By Joe Scarry, via Scarry Thoughts blog
The weather’s turning cold. I’m thinking back on some of the activism we engaged in here in Chicago in the spring . . . . and in the summer . . . and I’m looking ahead to what has — sadly — become a winter tradition: the protests on the Guantanamo anniversary on January 11.
And I’m wondering how — this winter — we might bring some heat and light to the issues surrounding indefinite detention and the persecution of Muslims.
Guantanamo: unending detention
|CHICAGO: Protesting Guantanamo detention
More info at Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo
Every year for the past dozen years, activists against U.S. government indefinite detention at Guantanamo, and other violations of due process, have engaged in protests around the country on January 11. (January 11 is marked as the anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.) See, for instance, the events related to our 2012 J11 protest in Chicago.
Nearly a year ago at this time, I was reacting to proclamations by Obama administration officials, saying that they were in the process of working out repatriation or other placement for the 70 or so Guantanamo detainees who had been cleared for release. For a brief moment, I wondered if it might really happen. The result, however, has been that no more than a handful of detainees were sent home.
Instead, the U.S. government continued to force-feed detainees, and to fight tooth-and-nail to resist any attempt to get the truth about those force-feedings to the public.
January is a time when people remember another story of U.S. detention: January 30 is recognized as Korematsu Day, after Fred Korematsu, who fought the illegitimate U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.
In 2013, I attended a Korematsu Day forum in Chicago at Loyola University School of Law — one of dozens of Korematsu day events held around the country. It was excellent, and it included a presentation by a representative from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago on the issue of detention of Muslims in the U.S. since 2001.
|George Takei – childhood photo during his family’s
internment in Rohwer, AK (Source: Arkansas.com)
I was reminded recently of the importance of Korematsu Day when I saw the wonderful documentary about actor and activist George Takei — who was himself interned as a young boy.
(Takei has joined with a creative team to bring to the stage a musical about the issue: Allegiance.)
Korematsu Day is a day when we should both look at the persecution of Japanese-Americans in the U.S. in the past, but also look at the persecution of Muslims in the U.S. today. The question, “What needs to be done to make sure this never happens again?” is not just academic.
The Holder Legacy
Attorney General Eric Holder stepped down last week. Mainstream media commentaries on his legacy are all over the map. Perhaps it would be fruitful for one or more law school to avail itself of this stock-taking moment. What happened? Why?
|The Holder Justice Department: What happened?
There is a broad range of areas where the behavior of the Holder (i.e. Obama (i.e. Democratic)) Justice Department needs to be scrutinized. Four Five seem particularly closely related:
* prosecutions in the court system stemming from terrorism charges
* provisions to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely under the N.D.A.A. (National Defense Authorization Act)
* suppression of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on U.S. torture
* legal justification for extrajudicial execution of U.S. enemies (drone killings)
Legal protection for people?
|Eric L. Lewis
“Lawyer Eric Lewis shows a copy of a statement
by his clients, Britons captured in Afghanistan
and held at Guantanamo Bay.”
(Source: Manuel Balce Ceneta in USA Today)
About a month ago, attorney Eric L. Lewis made a very interesting connection between developments in U.S. law by focusing on recent Supreme Court decisions. In “Who Are ‘We the People’?” in The New York Times (October 4, 2014), Lewis pointed out that, on the one hand the acceptance of indefinite detention of people in the U.S. legal system means that the country is no longer serious about treating people as people; and on the other hand the Citizens United decision allows corporations to insist that corporations DO get the full set of rights we have defined for people. Lewis — who has acted as counsel for individual Guantanamo detainees — says it is time for people who claim to care about the rule of law in the U.S. to look at the systemic disintegration. “Who is a person? How do you qualify for basic human rights? What is required for you to be able to speak or worship freely or to be free from torture?” he asks.