Code Pink interrupted a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing and began chanting that Henry Kissinger should be arrested for war crimes. John McCain didn't like that one bit and called them "low-life" scum.
On CNN's State Of The Union, John McCain told Dana Bash that he feared Code Pink would physically harm Henry Kissinger which prompted his outburst. Code Pink is an anti-war group that hates violence and has never been associated with violence so why was McCain so scared?
BASH: Now that we're past that, past the heat of the moment, do you think that that was the way you would handle it again?
MCCAIN: Yes. These people were physically threatening Henry Kissinger.
I'm used to people popping up at these hearings and yelling and then they're escorted out. That's at least some version of free speech. These people rushed up. They were right next to Henry Kissinger waiving handcuffs at him.
He's a 91-year-old man with a broken shoulder who was willing to come down and testify before Congress to give us the benefit of his many years of wisdom. Of course I was outraged and I am still outraged. It's one thing to stand up and protest, it's something else to physically threaten an individual, particularly an individual who has served so much to his country, whether you agree or not. As I happen to believe he's one of the great statesmen of my lifetime or maybe of the whole 20th century.
BASH: You called them scum. That name-calling do you think --
MCCAIN: I think they are terrible people, OK? I think they are terrible people that would do that to a 91-year-old man with a broken shoulder that -- to physically threaten him. That is -- that is beyond any normal behavior that I have observed.
BASH: From your perspective...
MCCAIN: I said -
BASH: ...it wasn't what they said or the fact that they were protesting.
BASH: It's the way they handled it and who they were talking to?
MCCAIN: The way they literally surrounded him and were physically so -- in such proximity to him that he was in danger of being harmed. That's -- that's what I -- that's what I object to. I don't object to them -- I don't particularly like it when they stand up and yell. This is far different.
Look at the video. There's a person who's waiving handcuffs right over his head, and if it hadn't been for a couple of people, including my colleagues, I've never seen this before, came down from the dais, and to stand with Henry Kissinger and -- between him and those people who, in my view, and I think the video will corroborate it, were physically threatening him. No one deserves that, much less Henry Kissinger.
They were not physically threatening Henry Kissinger, John. Stop lying about it.
Media Benjamin of Code Pink responded in a thoughtful way about McCain's words:
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.
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.