By Rhonda Varsane
Lead by Code Pink’s Leslie Harris, Occupy Dallas, Code Pink, members of The
Dallas Peace Center and others gathered at the Dallas Dart Railway station on
Mockingbird lane at 3 PM central time on January 12th for the tenth anniversary
of the first prisoners brought to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. “A location
[Guantanamo Bay was] handpicked by the Bush administration so it could detain
and interrogate terror suspects far from the prying eyes of the law,” (The Nation magazine). Camp X-Ray was a
temporary detention facility a detention camp of Joint Task Force Guantanamo on
the U.S. Naval Base. The first twenty detainees arrived at Guantanamo on January
The orange jump suits with each person hooded in black was a loud visual
statement of prisoners whose sense of sight and balance were stripped. Catching
the eyes of school children they ask what is happening as the ‘prisoners’ stand
waiting for the rail.
In rank and file the prisoners load onto the Dart Rail with signs stating: “NO
INDEFINITE DETENTION” and “TORTURE IS ILLEGAL” as flyers are past out which told
the story of “171 men still languish in prison at Guantanamo Bay.” Of this
number, 46 are in indefinite detention because the U.S. considers them dangerous
but have no evidence. Congressional restrictions have delayed release of
thirty-two, and fifty-seven have not even been charged but our government will
not release because their country is viewed as unstable.
The street theater prisoner held an eight foot black banner stating, “CLOSE
GUANTANAMO” in white letters as they walked through the streets of downtown
Dallas. Stopping to stand in front of the Federal Building they were met by
security informing them it was illegal to take their, [securities], pictures.
Moving on through town they past out fliers and reached their destination of a
memorial for Martin Luther King where they knelt with hands behind their back,
squatting on either side of a wall with the quote, “until justice rolls down
like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King.
It is debated as to whether or not torture as a punishment falls under the cruel
and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment to
the United States Constitution. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor
excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted ”
The US Supreme Court has held since at least the 1890s that punishments that
involved torture are forbidden under the Eighth Amendment.
Torture is illegal and punishable within U.S territorial bounds. Prosecution of
abuse occurring on foreign soil, outside of usual U.S. territorial jurisdiction,
Bill of Rights.
For an act to constitute “torture” it must satisfy each of the following five
elements in the definition of torture:
(1) the act must cause severe physical or mental pain or suffering;
(2) the act must be intentionally inflicted;
(3) the act must be inflicted for a proscribed purpose;
(4) the act must be inflicted by (or at the instigation of or with the consent
or acquiescence of) a public official who has custody of the victim; and
(5) the act cannot arise from lawful sanctions.
Suspected terrorists who were subjected to wall standing, hooding, a constant
loud and hissing noise and who were deprived of sleep, food and drink subjected
to “inhuman and degrading treatment” but not to “torture.”
In October 2006, the United States enacted the Military Commissions Act of 2006,
authorizing the executive to conduct military tribunals of
so-called enemy combatants and to hold them indefinitely without judicial review
under the terms of habeas corpus. Testimony coerced
through humiliating or degrading treatment would be admissible in the tribunals.
Amnesty International and numerous commentators have criticized the Act for
approving a system that uses torture, destroying the mechanisms for judicial
review created by Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and creating a parallel legal system below
international standards. Part of the act was an amendment that retroactively
rewrote the War Crimes Act,
effectively making policy makers, i.e., politicians and military leaders, and
those applying policy, i.e., Central Intelligence Agency interrogators
and US Army soldiers, no longer subject to legal prosecution under U.S. law for
what, before the amendment, was defined as a war crime,
such as torture. Because of that critics describe the MCA as an amnesty law for
crimes committed in the “War on Terror”.