Who’s The ‘Low Life Scum:’ Kissinger or CODEPINK?

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A very angry Senator John McCain denounced CODEPINK activists as “low-life scum” for holding up signs reading “Arrest Kissinger for War Crimes” and dangling handcuffs next to Henry Kissinger’s head during a Senate hearing on January 29. McCain called the demonstration “disgraceful, outrageous and despicable,” accused the protesters of “physically intimidating” Kissinger and apologized profusely to his friend for this “deeply troubling incident.” [Below see CSPAN video and CODE PINK’s Citizens Arrest Warrant.]

Protesters shout 'Arrest Kissinger for war crimes' as former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger (left) arrives for testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in Washington, DC, January 29, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Protesters shout ‘Arrest Kissinger for war crimes’ as former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger (left) arrives for testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in Washington, DC, January 29, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/Win McNamee/Getty Images)

But if Senator McCain was really concerned about physical intimidation, perhaps he should have conjured up the memory of the gentle Chilean singer/songwriter Victor Jara. After Kissinger facilitated the September 11, 1973 coup against Salvador Allende that brought the ruthless Augusto Pinochet to power, Victor Jara and 5,000 others were rounded up in Chile’s National Stadium. Jara’s hands were smashed and his nails torn off; the sadistic guards then ordered him to play his guitar. Jara was later found dumped on the street, his dead body riddled with gunshot wounds and signs of torture.

CODE PINK's Alli McCracken with handcuffs in front of Henry Kissinger at senate hearing.

CODE PINK’s Alli McCracken with handcuffs in front of Henry Kissinger at senate hearing.

Despite warnings by senior US officials that thousands of Chileans were being tortured and slaughtered, then Secretary of State Kissinger told Pinochet, “You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende.”

Rather than calling peaceful protesters “despicable”, perhaps Senator McCain should have used that term to describe Kissinger’s role in the brutal 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor, which took place just hours after Kissinger and President Ford visited Indonesia. They had given the Indonesian strongman the US green light—and the weapons—for an invasion that led to a 25-year occupation in which over 100,000 soldiers and civilians were killed or starved to death. The UN’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor (CAVR) stated that U.S. “political and military support were fundamental to the Indonesian invasion and occupation” of East Timor.

CODE PINK protests Henry Kissinger. Source US News and World Report

CODE PINK protests Henry Kissinger. Source US News and World Report

If McCain could stomach it, he could have read the report by the UN Commission on Human Rights describing the horrific consequences of that invasion. It includes gang rape of female detainees following periods of prolonged sexual torture; placing women in tanks of water for prolonged periods, including submerging their heads, before being raped; the use of snakes to instill terror during sexual torture; and the mutilation of women’s sexual organs, including insertion of batteries into vaginas and burning nipples and genitals with cigarettes. Talk about physical intimidation, Senator McCain!

You might think that McCain, who suffered tremendously in Vietnam, might be more sensitive to Kissinger’s role in prolonging that war. From 1969 through 1973, it was Kissinger, along with President Nixon, who oversaw the slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos—killing perhaps one million during this period. He was gave the order for the secret bombing of Cambodia. Kissinger is on tape saying, “[Nixon] wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything about it. It’s an order, to be done. Anything that flies on anything that moves.”

Former Secretary of State Kissinger. George Shultz pushes Tighe Barry of CODE PINK. Source Tampa Bay Times.

Former Secretary of State Kissinger. George Shultz pushes Tighe Barry of CODE PINK. Source Tampa Bay Times.

Senator McCain could have taken the easy route by simply reading the meticulously researched book by the late writer Christopher Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Writing as a prosecutor before an international court of law, Hitchens skewers Kissinger for ordering or sanctioning the destruction of civilian populations, the assassination of “unfriendly” politicians and the kidnapping and disappearance of soldiers, journalists and clerics who got in his way. He holds Kissinger responsible for war crimes that range from the deliberate mass killings of civilian populations in Indochina, to collusion in mass murder and assassination in Bangladesh, the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Chile, and the incitement and enabling of genocide in East Timor.

McCain could have also perused the warrant issued by French Judge Roger Le Loire to have Kissinger appear before his court. When the French served Kissinger with summons in 2001 at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, Kissinger fled the country. More indictments followed from Spain, Argentina, Uruguay—even a civil suit in Washington DC.

Reuters photo of Kissinger looking at hand cuffs

Reuters photo of Kissinger looking at hand cuffs

The late Christopher Hitchens was disgusted by the way Henry Kissinger was treated as a respected statesman. He would have been appalled by Senator McCain’s obsequious attitude. “Kissinger should have the door shut in his face by every decent person and should be shamed, ostracized, and excluded,”Hitchens said. “No more dinners in his honor; no more respectful audiences for his absurdly overpriced public appearances; no more smirking photographs with hostesses and celebrities; no more soliciting of his worthless opinions by sycophantic editors and producers.”

Joan Stallard of CODE PINK holds up bloody hand and war criminal sign. Source ANDREW HARRER of BLOOMBERG

Joan Stallard of CODE PINK holds up bloody hand and war criminal sign. Source ANDREW HARRER of BLOOMBERG

Rather than fawning on him, Hitchens suggested, “why don’t you arrest him?”

Hitchens’ words were lost on Senator McCain, who preferred fawning to accountability. That’s where CODEPINK comes in. If we can’t get Kissinger before a court of law, at least we can show—with words and banners—that there are Americans who remember, Americans who empathize with the man’s many victims, Americans who have a conscience.

While McCain called us disgraceful, what is really disgraceful is the Senate calling in a tired old war criminal to testify about “Global Challenges and the U.S. National Security Strategy.” After horribly tragic failed wars, not just in Vietnam but over the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s time for the US leaders like John McCain to bring in fresh faces and fresh ideas. We owe it to the next generation that will be cleaning up the bloody legacy left behind by Kissinger for years to come.

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human rights organization Global Exchange. She is the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.


CODEPINK calls for the arrest of Henry Kissinger for War Crimes

Vietnam: From 1969 through 1973, Kissinger, working for Richard Nixon, oversaw the slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, which led to the deaths of millions of people. Many thousands more died from the affects of massive doses of Agent  Orange and from unexploded US bombs that cover the countryside.

Chile: Henry Kissinger was one of the principle architects of the coup in Chile on September 11, 1973, a coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. Sixteen years of repression, torture and death followed under the rule of Kissinger’s friend, the fascist Augusto Pinochet.

East Timor: In 1975, while working for President Gerald Ford, Kissinger pre-approved the Indonesian dictator Suharto’s bloody invasion of the small island of East Timor. This illegal act of aggression was carried out with weapons furnished by the US. By the time the Indonesian occupation finally ended in 1999, 200,000 Timorese – 30 percent of the population – had been wiped out.

This is Kissinger’s legacy. Death. Destruction. Suffering. Misery. Dictatorships. His is a murderer, a liar, a crook, a thug.

Democracies should hold their officials accountable for their acts. That’s why we demand that Kissinger be arrested for crimes against humanity and tried at the Hague.

CODEPINK, January 29, 2015

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  • AlanMacDonald

    Watching the ‘Peace Group’ Code Pink peacefully and totally
    non-violently publicly ‘expose’, call-out, shame, and confront Henry
    Kissinger, George Schultz, and many of the other war criminals, Wall
    Street crooks, murderers, treasonous political shills, and media
    whores of the Disguised Global Capitalist Empire, this “Empire
    of Chaos” (as Pepe Escobar calls it), this ‘Empire of the Global
    Elite’, and this highly integrated (but well hidden) six-sectored;
    corporate, financial, militarist, media/propaganda, extra-legal, and
    dual-party Vichy-political charade of the Global Empire, which has
    taken-over, ‘captured’ and now almost fully “Occupies” our
    former country as its nominal global HQ, more effectively than the
    earlier Nazi Empire ever dreamed of disguising its ‘capture’ and
    “Occupation” of France with the crude Rel 1.0 and only
    single party Vichy facade of government will NOT be able to hide
    anywhere on this earth when the Second American Revolution erupts and
    is even more successful than the first in ‘excising’ Empire from not
    only our country, but from the earth —- for the simple reason that
    the people will control the paramount powers of the US government and
    be able to; find them, arrest them, put them on trial, prosecute them
    for their sociopathic crimes against humanity and our country,
    imprison them and ‘claw-back’ all looted wealth they stole from our
    ‘commonwealth’, and then celebrate “Democracy coming to
    the U.S.A.” (as Leonard Cohen sings).

