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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/27/14

Hillary Clinton Loses

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Original published at Daily Kos

By Steven D

Ray McGovern Bloodied, Bruised and Arrested at Hillary Clinton Speech at George Washington University
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No, I'm not making a prediction. She hasn't lost the nomination battle for 2016; not yet anyway. However what she did do today, or what I should more accurately say, is she lost my respect.

Back in 2011, at a speech she, in her capacity as Secretary of State, was giving for international internet freedom, a worthy cause. During the speech, Ray McGovern, a retired CIA agent who became a political activist against the wars fought in our name in the Middle east, stood up and tuned his back on her, a silent form of protest. For that he was arrested for disorderly conduct. From the transcript of the Democracy NOW broadcast about the incident:

"RAY McGOVERN: Well, I was pounced upon. I was blindsided, really. I was looking straight to the back, minding my own business, the only offense being standing up when everyone else was sitting down. And without any warning, I was pounced upon by and what I call large-manhandled by a fellow who looked like an NFL football player in plain dress. I don't know who he was. That's why you hear me screaming, "Who are you? Who are you?" I never did get the answer to that. So it was really quite abrupt, quite violent. [...]

"[T]hey put two sets of handcuffs on me very roughly. They were the iron or the steel handcuffs. They dug into my wrists. Well, you could see some of the stuff right here. And they put it behind my back, of course, and I started bleeding profusely over my pants. We have the pants; they're full of blood. When somebody said, 'Is that his blood?' one of the cops said, 'No, no, I pricked my finger.' Right."

Now that was bad enough, violating his 1st amendment right to dissent, and eventually the charges against him were dropped. But what followed next was much worse. From the lawsuit filed by McGovern against the US State Department:

"The complaint continues: [After McGovern's arrest] 'The Department of State then opened an investigation into Plaintiff McGovern, including specifically his lawful, protected political beliefs, activities, statements and associations which it kept open for nearly seven months, despite all charges having been dropped against Mr. McGovern and despite having determined that Mr. McGovern was engaged in no criminal activity.'

"As the complaint states: 'The Department of State issued a Be On The Lookout Alert ('BOLO Alert') for the then-71-year-old McGOVERN which described his 'considerable amount of political activism, primarily anti-war,' displayed his picture and directed law enforcement that if Mr. McGOVERN was encountered, 'USE CAUTION, stop and question him and contact the Department of State Diplomatic Security Command Center.'"

That is the type of thing one would expect of a person who was suspected of committing violent acts of terrorism, or of making threats against the US government or its officials, not an antiwar activist who served in the military -- the Army -- and then the CIA. All he did was turn his back on Hillary Clinton and he was arrested in a brutal fashion, and then a political vendetta was carried out against him. A BOLO Alert is no small matter. Any trigger happy police officer or law enforcement official who saw him was required to stop, treat him as a dangerous individual, and immediately contact the Security apparatus at the State Department. That would scare the hell out of me if my name ever got put on such a list.

Of course, McGovern was never officially informed of the order, but his encounters with law enforcement must have led him to suspect that he was on some sort of government watch list. Ultimately, it took a Freedom of Information Act request to discover this wrongful action by our government.

McGovern was targeted by the State Department because he turned his back on Hillary Clinton, nothing more. Luckily, we have some good news. The Judge in his case ruled in McGovern's favor and issued an injunction requiring the government to remove him from the BOLO watch list.

"The PCJF filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Mr. McGovern challenging the arrest and brutality, and seeking an injunction against the State Department related to its issuing a 'Be On the Look-Out' (BOLO) alert against Mr. McGovern which directed agents to stop and question him on sight.

"We have obtained the relief sought in the litigation against the Department of State and confirmed that the BOLO alert is now rescinded and that the U.S. State Department has advised other law enforcement that it is non-operational.

"The reasons cited for issuing a BOLO alert against Ray included his 'political activism, primarily anti-war' -- a clearly unconstitutional basis. [...]

"The PCJF discovered the unconstitutional BOLO alert issued by the State Department through a Freedom of Information Act demand, and filed a lawsuit, pro bono, on Mr. McGovern's behalf earlier this year."

What Senator Clinton should do is issue an apology to Mr. McGovern. I don't care if she had direct knowledge of this action by her subordinates, or not. She was in charge of the State Department and she bears the ultimate responsibility for what was done to Ray McGovern, and she should be held accountable for what happened to him on her watch. The least she can do is take responsibility and issue an apology. I don't expect that to happen, but until she does, I will not support her run for the Presidency should she declare herself a candidate.

For the record, not only would it be the right thing to do, I believe it would be the politically smart move as well.

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