On Tuesday, a speech by Hillary Clinton at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., took a turn for the ironic when, just as the Secretary of State began talking about the abuses of power that occur when governments like that of Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt silence their citizens, protester Ray McGovern was grabbed by security detail and forcibly removed from the room. McGovern tells OpEd News that he only stood in silent protest and turned his back to Secretary Clinton. He was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase, “Veterans for Peace,” and an image of a dove.
While an account of the event from anyone in attendance other than McGovern has yet to emerge, video does seem to confirm his version of events, with security grabbing the 71-year-old despite no indication of a disruption from him. In the clip, available below, McGovern yells, “So this is America?” repeatedly, only after officers seize him. Secretary Clinton seems not to notice and continues on with her speech.
McGovern went on in the OpEd News interview to report aggression from the security guards after being led out of the room:
“They grabbed me and the shock wore off. There was a real struggle. I shouted, ‘This is America.’ Then I said, ‘Who are you?’ This is a mystery to me. Who were they? The guy in the suit was the one who did the damage. He was brutal.”
“They took me outside, put two sets of iron handcuffs that pierced my wrists. The bleeding went all over my pants. One guy said, “I pricked my finger” like it was his blood.”
McGovern, an outspoken critic of American foreign policy and war efforts, is a veteran Army officer who subsequently worked for the CIA for 27 years. He now works with Catholic and anti-war organizations in Washington, D.C., and has blogged for AntiWar.com. Prior to Tuesday’s incident, he was perhaps best known for challenging then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at a 2006 press briefing (video) on the truth surrounding the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In that incident, Rumsfeld had security stand down while he engaged McGovern in conversation.
McGovern could not be reached for comment about what happened Tuesday, but he previously told Ron Kall of OpEd News that, following Tuesday’s incident, security officers handed him over to D.C. police, who arrested him and charged him with disorderly conduct. He says that he was held for three hours and released. The Washington Metropolitan Police Department does not publicly release arrest information.
The U.S. State Department did not return telephone calls seeking comment on the incident.Tags: anti-war protest, Hillary Clinton, Ray McGovern, U.S. State Department, Veterans for Peace