On Thursday, January 11, the sixteenth anniversary of the opening of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba was marked by a coalition of 15 human rights organizations gathered in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House in Washington, DC. An interfaith prayer service was followed by a rally featuring song and poetry and addresses by activists from the sponsoring organizations, including attorneys for some of those detained at Guantanamo, few of these charged with any crime and some cleared for release years ago. Despite his declaration that “In the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and the detention cells of Guantanamo, we have compromised our most precious values,” President Obama failed to fulfill his promise to close the prison and days before his inauguration last year, Donald Trump tweeted, “There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”
I participated in the day’s events as part of the Witness Against Torture community. This was our fourth day of fasting, reflection and action together and many of us wore orange jump suits and black hoods representing the 41 Muslim men still held there. After the rally, WAT performed a simple ritual, serving 41 cups of tea one at a time to “detainees” who each lifted their hood to accept their cup and take a sip before laying it down in a row on the sidewalk. The names of the men were spoken aloud and had been written on each of the styrofoam cups, remembering that drawing and writing on such cups has been one of few outlets for expression for many detainees.
Washington, DC – In an interview today on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) called on the State of Hawai‘i to immediately address the failures that led to the false missile alert and correct them. She also pointed to decades of regime change policies, including in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, that have led North Korea to strengthen its nuclear program, and undermined the credibility of the U.S. Gabbard reiterated her calls for President Trump to immediately begin direct negotiations without preconditions with North Korea to deescalate and ultimately denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard released the following statement:
“The people of Hawai‘i lived through the unimaginable yesterday, receiving an urgent mobile alert telling them to immediately seek shelter from an incoming ballistic missile. Families all across Hawai‘i were terrified that they and their loved ones were about to experience the horror of nuclear war, with just minutes to live.
A new movie, “12 Strong,” is opening on January 19th. I’ve been seeing a lot of trailers for it while watching the NFL playoffs. It’s being advertised as America’s first victory in the “war on terror.” Based on a popular book, “Horse Soldiers,” it features American special operations troops charging into battle on horseback. The synopsis of the movie (at Fandango) describes it as follows:
“12 Strong” is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when a U.S. Special Forces team, led by their new Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first US troops sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission. There, in the rugged mountains, they must convince Northern Alliance General Dostum (Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans – accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare – must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghani (sic) horse soldiers. But despite their uneasy bond, the new allies face overwhelming odds: outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy that does not take prisoners.
I don’t think it will surprise anyone that, despite those “overwhelming odds” and being “outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy,” US troops prevail.
January 11, 2018 marked the 16th year that Guantanamo prison has exclusively imprisoned Muslim men, subjecting many of them to torture and arbitrary detention.
About thirty people gathered in Washington D.C., convened by Witness Against Torture, (WAT), for a weeklong fast intended to close Guantanamo and abolish torture forever. Six days ago, Matt Daloisio arrived from New York City in a van carefully packed with twelve years’ worth of posters and banners, plus sleeping bags, winter clothing and other essentials for the week.
Matt spent an hour organizing the equipment in the large church hall housing us. “He curates it,” said one WAT organizer.
Later, Matt reflected that many of the prisoners whose visages and names appear on our banners have been released. In 2007, there were 430 prisoners in Guantanamo. Today, 41 men are imprisoned there. Shaker Aamer has been reunited with the son whom he had never met while imprisoned in Guantanamo. Mohammed Ould Slahi, author of Guantanamo Diary, has finally been released. These encouraging realities don’t in the slightest diminish the urgency we feel in seeking the release of the 41 men still imprisoned in Guantanamo.
On Tuesday, there was a United States House of Representatives floor vote on H.Res 676, a resolution praising recent protests in Iran and condemning the Iran government.
The resolution includes language stating the House “stands with” the protestors who are termed “the people of Iran” suggesting in obvious contradiction to reality that all or most people in the country are taking part in the protests or even just supporting the protests; condemning the Iran government (called a “regime” to make clear it is viewed as illegitimate and worthy of overthrow as were “regimes” in Iraq and Libya) for “serious human rights abuses against the Iranian people, significant corruption, and destabilizing activities abroad;” encouraging the Trump administration to aid Iran government opponents through expediting the licensing of communications technology in Iran; urging the Trump administration to use “targeted sanctions” to counter Iran; and urging the Trump administration to “convene emergency sessions of the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council to condemn the ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by the Iranian regime and establish a mechanism by which the Security Council can monitor such violations.”
The US House today voted to extend Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments. The section allows the government to spy on Americans without a warrant and to save their communications for possible prosecution for “future crimes.” It is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Can the US Senate stop this assault on the Constitution? On today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report: