LISTEN TO MEDEA BENJAMIN:
“Dick Cheney is a war criminal and they are selling his book,” said Medea Benjamin of Code Pink as she was surrounded by a phalanx of Barnes and Noble employees, security guards and Amtrak police, who escorted her out of Union Station on Sept. 2.
Shortly before Benjamin’s arrival, a Barnes and Noble employee warned a security guard to be on the lookout for a protest, and then he removed all but three copies of the former vice president’s 576-page memoir. Apparently the store had been tipped off that Code Pink was looking to move Cheney’s book.
It was likely Benjamin’s Facebook post that gave it away:
If you are in the DC area, come take a lunch break (12:30pm) and join us at the Union Station Barnes and Noble to move Cheney’s book to the Crime Section. We’ll have some guerilla theater for you as well.
Wearing a hazmat suit and rubber gloves, Benjamin unfurled police tape in an attempt to secure the area around the three remaining Cheney books. “Everybody be careful. It’s a crime scene here,” she warned passersby. “His book was just released. It’s called ‘In My Time’ and this man should be doin’ time. This man is responsible for the death of so many people and here he is getting millions of dollars in a book contract to sell his pack of lies called a memoir.”
In a recent article posted at Alternet, Benjamin gave ten reasons why Cheney’s memoir should be moved to the Crime Section, but she’s open to the idea that there may be other suitable homes for the book. “Fiction is a good section,” Benjamin said. “They’re being sold at Costco [and someone placed it] in the bologna section.” (Visit Code Pink to see other creative placements, or add your own.)
The Business Section may be appropriate. “Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton for five years, 1995 to 2000, just before he became vice president,” Benjamin said, standing across the street from Union Station, where the police had escorted her. “[I]mmediately upon [Cheney's] call for an invasion of Iraq, [Halliburton] became number one in government contracts. He continues to have stock options and get a deferred salary from those five years that he was CEO.”
The release of Cheney’s book comes on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. While fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, the Bush administration used 9/11 as a pretext for invading Afghanistan and Iraq, which have become the longest wars in U.S. history. No doubt attempts will be made to use the anniversary to stoke America’s patriotic fervor, but Benjamin thinks the occassion should be “a time for us to reflect on what these ten years have wrought.”
Benjamin, who travels frequently to countries at the target end of U.S. foreign policy, offered her thoughts on what Iraqis have endured since the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation:
I shudder when I think of what has happened to Iraq because I was there before the war began and there afterwards… Literally, millions of people’s lives have been destroyed; either killed or they’re without arms, without legs, living miserable lives, and millions of them displaced – internally displaced or in other countries like Syria and Jordan, where they’re not allowed to work… This is just an unbelievable amount of suffering that the American people have no idea about. And what we tend to also not know is that it was totally needless, that this was all based on lies. When I think that people like Dick Cheney could get away with that, it’s such a terrible reflection on the American people.
I think people around the world, and especially on the suffering end of our policies, expect the American people to stand up and say, ‘Hold accountable those people who are responsible for war crimes.’ And I think many people thought that when President Obama was elected that that was going to happen. Unfortunately, he has said we’re not going to look backwards, we’re going to look forward. He won’t do anything to hold the Bush/Cheney regime accountable. And worse than that, he’s continued on most of their policies: we still have Guantanamo open, we still have illegal indefinite detentions, we still have the wars going on, and even more drone attacks than we had under the Bush regime. Whether its the Democrats or the Republicans, we’ve become a terrible example around the world of the misuse of our power and it’s up to us, the citizens, to do something.
- Oct. 6, Freedom Plaza May Feel a Bit Like Tahrir Square, 9/12/11
- Operation Recovery: Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops, 10/6/10
- A Guided Tour of Middle East/White House Protests with Navid Nasr, 3/28/11; And Part II, 4/21/11
- Private Bradley Manning, The White House Protest, 3/21/11; and The Quantico Protest, 3/22/11