Mike Whitney - President
recently visited Dover Air Force Base where he was photographed with the
flag-draped coffins of soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Why did Obama do this and what was your reaction?
Cindy Sheehan - I think Obama did this as a publicity stunt and used
the dead troops (that he was responsible for killing) as props to show
that he "cares" about the troops. This stunt was in the middle of the
"discussions" about how many more troops to send to Afghanistan (after
he has already sent about 35,000).
It made me sick.
MW - On Thursday, on orders from President Obama, the US military
launched cruise missile attacks on Yemen which were followed by raids by
the Yemeni Security forces.
An estimated 120 people were killed.
actions indicate that he accepts
the Bush Doctrine, that he thinks the
US has the right to assassinate people without due process on the mere
suspicion they may be linked to a terrorist organization.
Cindy Sheehan - And Obama reiterated this doctrine during his Nobel
acceptance speech--which some are calling the "Obama Doctrine" now.
No, I do not agree with these extra-legal executions. I do not agree
that the CIA can be jury, judge and executioner in Pakistan and
indiscriminately kill people with their drones.
I adamantly disagree with the doctrine of "pre-emptive" strikes or
invasions and I don't agree that they keep Americans "safer" and, even
if they did, innocent people are getting caught in the crossfire and we
are creating enemies that we will never be able to kill.
MW - Hugo Chavez has been demonized in the US media as anti-American and
a dictator. You've met Chavez and seen first-hand what's going on in
Cindy Sheehan - Well, statistically, illiteracy and poverty rates have
improved since Chavez has been president of Venezuela - although, it is
still a very poor country.
I think we should always take governments and politicians with a grain
of salt, or with high suspicion. But for a politician, I do think that
Chavez cares about the people of Venezuela and democracy movements in
South America. His actions have proven that and he has been pretty
courageous in trying to spread populism and socialism. He has supported
other leaders, like Morales of Bolivia, who have been attacked and
marginalized by the ruling class.
Is Chavez a dictator? He's as much a dictator as Obama is. Chavez has
put constitutional reforms before the public and has survived CIA coup
and recall attempts.
I am sure there is always hanky-panky in any
election, but Jimmy Carter has certified elections.
MW - Here's a poem by an Iraqi blogger named Layla Anwar, which pretty
well sums up the anger and anguish felt by many Iraqis:
“Come and see our overflowing morgues
and find our little ones for us...
You may find them in this corner or the other, a little hand poking
out, pointing out at you...
Come and search for them in the rubble of your “surgical” air raids,
you may find a little leg or a little head... pleading for your
Come and see them amassed in the garbage dumps, scavenging morsels
Come and see, come...”
(“Flying Kites” Layla Anwar)
How important to you is it that the
who are responsible for the destruction of Iraq and the slaughtering of
over 1 million Iraqis
be brought to justice?
Cindy Sheehan - In my opinion, accountability for war crimes committed
on the people of Iraq/Afghanistan and, now Pakistan, is imperative.
The US has been committing war crimes for at least the last 100 years
(off the continent) and none of our leaders have ever been held
accountable and that's one of the reasons that the empire is able to
I also believe that the way to the rest of the world's heart is for
American leaders to be held accountable.
MW - The senate just passed the $636 billion Pentagon budget on
Friday which extends the controversial
US Patriot Act. Obama is expected
to sign the bill sometime this week.
Why is America trying to trying to
"liberate" Iraq and Afghanistan, when it is spying on its people at
Cindy Sheehan - First of all, "liberation" was not a goal of the
invasions. We, the gullible, were told that we were going into
Afghanistan to get Osama and Iraq because Saddam had WMD and a
connection to al Qaeda. When those rationales were proven false, we were
then told that it was to liberate the people. Now in Afghanistan, we are
told we are "protecting the women."
phony war on terror has been used to steal our liberties in a
full-frontal assault since
9-11 and Obama voted to reauthorize the USA
PATRIOT ACT when he was a Senator, and voted for the
act, which gave broad authority to the government to
spy on our
electronic communications and gave telecom companies immunity.
I not only see this as passive stealing of our liberties, but the United
Police States of America is increasing in physical oppression, also.
I'll be interested to see how
the Police State will handle my new
action: Peace of the Action.
MW - You know a lot of people across the country. What's the mood among
Obama supporters? Have they thrown in the towel already or do they still
think he'll turn out to be the leader they hoped he would be?
Cindy Sheehan - I lost a lot of friends when B.O. became president and
it was a lonely 6 months after he was elected.
I wrote a new book called Myth America (short title) and I started to
travel around the country in April doing book events. For the first time
since my activism started, people walked out on my presentations because
I was telling them that it was the system - not the person who infests
the White House. However, by the end of my book tour in August, the
crowds were growing and more enthusiastic and less gaga-eyed over Obama.
Then I started touring again in September and the discontent is growing.
I am happy about that.
The ones that upset me the most are the so-called leaders of the
"progressive" movement like Tom Hayden, CODEPINK and Michael Moore who
very enthusiastically endorsed, worked for, voted for, and raised money
for Obama, and NOW are beginning to speak out against his carnage, when
in fact, Obama has always been very pro-war. Once the horse is out of
the barn, it's hard to get him back in. The movement should never have
given him a "chance."
Things are so much worse in foreign policy almost
a year into his regime.
MW - The media has had a tough time dealing with Cindy Sheehan. On the
one hand, they've done everything in their power to glorify the wars and
the men and women who serve in uniform. On the other hand, they've gone
to great lengths to discredit the mother of a soldier who died fighting
in America's wars.
Why is the media so afraid of
Cindy Sheehan - Because I tell inconvenient truths. War is not pretty,
ever, but unnecessary wars and needless carnage are even worse.
Also, I realized very early on that the problem didn't rest with a
particular political party, but it's a systemic problem and the
corporate media is part of it.
MW - Here is a very long question.
It's a quote from Obama's Nobel
acceptance speech in Oslo:
"I come here with an acute sense of the cost
of armed conflict - filled with difficult questions about the
relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with
the other. These questions are not new. War, in one form or another,
appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was
not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease - the
manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled
Over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so
did philosophers, clerics and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive
power of war. The concept of a "just war" emerged, suggesting that war
is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as
a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional;
and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence...
For most of history, this concept of just war was rarely observed. The
capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved
inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look
different or pray to a different God I do not bring with me today a
definitive solution to the problems of war.
What I do know is that
meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work and
persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And
it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war
and the imperatives of a just peace.
We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate
violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations -
acting individually or in concert - will find the use of force not only
necessary but morally justified."
(Obama Nobel acceptance speech)
This is a very disturbing quote.
What do you think Obama is trying to
Cindy Sheehan - Like I said in my speech in Oslo,
the ruling class is
telling us by giving Obama that award, and in his speech that "War is
Peace" and the only conceivable way to peace is through war.
What is also disturbing, is the kudos he got from the left-right
establishment over that speech. Disturbing, yet predictable.
MW - Last question. This is an excerpt from an article you wrote more
than a year ago:
"The most devastating conclusion that I reached
this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His
precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who
loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a
war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried every since
he died to make his sacrifice meaningful.
Casey died for a country which cares
more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people
will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and
Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me
to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey
paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts
Good-bye America... you are not the country that I love and I finally
realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that
country unless you want it."
Do you feel the same way now as when you wrote that, or do you see any
glimmer of hope that the country is beginning to change directions?
Cindy Sheehan -
I wrote this in May of 2007 when I resigned from the movement - I still
believe that the people have to wake up on their own, but we can give
them some gentle shakes.
I am still sacrificing for the enlightenment
and am still trying.
It was a short retirement...