Tuesday, October 30, 2007

CODEPINK D.C. Introduces Blackwater's new Department of Corporate Integrity

Within minutes of Code Pink's emailing out a press conference invitation in the name of Blackwater's new Department of Corporate Integrity, Blackwater was on the phone to the Code Pink D.C. house. We hadn't sent them the invitation, but they got it right away, anyway.

The release read:
“Blackwater USA Unveils New Corporate Integrity Department
Where: Phoenix Park Hotel, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 11 a.m.
“As part of the 2007 Annual Summit of the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), Blackwater will be unveiling its new Department of Corporate Integrity. Given the public's concern over recent allegations about the lack of oversight and accountability for private security contractors in Iraq, Blackwater has felt a need to defend its corporate name and clear up its public image. “Just as in warfare, a good offense is the best defense,” says Eric Prince, chairman and CEO of the Prince Group and Blackwater, USA. “So we are going on the offense to defend the image of our great company.

“Blackwater has become synonymous with mercenary, but the public doesn't understand that mercenary has actually be a positive term throughout history,” said Max Boot of the Council of Foreign Affairs at the IPOA opening plenary. [Code Pink's Medea and Gael snuck into the Sunday night opening session of the IPOA convention.] “Mercenaries have provided service to kings, popes, and national governments that armies could not provide. So instead of running from the label mercenary, Blackwater should embrace it and reclaim the term.

“Directing the new Department of Public Integrity is Kitty Laver, who has 20 years' experience in public relations and corporate responsibility. “My job is to put the mercy back in mercenary,” says Laver, who will be unveiling the department's new code of conduct and presenting new measures the corporation is taking to hold its employees and contractors accountable for unethical behavior. “I'm certain the American public and the Iraqis will embrace the new, improved Blackwater,” says Laver.
Baffled by this press release, Blackwater didn't know who they were calling, just the number in the announcement.

“We're Blackwater and we don't know anything about this,” our confused caller said.

“Well if you're Blackwater, how come don't you know anything about this?...” a Code Pinker replied.

Code Pinkers stayed in character as Kitty Laver of Blackwater while our phones rang off the hook from Blackwater and the press, confused because the mercenary firm was claiming they didn't know anything about this and the press couldn't find any information on a Kitty Laver [aka Medea Benjamin]. A television network called us to schedule Blackwater president Eric Prince for their morning talk show. We accepted, and arranged for a friend to show up as Prince, but that appointment soon fell through, given the growing questions about this press conference. Through Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, no one admitted we were not Blackwater, though the occasional irrepressible whoop of glee in the background might have raised suspicions. Code Pinkers planned the Wednesday press conference in three hours of late-night brainstorming Tuesday.

The next morning we headed over to the Phoenix Hotel, Medea and Des all in black as Kitty Laver and her assistant, and with a “minister” carrying a wood cross marked:


“Put the mercy back in mercenary!”

We also had a “disgraced Blackwater employee” in an orange prisoner's jumpsuit, and his plain clothes guard. The rest of us wore white coveralls with (paper) Blackwater logos, logo hats, and white rubber gloves as we gathered in front of the hotel, while hefty security men in suits and ties blocked the hotel's entrance and watched us, unsmiling.

The press was gathered, waiting to find out who we really were. As we walked up, someone said, “Oh, it's Code Pink!” But we stayed in character.
Medea as Kitty explained that while Blackwater had not had corporate integrity before now, we were here to take on the task of cleaning up its tarnished image, starting with a generous gift to the disadvantaged of the next generation. As Des displayed some macho fighting man action toys bearing the fierce Blackwater logo, Kitty said the new corporate cleanup crew would be distributing them to disadvantaged youth in the city's homeless shelters during the holidays, “to help them on the road to growing up to be mercenaries themselves!”

Kitty described the public's misunderstanding of the heroic role of mercenaries in America's shining history, and introduced the new head of the Division of Corporate Spirituality. The Reverend (Jay Marx), holding his cross, spoke of Blackwater's deep missionary zeal and the need to reclaim the term “mercenary.” Finally, Laver explained that henceforth Blackwater would be policing its own employees, and in a program of tough love, imposing painful penalties on sinners, “such as the one we brought here today, for our demonstration of waterboarding.”

Steve Lane as the erring employee in the orange jump suit and Jim Preston then gave a chilling demonstration of waterboarding while our white-clad colleagues held the prisoner down. (It was a good fake, not the real thing. No one drowned.)

We concluded, as we'd started, with our corporate chant:

In God we trust,
Leave the killing to us.

No matter what you do,
We'll clean it up for you.

