WASHINGTON -- Peace activists from Code Pink have become a fixture at national security hearings on Capitol Hill since they began protesting the second Iraq War. But rather than dismiss their chants against war, former peace activist and current Secretary of State John Kerry decided Wednesday to engage with the protesters.
"You know, as I came in here, obviously, we had some folks who spoke out, and I would start by saying that I understand dissent. I've lived it," Kerry told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the threat posed by the Islamic State, also referred to as ISIS or ISIL.
From Kerry's perspective, Code Pink was losing sight of some of its founders' goals of helping people, not just protesting war.
"Code Pink was started by a woman and women who were opposed to war but who also thought that the government's job was to take care of people, and to give them health care and education and good jobs," Kerry said. "If that's what you believe in, and I believe it is, then you ought to care about fighting ISIL."
Kerry pointed to the Islamic State's record of committing rape, mutilation and other barbarities against women, and said the terrorist group possesses an ideology "that frankly comes out of the stone age, making a mockery of a peaceful religion."
"Frankly, Code Pink and a lot of other people need to stop and think about how you stop them and deal with that," Kerry said, as police led a protester out of hearing as she chanted: "Your invasion will not protect the homeland!"
"There's no invasion," Kerry said. "The invasion was ISIL into Iraq. The invasion is foreign fighters into Syria. That's the invasion."
The Obama administration is seeking $500 million from Congress to arm and train Syrian rebels as it ramps up airstrikes against the Islamic State.
Watch Kerry above.
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.