Who’s the ‘Low Life Scum:’ Kissinger or CODEPINK?

A very angry Senator John McCain denounced CODEPINK activists as "low-life scum" for holding up signs reading "Arrest Kissinger for War Crimes" and dangling handcuffs next to Henry Kissinger’s head during a Senate hearing on January 29. McCain called the demonstration "disgraceful, outrageous and despicable," accused the protesters of "physically intimidating" Kissinger and apologized profusely to his friend for this "deeply troubling incident."

But if Senator McCain was really concerned about physical intimidation, perhaps he should have conjured up the memory of the gentle Chilean singer/songwriter Victor Jara. After Kissinger facilitated the September 11, 1973 coup against Salvador Allende that brought the ruthless Augusto Pinochet to power, Victor Jara and 5,000 others were rounded up in Chile’s National Stadium. Jara’s hands were smashed and his nails torn off; the sadistic guards then ordered him to play his guitar. Jara was later found dumped on the street, his dead body riddled with gunshot wounds and signs of torture.

Despite warnings by senior U.S. officials that thousands of Chileans were being tortured and slaughtered, then Secretary of State Kissinger told Pinochet, “You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende.”


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 U.S. 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.

If McCain could stomach it, he could have read the report by the UN Commission on Human Rights describing the horrific consequences of that invasion. It includes gang rape of female detainees following periods of prolonged sexual torture; placing women in tanks of water for prolonged periods, including submerging their heads, before being raped; the use of snakes to instill terror during sexual torture; and the mutilation of women’s sexual organs, including insertion of batteries into vaginas and burning nipples and genitals with cigarettes. Talk about physical intimidation, Senator McCain!

You might think that McCain, who suffered tremendously in Vietnam, might be more sensitive to Kissinger’s role in prolonging that war. From 1969 through 1973, it was Kissinger, along with President Nixon, who oversaw the slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos – killing perhaps one million during this period. He was gave the order for the secret bombing of Cambodia. Kissinger is on tape saying, "[Nixon] wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything about it. It’s an order, to be done. Anything that flies on anything that moves."

Senator McCain could have taken the easy route by simply reading the meticulously researched book by the late writer Christopher Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Writing as a prosecutor before an international court of law, Hitchens skewers Kissinger for ordering or sanctioning the destruction of civilian populations, the assassination of "unfriendly" politicians and the kidnapping and disappearance of soldiers, journalists and clerics who got in his way. He holds Kissinger responsible for war crimes that range from the deliberate mass killings of civilian populations in Indochina, to collusion in mass murder and assassination in Bangladesh, the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Chile, and the incitement and enabling of genocide in East Timor.

McCain could have also perused the warrant issued by French Judge Roger Le Loire to have Kissinger appear before his court. When the French served Kissinger with summons in 2001 at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, Kissinger fled the country. More indictments followed from Spain, Argentina, Uruguay – even a civil suit in Washington DC.

The late Christopher Hitchens was disgusted by the way Henry Kissinger was treated as a respected statesman. He would have been appalled by Senator McCain’s obsequious attitude. "Kissinger should have the door shut in his face by every decent person and should be shamed, ostracized, and excluded," Hitchens said. "No more dinners in his honor; no more respectful audiences for his absurdly overpriced public appearances; no more smirking photographs with hostesses and celebrities; no more soliciting of his worthless opinions by sycophantic editors and producers."


Rather than fawning on him, Hitchens suggested, "why don’t you arrest him?"

Hitchens’ words were lost on Senator McCain, who preferred fawning to accountability. That’s where CODEPINK comes in. If we can’t get Kissinger before a court of law, at least we can show – with words and banners – that there are Americans who remember, Americans who empathize with the man’s many victims, Americans who have a conscience.

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 U.S. 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.

Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human rights group Global Exchange. She is the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

30 thoughts on “Who’s the ‘Low Life Scum:’ Kissinger or CODEPINK?”

  1. Thanks to CodePink for the protest. I can't help but to think that in a society where people had any dignity Kissinger (as well as McCain for that matter… and Obama. HRC, Albright, Rice, Bush, Rumsfeld etc) would be dangling from gallows by now, Germany '46 style. Or at the very least … how to put it… neutralized with extreme prejudice by non-government actors.

    1. Chris is absolutely right. Unfortunately, these despicable sociopathic traitors will not come to trial because the U.S. is no longer free and independent. The neocons and Israeli supporters have put Quisling to shame. Their takeover of the U.S. congress is the most successful model of a fifth column in history. Obama was bought and now he must eventually back down before Mr. Yahoo, who holds the real power of the U.S.

