Chicago Sun-Times
The 2012 NATO Chicago Summit brings world leaders to Chicago May 20-21

May 2012 Archives

Some protesters played music and danced for democracy:

Video: Protests in Downtown Chicago on Monday

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A group of NATO protesters rally outside Obama headquarters Monday afternoon.

Warning: Contains adult language.

Before protesters held a press conference, they played music and danced:

Protesters then moved to Michigan and Washington:

Protest-with glitter-at Boeing headquarters

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Protesters flew paper airplanes, shot party poppers, tossed glitter and staged a "die-in" outside Boeing headquarters on Randolph Monday.

More on Boeing protest

Watch the protest in video by Jon Sall.

Afterward, protesters started marching through Loop, marching east on Washington.

Protester sings in Union Park Monday

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Protester Ariel Zevon, 35, from Vermont sings "Why these Wars" at Union Park Monday.

Monday 21 May 2012

07:30 Arrivals of the Heads of State and Government and leaders participating in the Meeting on Afghanistan

09.00 Meeting on Afghanistan in Heads of State and Government Format

• Secretary General's Opening Remarks
• Welcoming Remarks by the President of the United States

11:00 Meeting of the NATO Foreign Ministers with Foreign Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia¹.

Official Photo of participants at the meeting on Afghanistan

12:15 Press Conference by the NATO Secretary General

Meeting with Partners in Heads of State and Government Format

• Opening remarks by the NATO Secretary General
14:45 Press Conference by the NATO Secretary General

1. Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

Video: Freed protester talks about being in custody

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Video: Freed protester talks about being in custody

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Video: Protesters march Sunday night up State Street

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NATO protesters rally in front of the Art Institute Sunday night.

Video: Veterans renounce service medals

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At the end of the NATO protest march Sunday, U.S. veterans renounced their service medals. Video by Jon Sall.

Video: A day of NATO protests

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Thousands of NATO protesters took to the streets of Chicago on Sunday afternoon. What started peacefully became confrontational towards the end of the march. Video by Jon Sall.

Video: Monk prays for peace

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Monk prays for peace at Michigan and Cermak late Sunday afternoon. Sun-Times video by Pavel Pourmal.

Sun-Times videographer Jon Sall captured this video from the middle of the clash between NATO protesters and Chicago Police at Michigan and Cermak on Sunday evening.

Police and protesters in standoff after clash at Michigan and Cermak on Sunday evening. Video by Sun-Times photographer Brian Jackson.

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First Lady Michelle Obama with NATO spouses at the Gary Comer Youth Center.
(Sun-Times Photo by John White)

click below for transcript

Photo: Chicago Police in full riot gear

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Chicago Police at the end of the NATO protest march, in full riot gear. It was 91 degrees Sunday in Chicago.

Video: Shoving match with police

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Black Bloc protesters get into shoving match with Chicago Police on Wabash at Cermak.

Video: Black bloc skirmish at anti-NATO march

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Black Bloc protesters rush past anti-NATO march organizers Sunday.

Video: Protesters singing on march

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(photos by Lynn Sweet)

CHICAGO--With military pagentry and a silent tribute to those who died in war, NATO opened it's 25th Summit in Chicago on Sunday, with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen paying tribute to the host city.

"Chicago has always been a place where Europeans and North Americans have come together. And now, we have come together to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between us," Rasmussen said.

The global leaders met over a large round table.

The bi-lateral session--the largest of the two-day summit featured at the start representatives of the 28 nations' militaries--one from each NATO member country. A U.S. Army bugler played tabs, then reville before they quick-marched out.

Below, a transcript of the session that was open to press coverage...

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release May 20, 2012



McCormick Place
Chicago, Illinois

12:52 P.M. CDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I just want to not only welcome Secretary General Rasmussen to my hometown of Chicago -- my understanding is he's already enjoyed some of the sights, and we were hearing about him jogging along the lake and appreciating the outstanding views and the skyline -- but more importantly, I want to thank him for his extraordinary leadership.

Secretary General Rasmussen arrived in this post during one of most challenging times that NATO has faced. He has guided us through some very rocky times. And I think the results of this NATO Summit are reflective of his extraordinary leadership.

At this summit, we anticipate not only ratifying the plan for moving forward in Afghanistan -- a transition process that will bring the war to an end at the end of 2014 and put Afghans in the lead for their own security -- but we're also going to be talking about the progress that we've made in expanding NATO's defense capabilities -- ensuring that every NATO member has a stake and is involved and integrated in our mutual defense efforts.

