Thursday, February 02, 2006

Surprise! Charges Against Sheehan Dropped

In news that surprised nobody last night – mainly because her arrest was totally without foundation – the U.S. Capitol Police formally apologized to Cindy Sheehan for yanking her from the House chamber and arresting her before the start of the State of The Union speech. Sheehan, who had been at an anti-war rally earlier in the day and made a last-minute decision to accept Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey’s invitation to be her guest at the speech, was busted for wearing a t-shirt listing the number of dead in the Iraq war.

“The United States Capitol Police will request that the U.S. Attorney’s Office not pursue the charge against Cindy Lee Sheehan who was arrested Tuesday Night before the President’s State of the Union address,” said Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer in a statement titled “Accountability.”

“Neither guest should have been confronted about the expressive T-shirts,” continued Gainer, referring to the fact that Beverly Young, wife of Representative Bill Young (R-FL), was also asked to leave – but not arrested – for wearing a “Support the Troops” t-shirt. Added Gainer: “…neither Mrs. Sheehan’s manner of dress or initial conduct warranted law enforcement intervention.”

This should come as no surprise whatsoever. In addition to knowing intuitively that, even in Bush’s America, wearing a political t-shirt is not grounds for arrest, Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer specializing in First Amendment cases, reported yesterday that the arrest was wholly inappropriate and a violation of Sheehan’s rights.

While making no comment about Sheehan -- who lost her son to the Iraq war -- actually being thrown in the slammer for her shirt, Republican Young expressed outrage over his wife’s ejection from the House gallery.

“My wife was humiliated,” he told reporters. He suggested that “sensitivity training” may be in order for Capitol Police.

Beyond the fact that Sheehan’s arrest heightens the sense that we are descending further into a Gestapo state, the only glimmer of encouragement in this disgraceful episode is that Young’s t-shirt was also deemed a form of protest. Considering her shirt, which said “Support the Troops — Defending Our Freedom,” a protest reinforces what I’ve been saying all along: That Bush and his administration do not truly support our military with anything but lip service and certainly do not support the troops in Iraq.

Someone demonstrating that they are pro-troops was viewed as being anti-Bush – hey, now we’re getting somewhere.