  2. Watching the 'Peace Group' Code Pink peacefully and totally non-violently publicly 'expose', call-out, shame, and confront Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, and many of the other war criminals, Wall Street crooks, murderers, treasonous political shills, and media whores of the Disguised Global Capitalist Empire, this "Empire of Chaos" (as Pepe Escobar calls it), this 'Empire of the Global Elite', and this highly integrated (but well hidden) six-sectored; corporate, financial, militarist, media/propaganda, extra-legal, and dual-party Vichy-political charade of the Global Empire, which has taken-over, 'captured' and now almost fully "Occupies" our former country as its nominal global HQ, more effectively than the earlier Nazi Empire ever dreamed of disguising its 'capture' and "Occupation" of France with the crude Rel 1.0 and only single party Vichy facade of government will NOT be able to hide anywhere on this earth when the Second American Revolution erupts and is even more successful than the first in 'excising' Empire from not only our country, but from the earth —- for the simple reason that the people will control the paramount powers of the US government and be able to; find them, arrest them, put them on trial, prosecute them for their sociopathic crimes against humanity and our country, imprison them and 'claw-back' all looted wealth they stole from our 'commonwealth', and then celebrate  "Democracy coming to the U.S.A." (as Leonard Cohen sings).
    However, what Code Pink did in the corrupt Congress of this EMPIRE merely 'posing' as our former country, (and a vastly increasing number of aware, courageous, and committed American citizens will overwhelmingly do in the near future) is to NON-VIOLENTLY do to arrogant sociopaths, war criminals, Wall Street looters, corrupt political whores, and bureaucratic 'tools' of the EMPIRE like Kissinger and Schultz will be a more reasoned, non-violent, and a slow-motion version of what the American colonial 'subjects' of the British EMPIRE did to the Red Coats employed by the supposedly divine rights of KING George, and what the suffering peasants did to Tsar Nicholas and the core elite of the Russian EMPIRE — but without guns (and with truly democratically enforced LAWS of 'the people')!.

    But unlike what the title of Christopher Lasch's final work, "The Revolt of the Elites" might seem to imply for any who have not read it — that the Elite might achieve a Revolt against the masses of 'the people' — Lasch's well reasoned and projective narrative is more realistic than Fukuyama's initial mistake of "The End of History", and instead envisions and correctly describes the true Revolution of human history as a turning away from both the neoconism of the 'R' Vichy party and the neoliberal-con game of the 'D' Vichy party of this same global EMPIRE, and rather evolving peacefully to a social philosophy compatible with great humanist social philosophers and thinkers as diverse as; Adam Smith, Karl Polanyi, Karl Marx, Martin Luther King, Antonio Negri, et al. and away from any bureaucratic and hierarchical structures common to all Empires.

    Rather the broad and inclusive blending of progressive populism (and “Popular Resistance”) that started to take hold in our country, more than a century ago, against the elitist era of 'Imperialism' (and EMPIRE), which the Empire initially submerged, suppressed, and expunged from the real American History by enforcing public school history texts which claimed in chapter titles (and teaching guidelines) that “The Age of Imperialism”, supposedly ended by WWI. People as diverse as; General Smedley Butler, FDR, Howard Zinn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Wallace, MLK, Gore Vidal, Michael Hardt, Hannah Arendt, et al. knew that the supposed end of the “Age of Imperialism” in history books was perhaps the biggest lie in our real history, and perhaps world history — but most of the honest and average American public had no idea of this, until now! And, NOW, they, 'the people' of America are learning this truth and are starting to throw open their collective 'blacked-out windows' and shout, “we're not going to take it anymore” from this damn disguised EMPIRE.

    Yes, this building and soon coming tsunami of progressive populist Revolution of 'the people' of the earth against the all-too-continuing “Age of Disguised Global Capitalist (and Elitist) Empire” is gathering strength and will finally, and non-violently, crush this last form of deceitful EMPIRE on OUR earth.

    [As another Code Pink supporter just reminded me in her reply to my comment here, "we only need to 'speak' (not fight) truth to power" against this damn disguised EMPIRE. And she is right, speaking 'truth to power' against a Global Elite Capitalist Empire which thinks its Disguise is solid will kill it merely by 'exposing' the truth that the Empire exists and that it is the proximate CAUSE of all our other subordinate 'symptom problems']

  3. Aww.. the poor Senator needs to pop a chill pill. He still feels guilty about getting shot down while executing LBJ, Nixon, and Henry K's bombing campaigns and making the Navy and his dad look bad. He sure doesn't enjoy being reminded it was a war we lost which never had any valid moral imperative to begin with, and that he got lost with it. Having a Hanoi Hilton moment, most probably.

  4. Arrest them and send them to Guantanamo Bay! No. actually we should give that back to the Cuban people for god’s sake. Just drop them in the middle of the ocean?

  5. Medea shines her light so that the world may see…………. Thousands of thanks to her……..

  6. At the time of the Central American protests in the 1980's veterans of the anti Vietnam protests would tell us the thing that really ended the Vietnam war was the fact that the wealthy elites fueling the war could not go anywhere without encountering angry protesters. They were sick of not being able to go out on the town and pad their enormous egos with friends and family. When they reintroduce ground troops into Iraq as Hagel warns, maybe the same actions will knock down the egos of the elites proping up the current war on terror.

