Two security agents grabbed the 71-year-old McGovern and dragged him away from the audience listening to Clinton’s speech on Feb. 15 at George Washington University. McGovern, who was wearing a “Veterans for Peace” T-shirt, suffered bruises and abrasions from the arrest.

Clinton, who was calling on governments around the world to respect peaceful dissent, continued on with her talk as if nothing had happened.

“The Constitution lives,” McGovern said after the government decided not to proceed with prosecution. “I am hugely grateful for the widespread condemnation of the brutal treatment I encountered two weeks ago for exercising my First Amendment rights. It strikes me as an empowering example of what we can do together in standing for justice and against the violence of war.”

McGovern’s arrest prompted an outpouring of support from people all over the country and the incident received widespread coverage in the alternative media, although it was barely mentioned in the mainstream press.

“This outrageous arrest laid bare the hypocrisy of Clinton’s presentation about free speech and free expression, said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, one of McGovern’s attorneys at the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. “While lecturing other governments, she never even paused while Mr. McGovern was brutally hauled out right in front of her and arrested while peacefully and silently expressing dissent.”

In a statement after the charge was dropped, McGovern compared his silent protest against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to Defense Secretary Robert Gates saying last Friday at West Point that anyone who urges a future president to send U.S. ground troops into a conflict in Asia or the Middle East needed to “have his head examined.”

“If Defense Secretary Robert Gates is spared arrest when he acknowledges the folly of committing U.S. troops to a land war in Asia, we too should be spared arrest and brutality at the hands of those for whom the Constitution is merely a piece of paper,” McGovern said.

McGovern, an Army officer and CIA analyst for almost 30 years, has written and spoken extensively about the abuse of intelligence used to justify the two wars. McGovern and his attorneys said they are evaluating his legal options regarding the arrest.

[For more on these topics, see Robert Parry’s Lost History and Secrecy & Privilege, which are now available with Neck Deep, in a three-book set for the discount price of only $29. For details, click here.]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there.  

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