On Monday, June 14, twenty-four activists with Witness Against Torture were acquitted in Washington, D.C. Superior Court of charges of “unlawful entry with disorderly conduct.” The charges stemmed from demonstrations at the US Capitol on January 21,2010 – the date by which President Obama had promised the closure of the Guantanamo detention camp.
“With his decision, the judge validated the effort of the demonstrators to condemn the ongoing crime of indefinite detention at Guantanamo,” says Bill Quigley, legal adviser to the defendants and the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
“Our acquittal is a victory for free speech and for the right of Americans to stand up for those falsely imprisoned and abused at Guantanamo,” says Ellen Graves, one of the defendants. “We tried to shine a light on the unconstitutional policies of the Bush and now the Obama administrations. That light shone brightly today.”
“We will use our freedom to continue to work for the day when Guantanamo is closed and those who designed and carried out torture policies are held to account,” says defendant Paul Thorson.
On January 21, activists dressed as Guantanamo prisoners were arrested on the steps of the Capitol holding banners reading “Broken Promises,Broken Laws, Broken Lives.” Inside the Capitol Rotunda, at the location where deceased presidents lie in state, fourteen activists were arrested performing a memorial service for three men who died at Guantanamo in 2006. Initially reported as suicides, the deaths may have been – as recent evidence suggests – the result of the men being tortured to death (see [the other] Scott Horton, “Murders at Guantanamo, March, 2010, Harper’s).
For just one example of the disgusting exploitation of Capt. Scott Speicher by pro-war officials and pundits, I give you this from Jed Babbin on March 23, 2003, three days after the invasion of Iraq began:
He [Speicher] may still be alive in Iraq, rumored to have been kept as a personal torture toy for Saddam’s older son.
Rachel Maddow, on the other hand, appears to be a keeper. In the clip below, she explains how President Obama, principled opponent of prosecuting or even investigating past crimes, plans to lock people up for future crimes. Forever.
It was a point of pride that the Red Cross would never be allowed in the door, Jeff says. This is important because it defied the Geneva Conventions, which require that the Red Cross have access to military prisons. “Once, somebody brought it up with the colonel. ‘Will they ever be allowed in here?’ And he said absolutely not. He had this directly from General McChrystal and the Pentagon that there’s no way that the Red Cross could get in â€” they won’t have access and they never will. This facility was completely closed off to anybody investigating, even Army investigators.” …
To Garlasco, this is significant. This means that a full-bird colonel and all his support staff knew exactly what was going on at Camp Nama. “Do you know where the colonel was getting his orders from?” he asks.
Jeff answers quickly, perhaps a little defiantly. “I believe it was a two-star general. I believe his name was General McChrystal. I saw him there a couple of times.”
Back when he was an intelligence analyst, Garlasco had briefed Stanley McChrystal once. He remembers him as a tall Irishman with a gentle manner. He was head of the Joint Special Operations Command, the logical person to oversee Task Force 121, and vice-director for operations for the Joint Chiefs. That put responsibility right in the heart of the Pentagon.
Within the unit, the interrogators got the feeling they were reporting to the highest levels. The colonel would tell an interrogator that his report “is on Rumsfeld’s desk this morning” or that it was “read by SecDef.”