Sometimes the hypocrisy is just overwhelming. So, it probably shouldn't surprise us that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would deliver a speech hailing the peaceful protests that changed Egypt while 71-year-old Ray McGovern was roughed up and dragged away for standing quietly in protest of her support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"So this is America," said McGovern as he was hustled from the room by two security guards. "This is America."
McGovern, a former Army intelligence officer and a 27-year veteran of the CIA, was wearing a "Veterans for Peace" t-shirt and, according to witnesses, was standing silently with his back to Secretary Clinton before he was set upon by the two agents who bruised, bloodied and handcuffed McGovern, a cancer survivor.
McGovern, who writes for Consortiumnews.com, has been detained at other events protesting both the illegality of U.S. wars and the hypocrisy of demanding accountability for others but not for senior U.S. officials implicated in war crimes, like the torture authorized by former President George W. Bush and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney.
For instance, last December, McGovern joined a Veterans for Peace protest at the White House, which he described in an article "Thoughts at the White House Fence."
In the article, McGovern described thinking about "Casey Sheehan and 4,429 other U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, and the 491 U.S. troops killed this year in Afghanistan (bringing that total to 1,438). And their mothers. And the mothers of all those others who have died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Mothers don't get to decide; only to mourn.
"A pure snow showered down as if to say blessed are the peacemakers. Tears kept my eyes hydrated against the cold.
"The hat my youngest daughter knit for me three years ago when I had no hair gave me an additional sense of being showered with love and affirmation. There was a palpable sense of rightness in our witness to the witless policies of the White House behind the fence."
McGovern might easily have added the State Department to this point, given Secretary Clinton's emergence as one of the Obama administration's leading war hawks. She also supported Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003 and remained a staunch backer until softening her stance during the Democratic primary campaign in 2007-08.
In comments after being jailed on Tuesday, McGovern explained the reason for his protest: "Hillary is the driving force, together with a few others, behind the war in Afghanistan. She's one of the big hawks in Iran. When I look at her and her husband that they don't know the first thing about war. I do and so do my fellow Veterans for Peace.
"I have to make clear that we Veterans for Peace think that her policies are an abomination to the nation, that they are at cross purposes to the country and not everybody should applaud and give her the idea that she's doing the right thing."
During the run-up to the Iraq invasion, McGovern said he passed on to then-Sen. Clinton articles about the likely devastating consequences, but she still made the "political calculation" to support the war.
"She knew from us that the unintended consequences would be catastrophic," McGovern said. "She knew all that and made that calculation. "
"When people die because we have hypocrites at the top of our government, that compels me to make a statement in whatever way I can. It was not the theme of her speech that I was protesting. It was her war policies."
Nevertheless, among the hypocrisies pervading Secretary Clinton's speech on Tuesday was her supposed eagerness to invite dissent and discussion.
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