President George W. Bush's faltering management after Hurricane Katrina, like his decision to invade Iraq, show his priorities are at odds with actions needed to keep Americans safe, anti-war protesters said on Monday.
"One of the bogus reasons that George Bush gives for this invasion (and) occupation of Iraq is to make America safer - and Katrina exposed that clearly he has made America more vulnerable through his policies in Iraq," anti-war activist and bereaved mother Cindy Sheehan told a morning news conference.
U.S. troops fighting an unexpectedly stubborn insurgency in Iraq should come home to help face domestic challenges like the unprecedented humanitarian relief and recovery effort on the Gulf Coast, said the activists, who will stage a march on Washington this weekend.
When Sheehan later spoke in Manhattan's Union Square to a group of about 200 anti-war protesters, New York police broke up the rally and arrested a man over a dispute about whether their permit allowed amplified sound.
The anti-war group United for Peace and Justice, spearheading the march on Washington, said National Guard troops and materiel deployed in Iraq were needed to respond to the tragedy in and around New Orleans.
Sheehan is the star attraction for the three-day protest, which will include nonviolent acts of civil disobedience at the White House and an interfaith religious service, organizers said.
After her soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq, Sheehan demanded to meet with Bush while he vacationed in Texas so he could explain why U.S. troops were not being withdrawn from Iraq.
Bush, who had met briefly with Sheehan on a previous occasion, has declined to meet with her again, Reuters reports.