"As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists." Presidential candidate Barack Obama, Aug. 2, 2007.
AP: filed January 22, 2009
Yesterday January 11, 2012, on the tenth anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay internment facility in Cuba, activists and protesters staged one of the most moving protests to come out of the current unrest in the United States.
The dark grey January skies over Washington D.C. along with the grey and white of the buildings were a perfect movie backdrop to the long, somber line of hooded detainees in iconic orange prison jumpsuits who marched from White House to the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Unlike most recent protests who's raucous, provocative chants demand the attention of the passerby; the approximately 700 stand-ins in this protest marched in silence. Each represented a real prisoner who has been processed and detained at Guantanamo Bay or Gitmo.
Most of the prisoners wore a simple sign pinned to their back stating their name, age and something important about their current or past incarceration. The sign to the right reads in part. ". . . since 2003 I have a history of depression and anxiety. I joined the Taliban because they promised bread."
These shots are screen-caps from @Korgasm_ streaming feed so it was dicey at best to get a decent shot through the murky rain and motion pixelation. At the end of the march, there was a rally. Several people spoke about various prisoners.
Daniel Lakemacher is a former Hospital Corpsman who enlisted in the Navy in 2005. He was deployed to Guantanamo in 2008 for six months. In 2009, he received a shore duty assignment at Great Lakes, and filed a request to be discharged from the United States Navy as a conscientious objector. He was forced to work for another 131 days, under the threat of imprisonment. On September 11, 2009 his request to be discharged was granted.
The message of the protesters was crystal clear; Fulfill your campaign and executive order promise President Obama, close GTMO.
To date, there is no plan as promised, to close Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In fact, Benjamin Wittes, a policy fellow at the Brookings Institute was quoted in the Washington Post on January 11, 2012 as having this to say
"In a decade of policy experimentation at Guantanamo, some efforts have succeeded, some have failed tragically and some are still in process. But far more interesting than the past 10 years is what the next 10 will look like. And that subject seems oddly absent from the current conversation."
Regardless of the viability of the move by the Bush administration to open GTMO for the detention of enemy combatants in the war on terror, or the legality according to the Geneva Convention rules pertaining to prisoners of war; today the question of the executive order entitled Closure Of Guantanamo Detention Facilities signed January 22, 2009 still remains.
Activists and protesters staged a visually stunning, emotionally moving appeal yesterday. The remaining detainees are entitled to a trial. The question is; will it fall on deaf ears?