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Ten years of Guantánamo. Ten years too long. Bring the British residents home.

IMC uk features | 13.01.2012 18:12 | Guantánamo | Anti-militarism | World

In the days leading up to 11 January 2012, the tenth anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo Bay detention centre, Guantánamo prisoners held a three day hunger strike and protest. Beyond the prison walls, the event has been marked with many days of action in the US, Britain and elsewhere around the world. Protesters call for the closure of Guantánamo and the release of the 171 people still incarcerated there without trial.

50 people held a ten day fast, took part in actions in and around Washington DC during this time and supported defendants in a court case which, bizarrely, had been brought by the State using the (misspelt) name of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident detained at Guantánamo: Shakir Ami vs the US. The anniversary demo in DC on 11 January was the largest ever, involving 171 participants in orange jumpsuits and many hundreds of others, so large it split into groups and marched to the Supreme Court, Congress and the Department of Justice. The following day, 37 people in orange jumpsuits and with a full size cage were arrested in front of the White House while protesting against Obama's support for the National Defence Authorization Act, which effectively cancels Obama's promise to shut Guantánamo.

British solidarity actions demanded the release of Shaker Aamer, the closure of Guantánamo and bore witness to torture and other human rights abuses perpetrated there. Events included a rally in Trafalgar Square, a press conference at the Frontline Club, panel discussion at Conway Hall with numerous speakers including former detainees, a screening of the film 'Death in Camp Delta' about a detainee who died in Guantánamo, petition presented to the US Embassy calling for Obama to keep his promise to shut down Guantánamo and a vigil in Haringey during the morning rush hour. In Ireland, protesters held a vigil outside the US Embassy at Ballsbridge and handed a letter to the Ambassador Dan Rooney.

On Tuesday 14th February 2012, the last remaining British resident in Guantanamo, Shaker Aamer will have been in Guantanamo for ten years. The appalling conditions under which he continues to be held were eloquently described by his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith at the Remembrance meeting on Wednesday. Campaigners intend to mark the anniversary by staging a Guantanamo Chain Gang outside the US Embassy calling for him to be returned home to his family. Cage Prisoners believe that his testimony is vital in any investigation of British complicity in torture, and he is surely entitled to return to his home and the family he hasn't seen for ten years as he has been cleared of any wrong doing.

The LGC also maintains that the British government should seek the return to the UK of former British resident Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian national who lived in Bournemouth from 1999 to 2001. He was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. Mr Belbacha fears for his life if forcibly returned to Algeria (an injunction currently prevents this), and remains at Guantánamo awaiting the offer of a safe home.

On the newswire: London Remembers Guantánamo: 10 years | We demand the truth about British involvement in torture | Anniversary demo in DC | 37 arrested at White House | Guantánamo Remembered event at Conway Hall | Campaigners demand Guantánamo closure | From Haringey to Washington DC: Close Guantánamo | Guantánamo prisoners' protest and hunger strike | former guard Brandon Neely on Gitmo | Schedule of anniversary events | Shut Gitmo: End 10 years of Shame - Call-out | Report

Audio reports: Guantánamo Remembered Event at Conway Hall - Introduction | former detainee Moazzam Begg | Attorney Michael Ratner | Vanessa Redgrave reads former detainee Murat Kurnaz | Human Rights lawyer Gareth Peirce | Former detainee Sami Al-Hajj | Human Rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith | Former detainee Omar Deghayes | Chair of Islamic Human Rights Commission Massoud Sadjareh | Three poems brought out of Guantánamo | Audio from DC rally

External links: Reprieve on Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha | Cage Prisoners | Witness Against Torture | Amnesty Report - Guantánamo: A Decade of Damage to Human Rights | Human Rights Watch - Guantánamo Ten Years On

IMC uk features


not over by a long shot....

17.01.2012 11:25

The campaign to close Guantánamo is far from over in the UK. There is lots you can do:
Join upcoming events:

3rd February: 6-8pm: Candlelight vigil outside the US Embassy, London, to mark 5 years of the London Guantánamo Campaign’s regular “Shut Down Guantánamo!” demo. With performers and poets.

