Archive for January, 2010

Tweeting to #closegitmo

War Criminals Watch is joining with the ACLU, Amnesty International, many other organizations, artists and musicians like Tom Morello and Trent Reznor to “flood Twitter” and Facebook today, Thursday, January 21st with messages to #closegitmo. YOU can help, by spreading the word now, and tweeting messages tomorrow about Guantanamo, torture, habeas corpus rights, and more – using the hashtag #closegitmo. You can also “donate” your Facebook status for the day with this message. We want to dominate the social networking discussion on Thursday with the message that torture and the prison at Guantanamo still continue, but must be stopped.

Follow us on Twitter at worldcantwait, and go to the link below to find an image to use for the day on as your Twitter or Facebook avatar. Check out the stream of tweets about closing Guantanamo here.

Thursday January 21st – more than a year since Obama promised Guantanamo would be closed, join us in flooding twitter and facebook with the message to #closegitmo. Use this image for the day as your avatar.

#closegitmo avatar

Sample tweets:

People have been tortured to death at Guantanamo. Read Scott Horton in Harpers: #closegitmo

“How I fought to survive Guantánamo” the former detainee Omar Deghayes #closegitmo

Take action to #closegitmo. We want to know what you think. More than 800 people have taken this survey

The Guantanamo Files: the stories of the human beings tortured in our names. #closegitmo

, , , , , ,

1 Comment

For George Tiller: Never Back Down, Never Stop Telling the Truth for Women

Susan Wicklund MD

Dr. Susan Wicklund

Susan Wicklund, M.D. sent this for the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which removed federal and state laws against abortion.  The National Organization for Women in Wichita KS is holding a vigil in honor of her friend George Tiller, M.D. who was assassinated in May 2009:

None of us can pretend to know what Dr Tiller would say to us right now. We know what he used to say about understanding the heart of a woman. We know what he believed about each woman having the knowledge to really understand what was best for HER. We know, tragically, that he gave his life for what he believed in. We know that his family lost a husband, a father, a grandfather, We know that the Pro Choice movement lost one of our biggest heroes, a compassionate, extremely competent physician, a voice that spoke truth, a rock we all thought could never be moved.

What we DON’T know is what will become of the women in this country if the right to safe, legal abortion continues to be eroded and compromised and marginalized and becomes even more inaccessible. We don’t know to what extent the anti-choice forces will go to deny even more women the right to control their own destinies. We don’t know how many more clinics will be burned, staff terrorized or doctors killed. We don’t know if our government will actually step up and make sure abortion is treated as the basic health care we all know it is.

But I personally know this: George Tiller would tell us to never back down, to never stop telling the truth, to never forget the individual woman who walks in the door of a clinic in need of help in ending a pregnancy she is not prepared for. And he knew that this is about us. All of us. And it is about your mothers and wives, your sisters and daughters and granddaughters and best friends. It is about someone else wanting to control us. It is about power.

Please, in honor of Dr George Tiller, use your voices and your presence and your hearts to keep abortion safe, legal and available to every woman, to every family that needs this care. This is not some esoteric concept. This is a matter of life and death.

, , ,

No Comments

Outside C.I.A Headquarters, Protesting U.S. Drone Attacks

While driving to protest at C.I.A. headquarters Saturday, a spokesperson for the Pakistan USA Freedom Forum called me to say that Pakistanis agree with our opposition to the U.S. use of un-manned drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and perhaps on other countries.  He said these drone attacks only make people oppose the US occupations more, and will drive people into the arms of the religious fundamentalists, and not keep the U.S. safer.

Cindy Sheehan

Activist Cindy Sheehan walks with participants in an anti-war protest that she organized outside of CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. on Saturday Jan. 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Cindy Sheehan organized the protest through Peace of the Action, a sustained anti-war protest which begins in 8 weeks in Washington.  This is the first protest at CIA headquarters in many years, and the first time the anti-war movement united specifically to protest the drones. Joshua Smith gives some of the history and planes U.S. use of drones, explaining that the military is increasingly going to drones instead of manned bombers.

