Jessica Desvarieux Jessica Desvarieux, Capitol Hill correspondent for the Real News Network, reports on the hunger strike at Guantanamo.
Since Obama plans to give a speech on Guantanamo (and drones) this coming Thursday, this video provides useful background.
[OBAMA:] I think it’s critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.
Here’s a fact that Obama, hilariously, omits to mention. Colonel Morris Davis, the former Guantanamo Chief Prosecutor:
[DAVIS:] 86 have had the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, sit down and unanimously agree that they didn’t commit a crime, we’re not going to charge them with anything, they don’t pose an imminent threat, and we don’t want to keep ’em. And so we’ve got a majority, , that we’re paying eight or nine hundred thousand dollars a year per person to keep them sitting there in Guantanomo because of their citizenship. So we’re wasting over $75 million dollars a year [It’s not the money! –lambert] to put people in prison that we don’t want to imprison.
I can think of only one reason for the omission: Obama thinks it’s OK to keep people in detention facilities even if they’ve been cleared.* But he stays silent about that, because get people talking about arbitrary detention, you might have to give it up, and who wants that?
I’ll close with this from Diane Wilson, who’s been on a water-only hunger strike in solidarity with the detainees since May 1:
[WILSON:] These men are that desperate. And I’ve done hunger strikes before, so I know how you do it at the last resort. It is not just a whim to do a hunger strike. …
I do know there were quite a few young people. You know, like some of them were 12. Some of them were all the way up to 15. It sickens me that the war on terror, the fear that is engrained in the conscious of the American people right now. They have no problem about washing Guantanamo away, out of sight and out of mind.
Fasting is Method #159 of Gene Sharp’s 198 Methods of Non-Violent Protest and Persuasion. To my knowledge, we didn’t see this method used in the Arab Spring, or in the indignados movement, in the Capitol occupations, or in Occupy. So far, it seems to have been effective for the detainees. At least Obama’s going to give a speech!
NOTE * I believe the Bourbon kings called this power a lettre de cachet.