11th February: Guantánamo Chain Gang: Free Shaker Aamer (to mark Shaker’s 10th year in Guantánamo): ASSEMBLE 12 NOON outside NORTHCOTE RD BAPTIST CHURCH, NORTHCOTE RD, LONDON SW11 6DB – organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign
Walking slowly in chains through the streets of Battersea and Clapham Junction to a rally at the Battersea Islamic Culture and Education Centre, Falcon Road, SW11 2PF

14th February: Guantánamo Chain Gang at the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, W1A, 2pm – organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaing
On Tuesday 14TH February, Shaker will have been in Guantanamo for 10 years. Please join us at the US Embassy, London, to hand in cards and petitions for President Obama.
Banners, drums and noise welcome.
More details: [at]

Not in London or unable to attend events?
- Get your MP to sign EDM 2558 tabled by Caroline Lucas MP to mark the 10th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay:
- Sign Amnesty International’s petition:
- Sign the following e-petition for a more transparent and fair torture inquiry:

mail e-mail: london.gtmo [at]
- Homepage:


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REPORT from D.C. - Witness Against Torture Trial and Demonstrations

15.01.2012 14:33

Protesters Demand Closure of GITMO: Protestors call for closure of
detention center, denounce torture, demand due process of detainees -
The Real News Jan 12, 2012

Almost Forty Anti-Torture Activists Arrested at White House

Witness Against Torture

REPORT DAY 10 – JANUARY 12, 2012 (Part One)

Dear Friends,

Being together in community allows us to support one another,
challenge one another, and collectively push limits. So on our final
day of fasting, on the heels of a beautiful gathering of hundreds for
January 11th we decided that rather than relax and reflect, we would
continue to push forward.

I begin this letter with a full stomach, having recently returned from
a delicious and abundant fast-breaking meal hosted by friends at
America University’s Washington College of Law. Breaking the fast was
a strange time of intermingled celebration and mourning. Along with
dinner there was a panel discussion led by Juan Mendez, the Special
Rapporteur on torture for the UN, Frida, and Matt. While commending
our actions, and those of others advocating for closure of Guantanamo
and an end to torture, he shared the dismal news that not only have
things not gotten better since he spoke with us last year, but they
have gotten worse. And yet, he persists in his efforts to uncover and
confront illegal and inhuman acts of torture perpetrated by
government’s around the world, including our own. Frida offered a
simple and elegant summary of our time here together in D.C. It was a
time focused on four things – the trial for the June 23rd action, the
92-hour cage vigil, the January 11 rally, and today’s action. In the
coming days we will try to compile some reflections and analysis of
our time together in DC, but for now, we share a final daily run-down.

Following our final morning reflection, led beautifully by Chrissy, we
rolled out of the church and over to the Superior Court. There we
heard sentencing statements (all included below)from Judith, Brian and
Carmen, finally able to speak openly about what it is that brought
them to trial with an eloquence and sincerity that brought many in the
court room to tears. The defendants were given the sentence of 5 days
jail time, suspended; 6 months unsupervised probation; 30 hours of
community service or $300 to a charity of their choice; a stay away
order from Capitol grounds, and $50 to the victims of violent crimes
compensation fund.

Following the sentencing statements, the standing room only courtroom
broke into gentle song… “Courage, Muslim brothers, you do not walk
alone. We will, walk with you. And sing, your spirit home,” as we
slowly processed out and onto our final action of our time together.

We moved from the court house to the White House with a brief stop at
Freedom Plaza to pick up the cage we’d deposited there after the
January 11th rally. A procession of roughly 40 people in jumpsuits,
accompanied by guides and supporters, marched two by two to the White
House one more time. The men and women in jumpsuits were arranged
along the fence encircling the White House, in the “picture postcard”
zone, creating what Paki called an “orange out,” obscuring the iconic
view of the president’s mansion. While those not willing to risk
arrest slowly drifted from this zone (where it is forbidden for more
than 25 people to stand) 36 remained and after roughly three hours
were arrested. Those standing aside in support shared their presence
and also words announcing our reasons for taking this stand, namely,
the men who remain at Guantanamo. We alternately read the name of
each detainee from a list followed by the chant, “we remember you,”
read stories from the few we’ve been able to collect backgrounds on
and sang, “Courage, Muslim brothers, you do not walk alone. We will,
walk with you. And sing, your spirit home.” There was some concern
that the long delay between assembling for action and arrest was a
strain on those standing in formation. There was concern too that
this might prohibit us from breaking this fast as a full community if
friend we processed late into the night.

