Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called protesters "low-life scum," after they interrupted a hearing by calling for former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to be arrested for war crimes.Alas, the good Senator was not taking Code Pink's advice and calling for the Capitol Police to arrest Kissinger for war crimes.
Protesters from the group Code Pink chanted, "Arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes!" and raised signs in the air as Kissinger entered the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing room.
McCain, the chairman of the committee, at first asked, "Could someone find out where the Capitol Police is?"
In a statement released later, McCain wrote:
The incident at today’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in which individuals associated with the liberal group Code Pink physically threatened former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger was completely unacceptable, and those responsible must be held fully accountable for their actions. In my 32 years in the House and Senate, I have never witnessed this kind of physical intimidation of a witness at a Congressional hearing.And:
Code Pink’s typical protest tactics include interrupting Congressional hearings with chanting and sign-holding, which while disruptive and improper, do not represent a threat to witnesses. What happened today was far different. As Dr. Kissinger entered the hearing room to take his seat, a group of Code Pink protesters rushed up to the witness table to confront him, waving handcuffs within inches of his head. Some senators were concerned enough for Dr. Kissinger’s safety that they came down off the dais to support the witnesses. With no U.S. Capitol Police intervening, the episode went on for several minutes.Which is, of course, not entirely accurate. Take a look at the video:
0:18 - Protesters can be heard chanting "Arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes!"A few notes -
0:24 - A rather burly man with a yellow tie (Kissinger's assistant? a Senate staffer?) stands between Kissinger and the protesters
0:28 - A uniformed Capitol Police officer is seen intervening
0:31 - Kissinger calmly sits down next to former Secretary of State George Schultz, who's sitting next to Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright
0:35 - A hand can be seen holding up a pair of hand cuffs between Kissinger and Schultz
0:44 - The Capital police officer can be seen talking on his radio
1:17 - The Capital police officer can be seen directing the protestors to the back of the hall
1:29 - The protestors are seen moving away from Kissinger
1:51 - They're all back in their seats
2:19 - McCain says to one man who seems to be yelling at the committee, "You know, you're going to have to shut up or I'll have you arrested.
2:19 - The Capital police officer is seen leading the man away
2:20 - McCain: "If we can't get the Capitol Hill Police in here immediately"
2:23 - The man goes back for his jacket
2:24 - McCain: "Get out of here you low life scum."
2:27 - McCain apologizes to Kissinger on behalf of the committee
3:04 - Says Kissinger "served his country with the greatest distiction."
- The chanting-bloody-hands-holding-handcuffs protest was done in just over one minute
- McCain seems not to know that a member of the Capitol Police was present at all times
- At no time was the rather burly man with the yellow tie not standing between Kissinger and the protesters.
Not entirely accurate is a bit of an understatement.
But let's take a look at why Code Pink might think Kissinger should be arrested for war crimes (BTW, I do, too!).
On East Timor, Christopher Hitchens wrote in 2002:
The State Department recently declassified the verbatim conversation between Kissinger and General Soeharto on the day of the invasion of East Timor in 1975. The record shows Kissinger giving warm approval to the proposed annexation, and also promising to keep a flow of weapons coming to Indonesia.And with that the blood of 180,000 East Timorese are on Kissinger's hands.
This flagrant agreement to break both international law and the law of the US (which supplied weapons on the specific condition that they be used only in self-defence) contradicts every statement so far made by Kissinger on the subject.
Then there's Vietnam. Take a look at this from Hitchens, again.:
In the fall of 1968, Richard Nixon and some of his emissaries and underlings set out to sabotage the Paris peace negotiations on Vietnam. The means they chose were simple: they privately assured the South Vietnamese military rulers that an incoming Republican regime would offer them a better deal than would a Democratic one. In this way, they undercut both the talks themselves and the electoral strategy of Vice President Hubert Humphrey. The tactic "worked," in that the South Vietnamese junta withdrew from the talks on the eve of the election, thereby destroying the peace initiative on which the Democrats had based their campaign. In another way, it did not "work," because four years later the Nixon Administration tried to conclude the war on the same terms that had been on offer in Paris. The reason for the dead silence that still surrounds the question is that in those intervening years some 20,000 Americans and an uncalculated number of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians lost their lives. Lost them, that is to say, even more pointlessly than had those slain up to that point. The impact of those four years on Indochinese society, and on American democracy, is beyond computation. The chief beneficiary of the covert action, and of the subsequent slaughter, was Henry Kissinger.Note that the peace talk sabotage took place before the 1968 election. Nixon was still a private citizen (albeit one running for President) who had no legal authority to influence foreign policy. In fact, it's a crime to do so.
It's pretty clear that the war was extended 4 years in order to aid in the election of Richard Nixon. All the death and suffering in those extended years is on their hands.
Do I need to point out that Captain John McCain was captured in October 1967 and was released in March of 1973?
How much earlier would McCain have been released had Kissinger not sabotaged the '68 peace talks? How much torture would he not have endured had the man he so deferentially reveres not, in effect, extended the Vietnam war for a Nixon's political gain?
Who's the low life scum here, anyway?