Be it blood or guts,
Leave the cleaning to us.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Gandhi Peace Brigade/ Desiree Confronts Condoleezza Rice for War Crimes

Dear Friends,

Condoleezza Rice was about to speak to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on a “two-state solution” in the Middle East when a policeman tapped me on the shoulder and said,"You can't have that backpack in here." Surprised, I asked him why. He knew my backpack had already been through a metal detector. "You just can't," he told me. I've learned that the capitol police often make up rules to suit their needs at the time.

I'm sure he knew I'd have to leave if I couldn't keep my backpack, because there was no place to put it outside, so I objected. When our conversation got lively, he said he'd be willing to discuss it, but outside the room. I was leery about leaving alone, so I asked Liz to join me. Liz is ALWAYS there for a friend. After much confusion and consternation, the officer finally received orders from higher up, giving me permission to keep my backpack. We returned, happy with this small victory ... and unaware that a world event was just seconds away.

Desiree had taken advantage of this unplanned distraction in the room. She'd dipped her hands into the fake blood and told the young man from Canada sitting next to her,"I'll need to move quickly." "Just tell me when," he said with a nod.

When Condoleezza Rice walked to the front of the room, Desiree took a deep breath and jumped to her feet. She approached the Secretary of State displaying her "blood" soaked hands. "The blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands!" she said. As they took Desiree away, she kept shouting, "War Criminal!" Then, with one last burst of courage, she yelled,"Take her to the Hague!"

Tom Lantos (D-Calif), the chair of the committee hearing, told the capitol police to “Take them all out of here.” The police started grabbing people in pink. Liz was the first to go. They pulled her over the chairs, onto the floor, and then dragged her from the room. Lori was writing in her notebook when she was removed. Leslie heard Liz’s cries for help and left the hearing room. They had pushed Liz against the wall, breaking her glasses and cutting her face. She was screaming, ”You’re hurting me!” as she fell to the floor. Leslie was crying out “You’re hurting her! Stop hurting her!” Angry, an officer pointed at Leslie and shouted, “Take her!” A policewoman approached Leslie with handcuffs while another gently pushed her away from Liz and said,"Step back, I don’t want to have to arrest you.”
Approximately one hour later Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK, and Zool were also arrested ... Zool for waving a sign that read "Liars" and Medea for holding up a peace sign. “What has become of the United States of America when you get arrested for holding up two fingers in the form of a peace sign?” Medea asked.

CODEPINK has been described as “the conscience of the nation”. Their antics on Capitol Hill often make people in Congress smile ... and sometimes they don't. "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." (Mahatma Gandhi). Many of us are frustrated with Congress and its unwillingness to hold the Bush Administration accountable for its war crimes. Thank you, Desiree, for having the courage to do what many of us wish we could do, but haven't done yet ...

Peace and Freedom,

Jes & Leslie

CNN clip of Desiree's encounter with Condoleezza Rice:
http://www.cnn. com/video/ #/video/politics /2007/10/ 25/moos.code. pink.cnn

One of the most challenging things I've ever done ... film my friend Liz as she was being manhandled by the police:

Medea Benjamin arrested for holding up a peace sign:

The CODEPINK DC House needs people ... please call 202-290-1301 if you can contribute a few days of your life ... YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE ... and have fun doing it!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

War Criminal!

Last Wednesday, I called Condoleezza Rice a war criminal. Thirty uncomfortably cold hours of detention later, two other CODEPINK members, Liz Arizona, Medea Benjamin and I were released on our own recognizance with "stay away" orders for all of Capitol Hill until our court cases and or sentencing was served. (They do the crimes and we do the time!)

This was not the first time I had been told to stay away from somewhere since the U.S. invasion of Iraq destroyed the lives of millions of Iraqi people and decimated the cradle of all civilization.

Veterans' Day, two years ago, members of CODEPINK Fort Worth, crashed a Republican fundraiser at the Sheraton Hotel in my hometown Arlington, TX. To these lengths we had to take our petition in order to gain 10 seconds with our congressman. We wore our evening best and walked into the black tie affair standing near the door during the convocation, our hearts pounding out of our chests. I had never before in my life attended an event at which I was not welcomed.

Beatriz Saldivar, a registered Republican and Gold Star Families for Peace member, had sat at a table across the room. After her congressman spoke she stood up quickly and pulled out photos of her nephew, Daniel Torres, who had died in Iraq on his second tour of duty there. Asking Congressman Joe Barton to meet with her, she cried out in anger and despair. She was whisked out of the room.

No one had yet noticed Hillary, Nel and I and so after the rendition of God Bless America, Hillary Timmers, our Fort Worth CODEPINK coordinator shouted out, "This is for Daniel Torres!" and we unfurled the elegant black satin shawl she wore. The reverse side covered in huge pink duct tape letters read, GOP = WMD and we began singing a version of Yellow Submarine, "We don't want your dirty war machine, your dirty war machine, your dirty war machine..." A man sitting at the table nearest me grabbed at the shawl pulling my arms down with it making it difficult to hand out the hard candies we had prepared. Instead of being able to place them at nearby tables some went airborn. Each lemon or orange drop tagged with a pink paper strip said, "DON'T BE A SUCKER FOR THE GOP". Nel Labar, another cohort quietly placed some at the tables on her side of the room. On the reverse side of each candy was another message referring readers to a website about depleted uranium.

Hillary and I were summarily dragged out. This action resulted in our detention outside the hotel by Arlington Police who after lengthy interrogations, cited me with provocative assault for the candy "throwing" and made us sign a "stay-away" order to never return to the hotel.

To meet with our congressman over the issue of the war on Iraq was the whole point of this action. How could anyone hear Beatriz' story and not be affected by the tragedy of it all. This young man, before returning to Iraq on his second tour, asked his aunt to do something about it, to work for peace.

Our representative's office refused many times to give us an appointment until this night. He agreed to meeting just two people, Beatriz and myself.

A month later, the meeting we worked so hard to get was to no avail, the congressman had us quickly escorted off the property when he did not like what we had to say. I reminded him that he worked for us, the American people. Barton's response' "I work for the people who got me into office!"

What is a citizen to do when their representative has no interest in what that citizen has to say?? Who provides oversight for Congress? I can never get an appointment with Barton, or my senators Cornyn and Hutchison. Even after taking time off from work as a children's librarian to come to D.C. in September '05, May '06, and finally March '07 to find my representative has revealed to me their lack of humanity. Congress isn't listening. They haven't been for many many years. While they piddle and ponder, Iraqis die, our soldiers die and America's soul withers away.

I can no longer stay at home and nurture my own family while the families of others suffer and die by the hands of our soldiers and the guns and the bombs kill and maim little children. I can no longer stay at home while American sons and daughters kill the sons and daughters of Iraqi mothers. I can no longer stay at home while the horrors of rape and sodomy, rendition and torture, cholera and deformed fetuses pervade. I can no longer stay at home while the ringmasters of murder and mayhem, shock and awe, blood and guts and war crimes continue to "make a killing" Can you?

A newcomer's first week at Code Pink D.C.

Any week with Code Pink anywhere will be a one-of-a-kind experience and a highlight in your life. My first week flew by at the D.C. House. I came from Missoula, Montana, hoping to make peace and raise hell, knowing the Code Pink women only from this Web site and our emails and phone calls to schedule the two-week stay.

These amazing women can be a bit intimidating at first exposure. They're focused peacemaking professionals, they move at light speed, communicate with telepathy, talk in shorthand and always have a task, together or individually, so it's a bit like stepping on a moving train for the first day or two. I began by just tailing along, watching and learning.

The basic Code Pink D.C. idea is speaking truth to power by gaining access to Senators, Representatives, and other decision-makers by any means available, in Capitol Hill hallways, at elevators, the Hill subway stops, scheduled hearings, press conferences and talk shows. They know these officials on sight, and keep track of which issues to raise with the different lawmakers.

These determined women demand that the people's representatives get the troops home from Iraq and prevent a war with Iran. The Pink ladies take positions on other issues as they arise, like firing Blackwater and other private, for-profit mercenaries being paid with taxpayers' money, or opposing the confirmation of Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey, since the man can't decide whether waterboarding is torture, isn't clear on whether FISA spying violates the Constitution, or whether the President really has to obey the law.

Everyone on Capitol Hill now sees the color pink coming, and these peacemaking ladies, with their colorful costumes, make powerful folks nervous. Passersby on the street also often appear to know what we're up to, and show their approval with peace signs, smiles, and often thanks.

The D.C. House has three above-ground stories and a basement, which serves as an office, costume shop and prop shop. Everywhere you look are antiwar slogans and photos of Pink ladies' actions. My favorite shows a solitary young woman in a flowing pink dress, looking like a dress-up princess, strolling past a solid line of tac-squad police holding shields. On my first night, Sunday, the basement housed a couple dozen young folks from SDS Chicago, in town for the “No War, No Warming” protests on Monday.

Monday we walked down to the Capitol grounds, a 10-15 minute walk, and met various contingents of the coalition, composed of Code Pink, SDS, and Greenpeace. We felt that bringing together the concerns of peace and global warming in one action marked a milestone for the movement, though the turnout was somewhat disappointing. Singing protesters in polar bear suits drew a lot of attention, and several ended up in jail, along with the SDS peacemakers (and no one from Code Pink), after several of them, bears and SDSers alike, blocked a main street alongside the Capitol. This action took place at the intersection of Independence and 1st Street, where a lone man has been fasting for peace on the steps of the Cannon building since October 1.

A Code Pink contingent accompanied David Swanson to deliver Spine Awards to Congressman Pete Stark and Senator Chris Dodd. Then the “No War, No Warming” action moved to the lawn in front of the Capitol. By this time Capitol Police had blocked off the plaza and all approaches to the front steps of the Capitol, so to get to the front lawn, for which we had a rally permit, we had to climb over waist-high walls. A couple of the police carried automatic rifles. Peace seems to make some of them uncomfortable. Rev. Yearwood spoke, poets recited, Des sang, polar bears cheered, and that was that.

Back at the house, women got busy with their laptops, fielding email, blogging, writing press releases and making phone calls.

Tuesday we went to the Canadian Embassy for a press conference Code Pink called to protest the exclusion of Ann Wright and Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin from Canada. The two were refused entry because the FBI had placed their names on a criminals list intended to warn of sexual predators and other dangerous felons, though their “crimes” were misdemeanor civil disobedience in the cause of peace. The fact that they were invited as guests of the Canadian Parliament made no difference. They were not allowed inside the embassy, but the Canadians sent a representative out to talk with us briefly in the rain.

From there we headed to Capitol Hill for a Select Intelligence Committee hearing taking testimony from top FBI officials, a chance to confront the FBI about how Ann and Medea ended up on this list. We kibbutzed a bit during the testimony, but the main action was after the hearing ended, when Medea and other women confronted the FBI spokesmen in the hearing room, then kept up the dialog by walking with the men around the block to their car, where the agents were finally able to escape the questions they stonewalled.

Wednesday turned out, unexpectedly, to be the big day, and I missed the main action. I'm not sorry, since if I'd been there I'd have spent the next 30 hours in jail with Des, Liz, Laurie, Medea and Zool. I was off to lobby my own Montana Senators, appointments scheduled in advance of my trip, and the top priority for newcomers.

But first things first. If you've spent the last few days underground or in outer space or locked in solitary confinement, you may not have heard about Desiree Fairooz's “bloody-handed” confrontation with Secretary of State Condi Rice. It wasn't planned, at least not the way it happened. The House Foreign Affairs Committee was to take testimony from Rice, and the Code Pinkers had the idea the night before of dipping their hands in something resembling blood.

The times when protesters can talk with witnesses without interrupting the hearing are, obviously enough, right before and right after the hearing. The hearing hadn't been convened when Condi walked in, and Des realized to her surprise that there was no one at all and nothing but a couple of chairs between her and Condi – the Secret Service men were all behind Rice. Des seized the moment, walked up to Rice, held bloody hands in her face – but never touched her – and said “The blood of a million Iraqis is on your hands.”

A Secret Service man knocked Representative Ros-Lehtinen out of his way as he dived for Des, and a Capitol Policewomen led her away, unresisting but continuing to comment. “War criminal,” she yelled. “Take her to The Hague.”

But several Capitol Policemen came down hard on the other Code Pink women sitting in the hearing room, knocking Liz off her feet and manhandling her and Medea out of the hearing room, also arresting Lori and Zool, without giving any of them a chance to leave quietly or even to be arrested without brutality. The brutality continued out in the hallway, away from the media. After handcuffing Liz's hands behind her back, a cop knocked her down so she fell onto her face, breaking her glasses and cutting her face close to an eye. At the jail, several of the jailers took pleasure in tormenting their helpless charges, as the women suffered cold for the next 30 hours and slept on steel slabs without mattresses. A few of the jailers were kind and embarrassed by the others.

