Phoenix, AZ - Close to 50 demonstrators, many of whom were U.S. combat veterans, staged a rally outside Sen. John McCain's Phoenix office Saturday afternoon. Many of the vets called for a citizen's arrest of McCain. Phoenix police were awaiting the protesters with barricades, subsequently denying them entry to the senator's office.
The organizer of the protest, Pete Santilli, said McCain should be convicted for treasonous behavior. Accusations levied against the senator included support of the Islamic State terror group, and complicity in assisting in the cover-up, by hiding evidence, of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty.
"I want him in handcuffs," Santilli told the Arizona Republic. "He needs to be held for his account."
Another impetus for the rally is McCain's perceived "abandonment" of veterans who have fallen through the cracks becoming homeless. A common refrain heard at the protest was that the senator has failed in his obligation to veterans, with many labeling him a "criminal."
"I believe Phoenix is ground zero for veterans' issues, veterans' homelessness and the failure of the Veterans Administration in taking care of our veterans. That happens to fall in John McCain's jurisdiction," Santilli said.
Of course Sen. McCain takes issue with this characterization, preferring to cast himself as a champion of veterans issues. Recently, he has heavily inserted himself into the investigations of the extreme failings of Veterans Affairs hospitals. Many perceive these recent actions as simple political theater, meant to save face after failing the veterans by not being a steward of their cause until the VA hospital scandal became a PR nightmare.
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The protest seemingly struck a nerve with the McCain camp, as Brian Rogers, a McCain spokesman, released a statement Saturday afternoon. In the statement, they attempted to divert from the issues being raised by personally attacking the organizer and trying to label him a conspiracy theorist:
"The individual leading this 'protest,' Pete Santilli, is a conspiracy theorist who believes that high-tech energy beams from outer space took down the Twin Towers on 9/11 and that President George H.W. Bush helped orchestrate the Kennedy assassination, among many other bizarre theories.
"Senator McCain is very proud of his long record of fighting for Arizona's veterans, including coauthoring the recent VA reform bill to give veterans more choice in their health care, and his involvement in successful efforts in to address the problem of homeless veterans in our state."
One of the protesters, Kricket Mager, is Las Vegas resident and Army veteran who drove to all the way to Phoenix to take part in the demonstration. Mager attended the rally to call attention to McCain's record of lying to the American people, and failing to adequately support U.S. combat veterans.
"He’s got a long history of not taking care of our veterans and lying to this country. He’s not the only one. Senators have been in office too long and are not representing the people," Mager said.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has been published on BenSwann's Truth in Media, Truth-Out, AlterNet, InfoWars, MintPressNews and many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.