Unbelievable! That was my reaction when someone first sent me this article. In less than a week after we cheered the outbreak of democracy in Egypt, we witnessed the spectacle of retired CIA analyst and Veteran for Peace Ray McGovern being dragged out of Hillary Clinton's press conference yesterday for a silent, peaceful protest.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her speech at George Washington University on February 16 condemning anti-democratic governments in the Middle East that arrest protesters and restrict free expression, police and an unidentified plain-clothes official dragged 71-year-old Ray McGovern from the audience in plain view of Secretary Clinton. McGovern advised Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (who is representing him) that he was brutalized, and eventually, left bleeding in jail with bruises, lacerations and contusions inflicted in the assault. So ironically, at the same moment that Hillary Clinton was deriding Egypt for having "pulled the plug" on First Amendment rights, she presides over the very same thing, never missing a beat in her speech.
Mcgovern's offense? He stood silently in the audience and turned his back revealing a "Veterans for Peace" t-shirt he was wearing. (See Number 54 "Turning one's back" on list of 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action compiled by Dr. Gene Sharp and first published in his 1973 book, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Vol. 2: The Methods of Nonviolent Action. (Boston: Porter Sargent Publishers, 1973). The book outlines each method and gives information about its historical use.)
Blind-sided by security officers who pounced upon him, Mr. McGovern, a veteran Army officer who also worked as a C.I.A. analyst for 27 years, remarked as he was hauled out the door, "So this is America?"
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) and attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, who are defending Mr. McGovern, commented that "It is the ultimate definition of lip service that Secretary of State Clinton would be trumpeting the U.S. government's supposed concerns for free speech rights and this man would be simultaneously brutalized and arrested for engaging in a peaceful act of dissent at her speech."
It's clear from the video below that Mr. McGovern did not "heckle". He was given no warning he was doing anything wrong and only shouted, "So this is America?!" after he was tackled and being dragged out.
At the same moment, ironically, that Hillary Clinton was deriding Egypt for having "pulled the plug" on First Amendment rights, she presides over the very same thing!
Besides the brutal treatment of Ray McGovern's silent protest right in front of her eyes, there are other significant signs the U.S. is seriously clamping down on free speech:
- In September 2010, the Department of Justice Inspector General Report admonished the FBI for targeting anti-war groups and advocacy organizations with no apparent justification, and for placing non-violent activists in those groups on terrorist watch lists. The Boston Globe editorial "Red-Baiting, Circa 2002 - 2006" (quoted verbatim in my prior Huffington Post: "Inspector General Criticism Doesn't Faze FBI Raids on Midwestern Anti-war Activists") characterized the findings:
The report chastised the bureau for having a "weak'' rationale for some of its investigations; investigating where there was "little indication of any possible federal crimes''; and extending "the duration of investigations involving advocacy groups or their members without adequate basis.'' The agency was also taken to task for improperly retaining information about the targeted groups in its files and for classifying investigations of peace groups "under its 'Acts of Terrorism' classification.''
These are serious abuses. Using anti-terrorism laws to target domestic protest organizations is redolent of the actions of the Justice Department against law-abiding protesters during World War I and the Vietnam War -- actions that are rightly remembered as disgraceful.
FBI Director Robert Mueller was misled by subordinates into telling Congress, falsely, that surveillance of a peaceful 2002 anti-war rally was "an outgrowth of an FBI investigation.'' In fact, it was the product of an agent receiving a "make-work'' assignment on a "slow day.''
- Spying on first amendment activity has occurred in 33 states.
- Anti-war activists in the Mid-west were raided and almost two dozen are now being threatened under the Patriot Act with being prosecuted for "terrorism" because of their advocacy for human rights and peace.
- New legislation is proposed in both the House and the Senate to criminalize WikiLeaks and other news outlets whose disclosures, perhaps not coincidentally, embarrassed Hillary and other government officials. In addition to the "SHIELD Act", efforts are underway to pass an "Official Secrets Act" that Bill Clinton vetoed on the grounds that it would hamstring academic discussion and public speaking.
- Private security firms working for a law firm representing the Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America produce a detailed Cointelpro-like list of dirty tricks to attack and discredit journalist Glenn Greenwald, blogger Brad Friedman and others. (More here.)
- And the Wisconsin Governor has threatened to call out the National Guard to help break the state's public employees union if they protest the Governor's proposal to strip them of their collective bargaining rights.
Mainstream media avoids the above issues like the plague even though they are the victims. The Hillary-McGovern incident happened live on C-SPAN but has only been covered by alternate media (including RawStory, Op-Ed News, Michael Moore, Alternet and Consortium News).
Maybe someone should point out to Hillary that Egypt and other dictatorships are not the only countries attempting to pull the plug.