Hearing how the Obama administration is vastly increasing the use of drones; and knowing this is virtually a secret program brought the importance of this first protest to all of us.  See Jane Mayer’s piece The Predator War: What are the risks of the C.I.A.’s covert drone program? (The huge show of police forces, with officers in the woods and cameras trained from every direction on us showed that the government was impressed by our message.)

Since one of the protesters carried a sign saying “Victory to the Taliban” I thought it necessary to make clear that the protest supported neither the illegitimate U.S. “war of terror” on the people, nor the religious fundamentalists of the Taliban, neither of who represent the interests of the people. Debra Sweet speech Audio.

To take that further, if in fact you support either, you end up strengthening both.  I learned much from the way Bob Avakian argues the need to oppose both the “historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system” in his talk Unresolved Contractions: Driving Forces for Revolution.  Sunsara Taylor brought this to bear on arguments within the US antiwar movement in U.S. Imperialism, Islamic Fundamentalism…and the Need for Another Way.

Obomba: The Audacity of War Crimes

Looking at the crimes of our government as Americans, but as people who care about humanity, we should not be afraid to look squarely at what contradictions present themselves to this movement.

Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Non Violence, told of speaking with a man who survived a drone attack:

In late May and early June of 2009, while visiting in Pakistan, a man from the village of Khaisor, also in North Waziristan, told us about his experience as a survivor of a drone attack.  Jane Mayer, writing in The New Yorker, mentioned that the people operating the drones and analyzing the surveillance intelligence have a word for people like him who managed to survive a blast and run away.  They are called “squirters.”  So, I suppose he would have been considered a squirter.

This man, at some risk to himself, walked a long distance and took two buses to meet with us.  Because of travel restrictions, we would not have been allowed to visit him in North Waziristan. His village is so remote that there are no roads leading up to it.  Five hundred people live there.  One day, three strangers entered Khaisor and went to the home of vigil elders. For centuries, villagers have followed a code of hospitality which demands that when strangers come to your door, you feed them and give them drink. It’s not as though you can point them toward a Motel 6 or a 7-11.  The strangers were welcomed into the home they approached and they left after having been served a meal.  They were long gone when, at 4:30 a.m. a U.S. drone, operated by the C.I.A. fired 2 Hellfire missiles into the home they had visited, killing 12 people, two of whom were village elders.  Children were dismembered and maimed.

“What do people do?” I asked, “if you’ve no Emergency Medical Teams, if you’ve no roads?”  I was wearing a “tbutta” the long scarf that Pakistani women traditionally wear.  “You see your scarf,” my friend said.  “We wrap it around the wounded person, as tightly as we can, to stop the bleeding.” I could imagine the white scarf I wore becoming blood-soaked, in seconds.

Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and Jack Ryan, a faster with Witness Against Torture this week, also spoke.  Some media was present:

Russia Today video report

The Associated Press published a short, distorted account by a reporter who was present and interviewed us.  Cindy is pressing for a retraction:

Ms. Gresko, from the AP was at the protest for the entire time. She interviewed myself, all of the other speakers, and some of those in attendance.

We feel that all of the speakers at the event and the stated reason for the protest were very clear—we were there protesting the loss of innocent life due to the cowardly and immoral use of drones by the CIA that actually kill about one-hundred times more civilians than “suspected terrorists.”

Since Ms. Gresko’s story came out falsely declaring that we were there to protest the use of drones on “al Qaeda and Taliban,” I have received dozens of hate mails, one of which even called my dead son Casey a “queer” and a “faggot.”

See photos on Bill Perry’s Facebook, Eric Anderson’s White House Protest Corps.

P.S.  On January 17, Cindy Sheehan wrote

This afternoon a group of us from Peace of the Action went to the Smithsonian to hang a banner which read
“Drones Kill Kids” in front of the killer drone exhibit sponsored by General Atomics (manufacturers of the killer drones)

Protest at Smithsonian Drone Exhibit

No Comments

What the Haitian People Need & What They Don’t Need Now

A few thoughts on the terrible suffering of the Haitian people who need help, not chiding by Christian fundamentalists or repression from the U.S. Marines:

Bush declaring Iraq war "over" in 2003

“You’re doing a heckuva job, Bushie!”

Why would Barack Obama appoint George W. Bush to be the public face of aid for Haiti? How about asking the people of New Orleans…who still don’t have housing after Katrina… how Bush made that disaster worse?

A friend of mine whose son is in the Marines said, “great, just what Haiti needs, the U.S. Marines are coming.”  How about asking the people of Afghanistan how they feel about being “saved” by the Marines? The US military refuses to let the United Nations be in charge, as they don’t take orders.

The editors of Revolution newspaper said last night, “The Haitian People Need Emergency Assistance – NOT Suppression and Further Domination!”

The means exist to rescue and aid the Haitian people!  These must be made immediately available by the governments of the world and, first and foremost, the United States. While some governments have sent doctors and other forms of aid, as of Thursday morning the United States has focused on sending paratroopers and militarily securing the area. While Obama has now promised 100 million dollars, the U.S. government is above all concerned with ensuring the continuation of the repressive government order and controlling and/or suppressing the initiative and efforts of masses to deal with this horrible situation. (100 million dollars is less than one-tenth of one percent of U.S. yearly military expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan.) The U.S. government must immediately focus its resources on getting aid directly to the Haitian people, putting supplies on the ground and marshaling the many doctors, engineers, construction workers, etc. who work for the government, as well as the many many people who would volunteer to help any way that they could.  THIS IS A HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY, AND MUST BE DEALT WITH AS SUCH.

Respect to Rachel Maddow for her program Wednesday night which looked behind the U.S. A.I.D. effort to sweet into Haiti, using the disaster to further transform the country into dependency on the U.S.

Kevin Gosztola, a supporter of World Can’t Wait and film maker, comments further in OpEd News today, Will USAID, Right Wing Think Tanks & Private Interests Create Aftershocks in Haiti?  Kevin asks important questions, “What will happen to the people of Haiti after the earthquake? What private interests or U.S. interests will seek to control the direction of Haiti? Will interests seek to capitalize off the crisis?”

Pat RobertsonMost of the world has nothing but contempt for Pat Robertson! There are plenty of religious people rushing to aid Haiti. But Robertson’s statement that Haitian independence came because the people made a “pact with the devil” which has left the country “cursed by one thing after the other” is not only racist and xenophobic, but hardens the Christian “fascists” who follow him against the Haitian people. Robertson called the earthquake a “blessing in disguise” because they may have a “great turning to God.” F- – - Pat Robertson!

, , , , , , ,

No Comments

When Does Murder Become Manslaughter?

When does a charge of murder get reduced to a charge of manslaughter?  Possibly, when the murder victim is a doctor who does abortions.

Scott Roeder is on trial in Wichita KS for the murder of Dr. George Tiller on May 31, 2009.  Roeder, an anti-abortion activist for many years well known around Kansas, admitted to authorities that he killed Dr. Tiller by barging into the church where George was ushering, and shooting him.  George died immediately; Roeder fled, and was caught within a day.

The drama playing out in Wichita is not whether Roeder will be found guilty, but what he will be found guilty of.  He’s charged with murder by the state of Kansas.  However, his defense team has argued to the judge that they should be allowed to present evidence that Roeder was motivated by his anti-abortion convictions, and therefore should not be convicted of murder.

Jeff Schweitzer in Cold Blooded-Murder: An Angel Made Me Do it on Huffington Post:

Roeder claims that he gunned down Tiller at Sunday church services on May 31, 2009, in order to “save the lives of preborn children.” Based on this claim, Roeder intends to invoke the “necessity defense” predicated on the idea of “justifiable homicide.” If presiding judge Warren Wilbert accepts this defense strategy, and he appears to be leaning that way, he will give jurors the option of convicting Roeder not of premeditated murder but instead of voluntary manslaughter. That lesser crime is defined as “an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force” under Kansas statute. If convicted of involuntary manslaughter Roeder could be out of prison in five years.

We are investigating the report that Judge Wilbert was endorsed for his judgeship by anti-abortion groups in Kansas.  If he allows Roeder’s team to present testimony from an array of anti-abortion politicians and activists, it would be an extraordinary departure.

