I went down to Washington recently, for three days, for a hearing scheduled in the House. The Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian Affairs was holding hearings, on a bill which would force distribution of monies to the Western Shoshones, effectively cutting off their land claims. There's a lot of speculation, but one of the things believed to be happening is that they've discovered glacial water under the Shoshone land, and they want to tap it and send it to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. We were waiting for a reporter outside the Longworth Building about 8:30 in the morning. I looked up and there was a group of about 60 to 80 people at the Canon office building -- there's a huge portico which is part of the foundation & support for the building, going down the hill -- and there was a preacher, ranting and waving his arms about, and this group was waving American flags, they were having a big Christian rally on their way out to talk to their Congressman for something. I was just dumbfounded by the change. I was there for the very end of Eisenhower's administration, Kennedy's, and part of Johnson's, the very beginning of Johnson's. Every time there's a new President, the whole complexion of the city changes. For example, under Eisenhower there was the Bolshoi Ballet; under Kennedy, all the military bands were revitalized, there were public concerts, there were openings of major Broadway plays -- they'd open in Boston & Philadelphia, and they started opening in Washington as part of their pre-Broadway trials. But under George W., we've got . . . Christians. We have a huge influx of Christians. There's Christians, there's nothing but crucifixes and Jesus signs, tour busses, Christian tours . . . One time I was down there with the Shoshones and there were twelve brown and white Christian tour busses on Capitol Hill.
And the security is unbelievable. They're now building a huge tourist center adjacent to the Capitol, which I assume will mean you won't be able to go into the Capitol after a while. Now you can get in, but it's like going through a double airport security. And when you get inside, every time you turn down a corridor, there's security. If you want to go to any of the places that used to be open, when I was down there -- wide open -- any of the hearing rooms or anything, you have to be accompanied by staff, you have to have special passes, the staff has tovouch for you . . . There's plainclothes security, there's uniformed security, and the result of this is that all our Congressmen are physically afraid. I think they're cowards.
[On that trip to Washington], I was watching Hillary Clinton at a press conference. There was Herself, and the Senator we were trying to reach, from Nevada; they walked out from the Senate side, and held a press conference, but there was a barricade behind them, and a fence, and anti-tank barricades in the road, and I noticed all the Congressman were driven over in SUVs with blacked-out windows and armed guards, and there were armed guards under the portico of the Capitol. A reporter approaching a Senator got within about three steps and was surrounded by six armed uniformed security guards from the Capitol. And there were all kinds of young men and women in blue blazers who obviously had weapons underneath their blazers. When the press conference was over, Hilary and one or two other people just walked freely to wherever they were going, and all these Congressmen got into the blacked-out SUVs. I said to my friend, "Jeez, they're really afraid." He said, "Bob, did it occur to you that most of those people live in gated communities?" A very interesting statistic -- How many Congressmen live in gated communities? Just as the tax laws directly affect them -- because they are in the highest tax bracket, by their salaries -- so too, they see nothing unusual about keeping the public out of public buildings, because they live in a gated community, where the public has no access. This is just one indication of how out of touch they are, as well as how totally physically cowardly some of them are.
The whole Capitol on that trip was surrounded by ten foot sewer pipes, as truck barricades. That's what this [Bush] administration's trying to do, they're trying to make the Congressmen think they're in danger. The joke was, we had a press conference at the ACLU, and you'd think that with an administration of conservatives and neo-conservatives and the right wing and the far-right, the people who are in the most physical danger would be the ACLU. We walked over to the office for the ACLU from the Supreme Court. Across a narrow side street there's a bunch of mansions, one of them is owned by the ACLU. I went up to the door and knocked, tried the door, walked in. I asked if the press conference was there, they said "Just a minute" and they checked and said, "O yeah, we've got that scheduled. There's some coffee over there, some cookies. We'll try to get some sandwiches . . . ." We walked freely in and out. I said, "I think I'll wait outside." We all had packages. Nobody asked us . . . anything!, except, "Do you want coffee?" So as we were leaving, after the press conference, I said to one of the women who was obviously of some authority, "Aren't you people afraid?" She said, "Of what?" And I said, "Well, the whole city's under siege here." She said, "Oh, that's all nonsense, that's just propaganda. Nobody's bothering us." It's hard to keep your head, when you're not used to it. If we were more acclimated to propaganda, it wouldn't bother us so much. It's like the Victory Gardens during World War II -- all I got out of that was some mealy beans . . . You can't go anywhere in Washington without going through security, and it's all nonsense. One of my sons is in Philadelphia -- it's even worse. They have anti-tank -- actually concrete Jersey barriers -- all around the block, around the Liberty Bell. They have cruisers with heavily armed police, and special security, Federal security, because they're afraid somebody's going to blow up the liberty bell. I mean, who gives a fuck if they blow up the liberty bell? It's just a symbol, and it'd be another type of symbol, that's all -- a blown-up symbol instead of a cracked one -- who gives a fuck? Why would we care, if somebody blew up the liberty bell? I don't know . . .
Bob Doyle was born, in 1937, at Northampton, Massachusetts. He attended public schools and graduated from Holy Cross College (1959), and obtained his law degree from Georgetown (1963). He served in the U.S. Navy from 1959 to 1961, mostly at the Pentagon on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. He has practiced law in Northampton from 1963 to the present and has been active in Democratic politics ("it seems forever"). He lives in the foothills of the Berkshires. With his friend and colleague, Peter D'Errico, he has for the past decade represented, among others, traditional native peoples and nations. He is married to Poppy McCluskey and they have eight children.