I was oblivious, off doing my duty with Senators Max Baucus and John Tester of Montana. Baucus has been in the Senate since 1978, and he's used to adulation from his constituents, so I was a bit of a shock. My only shot at him was at the weekly “constituent breakfast,” a lot of polite people from Montana sharing coffee, orange juice and muffins with the two Senators. Baucus was clearly shocked when, emulating my bold sisters, I didn't take “No can do” as an answer on getting the troops home from Iraq. I wasn't wearing pink, so he had no warning. He insisted that until the Democrats get a filibuster-breaking 60 votes, there's nothing he can do. I suggested the Senate could just keep sending Bush war-funding legislation with firm withdrawal conditions and let “The Decider” take responsibility for vetoing troop funding. Baucus raised his voice and kept repeating “60 votes!” He suggested I move to another state and replace their Republican Senators with Democrats. When I'd pushed him about as far as I thought I could, I went over to talk to Senator Tester. I like Tester. This is his first term, and I volunteered for his campaign. As soon as I walked up to Tester, Baucus materialized at his side. “Go ahead, ask him! He'll tell you the same thing!,” Baucus insisted. I told Baucus, “Senator Tester is actually going to sit down and talk with me (unlike you) – We have an appointment at 1 p.m.” “No, go ahead and ask him,” Baucus repeated. Tester did, of course, agree with his senior Senator.

But I had a better meeting with Senator Tester later in the day. My real goal, that I thought I could actually accomplish, was to give him Naomi Wolf's new book, “The End of America,” and get him to agree to read it. Wolf makes a chillingly credible case that the United States is well advanced along a stealthy transformation from democracy to totalitarianism. I got some unexpected help from Tester's mother. He told me his mother had called the preceding weekend and told him to read Naomi Wolf's new book, and he promised he would read it on the plane back to Montana, and I believe him.

“My mother's upset that even though I'm a Senator now, I haven't stopped the war,” Tester said.

When I got back to the House, Gael, Sam, Leslie, Midge and Sean were dealing with a firestorm of press reaction as well as the fact of five colleagues in jail. The story had gone international immediately, and phones were ringing off the hook. If that weren't enough, Wednesday is the weekly potluck and the Freepers (FreeRepublic.com), rightwing thugs, were out front harassing visitors and taking everyone's photo. Gael and Leslie went off to take warm clothes to the prisoners and the rest of us cooked and baked for the potluck, ignored the Freepers, and welcomed intrepid guests.

And I'm only three days into a two-week visit!

To be continued....

Friday, October 26, 2007


Today I had my day in court.

On February 17th, I was arrested after saying "The American people voted to end the war in Iraq" as I was walking out of the Senate gallery. The Senate was debating the non-binding resolution to admonish Bush's "troop surge", and I felt obligated to speak truth to power in order to remind America's elected officials that they were largely ignoring the will of the People.

So, after months and months of delays, I finally got my jury trial. My lawyer argued that I really didn't disrupt anything because I did not interrupt any Senators speaking. He did his best to convey that I did not intend to disrupt the business the Senate. However, the jury did not take long to find me guilty for Disruption of Congress.

I was a little disappointed, but I must say that I did not regret what I had done in the Senate on that day in February... the Senator's needed to hear those words. In fact, the good thing about my trial is that the prosecution was forced to repeat my words, "The American people voted to end the war in Iraq" over and over again... those words are forever in the court record!

Anyway, the prosecutor told the judge I should be put on probation and should serve 5 days in jail.

I got a chance to speak to the judge, and I told her that although I did not want to go to jail, I respected that I was found guilty of a crime that required her to punish me. I also promised her that I would not speak in the Senate again until I was elected by the people of Missouri to the United States Senate.

The judge said she would hold me to my promise that I would only speak in the Senate when I am an elected official. She also said it seemed clear to her that I broke the law, but it wasn't really much of a violation, and that she felt the decision could have gone either way depending on the particular jury. In the end, she fined me the maximum fine of $500 and told me that if I ever came back to her court under similar charges, she would make sure I served REAL jail time if I were convicted.

This blog is pretty much done, but I do want to say that a whole bunch of my friends were there to support me... CODEPINK women and our allies are the greatest people in earth!!! The good news in all this is that the judge said that my "stay away" order would be vacated when my fine was paid... and it literally blew me away when Ann Wright came up to me with the entire amount of the fine for which all of my great friends had pitched in to pay. So, we marched right up to the finance office and paid the fine!

So, now I am off to give a presentation at a conference in Vermont tomorrow, then will continue traveling the east coast lecturing to college students in my Transforming Traditional Politics tour.

Keep the faith...

Peace & Freedom

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Condi unphased by blood on her hands...

Ann Wilcox, Ann Wright and I were in DC superior Court today fighting
our respective unlawful conduct in Congress charges. We got a phone
call from Leslie Angeline letting us know that Des had done something
behind Condi as the Sec State walked in to testify. Des had been
escorted out of the hearing room, and Liz and Lori had been pulled out
of their seats without cause and arrested. Still dealing with our
court crap we got another call about an hour later that Medea and Zool
are being arrested. Leslie heads to Rep Lantos' office to urge him to
intervene. A few minutes later Liz calls, "I wasn't doing anything.
They pulled me out, broke my glasses, my head is cut...". She started
crying begging me not to forget about her. I told her we knew exactly
where she was and that we'd never lose track of her.

