Activist Cindy Sheehan of the Gold Star Families for Peace participates on a panel calling for the impeachment of President. Bush on Monday, Jan. 30, 2006 in Washington. Sheehan joined a coalition of groups at the forum on the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
Cindy Sheehan finally got her invitation to see President Bush again,
but before she set eyes on him at the State of the Union address, Capitol Police
removed her from the gallery overlooking the House chamber.
The offense: her shirt, bearing an anti-war message and other "unlawful
conduct," police said.
Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq who reinvigorated the
anti-war movement, was handcuffed and charged with unlawful conduct, according
to Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider. The charge was a misdemeanor and
Sheehan was being released on her own recognizance, Schneider said.
Schneider said Sheehan had worn a T-shirt with an anti-war slogan to Tuesday
night's speech and covered it up until she took her seat. Police warned her
that such displays were not allowed in the House chamber, but she did not respond,
the spokeswoman said.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey , D-Calif., gave Sheehan her only ticket earlier in the day
— Gallery 5, seat 7, row A — while Sheehan was attending an "alternative
state of the union" news conference by CODEPINK, a group pushing for an
end to the Iraq war.
"I'm proud that Cindy's my guest tonight," Woolsey said in an interview
before the speech. "She has made a difference in the debate to bring our
troops home from Iraq."
Sheehan, wrapped in a bright pink scarf against the cold, protested outside
the White House with a handful of others before heading to the Capitol for Bush's
speech. There were no cameras around, but the small band faced the executive
mansion and shouted repeatedly, "You're evicted! Get out of our house!"
Sheehan was arrested in September with about 300 other anti-war activists in
front of the White House after a weekend of protests against the war in Iraq.
In August, she spent 26 days camped near Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, where
he was spending a working vacation.
First lady Laura Bush's guests at her husband's annual address to Congress
certainly were diverse. One, in fact, wasn't even human.
Rex, a 5-year-old German shepherd, fit in with the other Iraq war veterans
who were guests of Republicans and Democrats.
Rex sniffed out bombs in Iraq. He's been the subject of congressional legislation.
He's famous, and Wednesday night he became one of Mrs. Bush's guests at the
State of the Union speech.
How Rex landed such a coveted seat — actually a spot in the aisle labeled
"Rex" on the official seating chart — is quite a tale.
His owner, Air Force Tech Sgt. Jamie Dana, awoke in a military hospital last
summer badly injured by a bomb in Iraq and crying for her bomb-sniffing dog.
Someone told her Rex was dead.
Later, Dana found out that wasn't true. But it would take an act of Congress
before she could take him home to Pennsylvania.
The Air Force said it had spent $18,000 training Rex and that, by statute,
he needed to finish the remaining five years of his useful life before he could
be adopted. Dana's congressman, Rep. John Peterson , R-Pa., helped abolish that
policy in an end-of-year defense bill, the White House said.
No less interesting were the other guests of Republicans and Democrats, ranging
from parents of fallen soldiers to the mayor of Washington to survivors and
rescue personnel from Hurricane Katrina.
Also in Mrs. Bush's box were the family of Marine Staff Sgt. Dan Clay, 27,
who was killed Dec. 1 in Fallujah.
Democrats offered a gallery seat to Benny Rousselle, president of Plaqemines
Parish, La., which was heavily damaged by Katrina.
Conspicuously absent from the table of powerful House Republican leaders was
Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who sat there for a decade as the schedule-setting
majority leader. He was forced to step down from the post last year after being
indicted on campaign finance charges in Texas.
Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at the table instead were the candidates to succeed
him: acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt of Missouri, Ohio Rep. John Boehner and
Arizona Rep. John Shadegg . House Republicans choose a new majority leader Thursday.
Spokesman Kevin Madden said DeLay was sitting near a podium from which members