And we're going to have an opportunity to talk about the partnerships that NATO has been able to set up with like-minded countries around the world, and find ways that we can deepen and engage those partners to help to promote security and peace around the world.

All this has happened because of Secretary General Rasmussen's leadership. I'm very proud of the work that he's done. I think it's going to be reflected in the success of this summit. And on behalf of the American people, we want to say thank you.

Thank you very much. Mr. President, I would like to thank very much for your strong leadership, for your dedication to our alliance. America has always been a source of strength and inspiration in NATO, and I'm very pleased that we can hold our 25th summit in your home city, Chicago.

Chicago has always been a place where Europeans and North Americans have come together. And now, we have come together to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between us.

I look very much forward to a successful summit, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have worked so hard to make this summit a success. And I would like to thank the people of Chicago for their great hospitality.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right. Thank you so much, everybody.

END 12:55 P.M. CDT

Chicago Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch is in President Barack Obama's NATO Summit press pool this Sunday and Obama exchanged remarks with him at the end of a meeting with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. Why, Obama wondered, has there been so much fuss about bringing the NATO Summit to Chicago?

Below, excerpt from Pallasch pool report

"I asked him if he was missing the Crosstown games between the Cubs and his beloved White Sox and if he was going to be able to break away and watch as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did Saturday.

"No, they don't let me have fun," he said.

Joking about the Summit, he said, "I've been asking: Why is everybody making such a big fuss? This isn't as big as Taste of Chicago."

Your pooler noted that NATO protesters targeted Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house but not his and asked if he felt left out.

nato missile.jpeg The Chicago NATO Summit is highlighting new ballistic missile defense capacity for NATO allies in Europe. The missile model in this picture is part of an exhibit in the International Media Center at McCormick Place. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will visit the exhibit on Sunday afternoon.
(photo by Lynn Sweet)

nato file center.jpegNATO Summit filing center

state media office.jpegState Department's communications operation

nato media office.jpegNATO media headquarters

A massive filing center has been set up for the media. The White House Press Corps has a separate area a flight below. As nice as it is--the internet works swell and there is plenty of workspace--there is a deep sense of professional isolation because the global leaders--their foreign ministers--their defense secretaries--their military brass--are in other parts of the complex that reporters cannot access --except for those few in press pools. Still, there are some prospects--NATO and the State Department have press operations here and I've seen some White House folks around.
(photo by Lynn Sweet)

rasmussen nato sunday.jpgNATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen held a short press conference at the media center on Sunday morning.

Rasmussen predicted that the NATO allies will stick with the plan to pull out combat troops by 2014. "There will be no rush for the exits," he said.

New French President Francoise Hollande campaigned to withdraw French soldiers this year. Said Rasmussen, he was "not surprised" Hollande "wants to keep his pledges. He predicted that France will be prepared to help in Afghanistan in the coming years "in a different way."
(photo by Lynn Sweet)

nato host committee.jpegChicago NATO Host Committee staffers at an information booth. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

chicago lamp shade.jpegA one-of-a-kind lamp shade. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

The Chicago NATO Host Committee is running an information operation to assist reporters in writing stories about Chicago. The media lunch today is very Chicago--Chicago style deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati's and hot dogs. The decor is also Chicago themed--lamp shades with famous quotes about the city.

@natoindymedia posted the following video on YouTube. In it, Chicago Police are seen using batons on protesters Saturday at State and Washington.

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NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen delivering opening remarks at the Chicago NATO Summit. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was not critical Sunday of anti-NATO protestors in Chicago because the NATO nations represent "free societies where freedom of expression is a fundamental."

Rasmussen was asked whether protests distracted from the Summit and in his reply he did not address the arrest by local law enforcement of three alleged plotters who wanted to attack the Obama campaign headquarters, the home of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, police stations and squad cars.

"I am pleased that we the peoples of NATO countries live in free societies where freedom of expression is a fundamental value," Rasmussen said in his remarks at the start of the two-day Summit in the highly fortified McCormick Place complex.

"And that also includes the possibility that to express your views through demonstrations I would expect that such demonstrations would take place in a peaceful manner," Rasmussen said.

The official NATO schedule of events for
Sunday 20 May 2012

09:50 Doorstep statement by the NATO Secretary General l

13:30 Official greeting by the NATO Secretary General and the President of the United States of Heads of State and/or Government at McCormick Place.

