Ray McGovern, Daniel Ellsberg and Chris Hedges amongst dozens of protesters arrested outside White House
MALAK BEHROUZNAMI, REPORTER, TRNN: I’m Malak Behrouznami. In Washington, DC, today, December 16, members from Veterans for Peace and the Australian group GetUp! are gathering in front of the White House as they wait for individuals to handcuff themselves to the White House gates in order to protest, in an act of civil resistance to what they deem to be unjust charges being brought against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his staff. Additionally, protesters are here to call an end to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen.
ELLIOT ADAMS, VETERANS FOR PEACE: So the price of war is carried way beyond that of the soldiers. It’s carried on through our whole society. And it’s time we end these wars.
RAY MCGOVERN, FMR. CIA ANALYST: Attention should be paid to the people who are suffering in this war, not the people who are dining with the president.
DANIEL ELLSBERG, FMR. MILITARY ANALYST, WHISTLEBLOWER: I want more Bradley Mannings, and I want them at the highest levels. I want to get the equivalent of the Pentagon papers, our top-secret papers, that will reveal the deceptions that got us into these wars.
DEBRA SWEET, THE WORLD CAN’T WAIT: Well, Assange is doing exactly what should be done in the world: getting the truth out. Free Bradley Manning. Arrest and prosecute the war criminals under the Bush regime. The Obama regime has increased the drone bombings in Pakistan. It has abrogated unto itself [sic] the right to kill US citizens in Yemen and anywhere the war on terror goes. And we have to end this and nip it in the bud now.
JODIE EVANS, COFOUNDER, CODE PINK: I’m here so that the rest of the world knows that there is a war going on, there are wars going on, people are dying, they’re losing their lives, and we’re ignoring them. And the people at home need jobs, and we need to bring the money home.
BEHROUZNAMI: The rally was preceded by a press conference in the morning.
DAVID SWANSON, POLITICAL ACTIVIST AND AUTHOR: Before we came here, we were at the National Press Club with Dan Ellsberg and Ray McGovern and with this Australian group GetUp!, which has raised an incredible amount of money and signatures for the size of that nation to take out these full-page ads today in The New York Times and The Washington Times saying to our president and to our attorney general, what are you doing going after someone without a charge?
BEHROUZNAMI: To protester Ray McGovern, retired CIA official, the WikiLeaks attacks and the ongoing US wars are two sides of the same coin.
MCGOVERN: And the reason they’re going after them so harshly is because the issue is joined, the issue as to what Americans will be allowed to see and hear and know about the crimes that are being perpetrated in our name.
BEHROUZNAMI: Chris Hedges, former writer for The New York Times, was one of many involved in the direct action.
CHRIS HEDGES, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: And it’s incumbent upon those of us who care about what’s left of our civil democracy to physically stand up for freedoms that have been decimated in the last few decades by both the Democrats and the Republicans. Remember that Obama came into office and he couldn’t even find it to restore habeas corpus, has continued the preemptive wars that under post-Nuremberg laws are defined as criminal wars of aggression–they’re illegal. And that codification of the destruction of both domestic and international law, coupled with the total control of the mechanisms of power by corporations, mean that the only hope that is left comes from nonviolent resistant acts like this. And if we don’t do this, then there is no hope.
BEHROUZNAMI: Among those present today were Obama voters. US Army veteran Vince Stravino is one of many voters whose current disappointment with the administration may cost Obama votes in his second-term election.
VINCE STRAVINO, VETERANS FOR PEACE: I’m disappointed that he did not push peace. I say: unfortunately, political statements during the campaign don’t always mean anything in office once they’re elected.
BEHROUZNAMI: President Obama gave a statement the same day of the demonstration, regarding the Afghan war’s progress.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA: In pursuit of our core goal, we are seeing significant progress. Today, al-Qaeda’s senior leadership in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan is under more pressure than at any point since they fled Afghanistan nine years ago.
BEHROUZNAMI: Ray McGovern and others at the rally had anticipated the president’s statement.
MCGOVERN: Our president is going to make an announcement today saying, we’re making progress, stay with us, we can’t quit. Well, we heard that for years in Vietnam. Is nobody around that remembers that? It’s a fool’s errand. We’ve got to get out of there. And the president has no idea of the suffering that he’s inflicting on our own soldiers and the brutality that is afflicting them, as well as the Afghans and Iraqis. So we want to end this. We know a little bit about war. We’re veterans. We want to end this and we want to end it now.
BEHROUZNAMI: Supporters gathered in a single file to march silently toward the White House. A collective arrest of approximately 120 civilians took place.
DAVID SWANSON: Dozens of members of Veterans for Peace, Dan Ellsberg, and Ray McGovern, and Chris Hedges, and dozens of leaders, the president, Mike Ferner, of Veterans for Peace, the leaders of peace groups from across this country. And we are in solidarity with the people of Australia and the people of the world on this. It’s that small gang inside that house that’s against us.
BEHROUZNAMI: Sergeant David Schlosser explained the types of charges that are typically associated with such cases.
SGT. DAVID SCHLOSSER, US PARK POLICE: In 36 CFR Section 7.96 [Code of Federal Regulations], it codifies the regulations for demonstrations on the White House sidewalk. The folks here that are getting arrested are in violation of those sections, and they were given three warnings to come into compliance with those regulations. They have not come into compliance. So, as a result, they’re being placed under arrest.
BEHROUZNAMI: Organizers expressed that today’s action is one of many to come, as participants continue to advocate for the reignitement to an antiwar movement across the nation.
ELLSBERG: I think this war will be going on for a very long time. I hope this’ll be the beginning of a wave of civil disobedience which we haven’t seen and should have seen with respect to this atrocious war. It’s overtime, but it’s not too late, and I hope people will send the message. This war cannot go on any longer with our consent.
End of Transcript
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