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Witness Against Torture Responds to President Bush

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2006

Witness Against Torture: A Campaign to Shut Down Guantánamo responds to President George Bush's statements on German television last week about the U.S. prison. According to a transcript of the program released on Sunday, President Bush acknowledged the prison was a "sensitive issue," and said, "I would like to close the camp and put the prisoners on trial." He went on to say that, "Our top court must still rule on whether they should go before a civil or military court… They will get their day in court. One can't say that of the people that they killed. They didn't give these people the opportunity for a fair trial."


Frida Berrigan
Brooklyn, New York:

"How can President Bush say the prisoners will get their day in court and assert they are killers in the same breath? Analysis of the Pentagon's own declassified documents find that only 8% of those imprisoned in Guantánamo can be characterized as al Qaeda fighters… When you look closely at the documents and listen to the testimonies of the prisoners' abuse and torture, the fact that President Bush is now trying to ascend the moral and legal high ground is a sad joke."


Susan Crane
Jonah House, Baltimore, Maryland:

"The prisoners at Guantánamo don't need statements. They need action. In December, after long months of prayer and discernment, we were moved to act on behalf of the prisoners at Guantánamo because we believe that our dignity and humanity are bound up undeniably with the dignity and humanity of all other people... especially the prisoners. The administration created Guantánamo to hide both the prisoners and their inhuman and illegal treatment, and we call on Bush to act to end the injustice."


Matthew Daloisio
Mary House Catholic Worker, New York, NY

"Bush's statement is just another pretty smokescreen meant to manipulate the public and evade culpability for his own policy. All along, Bush has asserted that Guantánamo falls under the exclusive authority of the executive. It was under his authority that the detention center was created and that these prisoners are held. Now he asserts that he is just a passive actor awaiting word from the Supreme Court. In fact, if he were to withdraw his controversial demand for military trials, there would be no case! We call for real action, not manipulative statements."

In December 2005, a group of twenty-four friends, following the nonviolent tradition of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker and calling themselves "Witness Against Torture," walked to Guantánamo to visit the prisoners. When they returned, they launched the "Campaign to Shut Down Guantánamo ," which consists of public education and community outreach, networking and resource sharing, and acts of nonviolent civil disobedience to draw attention to the plight of prisoners in Guantánamo , and victims of the war on terrorism everywhere. www.witnesstorture.org


ENDS

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