That would not necessarily convince a jury that Roeder was justified in killing Dr. Tiller.  But consider this: yesterday the judge shut out the media from jury selection, saying that abortion is such a controversial topic that jurors would fear to state their thinking on it publicly.

I think it is very relevant why Roeder killed George Tiller.  We’ve made the point repeatedly that he was influenced directly by Operation Rescue who relentlessly targeted George for over a decade, and by the Kansas politicians who harassed George with lawsuits and even criminal charges, unsuccessfully. (George always prevailed in court).  So what if Roeder does actually believe he’s saving fetal life by having killed George Tiller?  He killed a living human being, and that’s murder.

I, along with 5 other anti-war activists, will be going on trial this spring on misdemeanor charges of “disorderly conduct” for protesting in Philadelphia at the entrance to the Army Experience Center.  If we had been outside the doors cheering the Army’s recruitment efforts, we would have been welcomed, as the Army welcomed the pro-war bikers they allowed to jeer us. But because our message was opposition to the war and the recruitment of kids with video games, we were arrested.  It’s relevant to our defense that we were arrested for the content of our non-violent protest message.

We will argue that we should be allowed to mention why we were protesting.  Anti-war protesters Emma Kaplan and Patty Imani may be allowed to speak of their reasons for protesting at their trial on January 25 in Tacoma WA, where anti-war protesters were spied on by the military.

But what happens to the Roeder prosecution should be followed by everyone who cares about the safety of abortion doctors, and the humanity of women seeking abortion and birth control.

The National Organization for Women in Wichita will hold a vigil on Friday night, January 22, for abortion rights.  For the 36 previous anniversaries, of the Roe v. Wade decision making abortion legal, George was in Wichita, providing abortions.

Will the anti-abortion lunatics already be celebrating by the end of next week because in Kansas, you might be able to carry out a political assassination, and get made into a hero?


I cannot resist urging you to view The Onion’s insightful piece this week on the new abortion laws, designed only to help women through difficult times…

New Law Requires Women To Name Baby, Paint Nursery Before Getting Abortion

, , , , , ,


Challenging Bush Torture Architect John Yoo

Shut Down Guantanamo! in San Francisco

Tuesday January 12, on both coasts, World Can’t Wait, Code Pink and other people of conscience demanded the prosecution of John Yoo, the principal legal architect of the justification of torture by the United States.

In Berkeley, where his 2010 class schedule called for the first class of the semester, UC officials made the location secret, they said, because of “concerns for students’ safety.”   One might note that it would be more dangerous for a law student to be taught Constitutional law by someone who opposed international law on the subject of torture (not to mention U.S. law) than for those students to encounter advocates against torture.

But no matter.  20 people delivered the message that John Yoo should be prosecuted for war crimes; disbarred from practicing law; and fired from his teaching position at Boalt Hall School of Law.  Not, as we have said many times, for what he thinks, writes, or speaks as a professor, but because he provided the legal justification for torture while working for the Bush regime, which led to the deaths of detainees.

Jackson West blogged on NBC News in the Bay Area “John Yoo Charm Campaign ‘Secret’ Classes at Cal” that “Torture memo” author John Yoo has nothing to hide, except John Yoo.

The protest took the question directly to Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley’s office on Tuesday.  Anna Bloom noted all the subterfuge the Law School administration is practicing in The New York Times Bay Area blog noted it Wednesday in John Yoo’s Spring Course at Boalt: Hide and Seek.

This story is so not over!  More upcoming at

The Audacity of War Crimes

Protesting John Yoo

In NYC, Yoo promoted his new book at the Cornell Club.  Outside, we talked to members of the Cornell Club entering the building who had no idea why Yoo would be speaking there; and to people attending the event.  A dozen told us they were going in to question Yoo on torture, and of course there were Federalist Society members and others who vocally defended torture, racial profiling, nuclear weapons, and the swift, violent demise of people like us who questioned the “war on terror.”

Protesting John YooThe night went to those inside who questioned, challenged, and denounced Yoo for promoting torture.  First was Richie, wearing an “Audacity of War Crimes” message on his shirt, who added to the introduction of Yoo.  “John Yoo is a war criminal!”  He was roughly dragged from the room, but seems to have gotten everyone’s’ attention.

