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Soldier's mother protests near Bush ranch

CRAWFORD, Texas -- The angry mother of a US soldier killed in Iraq staged a protest near President Bush's ranch yesterday, demanding an accounting from the president of how he has conducted the war.

Supported by more than 50 demonstrators who chanted, ''W. killed her son!" Cindy Sheehan told reporters: ''I want to ask the president, 'Why did you kill my son? What did my son die for?' "

Sheehan, 48, did not get to see Bush, but did talk for about 45 minutes with national security adviser Steve Hadley and deputy White House chief of staff Joe Hagin, who went out to hear her concerns.

Appreciative of their attention, yet undaunted, Sheehan said she planned to continue her roadside vigil, except for a few breaks, until she gets to talk to Bush.

Her son, Casey, 24, was killed in Sadr City, Iraq, on April 4, 2004. He was an Army specialist, a Humvee mechanic.

''They were nice men," she said of the advisers. ''I told them Iraq was not a threat to the United States and that now people are dead for nothing. I told them I wouldn't leave until I talked to George Bush."

Trent Duffy, a spokesman for the White House, said Bush also wants the troops to return home safely.

''Many of the hundreds of families the president has met with know their loved one died for a noble cause and that the best way to honor their sacrifice is to complete the mission," he said.

Sheehan arrived in Crawford aboard a bus painted red, white, and blue and emblazoned with the words ''Impeachment Tour." The Vacaville, Calif., resident had been attending a Veterans for Peace Convention in Dallas.

She vowed to camp out as close as she could get to the president's ranch until Bush comes out and talks to her. Police were keeping her group about 4 to 5 miles away from the ranch entrance.

Sheehan said she decided to come to Crawford a few days ago after Bush said that fallen US troops had died for a 'noble cause' and that the mission must be completed. ''I want to ask him what that noble cause is," she said. ''I don't want him to use my son's name or my family name to justify any more killing."

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