Then Medea calls.
(We have a friend inside who lets us use her cell to call out.) Medea
is supposed to go to Canada early the next morning with Ann Wright to
bring to the Canadian Parliament the issue of US peace activists who
have been blacklisted and not allowed to cross into Canada. Now Leslie
is really pushing Lantos's staff. After several hours waiting for Cap
Police to determine the charges, write their arrest reports on old
broken computers, and hoping Lantos comes through, everyone is
transfered to DC Central Cell for further processing. (Capitol Police
lack a laser scanner. DC gov't services do a lot of the dirty work for
the Feds, esp when it comes to controlling unruly masses.)

DC Central Cell is a cavernous place and out of Lantos' reach so when we hear
they've left the Capitol grounds, we pretty much lose hope that
they'll get out tonight. We then get a call that Lori will be released
in a few hours but no one else. Believe it or not, Condi
wanted her goons to let her go. When I finally got to see the pictures
and videos of all that had happened in the hearing, I was blown away.
First I see Des approach Condi, her hands palms out - the blood of
Iraqi children is on your hands, she says. A State Dept Security goon
lunges forward (socks Rep Ross-Lethinin in the process) and grabs Des'
hands and forcefully pushes her away from the Sec State. It was the
most graceful speaking truth to power I've ever witnessed. And the
photos are flying around the world!

At a White House press briefing a reporter asked White House Press
Secretary Dana Perino about Des' action. "I saw a picture from that
hearing where a lady in Code Pink with red painted on her hands
disrupted the hearing, and I think it's despicable, and,
unfortunately, it seems that increasingly Congress is being run by
Code Pink. And we do thank Chairman Lantos for trying to restore order
to that hearing."


Today, Des, Liz and Medea will appear before a judge. We'll be there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

VIDEO BLOG: Medea Benjamin & CODEPINK demanding answers from Canadian Embassy and U.S. FBI

On Tuesday, October 23, we held rallies/press conferences in front of
Canadian Consulates in five U.S. cities: New York, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. We demanded that Canada change its policy of banning peace activists from entering the country if they have committed an act of non-violent civil disobedience. We turned in almost 20,000 signatures to protest this outrageous policy and announced that we would try again to enter Canada on Thursday, October 25, at the invitation of Canadian Members of Parliament. ~ Medea Benjamin

VIDEO of CODEPINK at Canadian embassy:

VIDEO of CODEPINK after Senate Intelligence hearing

Monday, October 22, 2007

CODEPINK Participates in No War No Warming Action - October 22nd, 2007

Several CODEPINK women from around the country took part in the October 22nd No War No Warming action on capitol hill in Washington DC. Some served in support roles and others risked arrest in civil disobedience.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

No War No Warming

I am participating in the No War No Warming actions on Capitol Hill because I am sick at heart about the continuing waste and carnage of the Iraq War and at the lack of government action on climate change. The devastation caused by this war lies heavily on my conscience. I see the faces of my grandchildren in the faces of the children of Iraq, many of whom have been killed, maimed, orphaned, and denied access to basic necessities of life. Likewise, I hear the cries of the families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and I know that many more human lives will be diminished or lost due to the ecological destruction caused by climate change.

I know that I am complicit in both war and climate change to the degree that I consent to my government's policies, whether through my active support or silent consent. I continue to be outraged by the arrogance, callousness, and moral paralysis exhibited by so many government leaders. The majority of people in our country favor withdrawal of US troops and action on climate change, yet the war continues and the oil lobby continues to thwart effective action.

Democrats continue to fund this unjust war, the Bush Administration continues the drumbeat of war against Iran, and corporate arms merchants and oil companies continue to dominate the political process. I am a citizen in this so-called democracy, so I am responsible to challenge government policies that cause harm. I have written, called, and visited those who supposedly represent me in Congress, as have so many people. I will continue to do so. But that is not enough. I will stand with my sisters and brothers on Monday as a witness to the necessity and hope for major change in values and worldview, and in the institutions and systems that dominate our world.

I ask myself sometimes, what will I tell my grandchildren in the future? If we live and thrive through the grave, multi-faceted crises we face as a species, I hope I can tell them how I contributed to the struggle to build a peaceful, just, and sustainable world. And regardless of what the future holds, I hope I can look them in the eye and tell them truthfully that I did everything in my power to turn things around.