  7. “Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” This is from Mr. Kissinger when addressing Haig.

  8. There's a double paradox to consider here. While Kissinger is certainly guilty of many crimes in the past, he was before the Senate committee to urge restraint in the latest imperial escapades. So Code Pink's denunciation of him came at a time when he is actually serving as a force for good. But the other paradox is that by attacking him in that chamber, the Code Pink people garnered sympathy for him and thus his caution against deeper involvement in Ukraine and Syria was probably harder for the other warmongers to argue with, at least for the moment. So all in all, good job Code Pink!

    1. Wow, just wow. You can read the indictment above and still think this was a bad move because for one time in his life he was (allegedly) urging restraint.

  9. Henry Kissinger is not responsible for much of what happened in E Timor. As for Chile, Allende was worse than Pinochet, elected or not.

    And Kissinger did not start the war in Vietnam – he ended it. Perhaps not the way Code Pink would have like to see it end, but certainly not the way the war hawks wanted it to end either.

    This incident was also poorly timed. Given that he is highly respected and has been willing to point out the West's blame for violence in Ukraine, Kissinger represents a chance to stop the bloodshed therein. Putting him a position of being defended by Senator McCain has damaged that chance. Code Pink needs to shut up.

  10. Actually, my vote for "Low Life Scum" would be John McCain…but that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion…

  11. Survivor said:

    “Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” This is from Mr. Kissinger when addressing Haig.

    What is significant about Kissinger’s comment as quoted above is not so much that he said it, but the fact that it is an accurate summation of what the elite truly believe. They are happy to start wars and to profit from them, but rarely do they ever have their children join the fighting, especially in the line of fire.

    Military members and prospective military members would be wise to remember this quote and to keep it in mind when listening to the latest remarks from the psychopaths who run that vast criminal conspiracy known as “the government”.

  12. Of course, I'm on Benjamin's side. On the other hand, I think there is method to the madness of these Senate hearings, where they keep allowing Code Pink in, knowing what will happen. The Senators on the panel know that it gets their mugs on the national news, and gives them a chance to show how tough they are by throwing them out. Code Pink veterans like Medea are playing along for the publicity (and the donations?). It's all kabuki theater. I'll bet insane McCain had practiced his "low life scum" line before starting his hearings, which no one would listen to otherwise.

    1. BTW, yesterday I received an email from Code Pink referencing McCain's remarks and asking for donations. Just sayin'.

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  14. Medea, you are not the low life scum in that room.
    How did the American public accept an import like Kissinger, with his tired cynical attitude worthy of a dying culture like the Hapsburgs' (where inbreeding eventually did in their reign), or some other miserable empire? Were we bedazzled by what we took for maturity to balance our immaturity? Whatever it was, it was a bad bargain to make. The cruelty and horror of the Chilean coup would have been enough, but this proto-Cheney in our history stuck around to do a lot more harm and counsel us to continue his legacy. It's okay to insult someone like that. It's the least one can do.

  15. If such actions are against Kissinger, why has he not been prosecuted? There is always noise and disruption but that is as far as it goes. I cannot answer my question since i do not know the laws but i do know that the Nazi regime was rounded up and prosecuted for "war crimes" so why is that not happening today. In any court of law you are innocent until proven guilty. Either I'm missing something or our judicial system is no longer in effect. Just my thoughts and opinion.

  16. who are the ignorant moronic dolts that kee[p re-electing this fascist warmongering fool The Noth Viet's nick-name for insane mccain was songbird because contrary to public bullshit he succumbed to the torture very early and sang like a bird , he was also offered early release but declined as he and his Admiral US navy father knew that ONLY stool-pidgeons we released early as a reward for giving up knowledge of USA naval/airforce tactics etc. Insane songbird Mc Cain is just what the ignorant fucking american fools deserve as they continue to believe they live in a democracy hahahahahaha ya they get to vote for a choice between 2 pre-approveed , vetted and same ol same ol politicians . Yankies are the most brainwashed and ignorant people in the world THE ARE NUMBER ONE!!! USA NUMBER ! USA! USA!! USA!!! number one in OBESITY…number 1 in drug use(illegal and prescription) number 1 in war, number 1 in the worst educated people- even though given 12 /13 years of free education. Lets chant again idiot USA! No. ! !! USA! no.1! USA USA USA!!!! yayay hahahahahaa fukkn foolz hahaha

  17. There's a double paradox to consider here. While Kissinger is certainly guilty of many crimes in the past, he was before the Senate committee to urge restraint in the latest imperial escapades. So Code Pink's denunciation of him came at a time when he is actually serving as a force for good. But the other paradox is that by attacking him in that chamber, the Code Pink people garnered sympathy for him and thus his caution against deeper involvement in Ukraine and Syria was probably harder for the other warmongers to argue with, at least for the moment. So all in all, good job Code Pink!

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