Military Commissions Act Protesters Go To Court
1/18/07 From Portland Indymedia
Charges Dismissed for All Protesters in Oct. White House Action against Torture and Military Commissions Act of 2006
Washington, DC, Jan. 17, 2007– U.S. Judge Deborah Robinson dismissed the government’s case against all 16 defendants today charged with “interfering with agency functions.” The 16 had attempted to present a “People’s Signing Statement” opposing the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006 to President Bush at the White House on Oct. 17, 2006. That morning, Bush ceremoniously signed into law the act defendants said legalizes torture for the first time in our nation’s history and broadly denies Habeas Corpus protection — a right guaranteed ever since the Magna Carta of 1215.
At a news conference in front of the US Federal Courthouse Jean Athey, co-coordinator of the Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture, stated, “The Military Commissions Act is an attack on basic American and religious values and the Constitution.” She quoted a line from the Statement of Conscience of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture: “Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions hold dear. It degrades everyone involved – policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation’s most cherished ideals.”
“This is the most dangerous law ever passed in the U.S. in my lifetime,” Athey said. “As a patriot and person of faith, it is my obligation to do everything in my power to get this law rescinded. It deeply shames our country.”
Art Laffin of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, another defendant, said, “The Military Commissions Act is an affront to God’s command to love one another, an assault on human rights, and a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Conventions. The real crime here is not the nonviolent action of the 16 people who were arrested at the White House for protesting the signing of this act into law by Mr. Bush, but rather the Bush Administration’s policies of prohibiting due process and ordering torture.”
The charge carried a maximum penalty of six months in jail, a fine of an unknown amount, plus court costs.
Organizations sponsoring the October protest and supporting the defendants include: The Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture ( http://www.wrrcat.org ), in coordination with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Torture Abolition Survivor Support Coalition, DC Anti-War Network, Witness Against Torture, and PeaceAction Montgomery. Those arrested on October 17, 2006 and whose charges were dismissed on Wednesday January 17, 2007 were:
Herb Ettel, Jean Athey, Susan Crane, Matt Daloisio, Pete Perry, Eve Tetaz, Art Laffin, Malachy Kilbride, Harold Nelson, Tom Feagley, Gary Mummert, Steve Lane, Eleanor Lewis, Nancy Gowan, Bill Streit, Pat Saloman
Pictures at: http://www.jonahhouse.org/WHoct06.htm