WASHINGTON – More than 100 anti-war protesters, including the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, were arrested outside the White House on Saturday in demonstrations marking the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
The protesters, some shouting anti-war slogans and singing “We Shall Not Be Moved,” were arrested after ignoring orders to move away from the gates of the White House. The demonstrators cheered loudly as Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon’s secret history of the Vietnam War that was later published in major newspapers, was arrested and led away by police.
In New York City, about 80 protesters gathered near the U.S. military recruiting center in Times Square, chanting “No to war” and carrying banners that read, “I am not paying for war” and “Butter not guns.”
The demonstration in Washington merged varied causes, including protesters demanding a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as those supporting Bradley Manning, the jailed Army private suspected of giving classified documents to the website WikiLeaks.
Ellsberg has publicly defended Manning, calling him a “brother,” and WikiLeaks.
Hundreds of protesters attended the rally and marched around the White House, but the crowd – which included many military veterans – thinned considerably as the U.S. Park Police warned that they’d be arrested if they didn’t move. As officers moved in with handcuffs, one protester who clutched the gates outside the White House shouted, “Don’t arrest them! Arrest Obama!” and “You’re arresting veterans, not war criminals!”
Authorities said 113 protesters were arrested, processed and given violation notices for disobeying an official order.
“The majority were cooperative,” said U.S. Park Police spokesman David Schlosser. “A couple had to be carried, but altogether a polite and orderly crowd.”
There was little talk at the D.C. protest of the U.S. missile strikes against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces in Libya on Saturday, part of an international effort to protect rebel forces.
But the Times Square demonstration that was meant to mark the eighth anniversary of the Iraq invasion quickly became a protest against Saturday’s military strikes.
U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel , D-N.Y., joined the protesters, saying he was angry that Congress was not consulted before the military strikes. He said he was undecided on whether the military action against Libya was justified.
“Going to war is not a decision that presidents should make,” he said.