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Thousands Demonstrate in Washington Against War in Iraq

Thousands of people marched in Washington to protest the war in Iraq Saturday. They rallied near the White House and used speeches and chants to urge President Bush to bring U.S. troops home now.

The protesters came from many American states and included gray-haired grandmothers, civil rights leaders, middle-aged middle-class people, labor organizers, radical political figures, and students.

They carried a forest of signs, many demanding the quick return home of U.S. troops from Iraq and others accused President Bush of being a liar, a criminal, or a fool.

They cheered as Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, stood up to speak.

She said the media and Congress have failed to do their duty as the normal "checks and balances" that are supposed to keep the government on track. "We will be the checks and balances on this out of control, criminal government," she said.

After Ms. Sheehan's son Casey died, she held a 26-day vigil outside President Bush's Texas ranch. Her criticism of the president made headlines and brought new energy to the peace movement.

But another mother who lost a son in the same battle that killed Cindy Sheehan's son says Ms. Sheehan's protests undermine the morale of U.S. forces.

Diane Ibbotson told reporters Saturday in Washington she strongly disagrees with Ms. Sheehan and added that a mother's grief brings pain - not wisdom. "It does not excuse giving aid and comfort to our enemies and, Ms. Sheehan, it does not qualify you as a political analyst or a military strategist," she said.

Some demonstrations were planned in support of the war Saturday and Sunday.

Many anti-war protests are set for Washington, London and other cities with rallies, marches and a concert.

U.S. opinion polls indicate growing discontent with the Iraq war, but President Bush says withdrawing prematurely would encourage terrorism and make the world more dangerous.