Saturday, December 18, 2010


Snow fell yesterday in Washington, DC. The pristine monuments were wrapped in a clean, white blanket of winter beauty. The city was quiet. Quiet, but not silent. A crowd gathered in Lafayette Square, in front of the White House, to deliver a message to President Obama, even as the President was delivering a message to the American people about the war in Afghanistan.

Inside, the President, accompanied by Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates, reassured reporters that, while "this continues to be a very difficult endeavor," the U.S. is "on track to achieve our goals."

Asked about the lack of support for the war shown by Americans in recent polls, Secretary Clinton replied "I'm well aware of the popular concern, and I understand it." But in matters of critical national security, she added, our government can't make decisions "based on polling." She reminded the reporters, "This administration ... inherited an extraordinarily difficult situation. ... There was no coherent strategy to unify American's efforts in the region, no clearly defined mission... Today, we have a very different story to tell.

Asked about the projected withdrawal of US forces scheduled to begin next July, Secretary Gates responded, "The answer is, we don't know at this point."

The news media duly reported on all of this. But they seem to have ignored what was going on outside in the snow, where an estimated 500 people, many of them military veterans who had honorably served our country, came to protest the continuation of the war.

Following a rally organized by the group Veterans for Peace, featuring speeches by Daniel Ellsberg (of Pentagon Papers fame), retired CIA officer Ray McGovern, Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges and others, the protesters staged a solemn march to the White House, silent but for the sound of a single drum. When they found their path to the sidewalk in front of the President's mansion blocked, some of the veterans were not deterred, and began climbing over the obstacles. The police opened the barricades and allowed them access to the sidewalk in front of the White House, where the protesters began chanting.

As the press conference inside the White House continued, the police began arresting the protesters. For nearly four hours, the police handcuffed and photographed 131 people for failing to obey police orders to clear the sidewalk in front of the White House. Those arrested included Ellsberg, McGovern, and Hedges.

At the same time, in a show of solidarity in New York City's Times Square, another rally was held which also resulted in the arrests of members of Veterans for Peace and the the brave women of the Granny Peace Brigade - some of them in their eighties and nineties!

None of this was deemed to be newsworthy by the mainstream media. At Raging Pride, we beg to differ.

UPDATE: This morning a spokesperson from the NYPD confirmed that there were eleven people arrested in Times Square, bringing the total number of arrests to 142. I have updated the headline to reflect this new information. - DW

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