After Yoo’s presentation, the first question was from Stephanie Rugoff, co-ordinator of War Criminals Watch, a project of World Can’t Wait.  “With so many lawyers in the room, I want to know why John Yoo isn’t being prosecuted for war crimes?”

3 women from Code Pink brought a banner “John Yoo is a War Criminal” and were escorted out for holding it up.  Another woman challenged Yoo, and stalked out, saying she was disgusted to be in the company of those who promote torture.

Outside, a lively discussion followed, as people filing out stopped to ask why we felt so strongly about Yoo and torture.  We found many people who opposed it.  One of the common questions, though was, “He just gave his legal opinion.  Why is that a crime?”

We’ve encountered law students recently who have never heard of the Nuremberg war crimes trials.  But to the older lawyers, there’s one word: Nuremberg.  The U.S. prosecuted the Nazi lawyers in 1946 on the premise that the lawyers have the “penultimate” responsibility to ensure that laws of war are followed by a government.

The Bush regime was, and remains, forever marked by its flagrant disdain for international and U.S. law that didn’t serve its agenda.  Bush made his own law through hundreds of executive orders and signing statements, beginning with his doctrine of pre-emptive, agressive war against countries which did not attack the U.S.

If you knew torture and the culture supporting it could be stopped, wouldn’t you protest Yoo?

Friday, he will be at the Federalist Society in Washington DC. The event is said to be sold out, but as we learned last night, being outside with the message of prosecuting the torturers is very effective.

Rather than engaging in a wild goose chase to locate the venue, World Can't Wait has decided to bring the question directly to Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley. Join us 3:00pm on Tuesday at the Dean's Office to ask: "What will be taught behind closed doors that needs to be kept secret? Will this initiate a new policy for Boalt Hall to hide from public accountability?"

, , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

War Criminal John Yoo’s book promoted by Jon Stewart

“You are the most charming torture author I’ve ever met.” – Jon Stewart to John Yoo.

Isn’t the key part of that sentence “torture?” Yoo, indeed, provided the legal justification necessary for the torture that defined the Bush years (and in fact, continues under Obama today).

Watch the video:

Torture law professor, John Yoo, on Jon Stewart's show

John Yoo restrained himself from publicly announcing that the President can “crush the testicles” of the child of someone suspected of terrorism on this influential show, and bantered in a friendly way with Jon Stewart.

But neither that restraint, nor Stewart’s recommendation that people read his book for insight into the “human struggle” the Bush regime was engaged in, nor Stewart’s plea not to “demonize” Yoo can cover up the trail of blood that leads to this “esteemed” Berkeley law professor’s door. Torture (which, as used by the U.S. over the past 8 years has meant: beatings, hanging people from ceilings, or chained to the floor in stress postions for hours or days, force-feedings in the most gruesome ways possible, extreme heat and cold, blinding people, locking them in boxes with insects, and the known deaths of more than a hundred detainees) is against U.S. and international law, and shocks the conscience of anyone with any humane ethics. The lawyers who crafted the torture memos were not just working for their clients. They are war criminals.

Josh Richman, on Political Blotter, the Bay Area Politics blog quotes Stephanie Tang, from World Can’t Wait in San Francisco in Protestors can’t find Yoo, but Jon Stewart did

“We continue to call for Yoo to be fired, disbarred, and prosecuted for war crimes, along with his entire cohort from the Bush-Cheney Torture Team,” World Can’t Wait organizer Stephanie Tang said in a news release. “Torture is a war crime. Thousands have been tortured thanks to John Yoo’s work for the White House, long after Yoo himself returned to teaching. The faculty and students right here at UC – and all people of conscience everywhere — need to denounce these crimes, not turn away in silent complicity.”

Yoo continues to travel the country promoting his book. Today, he’ll be protested on both sides of the country… at his scheduled first day of class in Berkeley, and in NYC at his book event. You can join us!

Watch this blog for coverage of the protests.

