Guantanamo, Iran and Hope
I don't know when I've seen things busier in the peace movement.
I can't tell if it's because the “bozo factor” with our elected officials (both major parties) has increased or it's because I get most of my news off of the Internet and there's a great deal more going on than ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. ever thought of covering. For a great clip of Miss Piggy and Kermit the frog discussing FOX news click HERE.
I attended the 10th annual Witness Against Torture (WAT) gathering in Washington, DC in January, this four years after President Obama signed an order to close Guantanamo within his first year in office. So by my calculations were three years late on the “change you can believe in” thing.
Of the 172 men still held at Guantanamo, 89 were cleared for release by the CIA, FBI, DoD, etc, under the Bush administration and were found guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was nothing even to indicate that any of them had even held a gun in their hands let alone be involved with terrorism. They have been tortured, lost legs, arms, eyes and are in poor mental health. They have been kept away from family and friends who love them and who they love in return.
It was all the more poignant this year with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which makes it possible for any American citizen who disagrees with the government to suffer the same fate.
I loved Congressman Gibson's explanation at his January town hall meeting in Corinth of why he voted for this terrible piece of legislation: It doesn't change anything that is already in effect now. So why, you ask, would you have those controversial provisions in the NDAA? Either he didn't think to ask or he thought none of us would. (Note that our “good” Democratic senators Gillibrand and Schummer voted for this assault on our constitution too. They should all be impeached -- if we in NY had a process to do so.)
I was one of the 37 people arrested in front of the White House witnessing against torture and indefinite detention and we'll be going to trial some time in the early spring unless the administration decides it does not want the publicity in an election year and has the charges dismissed as they have in the past.
The arrest was fairly perfunctory; the Park Police were very nice and none were in riot gear. A nice touch I thought -- especially since none of us have ever been violent in deed or word in the 10 years that we have been doing civil disobedience around this issue.
One of the best parts of the week was going to the sentencing for the three people (Brian Hynes of the Bronx, Judith Kelly of Washington, DC, Carmen Trotta of New York City) found guilty of interrupting Congress this past June and asking them to stop the use of torture, indefinite detention and close Guantanamo. They were hissed and booed by this august electoral body, many of whom claimed Christ to get elected, for making this request to treat other human beings with respect and dignity.
Their sentencing statements alone made the whole 14-hour, $54 round trip to DC worth my time and money. They are included HERE.
What was amazing about the sentencing was the prosecution asking for at least 60 days in jail and a huge fine and community service. (The last request being a real hoot considering all three are daily involved in community service with peace and justice organizations. And I do mean daily.)
Instead he imposed a suspended five-day jail sentence, the $50 court mandated fee to the crime victims fund (none of us minds giving money to help people hurt by crime) and their choice of 30 hours of community service or $300 that could be paid to the charity of their choice. And the judge let us sing our song for the victims of Guantanamo on the way out of the courtroom.
Even small miracles count and bring hope.
Now with our last war not even cold (and not even over if we're really honest about it) our government is already getting ready and charged up to start a war with Iran (using the same rhetoric we were bamboozled with the last time -- hey when something works you go with it):
Except for GOP candidate Ron Paul, I hear no talk about running up the deficit with yet another expensive attack on another country and certainly nothing about the cost to our national conscience (whether or not we still have one is up for debate; one can only discuss the pros and cons or torture without even blushing for so long before one no longer has any shame).
If you want the opportunity to stand publicly against a war with Iran you have a couple of opportunities. One is in Albany this Saturday (Feb. 4) From noon to 2 p.m. at the corner of Wolf Road and Central Avenue in Colonie and at the same date and time in Saratoga Springs at the corner of Lake Avenue and Broadway in front of the post office.
Sign the Petition to Prevent War with Iran National Peace Action has an online petition urging President Obama to take the steps necessary to prevent war with Iran. Will you take a moment and sign the petition? The petition will be turned in February 2, so please sign now.
Like miracles, even small actions count and bring hope and help to bring peace.