14.15 North Atlantic Council meeting at Heads of State and Government Format l

• Ceremony honouring NATO military personnel for service in operational theatres of the Alliance

• Opening remarks by the Secretary General

• Welcome by the President of the United States

17:25 Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) Signing Ceremony presided by the Deputy Secretary General

17:25 Press Conference by the NATO Secretary General
18:00 NATO Secretary General visiting the Missile Defence Exhibition in IMC

19:40 Official Portrait of Allies' Heads of State and Government, Soldier Field, Chicago

19:15 Working Dinner of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs

20:00 Working Dinner of Heads of State and Government

20:00 Working Dinner of Ministers of Defence

Photos: President Obama, first lady back in Chicago

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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are back home in Chicago Saturday night. They are here for the NATO Summit.

The president and first lady were greeted at O'Hare International Airport by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Chicago first lady Amy Rule.

Check out the photos:
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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago first lady Amy Rule (left) greet President Barack Obama and first Lady Michelle Obama after they land at O'Hare. | AP

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle landed in Chicago Saturday night and en route on Air Force One Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said he was not overly concerned over the arrests of three suspects over an alleged "terrorism plot."

Rhodes said he was not aware that Obama knew anything about the arrests and said "protests and security disruptions" are common at summits.

"We're very confident in the ability of Chicago, together with the United States government, to have a very successful event over the course of the next two days. If these more serious allegations are true, then I think it was effective work in making sure that they couldn't pose any additional threat to public security. But I'll have to wait -- what additional information comes out before getting into the specifics of this case."

NATO meets the Crosstown Classic tonight at Wrigley Field. It might not be quite the type of battle NATO members are used to, but the Cubs-White Sox rivalry is no less intense. At least in baseball terms.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., were among those attending.

Gen. John R. Allen USMC; Commander, International Security Assistance Force threw out the first pitch.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Sen Dick Durbin

Gen. John R. Allen

CHICAGO-- General John Allen, the commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, will toss out the symbolic first ball Saturday night at the Cubs/Sox crosstown classic at Wrigley Field. Both Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are expected to attend the game.

There was some talk, I hear of all three tossing out balls--but in the end, the decision was made to stick with tradition and have only one symbolic first pitch.

Allen is based at the ISAF Headquarters in Kabul.

And it's play ball for the Chicago NATO Summit.

Wedding photos interrupted by protest march

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A bridal party's photo op was interrupted Saturday afternoon when NATO protesters began marching into their photo. The bride's response: "Let's get out of here."

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NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaking to the "2012 Chicago Young Atlanticist Summit" Saturday in Chicago. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged trying negotiations with the Taliban if certain preconditions were met. Rasmussen spoke the day before the Chicago NATO summit at the "2012 Chicago Young Atlanticist Summit" sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Atlantic Council. Read my column about Rasmussen's remarks regarding the Taliban, Afghanistan and Pakistan HERE.

NATO protesters practice hand signals

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NATO protesters shot this video to demonstrate hand signals to mobilize. The audio is a little difficult in the beginning because of the helicopters, but it gets clearer as it goes on.

The official Chicago NATO Summit schedule of events is HERE.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta --in Chicago to huddle with defense minister counterparts at the NATO Summit --is telling them they have to keep investing in defense. My interview with Panetta--who will also get together with Mayor Rahm Emanuel when he is in Chicago-- is HERE.

The following is a White House press briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.

MR. CARNEY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for being here. I know that I alone did not draw this substantial crowd, which is why I will immediately introduce and turn over the briefing to Tom Donilon, the President's National Security Advisor.

As you know, the United States is hosting the G8 and NATO summits this year -- the G8 at Camp David, NATO in Chicago. And Tom is here to give you a preview of those summits. As we've done in the past with visitors to the briefing, he'll make some comments to open, he'll take your questions on related subjects, and then Tom will depart and I'll remain to take questions on other matters.

No, the Air & Water Show isn't early this year. Starting at 9 a.m. Friday morning, fighter jets will do a series of training flights over Chicago in preparation of the NATO Summit. The flights will last for approximately two hours.

"Providing the air defense for special security events like this year's NATO Summit is a part of our day-to-day mission," said Lt. Gen. Sid Clarke, Continental U.S. NORAD Region commander in a statement.

Civil Air Patrol aircraft, Air National Guard C-21 aircraft, Air Force KC-135 tanker, Air Force F-16s, and a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter will participate in the exercise.

WASHINGTON-- White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon laid out the NATO Chicago Summit broad schedule at a Thursday briefing. The final number as of today: 61 countries plus the EU, the United Nations and the World Bank will be in attendance.


President Barack Obama flies to Chicago on Saturday evening following the G-8 Summit at Camp David.