Friday, October 19, 2007

today in dc

Cynthia and I visited the offices of House members from New York, Maine and others to talk about the Lee/Woolsey letter which 90 House members have cosigned against appropriating additional money for US Military operations in Iraq in '08 and beyond except for a full funded redeployment for protecting our troops.Pat Wheeler from 'Deer Isle Maine visiting Senator Collin's DC office to set an appointment for early next week.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

CODEPINK Praying for Peace in Pelosi's Office

After hearing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi say on Fox News Sunday that Americans should "pray for peace" to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq, CODEPINK made a pilgrimage to her office on Capitol Hill.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Circus of Murder and Mayhem: The War Profiteers

Last Saturday we (Liz, Tighe, Samantha, and I) arrived at the Washington D.C. Convention Center to set up and work the CODEPINK booth at the Greenfest where we couldn't avoid the 50 ft Army Expo banner suspended from the roof advertising the makers of murder and mayhem taking place Monday through Wednesday. Leslie and Jess arrived too to experience the Greenfest and later to stake out the Army Expo site with us.

How ironic! As we "greenies", so nicknamed by one of the military types setting up, vacated the convention center, the military war-machine took over.

(To see a complete list of the "exhibitors" visit the following link

The next day, Sunday, October 7th, Blackwater, Alcoa, KBR, and hundreds of other corporate criminals put the finishing touches on their glitzy booths.
Giant slideshows flashed larger-than-life tanks, trucks, guns, and gear. Images of soldiers on a 10 x 20 screen sans sound effect flashed guys so bulked up in gear to make them seemingly IED proof zipping across Iraqi or Afghan deserts. Les, Jess & Arash posed in front of the screen wearing their NO WAR ON IRAN! t-shirts.

Tighe posed giving a peace sign and holding the sunflower given to him by our friend and Greenfest participant, Sierra, who heard about how he had a large softdrink tossed on him by one of the military staffers.

Sunday night , back at the CODEPINK house, we worked on a banner targeting those benefiting from this tragedy and catastrophe in Iraq. Using black fabric and pink letters we wrote out, "War Profiteers: Making a Killing." The word killing dripped with fake blood. We cut out the corporate logos from the expo's catalog and scattered them around the slogan.

So early Monday morning we, Les, Jess, Liz, Tighe and I, took the X2 bus up H street, the sun just rising as we neared Chinatown. Hopping out with our banner, "real faces of war" photos, a bullhorn and tons of energy despite waking up to our cellphone alarm clocks ringing in the dark, we readied to face the recipients of half of our nations GNP, the real grim reapers, the MERCHANTS OF DEATH!

As the morning progressed, Gael, Ariel, Kathleen and Rick the Poet joined us. We had chosen to attend the event on Tuesday since Congressional staffers were invited to a breakfast that morning.

"Hurry! Hurry! War Profiteers, Hurry! Hurry! Get that billion dollar contract. Hurry! Hurry!
Get your piece of the GNP!! I called out to the "circus of murder and mayhem". Entered the merchants of death and destruction, mostly all white middle-aged men. There a few women wheeling in huge posters of guns and weaponry. Soldiers in camouflage. Blackwater hired guns arrived and waved and smiled, recognizing us from the Oversight hearings of last week.

Taxis dropped off the international marketers and army agents from France, Japan, Germany and the Phillipines. Whole busloads of fresh-faced JROTC kids arrived proudly marching into the convention center.

Liz and Gael have stories to share of this event. To be continued...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Power of Protest

By Arie Dekker, The Hill
October 02, 2007
As Capitol Police escorted three middle-aged protesters in pink tiaras out of the Senate hearing in which Gen. David Petraeus recently delivered his Iraq progress report, Code Pink headquarters in D.C. experienced a sudden spike in phone calls.

Just a few blocks from the Capitol, full-time Code Pink activist Midge Potts, sporting long pink-streaked hair, watched the hearing on national television in a small living room festooned with pink paraphernalia. Within minutes, there was a flurry of phone calls of two types: immediate updates from eyewitnesses on the arrests of Code Pink colleagues and inquiries from around the country by those interested in joining up.

"We have an impact on the apathy of people in America," Potts said.

A new study declares that rights-related protests that out-shouted their competition consistently influenced the congressional agenda from 1960 to 1986, possibly lending some legitimacy to disruptive protests like those of Code Pink.

And let's face it, Washington, D.C., attracts protesters from across the nation.

Appearing in this month's issue of Social Forces, an academic journal published by the University of North Carolina Press, the study suggests a link between public demonstrations about rights-related issues and subsequent congressional hearings on those topics.

