McCain labels Kissinger protesters ‘low-life scum’

US senator John McCain had a blunt message for demonstrators chanting for the arrest of Henry Kissinger at a Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing: “Get out of here, you low-life scum.”

McCain labels Kissinger protesters ‘low-life scum’

The protesters, from the Code Pink anti-war group, drew the ire of the Arizona Republican who chairs the committee after some of them approached Kissinger as he took his seat at a hearing on global security.

Members of the group held up handcuffs and anti-Kissinger signs and called for his arrest for “war crimes”.

Addressing the hearing, McCain said: “I have been a member of this committee for many years and I have never seen anything as disgraceful and outrageous and despicable as the last demonstration that just took place.”

McCain said he would have Capitol Police arrest the protesters if they did not “shut up”. He then told them: “Get out of here, you low-life scum.”

In a statement afterward, McCain, who was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said the protesters had physically threatened Kissinger, who was secretary of state from 1973-1977 under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

“No American citizen testifying before the US Congress should be subjected to such treatment, particularly not a 91-year-old former secretary of state who has served our nation with great honour and distinction,” he said.

The Code Pink group said it had been attempting a “citizens’ arrest” of Kissinger and was “really proud of our action in the Senate”.

It said its “arrest warrant” denounced Kissinger “for complicity in the bombings in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos; the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile and the Indonesian invasion of East Timor.”

McCain noted a gap between the beginning of the protest and the arrival of officers.

“With no US Capitol Police intervening, the episode went on for several minutes,” McCain said. He added he had spoken with police officials and expects “those responsible will be held fully accountable for their actions”.

A police spokeswoman promised a “thorough review of events”.

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