In the end, we all were able to gather tonight and share our first
meal together. The event was a closure to this trip, but not to this
movement. As Frida said during the panel, “We go home knowing there
is a lot of work to be done.” Not much has changed, she conceded,
“from a policy perspective,” but our presence and actions here these
last ten days, have been both faithful and effective. Many people
have been touched, people in the court room and the court house, on
the streets, at institutions of power, in this church, amongst our
community here and those we remain connected to back home, and perhaps
most importantly, in the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Giving
thanks for the food, Frida concluded, “this food will nourish us so we
can go home and continue the work.” And so we shall.

In Peace,
Witness Against Torture

***many thanks to Ted Walker & Amy Nee for putting these daily updates
together, and thank you for your notes of support and encouragement***

***In this e-mail you will find:

1) Nearly Forty Anti-Torture Activists Arrested At White House (Press Release)
2) Brian Hynes Sentencing Statement
3) Judith Kelly Sentencing Statement
4) Carmen Trotta Sentencing Statement
5) Conscience the Law and Civil Disobedience (by Dan Berrigan)


1) “Nearly 40 People Arrested Outside of Obama's White House
Protesting Guantanamo, Indefinite Detention”

2)“Decorum and Democracy” (by Jake Olzen)

3) “Imagining a World Without Guantanamo” (Washington Post)

4) For a great photo collage of January 11th, see



Thirty-seven members of Witness Against Torture were arrested in front
of the White House on Thursday, January 12 around three this
afternoon. Dressed in the iconic Guantanamo orange jumpsuits and black
hoods and accompanied by a cage representing indefinite detention, the
activists were warned to clear the sidewalk by National Park Police or
risk arrest. After occupying the sidewalk for more than three hours,
they were arrested one by one.

“We came to the White House because just eleven days ago, President
Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act. It is dead
wrong,” says Leah Grady Sayvetz, an activist and college student form
Ithaca, New York arrested this afternoon. “The NDAA makes Guantanamo
near-permanent and expands detention powers just when this terrible
and immoral detention apparatus should be being dismantled.”

The activists held signs that said: “NDAA is Guantanamo Forever,” NDAA
is Guantanamo Come Home,” “Shut Down Guantanamo,” “Shut Down Bagram,”
“Release Those Unjustly Bound” and pulled a full-size cage up on the
side walk.

Witness Against Torture took the cage to the White House on Saturday,
January 7 and began a twenty-four hour a day vigil that ended on
January 11 at the end of the Ten Years Too Many National Day of Action
to Shut Down Guantanamo.

Witness Against Torture, a grassroots movement to shut down
Guantanamo, is completing a ten day “Hungering for Justice”
liquids-only fast today. About one hundred people—in DC and around the
country—participated in the fast and engaged in daily actions in front
of the White House, and elsewhere to call attention to the terrible
injustice that is Guantanamo, Bagram, and secret prisons.


Brian Hynes Sentencing Statement
January 12, 2012

Judge Fisher: I am Shaker Aamer, aka Brian Hynes. In the interest of
justice I request a sentence of time served. I acted on June 23rd in
the tradition of civil resistance to injustice. This tradition is to
be cherished in a free republic and any fines imposed on me amount to
a poll tax for following in that tradition. I would urge you not to
impose them.

I have a three part statement to make:

1) I must acknowledge the respect your court shows to all of the
defendants brought here. I also acknowledge the respect and fair
hearing I personally have received in my bumbling pro se defense.
Thank you. The urgent need for, and far reaching social utility of
judicial due process are lietmotifs of this trial. You and your clerks
and staff clearly promote these goods and I thank all of you.

2) I was willing to accept some sanction for appealing to the
House of Representatives on June 23rd and while our removal is
understandable, our arrest and charge under this statute was not. The
court gave the minimum sanction to sober, informed, cooperative,
earnest actions in a campaign of resistance to an ongoing illegal
detention regime. We spoke in the people’s house that laws were being
broken and were about to be broken by that body. This is a democratic
act—it is a democratic process and our charges are grossly out of line
with these facts. Like the practice of lynching in the 20th century,
Guantanamo is illegal and ongoing. The continued attempts of concerned
citizens to redress Guantanamo is not criminal behavior. It places the
government and judiciary in crisis, but we did not cause this—we
reveal it.

