The 100 Days Campaign is over

posted by Mike on May 2nd, 2009

Though there will likely be a trial later in the summer for those arrested April 30, the 100 Days Campaign to Close Guantanamo and End Torture is now over.

Bus stop, May 1

Yesterday we went down to the bus stop where we’ve begun our day so many times, and rode down to the White House to join the long-time Friday vigil there and mark the anniversary of the Catholic Worker.

We finally got a good picture of the entire “core team.”

May 1, 2009
Matt Vogel, Amanda Daloisio, Sr. Takako Ichikawa, Tobias and Matt Daloisio, Mike Benedetti, Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, Carmen Trotta, and Tanya Theriault

I’m planning to mull things over for a month before writing anything about the successes and failures of the campaign. Thanks for all the support and love!

61 arrested at White House in Guantanamo protest

posted by Mike on April 30th, 2009

100 Days Project to Close GuantanamoTo cap the 100 Days Campaign to Close Guantanamo and End Torture, 150 people in black hoods and orange jumpsuits, joined by 50 others, marched from the Capitol to the White House. After a brief rally, 61 of these, stood on the White House sidewalk holding a banner reading JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED. Each person carried the name of one of the 55 detainees cleared for release by the Bush Administration, but not yet released, or the name of one of the 5 prisoners who died at the prison.

After being warned to disperse, they were arrested.

Much more at the 100 Days Campaign site.

Russia Today:

Huffington Post has an article and video of Carmen Trotta at the top of his game.

“Faith-Based Anti-Torture Activists Demonstrate/Risk Arrest at White House 4/30 to Demand Prosecution of U.S. Torture and Release of Innocent Detainees”

posted by Mike on April 24th, 2009

Witness Against Torture:

Witness Against Torture’s “100 Days Campaign to Close Guantanamo and End Torture” will conclude on Thursday, April 30th with an 11:15 am rally at Lafayette Park and a noon protest at the White House, in which 55 activists, representing the 55 men cleared for release but still in Guantanamo, will risk arrest– the first such arrest action at the Obama White House. The demonstrations– in which faith-based activists will play a leading role– reflect mounting frustration at President Obama’s failure to live up to his campaign promise to break with the Bush administration’s detention policies and bring accountability to government. “Despite early, encouraging signs,” says Matthew Daloisio of Witness Against Torture (WAT), “the first months of the Obama administration have been a grave disappointment with respect to detainee issues and torture. Many of the immoral and illegal policies of the Bush administration remain in place, and President Obama has been reluctant to investigate possible, past crimes. We are demonstrating at the White House to push Obama to fully reverse the Bush policies and commit to a criminal inquiry.”

Band Together: street politics and old-time music

posted by Mike on April 17th, 2009

“Band Together” combines street outreach on political issues with live, old-time music. I talked with some of the people behind the concept about their experiences and what advice they’d give to others looking to try it.

Download the podcast, subscribe, or see other formats.

Band Together is a human rights advocacy project. We use live artistic performances in public places to capture people’s attention and turn it toward human rights. We strive to educate people on the most urgent issues of our time, and facilitate action that will lead to a change in legislative policy on these issues.

Tax Day 2009

posted by Mike on April 15th, 2009

“Once we give to God what is God’s there is nothing left for Caesar.”
–Dorothy Day

Today’s vigil for an end to the Guantanamo prison and US torture was at the White House, as usual. In the park across the street was the Washington, DC “tea party,” a demonstration against government spending and taxation, especially the turn these have taken since Obama’s been in office.

DC Tea Party

I was wearing a hood most of the time, so I’m in no position to characterize the event. I did take my hood off and talk to two women, who for some reason were surprised that the people at our vigil were mostly Christian, and did all sorts of good work when they weren’t dressed as detainees. I shared my concern that the media I read have not been taking the Tea Parties seriously, that they’ve been dismissing them as having a confused message or as being co-opted by non-grassroots groups. I think these things have been true to some extent of every large demonstration I’ve attended, and while they’re worthy of note, pointing them out should not be enough to dismiss a group of people taking to the streets.

Besides, as our vigil “co-captain” Carmen Trotta told me: “These are definitely grassroots folks.”

