Codepink Entertains Jeh Johnson’s Neighbors

Anti-war group projects drone movie on DHS nominee’s empty Georgetown house.

Codepink projects anti-drone message on Jeh Johnson's house.
National Journal
Ben Terris
See more stories about...
Ben Terris
Nov. 11, 2013, 6:20 p.m.

About a dozen act­iv­ists gathered on a quiet Geor­getown street, eat­ing pop­corn, drink­ing hot cider, and pro­ject­ing a movie about drone war­fare onto the side of Jeh John­son’s brick house. The in­vit­a­tion for the event had said — without a trace of irony — that the goal was to “shed light” on the re­l­at­ively ob­scure nom­in­ee for the Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment.

“We want to pub­lic­ally shame him, and ex­pose him for what he is,” said Alli Mc­Crack­en, a spokes­wo­man for the or­gan­iz­ing group Code­pink.

And who ex­actly is he? Dur­ing his ten­ure as gen­er­al coun­sel at the De­fense De­part­ment, John­son helped draft the leg­al jus­ti­fic­a­tion for weapon­ized drone use. His job as the head of DHS — the con­firm­a­tion hear­ing for which starts Wed­nes­day — won’t have any­thing to do with killer drones, and some lib­er­als even like the guy for a re­port he wrote that pre­ceded the re­peal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

But neither of those facts would dis­suade these peace act­iv­ists from turn­ing his home in­to a blurry drive-in theat­er (and while there were plenty of stick­ers that read “Make Out, Not War,” there was a lot less funny busi­ness than your typ­ic­al drive-in).

The John­son fam­ily was nowhere to be seen, the spec­u­la­tion be­ing that they had se­questered them­selves in a nearby hotel. The event didn’t draw much of a crowd, oth­er than the four cop cars, but a few curi­ous pass­ersby and dog walk­ers did pop out to see what the pseudo-ex­cite­ment was about.

“We want the neigh­bors to know who he is,” said Mc­Crack­en while her co­horts held up blue-lit let­ters spelling out “No Killer Drones” that flickered like an old motel va­cancy sign.

If the goal was to get the neigh­bor­hood worked up about the fam­ily on the corner, they wer­en’t get­ting all that much trac­tion.

“I live cross the street, and my bike got stolen out from un­der my porch,” said one neigh­bor. “Best part of hav­ing the head of DHS across the street is that prob­ably won’t hap­pen again.

“I just feel bad for the fam­ily,” said an­oth­er neigh­bor walk­ing her dog whose name (this is not a joke) was Kami­kaze. “She’s great. He’s not as friendly, but they have beau­ti­ful chil­dren.”

“I’m just a guy try­ing to en­joy a glass of wine on the corner,” said an­oth­er.

The act­iv­ists here ad­mit that keep­ing John­son from get­ting con­firmed may be a quix­ot­ic battle, but say the point for be­ing out in the cold, pro­ject­ing a movie on an empty house, is that there aren’t many op­por­tun­it­ies to make a state­ment about what they con­sider un­just fight­ing tac­tics. Plus, it was fun to boo at the screen when Obama came on (“He’s ly­ing!” “Show us your num­bers!”) and to cheer at the foot­age of Code­pink’s Medea Ben­jamin get­ting dragged out of an event.

“I’m happy just to make his life a bit un­com­fort­able as long has he is mak­ing oth­er people’s lives un­com­fort­able,” said Jeremy Bing­ham, who comes to Code­pink as an in­tern by way of hav­ing been kicked out of Ober­lin Col­lege for shoot­ing his buddy with a BB gun. (He would got­ten away with it if only he had a drone, he ad­mits). 

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4385) }}

What We're Following See More »
Romney Talks Cost of His Futile Anti-Trump Fight
10 minutes ago

Mitt Romney spoke in an interview with the Wall Street Journal about his decision to challenge Donald Trump. “Friends warned me, ‘Don’t speak out, stay out of the fray,’ because criticizing Mr. Trump will only help him by giving him someone else to attack. They were right. I became his next target, and the incoming attacks have been constant and brutal.” Still, "I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”

Puerto Rico Relief Stalled on the Hill
55 minutes ago

"A bill to help Puerto Rico handle its $70 billion debt crisis is facing an uncertain future in the Senate. No Senate Democrats have endorsed a bill backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while some are actively fighting it. ... On the Republican side, senators say they’re hopeful to pass a bill but don’t know if they can support the current legislation — which is expected to win House approval given its backing from leaders in that chamber."

Congress Slow-walking Zika Legislation
1 hours ago

"Congress abandoned the Capitol Thursday for an almost two-week break without addressing how to combat Zika, even as public health officials issue dire warnings about the spread of the mosquito-driven virus with summer approaching. ... Instead of racing to fund efforts to thwart a potential health crisis, lawmakers are treating the Zika debate like regular legislation, approving Thursday the establishment of a House-Senate committee to hammer out differences in their competing bills."

Trump to Rubio: Run for Reelection
5 hours ago

Donald Trump may have defeated Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential ambitions, but he wants the man he dubbed Little Marco to keep his job in the Senate. "Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida," Trump tweeted Thursday evening. "Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!" Trump is not the first to urge Rubio to run, though the senator has said such a move is unlikely. The filing deadline is June 24. 

At Hiroshima, Obama Calls For Nuke-Free World
5 hours ago

President Obama called for an end to nuclear weapons Friday during a somber visit to Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan, where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb 71 years ago. "That is the future we can choose,” Obama said. “A future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not for the bomb of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”