Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bush Still Can't Speak Directly to Sheehan

What a surprise; Bush is satisfied to speak through the media and still can't directly speak of the Sheehans. What a coward.

Bush to mother who lost son in Iraq: 'I grieve'

By Steve Holland 1 hour, 32 minutes ago

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) -
President George W. Bush said on Thursday he sympathized with a mother who lost a son in
Iraq and has been leading a protest vigil near his ranch, but that he would not pull U.S. troops from Iraq now as she has demanded.

"I grieve for every death," Bush said as Cindy Sheehan remained camped out about five miles away. For six days she has been demanding Bush meet with her about her son, Casey Austin Sheehan, an Army specialist killed in combat in Baghdad in April 2004.

"It breaks my heart to think about a family weeping over the loss of a loved one. I understand the anguish that some feel about the death that takes place," Bush said.

But, he added, "pulling the troops out would send a terrible signal to the enemy."

White House officials said Bush had no plans to meet with Sheehan, saying he met with her in June 2004. National security adviser
Stephen Hadley and deputy White House chief of staff Joe Hagin met her on Saturday, the day she started her vigil.

Hadley told reporters on Thursday that Bush understands Sheehan's views on Iraq are deeply felt, but that "he just respectfully disagrees." The White House released a list showing Bush has held 24 meetings with 900 family members of 272 troops killed in Iraq and
Afghanistan since January 2002.

In response, Sheehan said the best way Bush can show compassion is by meeting with her and other mothers and family members gathered alongside Prairie Chapel Road in Crawford.

"Our sons made the ultimate sacrifice and we want answers. All we're asking is that he sacrifice an hour out of his five-week vacation to talk to us, before the next mother loses her son in Iraq. He says he is spreading peace. How can you spread peace by killing people?" she said in a statement issued through Fenton Communications, a public relations firm.

Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, California, and her supporters hope if they speak out, more Americans will demand that U.S. troops are brought home from Iraq.

Bush answered questions at his Texas ranch after meeting with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, Vice President
Dick Cheney, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and national security adviser Stephen Hadley.

Bush said he had made no final decision on increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq to help improve security during October elections, but he noted pointedly that having more troops in place helped provide stability during the Iraq elections last January and during Afghanistan elections.

"It seemed to have helped create security, and I know the secretary of defense is analyzing that possibility," Bush told reporters.

The United States has roughly 138,000 troops in Iraq.
Pentagon officials have said the number could go up this fall to bolster security for the Iraqi elections.

He sought to not raise Americans' hopes about substantial troop reductions next year, although military officials have talked openly about the possibility.

And Bush said he believed Iraqis would meet an August 15 deadline for drafting a constitution.

But with Americans increasingly questioning the U.S. involvement in Iraq, Bush tried to address Sheehan's concerns and maintain U.S. support for the troops.

"Listen, I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan," Bush said. "She feels strongly about her position. And she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America."

He said he has thought "long and hard" about her demand to "get out of Iraq now" and strongly disagreed, saying a premature withdrawal would betray the Iraqis just as they are being trained to defend themselves and allow for a U.S. pullout.

"Oh, I know it's hard for some Americans to see that progress, but we are making progress. ... Withdrawing before the mission is complete would send a signal to those who wonder about the United States' commitment to spreading freedom," he said.

Posted by crimnos @ 9:11 PM