"Activists need to know how and why they have an influence," said Brayden King, assistant professor of sociology at Brigham Young University and the paper's principal author. "Innovation oftentimes comes from the fringe, the margins — these people that don't have a place at the table, but still want to have their voices heard."

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) says he loves seeing protesters, even when they gather to oppose him, because they garner attention, attract the media, and thus grant him a louder voice for expressing his own policy goals. Barring a march on Washington by several hundred thousand people, protesters simply have no influence on Congress, he says, adding that the most efficient way to change minds in Washington is to elect someone else.

"They have a right to do what they're doing, but they have no impact," Tancredo said. "Their time is better spent trying to throw you out."

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said protesters often have the opposite effect of the one they intend. "Members only become more hardened in their position [when people protest against them]," he said.

Stupak said some Code Pink anti-war protesters have screamed in his face, calling him a killer for supporting the Iraq war, even though he has never voted to support the war.

"No matter what you do, you don't satisfy them," he said.

To make a definitive impact on his thinking, Stupak said, constituents should just call him and clearly express their opinions.
"Flood my office with phone calls," he said. "That's more effective."

Researchers have been unable to establish a definitive connection between protest and policy outcomes. The new study suggests that, to make a difference, protesters must assert their claims early while lawmakers are still gathering information about new issues and before they make policy decisions.

King and his colleagues — Keith Bentele from the University of Arizona and Sarah Soule from Cornell University — concluded that protesters who out-shout other demonstrators and catch the attention of the national media can succeed in convincing lawmakers to convene hearings to address new issues.

"What protesters need to worry about is how prominent they are among other protests," King said. "The threshold is out-protesting your competitors."

The anti-war feminist group Code Pink has consistently made headlines since its founding in 2002 for its creative and frequently disruptive demonstrations. Adorned in their signature pink attire, members break legislative rules and risk arrest to communicate with lawmakers who, they say, are insulated from common citizens.

Code Pink member Leslie Angeline, who was escorted out of the Petraeus hearing but not arrested for shouting during the testimony, commanded the spotlight last summer when she protested Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-Conn.) statements about Iran with a 24-day hunger strike outside his Senate office. She said she won a small victory when Lieberman agreed to meet with her for five minutes.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), a leader of the Out of Iraq caucus who has participated in many public demonstrations, said protesters who break the law to draw attention to themselves are no more or less influential than other protesters. She added that while thousands of people marching down the street would get her attention, modern protests tend to be electronic. She said her office gets several hundred e-mails from constituents every day expressing positive and negative reactions to her policy positions.

"Protest is important because it's freedom of speech," she said. "It should have an influence on all of us."

King said previous studies have tended to find that successful activism has less to do with public demonstrations and more to do with organizational strength and the recruitment of allies within the legislature. These studies were, however, limited to assessing one issue at a time, using roll call votes to measure lawmakers' sympathy to a particular protest. The new study looks at demonstrations and their relative influence on the legislative agenda.

Researchers compared the assortment of 13 rights-related issues addressed in congressional hearings from 1960 to 1986 and the composition of public protests during the same period. There was a strong correlation between protest and subsequent consideration in Congress, so long as the protest made enough noise to get noticed.

"It gives some hope for the little people — people traditionally seen as outsiders to Washington," King said. "Protest is one of the few channels that ordinary people have to influence decisions."

The study used protest data from a project, led by Soule of Cornell and funded by the National Science Foundation, to document protest coverage in The New York Times. Though not exhaustive, the Times is the standard source for sociological studies about national trends.

"This is very, very exciting for academics because we're making the case that social movements matter," Soule said.

Research seems to confirm that the team's findings are consistent across a variety of issues and are not limited to rights-related topics, though only research using more recent data can prove that such trends continue today, Soule said.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

the "D" word

Certificate of Induction


The Hall of Shame

September 17th, 2007

Awarded to


For complicity in one or more of the following:

prolonging the continued illegal occupation of Iraq,

supporting an unjustified attack on Iran,

accepting money from industries that profit from war,

violating our civil liberties,

and/or promoting torture.

Presented by: CODEPINK Women for Peace


As many of you already know, a couple of weeks ago we delivered Hall of Shame Certificates to the worst of the worst of the Republican lawbreakers. Well, recently we have begun delivering them to the doolittle democrats.

After six months of creative lobbying on Capitol Hill with hopes to get Congress to defund the war, I am bereft of words to describe my emotions as the Democrats continue to ignore the voice of the people by giving the President just what he asks for.

The only words that come to mind begin with the letter "d" and not for devoted democrat. Try these on for size and pick the one you like best or add your own!