Hitting Close to Home: Art and Human Rights from Slavery to Guantanamo – Brandeis University – Speech Notes – PDF

2009 Hitting Close to Home Art and Human Rights from Slavery to Guantanamo Speech Notes

Art and Human Rights

Hitting Close to Home: Art and Human Rights from Slavery to Guantanamo

  1. First time I have had to speak since election of Obama and change in govt.

Like many—remarkable moment—each of us own reasons

Many my age never thought see it in our lifetime—

Raised with deep personal and institutional racism–cleveland

Florida–fountains; emergency landing;

North dad’s office; housing patterns schools

CCR founded as part of struggle to get rid of jim crow

Rep king; protestors; voters—3 to 3,000 elected officials

African am family in white house build by slaves/mall a slave market
When you saw and saw those on the mall—moving

Of course not mean racism is over–Oakland murder of Oscar Grant —recorded—

NYC fire dept —still out work—

Yet unthinkable–even a few years ago

  1. Also remarkable–getting rid of Bush—and a congress dominated by many in fealty to his politics

It was a very bad 8 years; some of it built on a past since Reagan—laissez faire economics; war and deprivation of fundamental rights

So I and many others celebrate that the bush years are over —even if many of its nastiest practices are not or at least not yet.

  1. CCR and many others had and have high hopes for ridding ourselves of much of the Reagan bush legacy-100 days campaign–what could be done quickly and easily—

Always in the context that change not occur automatically by one person–pushed and pulled in many directions and many diff politics—keep up our struggle —Roosevelt said to progressives “make me”

  1. So far—While reservations which I talk about—on many issues off to a good start—but still a ways to go

First full day: Exec Orders: key ccr issues and issues of fundamental rights—

A. 1. Close gitmo in a year –2. Close secret sites 3. Apply afm interrogation techniques to cia and all agencies 4. Suspend military commissions S. Rid of OLC memos 6.. Request time in al marri case—

Nothing yet on renditions—mahar arar—settlement
Nothing about bagram iraq etc

Each of these has exceptions and clouds that may undercut what I think is ness–but it’s an important beginning—

  1. Other remarkable changes as well: by eo— FOIA; Gag Rule; Emissions’ Rule and Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—
  2. Areas of course much more difficult—need much stronger opposition–

War—Vietnam–my entire legal life in unness wars–Afghanistan Iraq Diff in tone — possibly in actions—back to status quo –still not a good place

II . So its been a pretty remarkable couple of weeks—-

But as yogi berra said—if you remember him—its not over until it is over—

Especially true about gitmo (other sites) and prohibition on torture —discuss both—

These struggles are long and hard —take years –and courage—many times thought won—at gitmo Forces of reaction and sometimes liberal—come and bite us–

  1. The first gitmo—Bush 1—what was it–HIV refuges excluded because of HIV —
  2. Origins of case—considered frivolous—50 million bond and rule 11—
  3. Dantes ninth circle
  4. Govt argument no rights—same as bush–(gitmo lease—act of imperialism)
  5. Clinton win– thought over—putting people first–

Celebration in camp; not to be —meetings

had to litigate

  1. Organizing—always contentious—inside and outside—operation harriet tubman–cages–used very unpopularity—when we won—no appeal–
  2. Lots of lessons: never trust promises; litigation sometimes only way ; organizing ness; Govt pushes back hard; never assume over until it is
  3. Second Guantanamo —gitmo 2—almost makes gitmo one look easy—CCR involvement–first—
  4. nov order; debates, mood in country; “worst of worst”; why he—dill than my normal work; Kunstler book–our founder; who else; hate mail ; first client—hc case
  5. a Sisyphean struggle–3 times in sct–most basic right—recall after 2004 victory
  6. what we did what govt did—enemy combatant and preventive detention—the current habeas cases–23 out of 25—

d. torture discovery–tipton; rendition–(secret sites are about torture)—hunger strike–death cases—

e. ccr—maq —

f. numbers—who there? Who released?

So now what: Obama-

2a. Our plan to close gitmo—the number—

The baskets—the time frame asylum—

The executive order–good he humane treatment review of cases—

But two big issues—goes to possible 3 baskets–and open to other kinds of trials (hope unlikely)

Third basket—preventive detention basket—repackage gitmo—

Argument many guises–some cant try because of torture and too dangerous to return—

Huge pundit and right wing and cong effort—bad to close gitmo—

Mention people—but at this point no evidence of that—

Effort is two baskets—think review will demonstrate that—

Want to close it—bad attacks—-will they be able to—

Major fight going on on this–a shame to close it + and have it repackaged —

2b other prisons—not deal

2c related: trial basket –what kind of trials –mill comm. or natl sec cts —

2d gitmo–result of war–first US period of external imperialism

  1. Torture—-

Torture program in US—well documented—-memos orders to survivors and victims—

All over the world

Struggle—-finally even under bush got afm techniques—

But cia left and other agencies–

First full day eo on interrogation techniques afm apply to all—

Wiggle room: Study group for CIA and other agencies if need additional techniques to get intell—

Dependence on afm

And annex m: isolation (separation) sensory deprivation sleep deprivation 4 hours—for non pows ec’s bad very bad

Clear what fight here is: no wiggle on agencies get rid of annex m
3a. extraordinary rendition program

4. accountability—prosecutions—for torture program; wiretap and war—

Torture program–

Lots of discussion–do nothing, sufficient to change orders ,truth, prosecutions

CCR and I strongly in pros camp—pros-deter—absolutely necessary— -need to send a message–

-not happen again–to do otherwise is impunity-
message to rest of world

I think best argument we have for not for prosecutions is pic of obama signing exe order prohibiting–yes I liked that he did that–

But when see that think of next president–

Shd are rights depend on length of presidents arm—next president pic opposite

Only way is prosecution–

What has admin said: no decisions made BUT

obama said prefer to look forward and not backward–

Almost disingenuous–wrong—every time I hear it—for prosecutions are exactly that —looking forward —deter that we don’t torture again

Holder: no one is above the law. But if reasonable and good-faith reliance on Justice Department legal opinions hard to justify even full blown investigation—

Using the memos as an excuse the same way cheney did when waterboarding

Don’t hold up—not for the lawyers; not for the principals—written around a policy—Part of the conspiracy to commit torture; not independent

Some have argued for a truth commission /commission of inquiry—Mostly out of political efficacy—not sufficient—

  1. not make decisions on what think is possible—that is bet you get
  2. evidence is so strong—no need—

Legal obligation to begin criminal investigation

Cheney holder

Crawford maq

Levin Mccain armed services

Torture Convention

Ccr has tired and will again–

So Yes—a new dawn; but our work is far from done—

We have a better administration–but up to all of us—to push and push

We will have some victories; and we lose some battles—

For CCR we will continue to act we act against injustice —with courage—

“You do not need me to remind you that the struggle to obtain and maintain human liberty and to resist oppression and tyranny is the perennial obligation of all who understand its necessity.”

– William M Kunstler

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

1 and 2 prison tel

3 chevron

4 bolivia

5-7 Haiti

8-11 gitmo I

12 the flyer

Gitmo 2

Conf in Yemen



Maher Arar

Abu G

Protest Cath Worker

Closing of Obama and bush


Sarah and emily and yusef