Oklahoma Catholic Worker Bob Waldrop:

Dear Representative Mary Fallin, Senator Tom Coburn, Senator James Inhofe, President Barak Obama, Governor Brad Henry,

On this Tax Day 2009, I write to denounce each and every one of you as thieves, liars, and murderers. You have drunk deeply of the bitter wine of unjust war, and your hands drip with the blood of your victims. The stench of death is upon you, and the voices of those who have died in the unjust wars you so gloriously support cry out to history for justice and remembrance.

One of my great heroes, Ammon Hennacy, was serious about protesting taxes. He didn’t pay his taxes, and would fast and picket outside federal offices every year encouraging others to do the same. Here’s part of his account of a five-day fast outside the tax office in Phoenix, beginning on Hiroshima Day, 1950:

All My Heroes Have FBI FilesAccording to the Gandhian technique of goodwill and frankness, I wrote to the City Manager and to my tax man, telling them of my extended plans, and to the chief of police asking for a permit, and telling him if he did not give me one I would picket anyway. . . .

I had a small quantity of leaflets, [Catholic Workers], and folded tax statements in the back pocket of my levis. I had walked three sides of this block three other times when I picketed against payment of taxes, so the ground was familiar. Shouts of “Go back to Russia, you Commie” were frequent. One Catholic lady who said she had bought CWs from me at St. Mary’s cordially took a slip. When I walked on, a man shouted at me to go back to Russia. The lady turned to him and said, “Go back to Russia yourself!”
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Podcast: Michael Ratner on “The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld”

posted by Mike on March 19th, 2009

Last night’s talk by Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights as part of the 100 Days Campaign. Georgetown Law School, Washington, DC, March 18, 2009.

Download the mp3 (41MB, 85 min), see other formats, or subscribe to the 100 Days podcast feed.

He does get into accountability/prosecution, but starts off with a great explanation of where we’ve been and where we are with America’s policies of torture and indefinite detention.

Lent Day 18: St. Patrick’s Day

posted by Mike on March 17th, 2009

Yes, the White House fountain is green today.

Just wanted to note that this Lent has been a real time of learning and growth for me. I’m finally recognizing that when I’m uncomfortable, that often means learning and growth is happening.

Pie and Coffee classic: The Real Saint Patrick, starring the Duffy Bros.

Day 50: Letters to the Senate

posted by Mike on March 11th, 2009

This is Obama’s 50th full day in office, and the mid-point of the 100 Days Campaign to Close Guantanamo and End Torture.

Today, the vice-presidential motorcade drove by the vigil. The last time this happened was the morning of Inauguration Day. A nice way to mark day 50.

We also hand-delivered letters about the Uighurs to every Senate office today. We’re hoping some of the Senators draft their own letter to Obama soon. It is time to get this thing done with.

More daily updates, you could go to the 100 Days site, or follow us on Twitter.

Lent day 7

posted by Mike on March 4th, 2009

Today 12 people in orange jumpsuits from the 100 Days Campaign attended Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy’s “Getting to the Truth Through a Nonpartisan Commission of Inquiry” hearing. (Several folks were amused this was a hearing about forming a commission; see also I Think We Should Start Talking About Starting A Band.)


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Lent day 3

posted by Mike on February 27th, 2009

The caffeine headaches are fading, and I’m beginning to appreciate Lent. Giving something up for Lent is a more effective sort of New Year’s Resolution. You’re reminded of your commitment every Friday and Sunday, and your friends and family will be even more disappointed if you backslide–it’s not just a commitment to yourself, but to God!

Today there were all sorts of folks at the White House protesting on all sorts of issues. Even saw old Joe the Plumber. We’ve had a big, wonderful group in town for the 100 Days Campaign this week. People are coming from many perspectives; I recorded a roundtable yesterday to capture some of them.


mp3 link (14MB, 29 min), other formats, podcast feed

Power Shift 2009 begins in DC today. After a full week of activism, I need a break from all that, so I won’t be connecting with PS, but I hope to run across some participants this weekend. I love that Monday the Speaker of the House is speaking, then thousands of people will head off to do civil disobedience at a coal plant. (Note that Pelosi and Reid yesterday took steps to have this plant stop using coal.)