3) I return to an early argument made in this court and deepen
its focus and consequences. From the standpoint of the First Amendment
and petitioning of our government; while reasonable limits on this
right are settled law, the limits are not absolute. To judge our
behavior on a standard of tourists in the people’s house reduces the
public gallery to an item on a visitors map. The House is indeed the
center of power that maintains an illegal regime of military
detention, Guantanamo and the undeclared drone wars in Pakistan and
Yemen- the extrajudicial execution of U.S. citizens as an aspect of
these undeclared wars are a contradiction of the rights of the
sovereign people of the United States. I have the unenumerated right
to live in a country that abides by its own laws. Article 6—the
supremacy clause of our Constitution—underscores that each of us,
including you Judge Fisher, are bound by our international obligations
against violating national sovereignty with torture and indefinite
detention, These contradictions to our own laws and international
obligations are the crisis that makes our behavior legitimate—indeed

The fact that Shaker Aamer, after ten years, has not had his day in
court, made our action necessary.


Sentencing Statement by Judith Kelly
January 12, 2012

MATTER. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Judge Fisher, thank you very much for conducting a fair and orderly
trial. I personally feel honored to be here, despite family
circumstances that prevented me from participating fully. Between the
June 23 nonviolent direct action in the House Gallery and this trial,
my mother passed, quite suddenly, on Oct. 20. I did not have the
necessary energy for trial preparation, but I agreed to stay on as a
silent co-defendant. I thank the original co-defendants and our
attorney advisors for their patience and understanding. I believe any
of the co-defendants could be standing here and would do justice to
this important opportunity. [Co-defendants, please stand]

My solidarity with the Guantanamo prisoners dates from August of 2005
when I signed a petition developed by Fr. Joseph Mulligan, a Jesuit
priest in Managua, Nicaragua, that called for international religious
leaders and people of faith to fast in support of the Guantanamo
prisoners on hunger strike. The prisoners were using their own bodies
as their sole means of resistance. I did a liquids-only fast from
August 10-20. Since then I have tried to maintain a Friday fast. There
are many in the room fasting in solidarity with the Guantanamo
prisoners who are on hunger strike right now. [Fasters, please stand]

When the core group of 25 Catholic activists went to Cuba in December
2005, I followed their activities carefully and joined Witness Against
Torture in 2006, participating in actions every year since. Despite
all my best efforts –with arrests at the Supreme Court, the White
House and the Capitol steps –this is the first time I have been before
a court and found guilty. That I am in court at the tenth year since
the creation of the Guantanamo concentration camp is important to me
as I am now officially on the record for resisting this shameful stain
on our country.

On June 23, 2011, I felt a real sense of urgency to participate, given
the disturbing language on Guantanamo in the Defense Appropriations
Bill. I felt our action would be timely, relevant and, in a sense,
necessary to prevent a greater crime. I believed our statement had to
be read to Congress and those with strong voices tried to do so. I
chose to say something else, just once: “We walk in shame and grief
and anger.” I did speak out to the many representatives, staffers and
visitors on the House floor, but with all the noise in that cavernous
hall, I don’t believe my voice carried very far. The jeers and boos I
heard coming from the House floor drowned out the message I tried to
deliver. Before being escorted out of the gallery, I also called out:
Please, close Guantanamo!

I especially wanted to be part of this action in June in response to
my travel with a peace delegation to Afghanistan in March with Voices
for Creative Nonviolence. Several of my co-defendants and friends
also traveled there and we established strong bonds with the Afghan
Youth Peace Volunteers, who seek an end to the war through

My experience in Afghanistan motivated me to attend a series in
Maryland on Christian/Muslim matters in June. Imam Johari Abdul-Malik
of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church spoke on June 20,
and I raised a difficult question with him about his predecessor, Imam
Anwar Al-Awlaki, who had spoken at an interfaith panel I attended in
Oct. 2001. I remember that I agreed with his critique of US policies
in the Middle East. How had he become so radicalized that the US had
him on its “target list?” Imam Johari told us that he truly believed
that his friend Al-Awlaki, a US citizen of Yemeni heritage, was a
moderate in 2001, but that his arrest and torture in Yemen (that he
believed to be at the bidding of the US government) changed him into a
radical anti-American. Anwar Al-Awlaki was on my mind when I spoke up
in the House Gallery on June 23.

As we now know, Anwar Al-Awlaki was killed, with several others, in a
US drone strike in Yemen in late September. The death of this US
citizen and the lack of any due process must be condemned. The recent
approval by Congress of the National Defense Authorization Act that
permits the indefinite detention of US citizens and that keeps the
remaining 171 prisoners in Guantanamo indefinitely must also be

I appreciate very much being able to speak about these, as King would
say, “things that matter.” I cannot be silent. My heritage is Polish,
and Lech Walesa, the leader of the Solidarity movement in Poland in
the 1980s, once said, “I just keep doing the same things, and some
days they lock me up and some days they give me the Nobel Prize.” I
trust that someday our persistent actions with Witness Against Torture
will be recognized.

Judge Fisher, I believe that you are very fair, and perhaps even
supportive of our efforts. You praised the jury for completing their
civic responsibilities, and rightly so. I suggest you consider our
efforts as part of our civic duty as concerned and committed US
citizens. As to my case, I respectfully ask that you sentence me to
time served. If you must impose a fine, I hope that I can support a
worthy cause that we can agree on.

I wish you and our prosecutors well in the pursuit of justice. May we
each take our piece of the truth and grow it into something we can all
be proud of. I’ll close with
Corinthians II, verse 6:3-10.

We take pains to avoid giving offense to anyone, for we don’t want our
ministry to be blamed. Instead, in all that we do we try to present
ourselves as ministers of God, acting with patient endurance amid
trials, difficulties, distresses, beatings, imprisonments and riots;
in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger. We conduct ourselves with
innocence, knowledge, patience and kindness in the Holy Spirit, in
sincere love, with the message of truth and the power of God, wielding
the weapons of justice with both right hand and left –regardless of
whether we are honored or dishonored, spoken of favorably or
unfavorably. We are called impostors, yet we are truthful; we are
called unknowns, yet we are famous; we are said to be dying, yet we
are alive; punished, but not put to death; sorrowful, though we are
always rejoicing; poor, yet we enrich many. We seem to have nothing
yet we possess everything!


Carmen Trotta’s Sentencing Statement
January 12, 2012

Shaker Aamer is a prisoner at Guantánamo. He has been held there
without charge or trial for every one of that peculiar institution’s
ten years. A British resident, Aamer has a ten-year-old boy he has
never met. He is at death’s door as we speak, if we do not decry his
current condition we may be complicit in his murder.

Like the vast majority of the 779 prisoners that have passed through
Guantánamo, and (according to the Obama administration itself) the
majority of the prisoners presently held, Mr. Aamer is guilty of
nothing but being in the wrong place at the wrong time and being

Judge Fisher, I assume, you recall the delayed release of the
photographs from Abu Ghraib in 2004. The mêlée of a different
generation, these images seared our consciences. We do well to
remember, Judge Fisher, that a second set of photos has never been
released. They are kept from the American people, a national security
secret, because they are deemed to dismaying to look upon. Let us
remember, because surely we know less that half of what has gone on at

Subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and torture, in
2005 Shaker Aamer organized a hunger strike at Guantánamo. A
charismatic leader and an English speaker, after weeks of fasting, Mr.
Aamer was able to negotiate an end to the fast, having gained certain
concessions from the base. Just a few weeks later the concessions
were withdrawn and Mr. Aamer went back on strike.

I should mention that it was this first hunger strike, a call for
mercy by a beleaguered group of Muslim men to what they consider the
Christian world, which offered almost no response – this hunger strike
led myself and twenty-four friends to travel to Cuba, to, as Jesus
taught, visit the prisoners in December 2005.

In 2006, we have good reason to believe, Mr. Aamer was subjected to a
torture session with three other prisoner: Yasser al Zahrani, Mani al
Utaybi and Ali Abdullah Ahmed. Those last three prisoners (all
cleared for release at the time) all died during the torture session.

According to the military version of these events, the three
prisoners, highly trained al Qaeda operatives, had committed
simultaneous suicide, as a “publicity stunt,” an act of “asymmetrical
warfare” against the American people. Informed voices – lawyers,
ex-Guantánamo prisoners and investigative journalists – believe that
Shaker Aamer is being held at Guantánamo to suppress his knowledge of
these events.

We call for his immediate release, Judge Fisher, and we ask you to join us.

I lament that a jury of American citizens would not immediately
nullify a case against nonviolent protesters, protesting the existence
of the interrogation center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. I am not,
however, surprised for two reasons. I believe it is still true that
the average citizen of the United States still receives their news
about the wider world from mainstream media outlets, which is to say
Corporate-controlled media. They have very definite, anti-democratic
interests. The media coverage of Guantánamo, with rare exception, has
been atrocious. For me, with eight years of the Bush administration,
the American people were told incessantly that the prisoners at
Guantánamo represented the “worst of the worst”! One military
commander, when asked why the prisoners were cuffed, shackled,
strapped, hooded and put in ear muffs when transported, responded that
“these men are so dangerous that they would gnaw through the hydraulic
lines of a C137 aircraft to being it down, just to kill Americans.”
It is this absurd mentality, or perhaps spurious affectation put on by
the hawks in the Pentagon and that wake of vultures that is Congress,
that prevails because it is not subject to serious critique, or any
critique at all in the media.

And thus the general public is dumbed down and the hysterical politics
of the present proceed apace. These are the politics of the very
Congress we attempted to petition. It was attempting to pass
legislation that would make it nearly impossible to transfer the
prisoners presently in Guantánamo anywhere, including to courts in the
United States, where they could be tried. Because, ostensibly, these
highly-trained al Qaeda operatives are super human in their powers and
would be a threat to the American populace. Again, the real threat to
be American people is the narcotic, hypnotic power of the Big Lie, and
the conformity of so many elements of civil society to that lie.

The antidote to the Big Lie, to Propaganda – the crude politics
rightly and eschewed by the courts – is the truth and the search
thereof; in our case, by an impartial judge and jury. The judge is
trained in the law as an ever-evolving development of human
civilization. Our Constitution, of course, chief among these
developments, is the revolutionary document of a democratic
experiment, generous and optimistic regarding human capacities.

This court could have served as a vital democratic forum, robustly
fulfilling its role in the balance of powers, if it had allowed itself
to explore the question that the defendants tried to put to it. To
wit: is it possible that a variety of circumstances could be such as
to allow that speaking out a critique of proposed legislation in the
House gallery might be recognized as a valid form of petitioning our
government for redress of grievances?

Unfortunately – and this is the second reason that I am not surprised
– you seem to have ruled the question out in advance. I can only
speculate that you do so in conformity to the strictures of an
atrophied professional culture. Decent judges seem to blanche at the
term “judicial activism”, and leaving the field of play open to the
radical statist reactionaries like those who have gutted habeas corpus
of all meaning.

No, Judge Fisher, we were neither a group of tourists, nor mere
visitors in the House gallery on June 23rd; we were a group of engaged
and responsible citizens, who acted in the extraordinary circumstances
of the present. We knew from the beginning that our petition, our
witness, would not be limited to the Chamber of the House, but would
extend to the court too. We petition you to join us. If the courts
were healthy, George Bush’s ploy to create an offshore interrogation
center where prisoners could be tortured and experimented on beyond
the reach of the constitution would have been laughed away as an
adolescent prank. Instead, as it stands, it may be deemed a political

As I mentioned at trial, Guantánamo remains a metastasizing cancer. I
beg you to consider in depth the NDAA of 2012. Guantánamo has come
home and we hope you’ll fight it.

As far as sentencing, Judge Fisher, you must follow your conscience.
I think I deserve a commendation along with my codefendants. Indeed,
I lament that an American judge would not, at this point, immediately
nullify any sentence against nonviolent protesters, protesting
Guantánamo. And while I am not surprised, I remain hopeful.

YOUTUBE (10 mins) Carmen Trotta Interview first day of Gitmo trial in D.C.


Conscience the Law and Civil Disobedience:
by Dan Berrigan

What of the evolution of the realm of law. The news is not good. I
suggest that the facts are nothing short of lamentable. Today the
law, and the mentality of those who make and reinforce and teach and
study the law is changing too slowly… the law as presently revered and
taught and enforced is becoming an enticement to lawlessness…. The law
is aligning itself more and more with forms of power whose existence
is placed more and more in question. Lawyers, law students and law
professors have not raised their voices with any audibility against a
monstrous, illegal war… the law allows a weird and possibly ruinous
kind of selectivity in enforcement. The criminal activity of many men
in power goes unscrutinized…. We aimed at social change…our hope was
modest and thoughtful. We were not asking for an apocalyptic,
over-night change in the character of the law of the land. We were
demanding no more than a minimal observance of the laws that stood
upon the books… If those in high places obeyed the law, there would be
no reason for us to break the law. We were asking for a president who
would obey the mandate that gave him office. We have tried to
underscore the hope that change is still possible, that Americans may
still be human, that death may not be inevitable, that a unified and
compassionate society may still be possible. On that hope we rest our

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