, , , ,


Protesting Torture @ Obama’s House

The Fast for Justice led by Witness Against Torture began today, on the 8th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo, with 50 people here in Washington, and another 75 around the U.S.  Fasters marched in orange jumpsuits in front of the White House, and then performed guerrila theater.  “Bush Justice” turned into “Obama Justice.”  Guanatanmo became Bagram, and Guantanamo, Illinois.

Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei from the Center for Constitutional Rights, told of visiting her clients several times with good news.  In June 2008, she told them U.S. courts were allowing them to file suit.  In November 2008, a new president who campaigned on closing Guantanamo was elected.  In January 2009, he made an Executive Order closing Guantanamo.  Some of her clients have been cleared for release, meaning that the U.S. government has no intention finds they do not need to be held further.

Close Guantanamo Signs

Close Guantanamo Protest Jan 11 2010

Yet her clients are still sitting in Guantanamo.  What is good news worth?

A reporter asked if the Guantanamo lawyers are angry at the delays.  “We are increasingly disillusioned, and angry too” she said.

Attorney Steve Truitt stood holding a sign with his

Jan 11 2010 Guantanamo Detainee's Attorney at White House protest

Steve Truitt holding the name of his Guantanamo client Hani Abdullah

client’s name, Hani Abdullah, a Yemeni.  He can complete corporate deals, but not get this client sprung.

It’s a messed up situation, as a high school student visiting the scene from Maryland told me.  Last night, together with the people about to fast, we watched Andy Worthington’s film about the lives of the detainees.  The room was silent for awhile after it ended, as the weight of the injustice and years of detention settled.   But then we got to talking.  A friend and playwright, along to participate in all this, remarked on two things I noticed about Omar Deghayes’ comments in the film.  At one point he described that the guards, after four or five months would mostly come to understand the injustice of the prison.  But then, they would get rotated out, and they would get another round of them who had to be once again educated.

The other thing Omar said that hits everyone who watches is that it’s not the loss of his eye, his broken ribs, the sexual humilitation and degradation that is the worst.  It was losing the years of his son’s young life, the joy of seeing him as so innocent, that he will never get back.

Omar was at the press conference this afternoon, via live video conference.   You can also see a Q&A with him and Moazzam Begg, another released detainee in October, discussing those still remaining in Guantanamo.

Last night Clare from Ithaca raised the point that even if Guantanamo is moved to Illinois, there already is torture in US prisons, in the Special Housing Units, where total isolation and sensory deprivation is practiced on people who live in America.

I was glad to say that the guerilla posters which appeared today on bus shelters in the San Francisco area made the connection, saying “Shut Down Guantanamo…Bagram…Pelican Bay.  Torture is a War Crime!”

Witness Against Torture posted a report on the Jan 11 activities.  Respect to them for a very effective and moving day yesterday, and to Center for Constitutional Rights for bringing the voices of the released detainees and lawyers for the detainees!

Witness Against Torture in the News:


No Comments

2 Main Obstacles to Closing Guantánamo (and the solution)

Eight years ago today the Bush regime opened their detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  It went on to become a notorious symbol of the torture and racism that people the world over associated with the U.S. “war on terror.”Protesters in jumpsuits represent Guantanamo detainees "Cleared for Release"

As we mark this anniversary, many people hoped Barack Obama’s promise to close Guantánamo by Jan 22, 2010 would close that chapter.  But there are 2 things in the way of that:

1) Regardless of the president’s expressed intention to close Guantánamo “in the interests of justice,” his administration is holding on to indefinite detention and even proposing preventive detention; killing more civilians with unmanned drones than Bush did; and expanding the Bush arguments for executive powers.  The lunatics in Congress who say that “all terrorists are Muslim,” therefore, any repression is justified against whole countries have all the initiative and will not allow even a symbolic closing of one part of the US torture state.

2) If one wanted to stop the abuse it would be necessary to prosecute and hold accountable the crimes against humanity commited by the Bush regime, and Obama has said he will not.

At the same time, the torture, the cover-ups and the justifications of it are so heinous, and continue to create such outrage from the populations the U.S. occupations seek to pacify, that  the spectre of scandal still looms over the whole enterprise of the so-called “war on terror.”

