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Peace mother aims to take protest to D.C.


CRAWFORD, Texas - The mother who pitched a tent near President Bush's ranch three weeks ago and watched her anti-war campaign gain momentum said yesterday that her efforts would not subside, even if Bush granted her the face-to-face meeting she has been seeking.

Cindy Sheehan, whose soldier son Casey died in Iraq in 2004, said she would lead a national bus tour beginning Sept. 1 and ending Sept. 24, when the group Gold Star Families for Peace and other anti-war organizations would settle on a more permanent site in Washington.

Sheehan, of Vacaville, Calif., laid our her plans before a crush of photographers and reporters from around the world who have converged on her expanded protest encampment, Camp Casey II, which now has a large tent rising from the grassy plains and buffet dinners for activists.

She was speaking upon an emotional return from a five-day absence during which she was caring for her ailing mother in Los Angeles.

Her comments came the day after Bush returned to Texas from a three-day swing through the West, in which he aggressively responded to Sheehan's protests, asserting that she does not speak for other military mothers and that her call to withdraw troops from Iraq would "embolden" terrorists.

A White House spokesman argued that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would only help promote terrorism. Spokesman Trent Duffy quoted from a chapter of the bipartisan 9/11 commission report to bolster the administration's statements that the Iraq struggle is part of a broader war on terrorism.

Still, Duffy declined to rule out a potential meeting between Bush and Sheehan.

Sheehan was in a group of military families who met with Bush in 2004 at Fort Lewis, Wash., near Seattle. But she has since said she was offended by his approach to her. She says her opposition to the war has intensified and she wants to talk with the president again.

Bush supporters are expected to converge for an encampment of their own with the theme, "Cindy doesn't speak for me."

Asked about the military families who say she does not represent them, Sheehan replied: "I never said I did."

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