42 arrested at Capitol while calling for closing Guantanamo prison

A campaign to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, escalated Jan. 21 with the arrest of 42 people at the U.S. Capitol.

The protesters, members of the group Witness Against Torture, were calling attention to the lapsed one-year deadline that President Barack Obama had imposed on closing the controversial prison.

Fourteen people were arrested in the Capitol Rotunda as they conducted a memorial service for three men who died at the prison in 2006. The U.S. Army reported the deaths as suicides at the time; however, a recent Harper’s Magazine report revealed that the men may have died during interrogation at Guantanamo Bay.

The remaining 28 arrestees were taken into custody on the Capitol steps while holding banners reading “Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives.”

Prior to the nonviolent protest, the protesters, many in orange jumpsuits similar to those worn by the detainees, processed silently from the White House, past the Justice Department and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Matt Daloisio, a member of the New York Catholic Worker and an organizer of the group, told Catholic News Service that the route was designed to draw “connections to all the branches of government that have failed to close Guantanamo.”

Many of the demonstrators took the name of a detainee when they were booked on charges of unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.

Trials for the 42 defendants are expected in May.

The demonstration came as an 11-day fast by about 100 members of the group neared an end Jan. 22.

Witness Against Torture was established in 2005 with the goal of closing the prison housing suspected terrorists.

The government has cleared 116 of the remaining detainees, but has yet to release them.

The White House has said the president remains committed to closing the detention facility while working toward the purchase and upgrading of the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois for detainees in the war on terror. The plan, a spokesman said, is to make the Illinois facility as secure as possible while working toward the prosecution of detainees charged with crimes before military commissions.

2 Responses

  1. What are these people whining about? They have their “progressive” in office. Should they be the least bit surprised that President Obama is doing what any President of the USA is sworn to do (protect the safety of US Citizens)? These illegal combatants violated the rules of war by dressing as civilians and hiding among civilians while committing acts of war. These rules were drawn up to protect civilians. The remaining combatants at Guantanamo are not being tortured, they have not been sent back to the place of capture where they would receive far worse treatment. They are not wearing explosive vests, planting road side bombs or helping terrorists put bombs in their underwear. Yes these people will argue the statistics about what percent of former GITMO detainees are being found on the battlefield. One thing is certain: the numbers have increased over the past year. According to NPR news there are fewer “enemy combatants” being detained because the policy has now changed to simply killing them on the battlefield. Our troops are not out of Iraq or Afghanistan. Whatever President Obama’s philosophy is regarding the war on terror he does not appear to want to follow a policy of appeasement. If these people want to demonstrate against something and save lives why don’t they demonstrate against the Obama administration’s promotion of abortion abroad? How about supporting 40 days for life? How about demonstrating against a political action agenda which calls for pharmacists to violate their consciences by dispensing abortion drugs?

  2. The amazing thing about this “news report” is that CNS (Catholic News Service) presents it as if it were a legitimate news item.
    Not once was the term “allegedly” or “preportedly” used; even when mentioning the so called ” New York Catholic Worker” (sounds a lot like the old “Communist Worker” group to me).
    – And Harper’s magazine “revealed” information counter to our US military information! Is CNS hitching their wagon to a story generated by some unnamed reporter at Harper’s?
    Is this CNS reporter that gullible? or is duplicity closer to the truth?
    Come on CNS, do more that take the prepared “news brief” handed to you by the leftest organizers and legitimize it by attaching CNS heading to it and passing it on without question.
    Catholics and others rely on you to be investigative reports, not just conduits for any claptrap that comes down the pike.

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