The righteous indignation — and opposition — of a people who says “no, not in our name!” expressed with visible, public determination could create a situation where more people see Obama’s Guantánamo as illegitmate.  And that’s where we come in.

Also see: Guantamano Turns 8 While More Lives Slip Away

, , , , ,

1 Comment

Guantamano Turns 8 While More Lives Slip Away

Guantanamo prisonersMonday January 11 is the 8th anniversary of the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo. The emblematic symbol of the Bush regime’s “war on terror,” in which men were openly tortured, kept in isolation, force-fed, and for years deprived of any legal respresentation or contact with the outside world, is still open.

It’s being called “Obama’s prison” now.  On January 22, 2009, the new president announced that he would close Guantanamo in a year because it’s existence was a public relations nightmare for U.S. foreign policy makers.  As of this week, there’s no closing date, but a vague indication it could be closed in 2011.

I learned when reading the new book The Guantanamo Lawyers; Inside a Prison Outside the Law, edited by Mark Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz, that the Bush regime opened it on the grounds of a former prison where Haitians and others fleeing poverty were kept in the 80′s and 90′s.  The first detainees were kept in open cages, with almost no shelter from the elements.  Building new structures allowed the jailers to keep some men in complete isolation.

Book TV is showing a talk by the authors twice on Sunday January 10.

Andy Worthington, in Guantánamo: The Definitive Prisoner List (Updated for 2010), called it

a prison in which the overwhelming majority of those held — at least 93 percent of the 779 men and boys imprisoned in total — were either completely innocent people, seized as a result of dubious intelligence or sold for bounty payments, or Taliban foot soldiers, recruited to fight an inter-Muslim civil war that began long before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and that had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or international terrorism.

Andy wrote this week about Attorney General Holder’s announcement that Obaidullah, an Afghan held in Guantanamo, will be tried by the Obama-style military commission for “war crimes” in Tortured Afghan Man Faces Trial by Military Commission.

Andy spoke with World Can’t Wait activists in early 2009, stating his hope, and some confidence, that the Obama administration would establish a process to release the innocent.  But he ends the current column on this note

With the news that Obaidullah is to be charged again, when he is not actually accused of harming a single American, and when he may, in fact, have been tortured, through sleep deprivation and “Palestinian hanging,” to produce false confessions against himself and at least one other prisoner, leads me not only to repeat the question, but to actively call for the open mockery of Attorney General Eric Holder and the lawyers and bureaucrats in the Justice Department and the Pentagon who thought that reviving the charges against him was a good idea.

The administration is fighting in federal court on many fronts to continue the Bush detention policies, and just won a victory.  According to Stephen Webster, the decision in al-Bihani v Obama “upholds the Bush administration’s broad claims of executive power to detain non-citizens.  See D.C. Court of Appeals: Obama’s Detention Powers not Limited by Laws.

But we are not just complaining on this anniversary.  There’s a Call to Action to Shut Down Guantanamo.  I’ll be joining Witness Against Torture in protests outside the White House Monday.  We will march to the National Press Club, where some of the lawyers defending detainees in Guantanamo will speak about their clients, organized by the Center for Constitutional Rights.  That evening, we’ll have a public meeting at Georgetown Law School.  I hope you’ll join in.

On a last note, the Obama administration has proposed the idea of relocating the detainees to an unused super-max federal prison in Thompson Illinois.  World Can’t Wait is completely opposed to the indefinite detention of anyone without legal rights, no matter what the location.  Prisoners are held in super-max American prisons already in complete isolation, and I can only imagine that the Guantanamo prisoners could disappear in plain sight along the Mississippi.

Margaret Kimberly, editor at the Black Agenda Report, went on a righteous rant, ending her piece called Guantanamo, Illinois with

In less than one year in office, Barack Obama has firmly established the continuation of Bush regime domestic, foreign and economic policy. While Guantanamo is unseen, Illinois is right in the middle of the United States. None of us can now claim absolution from our government sin. Obama and his supporters have made us all accomplices. The ongoing Guantanamo crime now belongs to the Nobel Peace Prize winner and to every American citizen.

, , , , , , , ,

No Comments