The following is Press TV’s exclusive interview with Cindy Sheehan, a US congressional candidate widely seen around the world as an anti-war movement leader.
Press TV: When you began your campaign soon after the Iraq war and of course, after your son’s death, you didn’t really have the support of the American people, how do you think the American people’s point of view about Iraq has been changed since you launched your campaign.
Sheehan: Since my son died, of course when Casey died, an overwhelming amount of Americans still approved of the war and still approved of George Bush and the time I have been doing my activism since he died and especially since august of 2005 when I was sitting in a ditch in Crawford Texas.
The shift in American opinion has shifted dramatically to being overwhelmingly now against the occupation of Iraq and against George Bush, he has a very low approval rating.
Congress’s approval rating is even lower is only 9 percent and today like you said they had the hearing on executive abuse of power without being able to say George Bush’s name, without being able to accuse him of any crimes or any lies.
They had this very weak hearing and of course we believe and I believe the American people are ready for some accountability, George Bush and Dick Cheney should be held accountable for the hundreds of thousands of deaths and the pain that they have caused in the world.
Press TV: Because of course you kind of bowed out last year, saying that you were exhausted and then you were running against Nancy Pelosi after the scooter Libby case? What role are you playing in all of this now?
Sheehan: Well, I really believe that even though the hearings were imperfect and they were very weak, I believe that my campaign which is picking up momentum and excitement in San Francisco was one of the reasons that Nancy Pelosi took the small baby step forward and said that the hearings and the House Judiciary Committee may happen.
There has been so many people working for impeachment, they have been lobbing John Coniers, they have been lobbying member of the House Judiciary Committee, they have been really working with Nancy Pelosi encouraging her to do this, but in the last few weeks or so my campaign, we’re getting money pouring in and we’re getting signatures pouring in to get me on the ballot and I think that happened because people in America are really disappointed with the lack of leadership in Congress to really take this country in a different direction.
In the past few weeks, congress has approved $163 billion more dollars for George Bush’s occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. They have given George Bush the permission to spy on Americans without getting a warrant and they have given the telecom companies immunity from breaking those FAISA laws that have been in place since 1978, and even more importantly, people like Karl Rove and Harriet Mayors and Josh Bolton are able to resist congress and not show up for petition.
I mean when they have been subpoenaed they do not show up, the congress won’t hold them in contempt, they won’t use their powers to have them physically brought in….
Press TV: Why would the Congress do that? There was so much hope wasn’t there? because people widely saw that the Democratic victory in Congress as being an anti-war vote, and yet the congress does not seem to be doing any thing about that, they voted for the surge and as you said they are not even doing anything about people failing to turn up after being subpoenaed.
Sheehan: Well, we do have some great testimony from people who are in Congress right now; I don’t blame the entire Democratic Party for the weakness of the leaders, and for the actual complicity of the leaders.
We found out last December that Nancy Pelosi was briefed on George Bush’s torture methods and what our country was doing to innocent human beings; waterboarding, the stress positions, the torture prisons, Nancy Pelosi and Jay Rockefeller in the senate and both of them have come out strongly against impeachment and we believe it is because congress is complicit in many of the crimes, especially the leadership in Congress.
They’re briefed on what the president is going to do, they don’t make a public stand against torture, they don’t make a stand against warrantless wire-tapping or holding people, detaining people without their basic human rights of due process of a fair and speedy trial and to not be tortured.
So many times I believe that the two party system and the system is so correct that people who are in high leadership positions they can’t do anything to resist the system because they are a part of it.
Press TV: And if it’s so systemic, you were mentioning the wiretap program and people who have been saying that the Democratic convention is sponsored by AT&T, the company and a few other of those companies. We have been covering Obama’s trip to Europe. He is of course very much in favor of the war in Afghanistan. Do you really see any difference can be made given the two party system?
Sheehan: Like the grassroots level, the Democrats here in America are very progressive. They want the same things that I think are important to this country.
They want the troops to come home from Iraq and Afghanistan, they want universal single pair healthcare, they want their environment clean, they want the United States to eliminate its addiction to fossil fuels so we can have peace and so we can have a clean environment and sustainable future.
The grassroots Democrats want that, but now if they say Barack Obama is their candidate they have to demand this from him. I don’t think there is any difference between killing innocent people in Iraq and killing innocent people in Afghanistan.
The people of Afghanistan and indeed the government of Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11 and they were willing to give up Osama bin Laden to an international tribunal if the Unites States gave them the proper evidence, the proper warrants and the US refused to do that.
Now, two countries are destroyed. Thousands of American families have been devastated and over a million Iraqis and Afghans have been killed and or are refugees and their country is destroyed and I think somebody needs to be held accountable for that.
Press TV: Yes in deed, there was a wedding party of course and the ISAF massacre just days ago but Obama isn’t for that. Isn’t there a problem about being part of a grassroots movement…well I remember this Ralph Nader, the green party candidates, of course they don’t really stand a chance of power in the United States, do they?
Sheehan: Well, the way the electoral system is set up right now is very hard and the way our media is, its very hard. Like Dennis Kucinich was a very strong anti-war, pro-peace, pro-impeachment candidate and he gets shut out of the debates. Ralph Nader gets shut out of the debates, Cynthia McKinney the green party candidate is a very strong candidate for peace and accountability and she gets shut out of media coverage.
So it’s hard to get people to vote for you if they don’t even know that you exist and in America unless you’re on CNN or on the mainstream debates the people don’t hear your position and that’s very unfortunate.
Press TV: And finally Cindy Sheehan, Iran…Obama was again making comments about Iran. I think he has made them in every city that he visited on this tour. We have had so many comments coming from the White House leaks, press reports, pressure in the IAEA, leaks from Vienna, do you think the US people would be able to have a stomach for war on Iran?
Sheehan: Well I think that of course the corporate media and the administration they are pushing for an invasion of Iran and I want to trust Mohamed ElBaradei from the IAEA commission who said there were no weapon of mass destruction in Iraq and he turned out to be correct and he has said that Iran is not enriching uranium for a nuclear bomb program that theirs is a peaceful program for energy, and Iran is a sovereign country, if they want to – I don’t agree with nuclear power as a form of energy but if the government of Iran, if the people of Iran want that – they should be able to with the proper restraints and with the proper oversight. And the IAEA is the perfect group to do that and to make sure that Iran’s nuclear program stays for energy purposes.
But then nobody talks about the fact that Israel has nuclear bombs, nobody talks about the fact that the United States has an overwhelming nuclear arsenal and we have to start talking about that, disarming all nuclear weapons, using alternative forms of energy, solar energy and wind energy and clean fuel for our power needs, and not to use nuclear power which are the very dirty and dangerous form of energy.
Sheehan: US leaders abuse executive powers
Sat, 26 Jul 2008 19:32:27
By Afshin Rattansi, Press TV, Tehran