Feathered Bastard

Cindy Sheehan Expected to Participate in Pat Tillman Protest at John McCain's Office Friday (w/Update)

Peace activist and anti-war den mom Cindy Sheehan will be a busy one while she's in town over the next couple of days with a fundraiser at a local home, an appearance at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, and most interestingly, a protest announced by the End the War Coalition, in which Sheehan and other anti-war agitators will march on the office of Senator John McCain Friday morning, dressed, perhaps, in Arizona Cardinals' jerseys bearing the number 40.

That jersey, of course, was the one worn by Cardinals' safety and Army Ranger Pat Tillman, who was killed by friendly fire in the mountains of Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. But whether they wear the jerseys may depend on whether or not they can find some for sale. According to the End the War Coalition's Edwina Vogan, every place they've checked with in town so far is out of the Tillman jersey, which was retired by the Cardinals to honor the slain man.

Vogan says she, Sheehan, and other activists are marching on McCain's office because McCain has expressed his support for Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Defense Secretary Robert Gates's pick to lead U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal was the head of the Pentagon's secretive Joint Special Operations Command at the time of Tillman's death, and recommended Tillman for a Silver Star for placing himself "in the line of devastating enemy fire." This, despite the fact he later admitted that he suspected Tillman had been killed by friendly fire.

Though McChrystal apologized for his part in the cover-up during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this week, Tillman's mom Mary Tillman blasted McChrystal, telling CNN that McChrystal was "lying" during the hearing, especially when he told senators there was no intent to deceive in putting out a false narrative of Tillman's death.

"He said he didn't know for certain Pat was killed by fratricide," said Mary Tillman. "That isn't true in and of itself, but the fact is, it doesn't matter whether he knew it for certain."

Indeed, in 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that McChrystal sent a back-channel memo to higher-ups just a week after Tillman was killed, advising that the White House be informed of the circumstances of Tillman's death in order to avoid "public embarrassment."

The Pentagon's inspector general later criticized McChrystal for signing off on the posthumous Silver Star for Tillman, saying the award "erroneously implied that Corporal Tillman died by enemy fire." McChrystal was later cleared of wrongdoing in a final review by four-star General Willaim S. Wallace.

During the Friday protest, the End the War Coalition plans to urge McCain to vote against confirming McChrystal to his new position. I'll be there to observe Sheehan's promised participation, and to see if they were ultimately able to score some Tillman jerseys for the demonstrations. McCain's office is at 5353 North 16th Street in Phoenix, and the protest is slated to begin this Friday at 9 a.m. sharp, if you care to drop by.

UPDATE: I didn't make it to the protest, as I had to report on something else at the time of the event. However, I'm told Sheehan did not wear Tillman's #40, though other protesters did wear T-shirts representing Tillman during the action.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons