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).
WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff.
Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.
The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured.
After demands by Reuters, the incident was investigated and the U.S. military concluded that the actions of the soldiers were in accordance with the law of armed conflict and its own “Rules of Engagement”.
Consequently, WikiLeaks has released the classified Rules of Engagement for 2006, 2007 and 2008, revealing these rules before, during, and after the killings.
WikiLeaks has released both the original 38 minutes video and a shorter version with an initial analysis. Subtitles have been added to both versions from the radio transmissions.
WikiLeaks obtained this video as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers. WikiLeaks goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives. We have analyzed the information about this incident from a variety of source material. We have spoken to witnesses and journalists directly involved in the incident.
WikiLeaks wants to ensure that all the leaked information it receives gets the attention it deserves. In this particular case, some of the people killed were journalists that were simply doing their jobs: putting their lives at risk in order to report on war. Iraq is a very dangerous place for journalists: from 2003- 2009, 139 journalists were killed while doing their work.
If things run on schedule, Mr. Obama will announce tomorrow that he and his organization will be sending approximately 34,000 more U.S. troops to harass and sometimes kill men, women and children (as “collateral damage”) in Afghanistan. And then he has to sell his unpopular decision. If previous statements are any guide, his main excuse will be “We have to deny al’Qaeda ‘safe haven’.”