    However, what Code Pink did in the corrupt Congress of this EMPIRE
    merely ‘posing’ as our former country, (and a vastly increasing
    number of aware, courageous, and committed American citizens will
    overwhelmingly do in the near future) is to NON-VIOLENTLY do to
    arrogant sociopaths, war criminals, Wall Street looters, corrupt
    political whores, and bureaucratic ‘tools’ of the EMPIRE like
    Kissinger and Schultz will be a more reasoned, non-violent, and a
    slow-motion version of what the American colonial ‘subjects’ of the
    British EMPIRE did to the Red Coats employed by the supposedly divine
    rights of KING George, and what the suffering peasants did to Tsar
    Nicholas and the core elite of the Russian EMPIRE — but without
    guns (and with truly democratically enforced LAWS of ‘the people’)!.

    But unlike what the title of Christopher Lasch’s final work,
    “The Revolt of the Elites” might seem to imply for any who
    have not read it — that the Elite might achieve a Revolt against
    the masses of ‘the people’ — Lasch’s well reasoned and projective
    narrative is more realistic than Fukuyama’s initial mistake of “The
    End of History”, and instead envisions and correctly describes
    the true Revolution of human history as a turning away from both the
    neoconism of the ‘R’ Vichy party and the neoliberal-con game of the
    ‘D’ Vichy party of this same global EMPIRE, and rather evolving
    peacefully to a social philosophy compatible with great humanist
    social philosophers and thinkers as diverse as; Adam Smith, Karl
    Polanyi, Karl Marx, Martin Luther King, Antonio Negri, et al. and
    away from any bureaucratic and hierarchical structures common to all

    Rather the broad and inclusive blending of progressive populism
    (and “Popular Resistance”) that started to take hold in our
    country, more than a century ago, against the elitist era of
    ‘Imperialism’ (and EMPIRE), which the Empire initially submerged,
    suppressed, and expunged from the real American History by enforcing
    public school history texts which claimed in chapter titles (and
    teaching guidelines) that “The Age of Imperialism”, supposedly
    ended by WWI. People as diverse as; General Smedley Butler, FDR,
    Howard Zinn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Wallace, MLK, Gore Vidal,
    Michael Hardt, Hannah Arendt, et al. knew that the supposed end of
    the “Age of Imperialism” in history books was perhaps the biggest
    lie in our real history, and perhaps world history — but most of
    the honest and average American public had no idea of this, until
    now! And, NOW, they, ‘the people’ of America are learning this truth
    and are starting to throw open their collective ‘blacked-out
    windows’ and shout, “we’re not going to take it anymore” from
    this damn disguised EMPIRE.

    Yes, this building and soon coming tsunami of progressive populist
    Revolution of ‘the people’ of the earth against the
    all-too-continuing “Age of Disguised Global Capitalist (and
    Elitist) Empire” is gathering strength and will finally, and
    non-violently, crush this last form of deceitful EMPIRE on OUR earth.

    [As another Code Pink supporter just reminded me in her reply to
    my comment here, “we only need to ‘speak’ (not fight) truth to
    power” against this damn disguised EMPIRE. And she is right,
    speaking ‘truth to power’ against a Global Elite Capitalist Empire
    which thinks its Disguise is solid will kill it merely by ‘exposing’
    the truth that the Empire exists and that it is the proximate CAUSE
    of all our other subordinate ‘symptom problems’]

  • AlanMacDonald

    Medea, congrats, on your protest against Kissinger and the Empire behind him and others like him who work as Power Elite bureaucrats for the Empire.

  • htophet

    Kissinger is a war criminal, John McCain seems to be loosing his grasp of reality, waving flags, Israeli, american but dismissive of the 1st Amendment, somebody else is the “low-life scum”…..

  • oyvay1959

    John McCain is a poster child for the elite, out of touch with the people.
    Pinochet was a fascist, Kissinger supported him what does that make Kissinger? Fill in the answer.

  • lynn

    Thank you, Alan, for a superb response.

  • easywriter

    This should be on the front page of every newspaper in the country…better, yet…the world!

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