WASHINGTON — Two men protesting U.S. support of the Nicaraguan rebels were arrested Thursday when they began shouting from the public gallery at the Iran- contra hearing and attempted to unfurl a banner.
The outburst occurred as Lt. Col. Oliver L. North was being questioned. Capitol police quickly seized the men, identified as Michael Spencer Kreis, 41, and Michael Evan Bardoff, 35, both of Baltimore, and escorted them from the Senate Caucus Room. They were charged with demonstrating inside a federal building and disrupting a congressional proceeding, both misdemeanors with maximum penalties of $500 fines and six months in jail.
The pair shouted: "What about the cocaine dealing that the U.S. is paying for?" and "Why don't you ask him how many non-combatants were killed?" Their banner read: "Ask About Cocaine Smuggling." This apparently referred to allegations that some contra leaders have been involved in drug smuggling, a topic that has not been addressed in North's interrogation.
Friends said the two are affiliated with a group called the Emergency Response Network. When the shouting started, North turned around in his chair. The hearing was suspended for about 10 minutes while the protesters were removed.