Last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice walked into a committee room of the United States House of Representatives. Rice was to testify during a hearing on foreign policy and the ongoing struggles in Iraq.
Seated before her were respected members of the House. Behind her were audience members and the ever-present media. Her testimony was about to begin.
Then suddenly, a screeching woman with fake blood on her hands strolled right up to the Secretary of State and pushed her hands into Rice's face. She screamed, "The blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands." Then she was quickly taken into custody and ushered from the room.
Soon a number of other audience members began to shout and scream their anti-war message to Rice and the House members present. All members of the anti-war activist group Code Pink, they too were ushered from the room. Rice began her testimony and the hearing continued uninterrupted.
But here's my problem. I take no offense with protest and I most certainly have no intent to silence those for or against virtually anything. But how - with heightened security - could this happen? And in the halls of Congress no less!
I assume the protesters all strolled through metal detectors and past an array of security. Their intent was to gain public exposure not to harm the Secretary. But that is not the point.
If these anti-war protesters can get that close to a high-ranking official with apparent ease, then wouldn't it be just as easy to gain access if the intent was far more sinister? Had these protesters wanted to harm the Secretary of State, I fully assume they could have. How can someone - once again, in the halls of Congress - get that close to this official? I am sincerely disturbed by the prospects.
I make no pretense to defend or condemn our actions in Iraq. But it is really disconcerting when someone can approach a top official with such ease. Perhaps the same thing could occur were the speaker the President. And perhaps the intentions next time will not be so tame.
If that's the best security this nation can offer then we have some deep problems.