Obama, McCain Rebuff Veterans, Protesters Arrested During McCain's 'Last Chance'

Posted Oct 16, 2008 by Stephen Dohnberg
Obama, McCain, and CBS rebuffed veterans and active duty service-people who sought to ask a question in the final debate. Amid arrests outside of debate grounds, the pundits' early verdicts are not good for McCain, as Obama held strong defense.
Third and final 2008 Presidential Debate
Sen. John McCain and his wife, Cindy, left, and Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, wave to supporters Wednesday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
Photo courtesy Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY - Tonight at approximately 7:05 the Iraq Vets Against the War (IVAW), a coalition of veterans and active duty American service people, were stopped by police approximately one block from the gate entrance to the Hofstra University debate
The group committed an act of non violent civil disobedience and attempted to cross the lines, After a short standoff with local police on horseback and supported by police in light riot gear, 15 individuals were arrested.
Sgt Nick Morgan - Injured
Iraq Vet Sgt Nick Morgan - Injured after being trampled by police horse. full video available at
Bill Perry
A total of 15, including 5 protesters were detained and arrested after attempting to enter at the north Hofstra gate. Spokesman for Nassau Police,Dept. Lt. Kevin Smith informed Newsday, "When they insisted on coming through they were placed under arrest
... there might have been one injury. I don't believe that it was serious and he was taken to an area hospital."
The arrested IVAW members and protesters were held for approximately 5 hours, and the hospitalized member, Nick Morgan, an honourably discharged veteran diagnosed with PTSD, was badly injured by one of the police horses. The IVAW reports that the police initially refused Morgan treatment. Nassau County police offered no comment at this time.
A phone call by this reporter to Nassau County police confirmed that there were 15 arrests of "protesters" in total, including IVAW members, They were charged with Disturbing the Peace and were released on "court appearance tickets for Nov. 10" as Newsday originally reported.
Injured - Sgt Nick Morgan  Iraq Vet
Injured - Sgt Nick Morgan, Iraq Vet - on ground, unconscious, concussed after being trampled by police horse. video availabel at
Bill Perry
According to IVAW representative Matthis Chiroux,the arrested IVAW members were Maralissa Grogan, James Gilligan (Cpl, Marine Corps), Kristofer Goldsmith, Mike Spiniateo (Sgt), Adam Kokesh (Sgt), Geoff Mallard (Sgt.), Jose Vasquez, Nick Morgan, Nathan Peld, and Matthis Chiroux (Sgt).
Among the 5 antiwar protesters I spoke with upon release, one identified herself as Megan Day, a resident of Boston, MA and a student and antiwar activist at UMass.
The remaining IVAW members stood in vigil, holding ground despite attempts from police on horseback to 'bump' them out of position and move them back. Protesters, as reported by theUptake.Org reporter Kunin, chanted "Let them In", and "shame on you"
The soldiers, dressed in their uniforms, marched in cadence toward the debate location with thousands of supporters in tow.
The IVAW, as previously reported, issued a request to CBS, debate moderator Bob Schieffer, the Obama and McCain campaigns, and the Commission on Presidential Debates.
As outlined in their press release, and in a letter released to Schieffer, Chiroux wrote “I'm writing you today as a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War to make clear the details of a demonstration we will be leading Oct. 15th at Hofstra University prior to the final presidential debate and what our demands are and will be.”
They indicated that if no response was received by 7 pm EDT, the IVAW would converge on the debate in a peaceful and nonviolent fashion.
No response was delivered by any representative of any of the organizations the IVAW attempted to contact.
The dissatisfaction by the IVAW was articulated in the aforementioned press release, as Kristofer Goldmsith noted "I watched the first debate the other night, the topic was supposed to be 'foreign policy', yet it took 34 minutes before the words 'Iraq' or 'Veteran' left either candidates' mouths, I'm not convinced that either Obama or McCain care about what is most important to today's military and veterans. IVAW is committed to changing that."
The peaceful intention of the IVAW and related protest groups appeared to be genuine, as the IVAW reported to me that their coordinating committee made a point of meeting with Nassau County police on Oct. 14 to explain their intentions. Chiroux and Goldsmith met with Det. Thomas Calvert and Det. Robert Annese. "All seemed understood and clear" according to Chiroux.
Tonight's meeting was the final of three debates sanctioned by the Commission on Presidential Debates, who permitted only Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain, the Democratic and Republican party nominees, despite the fact that independent candidate Ralph Nader, Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney, and Libertarian candidate Bob Barr all obtained access to enough ballots for a theoretical challenge in electoral college numbers, no matter how much a long shot they may be considered.
Obama and McCain sparred over economy, taxes, education, and at one point responded to the moderators call for each candidate to address the negative campaigning that had released much vitriol from supporters, particularly at McCain-Palin rallies.
Although McCain came out of the gate aggressive and confident, it was considered by many pundits as too little too late. Perpetuating one of the talking points
that had resulted in much of the ugly atmosphere at McCain - Palin rallies, Sen McCain brought up the name William Ayers - a name that has been used to connect Obama to terrorism, based on Ayers activity as a 60's radical with the Weather Underground.
Obama addressed his concern over hearing many of the comments at McCain-Palin events, ranging from "terrorist" and "traitor", McCain retorted that he "wasn't happy with some tee shirts" that were seen at Obama rallies.
One public citizen was mentioned a number of times during debate discussion over economic stimulus -. 'Joe the Plumber' otherwise known as Joe Wurzelbacher Some pundits
jokingly referred to this small businessman as the "real winner" of the debate. As the BBC quipped, Joe the Plumber seems to have replaced Joe Six Pack."
Although the debate was a departure from the previous 2 presidential face-offs, with each candidate sitting at a round table across from the moderator, stump speech rhetoric dominated the performance, and it remains to be seen if McCain performed well enough to close the widening gap in the polls that Obama has over McCain.
With this appearing to be the reality of the final debate, some might question the decision of the debate moderators, organizers, and campaigns to rebuff the veterans and fail to address the questions of Sgt Chiroux and Goldsmith.
As Chiroux told this reporter in an earlier interview, he had no qualms about making a potential example of himself if the police want to attack and arrest those who have served their country.
The forced silence of the issue could speak louder than anything as history comes to judge the failure to engage the troops and the issue of treatment for returning active duty service people, not to mention the issue of the current administration juggling two costly wars amid a $700 billion plus corporate bailout package.
Sgt Nick Morgan After release from jail
Sergeant Nick Morgan after his release from jail. Initially, police refused him treatment because he was unconscious. After he was roused by his fellow Iraq Vets and asked for hospital assistance, he was returned to his cell and kept handcuffed.
Bill Perry
A full interview with the IVAW members arrested protesters will be released tomorrow (Oct 16) in print and audio format.