January 2014 Archives

obama backbround drone(2)_250_176.jpgAnd it's the last part that has always concerned me. The chief executive of the United States has committed himself to making himself the ultimate arbiter for the use of the ultimate power, and to substitute his own deliberations - and the deliberations that go on within the executive branch - for due process."

Tom Junod, Esquire magazine

The "prudent limits" on the use of drones Obama speaks of in his State of the Union address have yet to stop the civilian or so-called "residual" deaths that enrage local populations. 

Those who have been among the most vocal critics of Guantánamo would be the last to endorse any "solution" that has at its core the continuing noncriminal detention of any group of the detainees--regardless of where or under what circumstances. All the more so if such a solution is perceived as a potential authorization for additional detention going forward, untethered to the armed conflict authorized by Congress in 2001.

So why would the author of the above consider doing just that? Stephen Vladeck's "least-worst solution" is actually the worst suggestion I have come across since Obama took over the helm of the U.S. torture state. It would ensure the suspension of habeas corpus until the last victim of baseless incarceration dies.

Why Guantánamo? Why me?

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350px-NLN_Frida_Berrigan.jpg"I am haunted by the families shattered by indefinite detention. I am undone that they suffer for our 'security'. I do what I can because I cannot sit by idly while children are kept from their fathers." 

Waging Nonviolence
But we do find ourselves hard-pressed to explain why it is still open.

Reflections on the Bay Area leg of the 2014 Close Guantanamo NOW! tour

Andy Worthington flew out of San Francisco International Airport early Wednesday morning for Los Angeles appearances with journalist Jason Leopold and professor Dennis Loo, sponsored by Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP), IUCC Advocates for Peace and Justice, Orange County Peace Coaltion, Pax Christi Orange County, and Revolution Books; more on those engagements here.

While we always enjoy visiting with our chief chronicler (Andy) of the lawless experiment that 774 men and boys have endured at America's off-shore torture camp, and applaud the relentless efforts of human rights advocates like him to release innocent victims of indefinite detention, it was with a heavy heart that we marked the 12th anniversary (January 11) of the prison's opening. Thanks to tour participants Jeffrey Kaye, retired Air Force Captain Michael Kearns, and Adam Hudson, we had a good basis to discuss possibilities to not only close Guantanamo, and its outpost at Bagram, but to dismantle the intellectual framework for the U.S. torture program that threatens people across the globe. 

This year Bay Area organizers concentrated on bringing this particular story of U.S. cruelty and injustice to two local university campuses, with confidence that receptive students can inspire others to repudiate the dark history of Guantanamo and chart a different course, in the interests of humanity. 

I struggle to understand the apparent apathy of people living in the United States to actions by their government which contradict not only personal moral codes but the long-held cultural values that define a society. The fact that this country's workforce is kept too busy making ends meet to allow time for public debate and response only partially explains political paralysis in the face of deteriorating prospects of equitable and sustainable livelihood for us all.

Fear of stepping out of line, of breaking through comfortable confines of "acceptable" behavior also plays a part in constraining mobilization for action, but the freedom one feels in the aftermath of doing just that undermines the power attributed to respectable behavior. I'm just beginning to grasp the magnitude of institutional suppression of righteous resistance to injustice. It takes a lot of work by the state, over time, to corrode perceptions of "right" and "wrong." We look to our youth to take courage in a belief that a better world is possible.

Torture is Not "Normal"

The government's so-called War on Terror could be more aptly named a war OF terror. Despite the background of unending war and domestic police brutality that colored the childhood of today's students, we find resistance to more of the same. Examples abound; members of the UC Berkeley Muslim Student Association act out hypothetical drone strikes, Ball State University students protest Guantanamo, youth block traffic to raise awareness of hunger strikers, and Brown University students shout NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly off stage.

How will WE be judged?

Our government has done its best to hide the torture practiced at Guantanamo. But thanks to the courageous hunger strike of over 100 prisoners in 2013, which continues today despite U.S. military efforts to withhold the current tally of participants, we now know more details of continuing brutality. Excuses of ignorance about what is transpiring, short of deliberate head-turning, are no longer plausible.

The hunger strike by the Guantanamo prisoners is their cry to the world, which we must hear and support. Right now, today -- our voices and our actions can make a difference.

It is up to the people to stand up for principle and morality when their institutions and public officials refuse to do so. The fates of those who are maimed or killed by our government's policies are inextricably intertwined with our own.
With the entire publishing industry in peril, [independent bookstores] are the endangered species that serves as a harbinger for the future.

The misappropriation of "free speech" precepts at Kepler's Books to promote a braggart of torture is more than just sad; it raises questions of whose interests are being served when store managers confuse "personal opinion" with the confession of criminal actions by a featured speaker. The introduction of inept hired security, backed up by Menlo Park's "finest", to shelter CIA apologist John Rizzo from a handful of protesters outside the venue, produced a surreal rebuke to the rich history of a beloved cultural institution.

Once home to the free exchange of ideas, the bookstore succumbs to corporate control of public thought when it suppresses dissent.

Make Guantanamo History

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c/o Witness Against Torture: Vowing to "Make Guantanamo History," human rights advocates from around the country marked the beginning of the thirteenth year of torture and indefinite detention at the prison camp with a dramatic protest at the National Museum of American History. 150 activists occupied the atrium of the crowded museum for more than two hours, speaking out against torture and calling for Guantanamo to close.

more protest photos here

He's back...

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Andyportrait2.jpgAndy Worthington joins World Can't Wait activists for the  

Close Guantanamo Tour January 2014, 

along with friends old and new. Mark your calendars, pass this news on to others, and help us fund airfare and other travel expenses. 

Fresh outrage over the situations at Guantanamo and Bagram can be the straw to break public intransigence on the issue of indefinite detention by presidential fiat.

Monday, January 13: panel on the Ethics and Politics of Extraordinary Detention, 
Stanford University 
5:30 pm 
Old Union, 520 Lasuen Mall, Room 200
sponsored by Stanford Says No To War                                                                              

Tuesday, January 14: a conversation with Andy Worthington and Stephanie Tang
UC Hastings College of the Law 
12:00 noon 
Room E, 198 McAllister Street, San Francisco
sponsored by Hastings chapters National Lawyers Guild and American Constitution Society;  
Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal

Tuesday, January 14: film screening, "Doctors of the Dark Side"
presented by Andy Worthington and Stephanie Tang 
Revolution Books
7:00 pm
2425 Channing Way, Berkeley
There is a moment in John Rizzo's new memoir when the longtime CIA lawyer has the chance to change history. It is March 2002, and Rizzo has just been briefed on the agency's proposals for interrogating suspected terrorists.

"I Could Have Stopped Waterboarding Before It Happened"

Not about to be out-done by buddies George Bush and Richard Cheney, let alone his subordinate John Yoo, the CIA's former top lawyer takes to the road in bad-ass competition for the title of top torture advocate.

One of his Bay Area tour stops will be at Kepler's Books, of all places... stay tuned for protest plans.

Additional venues here
Back in 2009 Slovakia took in three Guantanamo Bay prisoners from Azerbaijan, Tunisia, and Egypt. In a televised statement, Slovakia's Interior Ministry asserted that the arrival of three more men from Guantanamo is a continuation of the previous agreement. Slovakian officials went on to say that much like the first three arrivals, these men were found to be innocent of partaking in terrorist activities, and deserve a place to call home after being wrongfully accused for so many years...

UC Berkeley Billboard

press conference, protest, photos, video, reports

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Events & Calendars

War Criminals Watch Events

Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

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February 2014 is the next archive.

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