- By David FrancisDavid Francis is a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covers international finance. An award-winning journalist, David has reported from all over Europe, Nigeria, Kenya, Mexico, and Afghanistan on terrorism, national security, the geopolitics of energy, global economics, and the European financial crisis. His work has been published in outlets including the Christian Science Monitor, the Financial Times Deutschland, Slate, and SportsIllustrated.com.
Code Pink protesters wanted Henry Kissinger arrested. Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) would have none of it.
Thursday morning, former Secretary of State Kissinger, along with former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Madeleine Albright, were asked to speak to the Senate Armed Services Committee about discuss global threats. As they entered the hearing room, members of the anti-war group Code Pink erupted, calling for Kissinger to be held for “war crimes.” They raised signs reading “Kissinger War Criminal” and “Cambodia,” referring to his support of the carpet bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.
McCain, the committee’s newly-minted chairman, would have none of it. The senator has a personal connection with Kissinger, who refused to bring home the imprisoned McCain during the Vietnam War to avoid charges of nepotism because McCain’s father was an admiral in the Navy.
“I’ve been a member of this committee for many years, and I have never seen anything as disgraceful and outrageous and despicable as the last demonstration that just took place,” McCain barked.
The protesters — who have spent years mounting similar protests during hearings featuring top Pentagon officials and military brass — were undeterred. They ignored McCain and called for justice “in the name of the people of Chile. In the name of the people of Vietnam. In the name of the people of East Timor. In the name of the people of Cambodia.”
“You know, you’re going to have to shut up, or I’m going to have you arrested. If we can’t get the Capitol Hill Police in here immediately… Get out of here, you low-life scum,” McCain snarled.
He then apologized to Kissinger. “Dr. Kissinger, I hope on behalf of all of the members of this committee on both sides of the aisle — in fact, from all of my colleagues, I’d like to apologize for allowing such disgraceful behavior towards a man who served his country with the greatest distinction.”
But as Kissinger began to read his opening statement, another group of protestors charged behind him. This prompted the 94-year old Schultz to actually stand up to confront them. “I salute Dr. Henry Kissinger,” Schultz said, garnering a standing ovation from the crowd.
Code Pink took to Twitter to respond to McCain.
“Who is really “low-life #scum”? #Warcriminal Henry Kissinger or peace activists from CODEPINK (as @SenJohnMcCain said)?” the group tweeted Thursday morning.
The Code Pink dust-up obscured Albright’s suggestion to expand NATO’s presence into eastern Europe, a move Russia said would escalate its standoff with the United States and Europe.
“I do think that it’s important the Baltic countries are members of NATO,” she said, adding that the alliance should station troops there in the meantime.
“The question is whether they are rotating troops or are their permanently,” Albright said.
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