Donilon said "the first meeting that he'll have on Sunday will be with President Karzai of Afghanistan, obviously an important meeting because a central focus of the NATO summit will be on Afghanistan and on -- and Afghanistan's future. So the first meeting of the day, appropriately, is going to be with President Karzai of Afghanistan.

"The president will then move into various -- a series of NATO meetings. There'll be an initial meeting with the -- with just the NATO allies at the -- at 28. That evening, on Sunday evening, the NATO allies will meet at Soldier Field for a working dinner, and that'll be just leaders plus one adviser.


"On Monday morning the summit will continue at McCormick Place with discussions on Afghanistan. And this will be a broader meeting. This will be the NATO countries plus the 22 non-NATO Afghan troop --or non-NATO troop-contributing countries in Afghanistan.

"And the second formal meeting on Monday would be a session with the key partners that we had in various projects around the world with NATO."

Send in the clowns! It's not like you have a choice though -- they're already here.

A group of clowns calling themselves Clown Bloq, a riff on major protesting group Black Bloc, are planning to protest the NATO Summit in Chicago -- with pies.

According to the group's Twitter account, they will be marching from the Sheraton Hotel to Daley Plaza starting at 11 AM Friday. They say they will be armed with pies. The group's website boasts, "When they throw flashbangs, we throw pies. We are not a joke."

The group says its mission is "to provide hilarity in the face of a humorless police state and to provide a fool's critique of organized and militarized repression of the people, their voices and their best interests."

Is NATO security using surveillance drones to keep an eye on things while the summit is in Chicago?


YouTube user MisterBees posted a video Sunday, May 13, 2012, that appears to show a surveillance drone flying over an Elgin field.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn talks about the NATO Summit in Chicago HERE. He talks about how Illinois is the "epicenter" of the 2012 presidential campaign because President Barack Obama is from Chicago. "We know how to do politics and democracy," Quinn says.

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Photos courtesy Chicago NATO Host Committee

The Chicago NATO Host Committee is giving gift bags to attendees and journalists covering the meetings in McCormick Place. My story on what's in them is HERE.

Cops, protesters remember 'Battle in Seattle'

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In 1999, police and protesters faced off in Seattle amid the backdrop of a World Trade Organization meeting. That confrontation became known as the “Battle in Seattle,” and both sides seem agree that inadequate preparation caused the situation to spin out of control.

“In short, we thought we were ready,” former Seattle Police Chief Norman Stamper told NBC Chicago. “We thought we were prepared. And we weren’t.”

Stamper’s big regret? Using tear gas on peaceful demonstrators to clear an intersection, something Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he has no plans to do.

Stamper’s advice?

“Assume the worst. Prepare for the worst,” he said. “I do not believe for a minute that police will riot. I do believe that there is the potential for clashes between police and demonstrators.”

[ABC7 ]( that Chicago Police have two new $20,000 LRADs-Long Range Acoustic Devices-ready for the Chicago NATO Summit. The devices can be used to broadcast messages to crowds up to a kilometer away. Although the devices are also capable of emitting a high-decibel screech to disperse crowds, Chicago Police say they don’t intend to use the devices that way.

So how's that NATO Summit playing with Chicagoans? NATO's communications team produced a video with people-on-the-street interviews of Chicagoans talking about the Summit, or as the narrator says in the video, their "interest, enthusiasm and anxiety." The video notes the summit is "causing the inhabitants some concern."

Chicago Host Committee chief Lori Healey, featured in the video, lays out the case for the city hosting the event.

The video is posted on the NATO website,

Read about it HERE.

Chicago the capital of Illinois? So says NATO.

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In a video released yesterday by NATO, Chicago is erroneously referred to as the capital of Illinois. Say what?

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright --the co-chair of the Chicago NATO Host Committee-- spoke to the Chicago Council of Global Affairs on Wednesday in the run-up to the May 20-21 Summit at McCormick Place. Albright is famous for her pins--and for the occasion wore a pin given to her by a NATO Supreme Allied Commander.

I interviewed Albright on Tuesday about the Chicago NATO Summit, her exploration of her Jewish heritage, recounted in her new book, Prague Winter, A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 and the years she lived in Chicago -- when her then husband was a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. My Albright column is HERE.

Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News reports that a diplomatic dispute has broken out over who gets an invitation to the NATO summit in Chicago. France reportedly wants the European Union invited because of its participation in Afghanistan and Libya. The United States, United Kingdom and Turkey oppose the invite because top EU top officials have already been invited to the opening dinner, and most EU countries are also NATO members. Turkey also points out that groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League helped out in Afghanistan and Libya, but no one's talking about inviting them.