually miss their flesh and blood. Now you can go drink that latte with clear conscience, let someone else die.

  13. dan e said on March 7th, 2008 at 3:27pm #

    Wendy, whoever you are, if that’s your real name which I doubt, you are not only completely off base & out of line, you are stupid and incompetent. The only idiots who pay attn to the silly crap you’re peddling are your Rethuglican friends. Even Artillery Hillery & Obummer fans reject the kind of nonsense you posted.

    I advise you to seek another line of work — even “Rev” Hagee tries to maintain a shred of credibility, so he hires professional BS artists, never clumsy amateurs like yourself. Sorry lady, no cigar:)

  14. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 7th, 2008 at 4:06pm #

    “Cindy Sheehan Ignites More Mental Violence!!”

    or some such headline.

    I’m doubtful the Sheehan people even sample DV anymore,
    And consequently I really wonder why
    they keep putting up in DV,

    but here goes:

    My suggestion is that in the campaign speeches, at any rate,
    Cindy should MOVE ON from Casey references
    Which all of us with
    any cognizance of who and from when and where Cindy Sheehan is


    KNOW and REMEMBER about.

    Save Casey for answers to questions from the voters and their
    Self-appointed immaculate representatives, the newspress.

    Which is just you know, just an opinion and honest
    Suggestion to,

    Cindy Sheehan,
    Independent Party candidate for
    Nasty Pelosi’s 8th Congressional seat in the small
    but lovely

    town of San Francisco, California, on this 7th day of March, 2008.

  15. Hue Longer said on March 8th, 2008 at 7:44am #

    Lloyd, I love you like the older brother I never wanted, so I gotta tell ya mate, you should rethink this position you take on Sheehan…you are a good and loyal bull terrior who wants the best for all who feed it, but has mistaken a friendly treat offering human for a plastic trashcan mocking you on a hot afternoon.

  16. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 8th, 2008 at 11:32pm #


    errrrrrrr, huh?

    Hue? I’m only trying to increase the probabilities for the lady’s victory. You may certainly consider my advice mistaken, but it is NOT meanly meant, or otherwise badly intentioned.

  17. onecansay said on March 9th, 2008 at 6:52pm #

    Cindy, your loss is something that many mothers have experienced through the centuries. Nothing diminishes this loss ever. My point is that IF you decide to be the slave of the Czar, whatever the century or millennial frame, then you must then do as a slave for Czar or die.
    Cindy, do you have in your possession a Social Security Number?
    Did your son Casey have a Social Security Number?
    Where do you get a Social Security Number?
    Do you need a Social Security Number?
    Casey was just a NUMBER Cindy!
    Just like you Cindy!! A number.
    What is your number Cindy?
    I no longer have a use for that number Cindy.
    Maybe that is where you should begin your.
    Free yourself and teach others to do so as well.
    I will be free.
    some call me frank

  18. Mike McNiven said on March 10th, 2008 at 12:33am #

    Ms. Sheehan, please add the following line to your doctrine to completet it. The substance of it has been the explicit desire of many nations for more than a century!

    ” Be It Resolved that any and all US military presence outside the US borders ‘contradicts matters of conscience, morality, or law, and further’.”

  19. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 10th, 2008 at 3:03pm #

    I want to add that I watched a video by Vice-Presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez yesterday, and he laid out his priorities as: (1) electoral reform, (2) the poor, and (3) ending the Iraq War. Consequently, I suspect that people are being naive if they think Ralph Nader will be a strong national spokesman for getting the hell out of Iraq, yesterday.

  20. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 12th, 2008 at 10:37am #

    truth and wisdom = dead end.

  21. Carl said on March 21st, 2008 at 8:57pm #

    Where is Cindy Sheehan now? (March 21, 2008)