Pro-troop group wants Sheehan's land outside Bush's ranch

Saturday, June 2, 2007

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Days after Cindy Sheehan announced she was stepping down as the face of the anti-war movement, a pro-troop organization said Friday it plans to buy her protest site outside President Bush's ranch.

But Sheehan doesn't want to sell to just anyone.

"It'll be a cold day in hell before she sells it to them," her sister, Dede Miller, said. "She'll sell it to them for $5 million."

Move America Forward wants to place a monument to the troops on the site in Crawford, about 100 miles south of Fort Worth.

"There's definitely symbolism behind being able to take that land and being able to put up a monument that supports our troops," said Robert Dixon, executive director of the Sacramento, Calif.-based group. "It's purely symbolic. We're not going to be holding any rallies there."

Sheehan, who was unavailable for comment, plans to sell the land on eBay as early as next week with a starting bid of $80,000, Miller said. Since buying the property last year for $52,500, Sheehan's group has made many improvements, including putting in gravel roads, clearing brush and planting gardens, Miller said.

Dixon said that after Sheehan's announcement Monday, he was flooded with e-mails from Move America Forward members who thought the group should buy the land. The not-for-profit organization had planned to erect a monument to honor U.S. troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, possibly in Crawford, so "we figured this is the perfect thing to do," he said.

Dixon said the group is "pretty much prepared to do what we have to do" to get the land but has a price limit, which he declined to disclose. The group retained a real estate agent to work on the deal and will start raising money, he said.

Sheehan began a grass roots peace movement in August 2005 when she camped outside Bush's Crawford ranch for 26 days, demanding to talk with the president about her son's death. Army Spc. Casey Sheehan was 24 when he was killed in an ambush in Baghdad in 2004.

Cindy Sheehan's protest started small but swelled to thousands and quickly drew national attention. Over the next two years, she drew huge crowds as she spoke at protest events. But she also drew counter-protests of Bush supporters, including a large downtown rally after a cross-country tour called "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy!" sponsored by Move America Forward.

Sheehan wrote Monday in her online diary that she was leaving the peace movement because of the "smear and hatred" she had endured, not only from the right but the left.

She also said "Camp Casey," the property she bought as a permanent protest site, had served its purpose and was for sale.

Miller said she and others working with Sheehan have received numerous inquiries this week about buying the land.

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