CODEPINK Co-Founder Medea Benjamin says Senator John McCain helped draw attention to Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s record of war crimes in Chile, Vietnam, and East Timor


Story Transcript

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore. On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee heard the testimony of Henry Kissinger. He served as the national security adviser and, later, concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. But during his visit on Capitol Hill, protesters from the antiwar group Code Pink made sure their voices were heard and called for Kissinger’s arrest. ~~~ PROTESTERS: Arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes! Arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes! JOHN MCCAIN, U.S. SENATOR (R-AZ): You know, you’re going to have to shut up, or I’m going to have you arrested. If we can’t get the Capitol Hill police in here immediately–. Get out of here, you lowlife scum. ~~~ DESVARIEUX: Some not-very-kind words from Senator McCain to Code Pink protesters. Now joining us is one of those protesters, Code Pink cofounder Medea Benjamin. Thanks for joining us, Medea. MEDEA BENJAMIN, COFOUNDER, CODEPINK: Hey, Jessica. Thanks for having me on. DESVARIEUX: So, Medea, why were you guys actually calling for Kissinger’s arrest? And what about his record points to that? BENJAMIN: We had a warrant for his arrest that we tried to read out that outlined some of the reasons we think he should be arrested, Jessica. And that went from talking about his role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile to his role in continuing the war and the secretive bombing in Cambodia, the war in Vietnam, the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. We talked about his role in giving the green light for the Indonesian government to invade the island of East Timor and how that led to wiping out one-third of the population there. And those were some of the things that we were trying to read out and some of the reasons that we think that Henry Kissinger should certainly not be allowed to testify before Congress and should instead be tried at The Hague. DESVARIEUX: Have there been any real efforts to actually get him tried at The Hague? BENJAMIN: Well, yes, there have. There have been summons that have presented to him, for example in Paris, where a judge wanted to bring him in for questioning, and he fled the country. There have been lawsuits in Spain, in Argentina, and even a civil suit here in Washington, D.C. So, yes, there have been attempts–unsuccessful so far, but we thought it was appropriate to at least wave a pair of plastic handcuffs in front of his face to say that we remember and we really do believe that in democratic countries like ours there is something called accountability and officials should be held accountable for their actions. DESVARIEUX: And what do you make of Senator McCain’s comments? He called you guys lowlife scum. Do you have a response for that? BENJAMIN: Well, I thought that was pretty undiplomatic of somebody who’s supposed to be a politician. But McCain is actually not very good at holding his anger. We have to thank him for it, because it was thanks to his reaction that we got so much publicity for this. Otherwise it would have just been one more Code Pink protest that very few people would have heard about. DESVARIEUX: Alright. Medea Benjamin, always a pleasure having you on. Thank you so much for joining us. BENJAMIN: Thank you. DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

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Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin is co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human rights organization Global Exchange. She has been organizing against U.S. military interventions, promoting the rights of Palestinians and calling for no war on Iran. Her latest work includes an effort to stop CIA drone attacks, and she is the author of a new book, "Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection"