Code Pink activist Tighe Barry was arrested and charged with disruption of Congress today during an Armed Service Committee hearing on the subject of The Administration’s Strategy and Military Campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). “This is the first hearing since Obama announced that there are going to be 1,500 more troops sent to Iraq,” Medea Benjamin told me as we waited to enter the public hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building, and added: “let’s remember that it is months now since the (U.S.) bombing started in Syria and Iraq and Congress has never taken a position on this. In fact, Congress went off for the election season without fulfilling its duty, which is to declare war or give the President the authorization. They dodged that because they did not want that to come up during the election cycle. That is why this hearing is particularly important.”
Buck McKeon (R-CA), Chair of the Armed Service Committee made it clear at the start of the hearing that he was running a tight ship, telling those assembled: “Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Before we begin, I would like to state up-front that I will not tolerate disturbances of these proceedings, including verbal disruptions, photography, standing, or holding signs.” (note: I was ejected, but not arrested, for filming the short iphone video of Berry’s arrest) After opening statements by McKeon and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Tighe Berry unfurled a banner that read, “There is No Military Solution” and – as D.C. Capitol Police dragged him out of the room, pleaded, “Please. Mr. Secretary, don’t drag us into another endless war. Bring our war dollars home.”
Berry, who- as a member of Code Pink has been a regular visitor to hearings like this knows what is coming next. Without sustained citizen resistance, the conversation will shift, predictably to the well-practiced nationalistic concept of self-delusion in the name of the concept of protecting our troops. Handcuffed, Tighe told me (D.C. Capitol Police did not interfere with my video operations) “U.S. Intervention is the problem, not the solution. We need to find political and diplomatic solutions to these issues.” “When the debate about funding the war, they (Congress) will say, “I really don’t like the war but (I have to vote to fund it) because I have to defend the troops.
That is the next argument you will hear: We already have troops there, we have to continue what we are doing.” Pleading to the American public, Berry (still handcuffed, and still without interference from Capitol Police) pled with the American public to tell their representatives – NO MORE WAR. As the Police van door slammed, prepared to take Tighe to jail, his voice could be heard through the grated windows. “Yes sir,” he said “I’m proud to be an American today.”