Pressing the President on GITMO

Protests outside the White House take all kinds of forms and encompass all kinds of issues. Last Wednesday, Jan. 11 there was a jail cell with orange-jumpsuit-clad protesters inside facing the presidential mansion. The small cell, with protesters taking three-hour shifts inside, represents the holding pen some accused al-Qaida members were held in for a time at the military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The protest, said Witness Against Torture organizer and Catholic Worker Matthew Daloisio of New York, marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo prison and calls for ending the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists in Cuba, Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and at CIA-run sites around the world. The cell "opened" up Jan. 7 and was in place for 92 hours until Jan. 11, the day Guantanamo opened in 2002. Daloisio said about 1,000 people were expected for a rally at the White House to call upon President Barack Obama to uphold his executive order to close the prison and try the men being held there. Obama subsequently has signed legislation that prevents the prison’s closing, disappointing the anti-torture activists. “There was hope for some change as Obama took office,” Daloisio said. “All of that hope is essentially lost when it comes to issues of civil liberties and accountability. “When we began this work we never imagined that 10 years later we would be continuing in this way,” Daloisio said. He also expressed concern that American citizens now can be detained indefinitely under a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act signed by the president Dec. 31. Obama issued a signing statement explaining, however, that no American citizen would be so detained while he is in office.

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