Two senior White House aides met Saturday with the angry mother of a fallen U.S. soldier, but they rejected Cindy Sheehan's demand for a direct accounting from President Bush for the way he has conducted the war in Iraq.
The surprise meeting, which lasted about 45 minutes, took place on a roadside several miles from the president's ranch, where federal and local law enforcement officials had halted Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., and more than 50 antiwar activists.
In a telephone interview after her conversation with national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, Sheehan said she would remain in Crawford and continue to seek a meeting with Bush. "I didn't change my mind at all," she said.
"They said the president really believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," Sheehan added. "And I told them: 'I might be a grieving mom, but you men are very intelligent, and I know you don't believe what you're telling me.' "
Hadley and Hagin said they would relay her sentiments to the president, Sheehan said.
"We mourn the loss of every life, and Americans deeply appreciate those who have made the supreme sacrifice. The way to honor that sacrifice is to complete the mission so that their lives were not lost in vain," White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy said.
Sheehan's son, Casey Sheehan, 24, was killed in the Sadr City section of Baghdad on April 4, 2004. She co-founded Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization of people who have lost loved ones in Iraq or who oppose the war.
Previously, Sheehan was turned away while trying to protest the war at the Pentagon.
She told reporters here that she not only opposes the war but also strongly objects to Bush's assertions that fallen U.S. soldiers had died "for a noble cause."
"I don't want him to use my son's name, or my name, to justify any more killings. And I want to tell the president that, and I want to ask the president why my son died," Sheehan said, contending that the war was "based on horrendous lies and deceptions."